The Black Suit with Brown Shoes Trend: Yay or Nay

black suit with brown shoes

At times we want to try out combinations that add some character to an otherwise subdued outfit. Pairing a black suit with brown shoes is one of them. When done right, this fusion will set you apart from the crowd who play it safe with a black on black combination.

Some stylists may term wearing brown shoes on a black outfit a colossal fashion blunder. However, following the guidelines below, you can actually rock the look and inspire other men to do so as well. Your answers to whether this combo is hard to pull off, what types of pants go well with brown shoes, and what mistakes can make it a faux pas ends here. 

Read on to know how the blend of black suit and brown shoes originated, how it is still appropriate today, and what different looks you can create with this out of the ordinary style merger.

A Bit of History 

Certain men’s fashion rules have been followed for decades, among which was one to wear only black shoes with a black suit. This was a norm until 1930, when Edward, Prince of Wales, decided to relax some menswear rules. He himself liked to wear brown shoes, which brought the trend to the limelight.

Traditional fashion rules like never wearing brown in town that originated in British men’s fashion are no longer closely followed.

Today, men know that bending style rules sometimes is the key to pull off stylish looks. 

No one can stop brown shoes from becoming a trend once again. You can see style conscious men from all around the world opting for brown shoes. For example, the much sought after Italian fashion, where black shoes are only worn at weddings, formal events, or funerals. Italians prefer their brown footwear in the rest of the occasions.

brown shoes with black pants

In contemporary men’s fashion, brown shoes are considered an alternative to black shoes. The color of the shoes really brings up the appeal of your suit while giving you ample choices for accessories to pair with it, like belts, watches and bags. 

Color Coordination: Traditional vs. Modern

Traditionally, a man having a black pair of shoes was considered sorted for all footwear needs. Be it a highly formal occasion or a less formal dinner, it was thought that you could wear your black shoes with any outfit. Brown shoes were mostly avoided and only considered appropriate for grey, navy, or brown outfits. 

As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, mix and match are all the rage. Men are increasingly realizing that their style choices shouldn’t be ruled by traditional fashion rules. Nowadays, putting on a pair of brown shoes with a black suit, chinos, or jeans is not rare. To dress well, the focus should be on personal preferences rather than age old principles.

If you, too, want to be free from the shackles of bounding style rules, do remember one thing. The style and shade of your shoe matter the most when pairing it with a black suit. Brown shoes can be worn with almost anything, but it’s safer to go with dark brown shoes with black pants.

Fashion or Faux-Pas

Is wearing the black suit with brown shoes a fashion faux pas or innovative style creation?

We have a lot of room to move around while styling a casual outfit with black jeans and chinos. But, the same cannot be for dressier styles like business casual or semi formal. 

Perhaps that is why brown shoes with black pants are widely regarded as a fashion faux pas. Both black and brown are solid, neutral colors that do not complement each other. As a result, your brown shoes stand out rather than your suit. One more fact is that brown shoes lean towards the casual style spectrum and black towards formal. 

To bridge that gap smoothly, you need to create a visual harmony by choosing shoes in a dark shade of brown (Think oxblood brown, burgundy, or blackish brown) and very less or no details. Make sure your shoes are polished to a beautiful luster.

Plus Point of Brown Shoes

If you go for brown shoes, know that they are highly versatile. You can carry a matching bag, wear a matching belt and/or watch strap, and a hat to finish off the look sleekly. For styles that lean towards casualness, you can match a classy leather jacket with brown dress boots for a stylish brown leather jacket outfit.

brown leather double monk strap shoes

One more benefit of brown shoes shows over time in the form of a beautiful patina that black shoes lack. 

Types of Looks

Let’s dive deeper into the right way to pair your brown shoes with black outfits. 


A variety of coats, shirts, and pants can be paired with brown shoes. Leaving the black tuxedo aside (as you need to pair shiny black shoes with it), we can suggest a few examples for a zestful formal wear inspiration.

  • Pair dark brown oxfords with a black pinstripe suit. Make sure that the off white stripes on your suit are very narrow and the color of your shoes is deep dark brown. 
  • Wear burgundy colored derbies with a black suit. Keep your pants a half break to let your shoes make a stronger statement.
  • A contemporary formalwear idea is to create an outfit with a black shirt. Team up a black button up shirt with black dress pants and brown single monk straps.  

Oxfords, Derbies, single and double monk straps are all appropriate for formal wear. Go for shoes with chisel toe and singe leather sole for a sharp look. Never wear tan or light brown shoes with formal outfits. 

man wearing a black suit and brown leather shoes

Semi Formal

As we slide down the formality scale, we get leeway to pair brown shoes with semi formal attire. However, you need to make sure that your shoes don’t appear worn out. High quality, polished footwear complements the dressy black suits. Here are a few suggestions.

