Once you venture beyond the basic black suit and black shoes pairing, the next classic style combination for men is pairing a blue suit with brown shoes. While it's a traditional look, it does require some styling to pull off correctly.
Unlike with black which are always somber and subdue, blue suits often depend on the specific hue. Navy blue suits look more modern and less drab than black or gray, giving you a bit more style while not compromising your professional appearance in the office. Or if you prefer royal blue, it's perfect for a more casual setting like a date or night out.
When matching a blue suit with brown shoes, you project a confident yet understated vibe. The best part about this style, is how nuanced you can be — the colors lend themselves to be expressive, with a variety of tones and possibilities for accessorizing which can change the mood dramatically.
Who Needs this Guide:
- Men looking for alternatives to black, gray and navy suits at work
- Guys who want new professional and personal clothing combinations
- Men wearing blue suit with brown shoes but not sure you're doing it right
- Guys who bought a blue casual suit and aren't sure what to wear with it
Why the Blue Suit with Brown Shoes Trend?
First off, why does pairing a blue suit and brown suit even matter? With office wear gradually becoming more casual, many men are stuck in a precarious position between looking too stuffy and old-fashioned and, on the other extreme, looking too casual and unprofessional.
Wearing a blue suit is a good bridge between traditional formal office-wear and modern casual, allowing you to look like an individual and express some personality without screaming "look at me!"
While black dress shoes are a men's wear staple that every guy should have in his closet, however they don't always match well with blue suits. Much depends on the shade of blue — if the suit's color is too close to black, there's potential that they conflict, too bright a blue and black shoes won't match. In general, reserve your black dress shoes for formal, serious occasions and very conservative offices.
That said, every blue suit and brown shoe will not naturally compliment each other. You will need to pair them based on the shade of brown and the hue of your suit. Generally it's best to get the suit first: find one that suits your skin tone and the occasion, then buy shoes that compliment the suit.
How Do Color Match Brown Shoes and a Blue Suit?
The strength and weakness of blue suit is its versatility. There's a whole spectrum blue that can range from serious, for the office navy to just for fun egg-shell casual suits. Their tonality can vary and you can find a blue to compliment almost any skin tone, unlike black which leaves many men looking washed out.
Before you go shopping for a blue suit, decide the tone you'd like to set. Is this for office or personal use? For work-wear, do have a conservative office where navy is the only option or can you go for slightly brighter, more modern hue like royal blue?
If it's for personal use, is it for being a guest at a wedding or cocktail party where you want to impress without drawing attention to yourself?
In that case, royal blue might be just the color for you. Or is it for a night out where you want to make a statement and stand out? Then look into powder or electric blues for your casual suit.
If you're new to wearing blue suits, try starting with a neutral blue that you can dress up or down based on accessories and shoes.
Picking the Hue of Your Blue Suit
Neutral Blue Suit
Most modern blue suits exist somewhere in the mid-spectrum of blues. Lighter than navy, darker than powder blue, less vibrant than royal blue.
This blue is flattering to most skin types and lends warm and personality that a navy or black suit don't have. You can use your shoes to dress this suit up or down.
Picking the Exact Color of Brown for Your Shoe
Now that you've decided to pair your blue suit with a brown shoe, which shoe do you need exactly? Again, the problem and joy of this combination is nuance.
A black dress shoe will rarely shoe personal flair and fashion the way a brown shoe does. On the flip side, you can also go terribly wrong in picking out a brown shoe.
First off, there's just a lot more variables when it comes to brown shoes. Color-wise, men's brown dress shoes range from light tan to a dark chocolate brown.
Materials also matter more in brown shoes, you can go from a soft suede to a high polish to a beautifully aged patina. Also any styling or hardware such as buckles, straps or detailing will stand out more on brown than black.
All this adds up. Whereas trying on different black dress shoes, the change to the overall look is minimal, you'll see that different brown shoes can make or break your look.
