Pages

  • Sharebar

If you have a solid Navy suit, is there a rule of thumb for when to wear brown vs. black shoes dress shoes? Does it depend on shirt or tie color?

Before someone says it, there are plenty of threads. However, none that definitively provide an answer to my question.

Just tryin' to look great...

Comments (80)

  • Anihilist's picture

    I think it's just a matter of taste/how you want to look. I'm sure you've heard the old Brit addage "no brown in town", but myself personally think that brown shoes look esp nice with navy suits (so long as the shoes are dark, don't really like the lighter hues of brown.) I think that traditionally however, black shoes are the most appropriate, even with navy suits (despite idiot girls that tell me you can't wear black with navy) for business/formal events.

    Bottom line, I don't think that there is an "answer" to this question.

    People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for freedom of thought which they seldom use.

  • yeahright's picture

    Most women will say never black with blue. I think either way you can look good, but brown definitely looks much better.

    Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

  • TwoThrones's picture

    When I was interviewing, some kid showed up with a navy suit and walnut shoes. Not gonna lie, looked pretty sweet.

  • FormerHornetDriver's picture

    Black, Brown or Cordovan shoes all look great with blue suits. Just make sure you have a matching belt and wear the proper socks. Black socks should only be worn with black shoes.

  • notthehospitalER's picture

    I've alo heard girls say not to wear black shoes with navy suits, but I personally think they look fine. However, brown shoes with navy suits is the more conventional combination, and looks great. To put it in perspective formality wise, I might wear a navy suit and black shoes to an interview/a first day, and then brown shoes and a navy suit later. I think navy and black looks more formal.

  • DBCooper's picture

    Dark brown captoes and a navy suit is pretty much my uniform. However, it is seen as a little less conservative in some circles.

    Please don't quote Patrick Bateman.

  • goblan's picture

    I only wear brown shoes with navy suits. Black shoes are too formal and isn't it a fashion no-no to wear black and navy together?

  • abcdefghij's picture

    If you don't wear black shoes with a navy suit...I'm not sure what color you'd wear them with

  • AndyLouis's picture

    brown shoes with navy suit all the way, and like above posters have said make sure they match with socks, belt, tie etc

  • In reply to goblan
    abcdefghij's picture

    goblan wrote:

    Charcoal, grey, and black

    I think black shoes look terrible with grey suits, and nobody wears black suits to work. Guess you could do black and charcoal

  • In reply to abcdefghij
    Anihilist's picture

    abcdefghij wrote:

    goblan:

    Charcoal, grey, and black

    I think black shoes look terrible with grey suits, and nobody wears black suits to work. Guess you could do black and charcoal

    So you only wear brown shoes with grey suits?

    People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for freedom of thought which they seldom use.

  • PutINweRK's picture

    You only get navy shoes with navy suits. Period. That's the drawback of them.

  • GMG's picture

    Best rule to follow is your shoes need to be darker then your suit, especially with a Navy suit. Make sure the shoes are a dark brown not too light and make sure your belt matches the shoes, basics!

  • In reply to Anihilist
    APAE's picture

    Anihilist wrote:

    I think it's just a matter of taste/how you want to look. I'm sure you've heard the old Brit addage "no brown in town", but myself personally think that brown shoes look esp nice with navy suits (so long as the shoes are dark, don't really like the lighter hues of brown.) I think that traditionally however, black shoes are the most appropriate, even with navy suits (despite idiot girls that tell me you can't wear black with navy) for business/formal events.

    Bottom line, I don't think that there is an "answer" to this question.

    Hit the nail exactly on the head. The only people who will frown on brown with navy suits are the Brits, so if you're ever in the City, avoid anything except black footwear when conducting business (and don't be caught in a loafer).

    That being said, brown (in any shade) is considered more complimentary to navy than black.

    TwoThrones wrote:

    When I was interviewing, some kid showed up with a navy suit and walnut shoes. Not gonna lie, looked pretty sweet.