  • A pair of dark brown wingtips go well with a black dinner suit. Match the belt with the shoes to blend your urban look. If you wear a tie with this outfit, make sure there is brown added in its pattern. 
  • Show off a dapper look in classy cocktail attire. Wear a dark grey buttoned shirt and fold the sleeves for a stylish appearance. Team it up with black dress pants and a black vest, and round off the look with burgundy brogues. 
  • Wear a taupe dress shirt and black chinos with cap-toe derbies. With this outfit, you should wear a black tie. 

Business Casual

With workwear getting smarter these days, you can try the brown shoes look in business casual style outfits. 

  • Put together a voguish look with a white shirt, black jeans, and brown formal shoes. You can elevate the look with a black trench coat for men
  • A navy blue dress shirt looks stylish when paired with black jeans and brown tassel loafers. A perfect outfit for any sort of social engagement.
  • Another classy look can be created with a grey Henley, black trousers, and a charcoal grey overcoat. Use oxblood chukka boots to elevate this look.
  • Pair a white crewneck t-shirt, a black double breasted blazer, and black chinos with brown double monk strap shoes.

You can go for brown Chelsea boots, Loafers, Chukkas, and Monk straps for business casual style clothing. 

Smart Casual

Smart casual style is all the rage these days. The style is appropriate for occasions where you can portray your personal style with a touch of formality. It even passes off as office wear.  You have the perfect opportunity to wear brown shoes like dress boots, brogues, Chelsea boots, and wingtips with your smart casual attire. 

man wearing a smart casual outfit with brown shoes and fedora hat
  • Team up a black denim shirt with black jeans and finish off the dapper look with dark brown dress boots. 
  • Pair a light grey shirt with black pinstripe trousers. Roll up the sleeves to show your sculpted forearms. Opt for a pair of brown brogues and a matching brown fedora to finish the look with panache. 
  • One more way to nail the smart casual style is to simply don a navy blue polo shirt with black slim fit jeans. You can elevate the look by fusing a preppy style v neck sweater as a layer and rounding it off with deep mocha shade Chelsea boots. 


Casual looks allow us to pair brown shoes with black ensembles very easily. You can even go for shoes in lighter shades of brown like a warm tan or chestnut. Consider choosing suede boots, sneakers, boat shoes, or loafers for casual outfits.

  • A plain white t-shirt can make you look like a million bucks when paired with a dark brown leather bomber jacket and black jeans. Take up the style scale higher with brown suede boots.
  • Blend a light blue chambray shirt with black jeans and light brown sneakers. Don’t forget to add accessories to this look, like black aviator style shades. 

Accessorize the Black Suit with Brown Shoes Wisely

Here are a few tips to give you more ideas on styling brown shoes with several types of accessories. 

  • Match the color of your socks with your pants. Black socks can be used with brown shoes and look appropriate. 
  • As earthy tones look good together, try using accessories in shades of brown or grey with your black pants.
  • Go for ties with a neutral brown palette. 
  • For more formal looks, a pocket square with brown patterns may give a subtle dash of color to your outfit.
  • Match the color and texture of your belt with your shoes. 

Do’s and Don’ts of Wearing Black Suit with Brown Shoes


  • Go for deep brown shades for formal black outfits and experiment with light colored shoes as you go down the formality scale.
  • The style of your shoes matters a lot for dressing up or down. Try to keep it simple like oxfords, plain derbies, monk straps or dress boots.
  • Your shoes must not have too many details unless you want relaxed vibes.
  • Keep your brown shoes clean and polished.


  • Avoid light brown shoes with business casual or semi formal outfits.
  • Never wear a black belt when wearing brown shoes.
  • The length of your trousers shouldn’t be very long. Pants that cover your footwear give off a weird look.
  • Cheap quality shoes are to be avoided at all costs as they will bring down the whole look.


Can You Wear Brown Shoes with a Tuxedo?

Unless the tux you are wearing is brown, don’t go for brown shoes. Only shiny black shoes complement the black tuxedo that has sleek satin lapels.

Can You Wear a Black Belt with Brown Shoes?

You can not wear a black belt if your shoes are brown. It is better not to wear a belt if you don’t have a brown one to wear with brown shoes.

Do I need to Match the Belt in an Exact Same Shade as My Brown Shoes?

Brown leather shoes and belts are available in so many shades. However, don’t fret over matching the exact color, as you can opt for the closest possible shade with your belt. 

Which Shoes are More Versatile; Brown or Black?

Undoubtedly, brown wins when it comes to versatility. It is a color that blends well with almost any color. Therefore, a pair of brown shoes is a must have in your wardrobe. Also, other men’s accessories like bags, wallets, gloves, belts, and hats are mostly brown, which further eases outfit creation with contemporary style essentials.

Final Call

brown brogue shoes with black pants

To sum up the brown shoe with a black suit guide, we can say that you must give it a try to experience a unique yet warm style statement. Go with darker shades of brown on formal occasions like a wedding, and try lighter ones for casual events. Also, make sure the shoes you wear show no signs of wearing out by choosing premium quality leather shoes. 

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments