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How to Elegantly Pull Off Black Pants and Brown Shoes

Short answer: yes, you can wear black pants and brown shoes together, but keep a few things in mind. Brown shoes bring out more personality and modern sensibility than standard black shoes but they still look professional and appropriate for work.

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However, pairing brown shoes with the rest of your wardrobe can be tricky, especially with black.

Even though browns are neutral, there are many different shades and hues of brown. They don't naturally harmonize the way a blue suit and brown shoes do or match the way black pants and black shoes do. Here are my four rules for how to pair them.

Rules for Pairing Black Pants and Brown Shoes

men tying the cords of brown shoes

1. Avoid the Near-Match Clash of Dark Brown Shoes.

Ever wear two colors that are almost but not quite the same? It instantly makes an outfit look sloppy, no matter how well-put-together the rest of the look is.

Unfortunately, this applies to shoes as well. Dark brown is nearly black, but not quite. I like to pair my dark brown shoes with blue pants instead.

black pants, brown shoes, and black socks with white spots

2. Focus on Contrast With Lighter Brown or Tan Shoes.

I find this is a good time to bring out my lighter brown or dark tan shoes. It shows that the pairing is intentional, not that I got dressed in the dark and didn't notice.

This can also be a good way to break up the standard black shoe, black pants monotony. I often look for cognac, tan, or camel browns.

brown mountain boots

3. Consider the Occasion and Keep it Casual.

A general fashion rule of thumb is the lighter the shoe, the more casual. Brown shoes give an outfit an informal feel so Iike to play that up rather than try to force the look to be formal.

Black chinos or jeans are a good example of casual pants, for shoes, think chukka boots or retro skate sneakers. When I'm going formal, I stick with black shoes.

brown shoes, a brown watch, and black glasses

4. Match with Brown Accessories.

To reinforce even more that the black/brown pairing is intentional, I sometimes pairing my brown shoes with matching leather accessories. Adding a matching brown watch band, belt or bag ties the look together.

According to Primer Magazine, cufflinks and tie bars are also some accessories that will elevate an outfit. I find that paying attention to details and maybe adding a pocket square helps.

5. Wear Brown Shoes With a Navy Shirt.

The look of black pants and brown shoes will look incredible if paired it with a navy blue or a white shirt.

These are all in the same color palette and will make the entire outfit look intentionally stylish.

If you're worried about a navy blue shirt clashing with your black pants, don't be. It's widely accepted that navy blue and black go perfectly together.

A Fashionable Pair: Brown Shoes and Black Pants

It's possible to pull this off. Lots of men choose to wear brown shoes with grey pants or navy blue ones. But if you want, you can wear black pants and brown shoes too. Just follow my simple tips in this article and you'll always look dapper.

Black Pants Brown Shoes Infographic

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Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.

How to Elegantly Pull Off Black Pants and Brown Shoes