    Might that have been me? That was my power combo for years, haha.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

    Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author

  • naj's picture

    Brown shoes with a navy suit is chill if you wear a brown belt with it. Or black shoes and a black belt. As the old adage goes, Belt and shoes go together like sex and cigarettes.

  • tim75's picture

    I do not think that it is allowed.

    More importantly it would look bit weird wearing two shoes of two different color!

  • In reply to tim75
    AnalyzeThat's picture

    tim75 wrote:

    I do not think that it is allowed.

    More importantly it would look bit weird wearing two shoes of two different color!

    You tried hard to be both technical and funny. You failed at both.

  • Monkeyfaces's picture

    Black is the most conservative and formal, hence the most appropriate for client facing roles. Don't listen to what women say, black and navy is one of the most classic men's combinations there is. The same goes for black and grey. The fact that this question is so heavily debated on here is astounding. I thought bankers were supposed to be smart? I suggest you all read up on dressing appropriately for the occasion.

  • EURCHF parity's picture

    The British (and Americans until around the 1940s) came up for these rules for a reason, adhering to them ensured you looked good. Over time the lounge suit rules iterated to perfection.

    When I see somebody breaking one of the rules, it tells me that this person never was exposed to proper dress, which in most countries implies something about their social status and origin. As I got older and learnt more about the world, I started seeing square, light brown shoes worn with a purple-striped navy suit as a sign of a doer instead of someone who needs a lesson in basic dressing ideas. The most interesting are those who break the rules consistently and thoughtfully (for example wearing the wrong outfit perfectly).

    Still, brown shoes would be appropriate with tweed or other countryside outfits, whilst black is what should be worn in any meeting room. This especially applies to navy, which is the most formal colour a man can wear (for example, appropriate at a wedding when one does not have a morning suit). To then wear a "casual" colour designed for one's country estate is an interesting choice, which takes quite a stretch of the imagination to justify as spezzatura (the careful art of pretend carelessness that characterises the tasteful).

    One caveat: if you spend a bit of time studying Apparel Arts or other fashion magazines from the first half of the 20th century (arguably the peak of male dress) you find that "clients" wore considerably more liberal outfits than their "bankers" or service providers. For example: http://cdn.styleforum.net/1/17/900x900px-LL-176a3b...

    I'll let you think about that one ;)

  • In reply to Monkeyfaces
    Bullet-Tooth Tony's picture

    Monkeyfaces wrote:

    Black is the most conservative and formal, hence the most appropriate for client facing roles. Don't listen to what women say, black and navy is one of the most classic men's combinations there is. The same goes for black and grey. The fact that this question is so heavily debated on here is astounding. I thought bankers were supposed to be smart? I suggest you all read up on dressing appropriately for the occasion.

    Thanks for adding nothing and wasting everyone's time.

  • In reply to Bullet-Tooth Tony
    Monkeyfaces's picture

    peinvestor2012 wrote:

    Monkeyfaces:

    Black is the most conservative and formal, hence the most appropriate for client facing roles. Don't listen to what women say, black and navy is one of the most classic men's combinations there is. The same goes for black and grey. The fact that this question is so heavily debated on here is astounding. I thought bankers were supposed to be smart? I suggest you all read up on dressing appropriately for the occasion.

    Thanks for adding nothing and wasting everyone's time.

    The guys who are saying that navy and black is a no-no are wasting everyone's time. Black and navy is the most correct combination there is.

    There is no debate here. It does not depend on shirt or tie color, black goes with everything, as long as the suit is navy, grey or charcoal. There are certain rules in menswear, and they can be found very easily on google.

    Wear black shoes if you want to be more conservative, wear dark brown if you want to be a bit more casual. One can even argue that if you want to be a bit more casual you shouldn't be wearing a navy suit in the first place.

    My comment added a whole lot more than yours. Why don't you counter my statements in a friendly discussion if you disagree, instead of referring to ad hominems?

  • Monkeyfaces's picture

    Adding even more value, a comparison of different black captoes. Go and pick your next pair of shoes! I'm a big fan of the Gaziano & Girlings, but the John Lobbs are very nice too.
    http://www.styleforum.net/t/362365/the-quintessent...