Medium Brown Shoes
Medium brown shoes are less conservative but can still be dressed up for a modern office. They are the middle ground for the guy wanting personal style but still keeping professional.
Light Brown Shoes
Light brown dress shoes tend to give a much more casual appearance and might not be appropriate at a more conservative office. That said, they also tend to develop a beautiful patina as they age and can make for a unique addition to your wardrobe.
Cognac Brown Shoes
Other popular browns include cognac which is a beautiful, warm brown similar to cognac, again this is generally a more casual color choice but can be the perfect one depending on your suit.
Picking the Style of Your Shoe to Best Match Your Suit
Formal Brown Shoes
There's security in going the traditional route. Formal brown shoes are a good substitute to black and fit a wide variety of situations by being so standard they blend in almost everywhere, from a meeting in the boardroom to drinks afterwards.
Avoid rubber soles and aim for leather, especially leather that is sewn and can be resoled. These are shoes worth investing in and maintaining.
With formal brown shoes, the styling is usually minimal with few accents and an emphasis on quality leather and classic shape. Pay attention to the toe — rounded toes tend to look more casual while boxy toes look more edgy.
This is a shoe worth investing in —find a classic plain or cap toe that tapers along the shape of your foot for a style you can wear for years.
Types of Formal Brown Shoes:
Casual Brown Shoes
Casual occasions may call for a more relaxed shoe that shows some personality. Think a business lunch or night out — situations where you want your shoes to do more than blend into the background.
A shoe with some detailing can add subtle style and lighter browns or tans automatically feel less formal and more casual. Tassels and broguing tends to be more casual. Add a touch of whimsy with playful or colorful socks.
Types of Casual Brown Shoes:
Brogues: Somewhere between formal and casual are brogues. The shoes are technically Oxfords, Balmorals or Derbys but the difference is in the small perforated designs called brogues which decorate the shoe.
In general the more brogues the more casual the shoe is seen. This ranges from Quarter Brogues in which only the toe cap seam has perforations, to Semi Brogues with toe cap seam and top designed all the way to longwing brogues with broguing going all the way to the back of the shoe.
When Is A Blue Suit and Brown Shoes Appropriate to Wear?
What's great about the blue suit/brown shoes combo is it's appropriate for most occasions — you can wear it to work, a wedding, brunch, night out, date night. It's a very versatile outfit that looks polished but not like you're trying too hard.
Where you might not want to wear a blue suit and brown shoes is a very formal event that requires a black suit. For traditional offices or formal evening occasions, it might not be appropriate.
Keep in mind, darker blues and browns tend to read as more formal while brighter colors can be for going out, dinner parties or weekends. To wrap up, here are two common questions on combining blue suits with shoes successfully:
What Shoes Do I Wear with a Navy Suit?
Navy is the most formal of the blues and can often replace black except for in the most formal of situations. Navy has a natural classical formality and evokes tradition and trustworthiness. If you already have a black suit, it's a solid next buy and is flattering to most skin tones.
But what shoes match a navy suit? Combining a navy suit with brown shoes is a no brainer — black shoes and a navy suit can look jarring together, similar but not quite the same. Navy shoes with a navy suit is a bit too matchy (and who really wants navy shoes?). Brown shoes perfectly compliment a navy suit without looking overdone.
Keep in mind, since the navy is formal, aim for a formal shoe type such as an Oxford and formal tone of brown such as a chestnut. This should have you looking polished and ready for the office or an evening out.
Can I Wear Black Shoes with a Blue Suit?
Every man should have at least one pair of formal black shoes in his wardrobe. And if you've just bought a new blue suit, you might not want to immediately run out and purchase new shoes as well. Black shoes are ubiquitous and will match with almost anything.
While they might not have the personality or flair of brown shoes, they often can pair well with a blue suit. As with pairing brown shoes, match the style of shoes with the style of suit. In general, black shoes will tend to give a more formal feeling so if you're trying to dress down a suit, it might not be a good fit.