    "No man should be without a pair of black dress shoes in his wardrobe; if there is room only for one pair, it would be the quintessential black cap toe oxford. It is one of the most versatile shoes a man can own, suitable for nearly all formal occasions from office to weddings. While dark brown offers deep patina and changing highlights, black brings out the best in mirror shine at the same time being a subtle conservative foundation to a good outfit."

    I suggest you read all 683 pages of this thread:
    http://www.styleforum.net/t/309586/whnay-s-good-ta...

  • StudentLoanBackedSecurity's picture

    Just my two cents:

    Regardless if you think women are wrong on this, black and blue do not go together. I always see people wearing a blue suit and black shoes, and it looks like they are clashing. It looks sloppy. The black shoes hinder the blue in your suit. If you combine the right shade of brown, with a matching belt, and some nice blue socks, then your blue suit color pops out more. Black and blue are too similar, and they should not be worn together (in my opinion). Its like the same thing as wearing a red t-shirt with orange shorts.. Too similar. You need some nice contrast/complimentary colors.

    "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

  • In reply to StudentLoanBackedSecurity
    Monkeyfaces's picture

    StudentLoanBackedSecurities wrote:

    Just my two cents:

    Regardless if you think women are wrong on this, black and blue do not go together. I always see people wearing a blue suit and black shoes, and it looks like they are clashing. It looks sloppy. The black shoes hinder the blue in your suit. If you combine the right shade of brown, with a matching belt, and some nice blue socks, then your blue suit color pops out more. Black and blue are too similar, and they should not be worn together (in my opinion). Its like the same thing as wearing a red t-shirt with orange shorts.. Too similar. You need some nice contrast/complimentary colors.

    Sorry, but that's just wrong. As EURCHF parity so eloquently stated: "When I see somebody breaking one of the rules, it tells me that this person never was exposed to proper dress, which in most countries implies something about their social status and origin."

    If you're caught wearing brown and navy (I hope you're not wearing blue suits to work!), in for example London, people will judge you for it.

    When it comes to dressing appropriately for the office, individual opinions are simply less relevant, whether you like it or not.

  • In reply to Bullet-Tooth Tony
    Monkeyfaces's picture

    peinvestor2012 wrote:

    Gee, black shoes are a must have. How profound.

    Then why did you ask the question if you knew the answer already? I gave you the rule of thumb you so desired: Black with navy, grey and charcoal when dressing formal for the office, brown (and every other colour) when dressing casual with a navy sportcoat for example.

    Ties and shirts are not relevant in this equation. The only exception being brown ties, which you should only wear with brown shoes and belt, and perhaps burgundy.

    You asked a very simple question, and lo and behold, it has a simple answer as well. It's not rocket science.

  • cityknight's picture

    From a Yank in London:

    - Loafers in the City are very common, and a fast majority of said loafers are penny loafers (someone above indicated that loafers were rare in London, they are incorrect)

    - No brown in town is violated by two groups: Americans (who often wear Oxblood, but sometimes just dress like they want to be made fun of) and stylish Mediterranean types (the latter often also sport beards, they have special rules)

    Ultimately, you can do what you want to express yourself sartorially. If you really feel like black shoes with a navy blue suit violates your sensibilities, then go ahead and wear brown. Just know that you are taking a huge risk. Historically, clothes signalled that you went to the right school and University, and knew the right people who told you off when you dressed poorly. These days, you can fake fitting in through a careful study of the internet, though there is plenty of misinformation out there.

    Ultimately, EURCHF and Monkeyface are absolutely correct. The truth is, StudentLoanBackedSecurities, that your opinion is less important than the opinion of those who have banded together for a very long time to try and establish a non-linguistic code for excluding those who are not "in the know". Their contempt is honed by several generations of running the world, so I'd defer to their judgement. Less risky.

  • In reply to cityknight
    meabric's picture

    cityknight wrote:

    From a Yank in London:

    - Loafers in the City are very common, and a fast majority of said loafers are penny loafers (someone above indicated that loafers were rare in London, they are incorrect)

    - No brown in town is violated by two groups: Americans (who often wear Oxblood, but sometimes just dress like they want to be made fun of) and stylish Mediterranean types (the latter often also sport beards, they have special rules)

    Ultimately, you can do what you want to express yourself sartorially. If you really feel like black shoes with a navy blue suit violates your sensibilities, then go ahead and wear brown. Just know that you are taking a huge risk. Historically, clothes signalled that you went to the right school and University, and knew the right people who told you off when you dressed poorly. These days, you can fake fitting in through a careful study of the internet, though there is plenty of misinformation out there.

    Ultimately, EURCHF and Monkeyface are absolutely correct. The truth is, StudentLoanBackedSecurities, that your opinion is less important than the opinion of those who have banded together for a very long time to try and establish a non-linguistic code for excluding those who are not "in the know". Their contempt is honed by several generations of running the world, so I'd defer to their judgement. Less risky.

    Interesting. I always thought oxblood/burgundy (i.e. Alden's Color 8 shell) did not count as brown for purposes of the rule. I'm guessing the Americans are sporting those while the Italians run around in antiqued dark brown leather.

  • FormerHornetDriver's picture

    Black shoes and a Navy suit absolutely do go together. Why are we talking about what the dressing conventions of women are?

  • In reply to meabric
    cityknight's picture

    Depends on how judgemental the Brit in question is feeling. My current MD looks down on belts - a lack of tabs is a sign of general impoverishment.

    And good looking Italian fellows know they can get away with anything. London may have codified the ground rules of looking proper, but plenty of Italians will catch you peering down at their suede brogues and give you a look that leaves no doubt as to who invented looking fucking fantastic.

  • In reply to APAE
    traps's picture

    APAE that is not entirely true. I spent this past summer interning in Mayfair and nearly everyone had on a blue suit with dark brown shirts.

    Traps

  • Monkeyfaces's picture

    At banks in the City and Canary Wharf black shoes is all you see. Mayfair is a slightly different environment. And yes, those Italians all seem to grow beards and longer hair as soon as they hit VP.

  • In reply to cityknight
    EURCHF parity's picture

    cityknight wrote:
    The truth is, StudentLoanBackedSecurities, that your opinion is less important than the opinion of those who have banded together for a very long time to try and establish a non-linguistic code for excluding those who are not "in the know".

    I am tempted to resurrect Alan Plusser's quip about the value of women's opinion on male dress but I shall leave it to those interested in his excellent book :P

  • In reply to StudentLoanBackedSecurity
    Bullet-Tooth Tony's picture

    StudentLoanBackedSecurities wrote:

    Just my two cents:

    Regardless if you think women are wrong on this, black and blue do not go together. I always see people wearing a blue suit and black shoes, and it looks like they are clashing. It looks sloppy. The black shoes hinder the blue in your suit. If you combine the right shade of brown, with a matching belt, and some nice blue socks, then your blue suit color pops out more. Black and blue are too similar, and they should not be worn together (in my opinion). Its like the same thing as wearing a red t-shirt with orange shorts.. Too similar. You need some nice contrast/complimentary colors.

    We should all take this junior's advice seriously, as he is a true trend-setter and fashionista.

  • In reply to Bullet-Tooth Tony
    TwoThrones's picture

    peinvestor, this thread is hilarious! You ask a legitimate question, and then when people answer, you crap in their pants. Haha, I'm loving it!

  • In reply to StudentLoanBackedSecurity
    EURCHF parity's picture

    StudentLoanBackedSecurities wrote:

    Just my two cents:

    Regardless if you think women are wrong on this, black and blue do not go together. I always see people wearing a blue suit and black shoes, and it looks like they are clashing. It looks sloppy. The black shoes hinder the blue in your suit. If you combine the right shade of brown, with a matching belt, and some nice blue socks, then your blue suit color pops out more. Black and blue are too similar, and they should not be worn together (in my opinion). Its like the same thing as wearing a red t-shirt with orange shorts.. Too similar. You need some nice contrast/complimentary colors.


    Another note on black and navy: shining black shoes with navy is a great idea and one of the ways in which one can deepen the colour of the shoe whilst remaining correct. I recommend wax instead of the kwikwax type horrors, applied sparsely and with a hint of water on the hard bits once a week. It takes around 40 minutes to obtain the correct effect. If you care.

    Regarding grey suits and black shoes:
    http://www.levinerwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2010...

    http://www.gentlemansgazette.com/de/wp-content/upl...

    http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b367/thunderw21/...

    And here's a chap returning from the country, for a nice contrast: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-J1VOLK7RFX8/To7LBnnZW2I/...

    The Mayfair angle is interesting. I do think that a lot of the companies (read: hedge funds) in Mayfair are on the "doing" side, whereas most of the City and Canary Wharf is in the business of providing professional services and dress accordingly. When you are having lunch with Amitabh from Blackbox Capital, you sure won't say a word about his wearing a blazer (impeccably) outside a sports event. And of course, talking of grey, the correct colour of trousers with a navy sports coat, you would then pair it with brown shoes, as is appropriate with the setting.

  • cityknight's picture

    Mayfair: where restaurants' extra ties are worn by hedgies worth more than the restaurant itself.

  • In reply to cityknight
    meabric's picture

    cityknight wrote:

    Depends on how judgemental the Brit in question is feeling. My current MD looks down on belts - a lack of tabs is a sign of general impoverishment.

    Insecure junior bankers in London wearing pants with loops without belts because belts are for peons is literally the dumbest thing I have ever heard of. It's going to be obvious whether pants are custom, which is what the actual judgement will be based on.

  • In reply to meabric
    EURCHF parity's picture

    meabric wrote:

    cityknight:

    Depends on how judgemental the Brit in question is feeling. My current MD looks down on belts - a lack of tabs is a sign of general impoverishment.

    Insecure junior bankers in London wearing pants with loops without belts because belts are for peons is literally the dumbest thing I have ever heard of. It's going to be obvious whether pants are custom, which is what the actual judgement will be based on.


    Not at all, and that guy's MD is perfectly right to attempt to get his juniors to dress properly.

    The evolution of the suit to sell more volume to the uneducated customer has let to a drop in the waistline, and a narrowing of everything (basically, most people like to wear suits that look 2 sizes too small). Here's an example:
    http://www.itsnotforgirls.com/wp-content/uploads/2...

    His low waistline will cause the trousers to keep wanting to fall down, whilst their tightness will cause his balls to be squeezed at every occasion, particularly sitting, and his belt buckle will ride up into his stomach, whilst the top half of his ass will probably be struggling to be covered, and stuffing a shirt in there is not going to look good in real life. The pleatless front is even more indication of pain to come as there is no space for the leg to expand and move around below the waistline.

    A correct waistline is much higher for the simple reason that a suit was originally designed to be worn, and comfortable, and a high waistline both allows you considerably more movement, and naturally holds the pants at the right height. Belt loops are good to maintain the right fit as your weight goes up and down within a small range. Here's a few examples of the correct waist height:
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_wwgXxAjQedA/S-FEZmycyfI/...

    http://www.gentlemansgazette.com/wp-content/upload...

    http://www.favorideas.com/images/suit-couple.jpg

    Note the pleats (forward facing in Britain, backwards facing in Italy; I would go with the Brits).

    There are plenty of RTW shops in London and New York that will sell properly made suits, including with a higher waistline and no belt loops. Look for example at Oliver Brown who for GBP 400 includes a same-day fitting service, or somewhere like Cordings around Picadilly. Investing in a proper suit will make you happier as you will actually be comfortable in it during the enormous hours you are pulling at work, and you do not need to spend Savile Row's 3,000 GBP average price for a two piece to get there.

  • TheReturn's picture

    This is why interns show up looking like, well, interns.

  • In reply to duffmt6
    APAE's picture

    I gather that he is European. The old guard takes a decidedly intolerant view of the emergence of trends. To such people, there is one true proper way; anything else is but one of an innumerable myriad of improper ways.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

    Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author

Pages