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How To Wear A Black Suit With White Shoes

December 22, 2022
How To Wear A Black Suit With White Shoes

It may seem an unlikely combination – black and white are opposite colors, after all. With this in mind, can you wear a black suit with white shoes?

It is possible to wear a black suit with white shoes in smart-casual settings. All-white minimalist leather sneakers in particular can work well. Consider dressing down your outfit to avoid a formality mismatch. The combination should never be worn in formal settings. 

Though that’s the gist, there’s much more to explore.

So, let’s dig deeper.

black suit with white shoes
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6 Tips For Wearing A Black Suit With White Shoes

You can’t get much more of a contrast than black and white. Therefore, wearing a black suit with white shoes can be controversial. 

However, it can look fantastic as long as it’s done correctly. Here are some tips to help you achieve this style.

1. Choose Your Shoe Type Carefully

When wearing a black suit with white shoes, the first thing that will be noticed most of the time is the white shoes.

Amid an outfit of black, a dash of white really stands out; it’s, therefore, crucial to ensure you’ve selected the best shoe type for the ensemble.

There are two primary types of shoes that should be considered as a potential accompaniment to your black suit. These are dress shoes and sneakers.

Dress shoes, such as Oxfords, may seem an obvious complement to the black suit, while sneakers, on the other hand, may not.

Rest assured, both types of shoes can work when worn with a black suit correctly.

It’s worth mentioning that wearing a black suit with white shoes is only really appropriate for events that are smart-casual or even less formal than that. 

This is even the case for dress shoes, despite being typically considered formal attire.

While it may seem unlikely, white sneakers can work incredibly well when worn alongside a black suit.

white sneakers
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However, when choosing white sneakers to wear with this outfit, you should aim for minimalist sneakers with little detail and no patterns or extra colors.

This is due to the fact that wearing such a contrasting and controversial combination is enough of a statement; no additional colors or patterns are necessary, nor are they appropriate.

2. Ensure A Good Fit

As for any outfit, a good fit is essential when sporting a black suit with white shoes – this applies to both the suit and the shoes.

Not only do well-fitted clothes make you look fantastic, but they’re considerably more comfortable too.

Additionally, due to the contrasting colors, it’ll be obvious if something doesn’t fit well. Therefore, making sure that your suit and shoes fit properly is crucial. 

Ensuring a well-fitted suit can be challenging, but as a general rule of thumb, if the jacket extends enough to partly cover your rear, it’s probably the right length.

black suit and tie with white shoes
Image From Deposit Photos

Similarly, if your jacket’s shoulder pads stop at the same place as your shoulder, it likely fits well. 

If the shoulder pads extend past your shoulders, the jacket will look too large, whereas if they stop before your shoulders, it will look too small and feel restrictive.

Going to a tailor is a great way to guarantee a good fit. Whether you have your suit adjusted or entirely tailor-made, it’ll immediately improve your look.

Having well-fitted shoes is also important. Shoes that are too big can look disproportionate to the rest of your body, especially when wearing a tapered suit.

To ensure your shoes fit well, buying them in-store rather than online is highly recommended.

3. Consider The Occasion

Due to the high-contrast nature of a black suit with white shoes, the outfit isn’t appropriate for every situation.

Traditionally, it wouldn’t be acceptable in any scenario; however, due to the development of dress codes, modern times are much more lenient towards breaking traditional rules.

Having said this, it’s important to remember not to get carried away. There are still some rules and guidelines that you should stick to, particularly regarding formal attire.

This means that you should avoid this ensemble at more formal events. Typically, wearing a black suit with white shoes would be acceptable apparel at an event of a semi-formal dress code or less.

Often, occasions of a greater formality than semi-formal have stricter dress codes and rules. These should always be adhered to.

If you’re ever unsure about wearing a black suit with white shoes, you should consider asking the host(s) of the event if it would be appropriate. 

That way, you can be certain you won’t break any rules or dress etiquette when sporting your white shoes and black suit.

4. Dress Down Your Outfit

Generally, suits are associated with formal attire. This is for a good reason, too; they have been the go-to outfit for formal events for generations.

On the other hand, white shoes are primarily related to casual or informal clothing. This is especially true for sneakers.

A great way to wear a black suit with white shoes is to simply dress down your outfit. 

There are many ways you can do this. One way to dress down your outfit is by ditching the tie entirely.

Because you’ll only be wearing a black suit and white shoes in situations where the dress code is pretty relaxed, dropping the tie is acceptable and adds a much more laid-back vibe to your outfit.

dressed down black suit and white shoes
Image From Deposit Photos

As for your shirt, while leaving it tucked in is recommended, you can leave a couple of the top buttons undone (like you would a polo shirt) to create more of a relaxed feel.

By slightly dressing down your outfit, you’re avoiding a formality mismatch – which is a definite possibility when wearing a black suit with white shoes.

5. Wear Gray Socks

As a general rule, the color of your socks should always be a few shades darker than your pants. However, when wearing black, this isn’t really possible.

Dark gray is the best sock color choice to wear alongside this outfit. Socks of this color will complement your black suit nicely while providing a transition from your pants to your shoes.

Alternatively, light gray socks will also work but not quite as well as dark gray socks. Generally, your socks should lean more towards your pants than your shoes, and this is no exception when wearing a black suit with white shoes.

It may be tempting to go for white socks when wearing white shoes, but this should always be avoided. 

6. Keep Your Shoes Clean

It’s no secret that white shoes get dirty quickly. Dirty shoes of any kind don’t look great; however, this is particularly true when it comes to white shoes.

Dirty white shoes will detract from the overall crisp look of a well-fitted, well-ironed black suit. As well as this, dirty shoes will create too much of a formality mismatch, especially if the shoes in question are sneakers.

Wearing sneakers with a suit is controversial enough on its own, let alone white sneakers with a black suit. This means that you’ll likely attract attention.

When making a fashion statement, everything should go as seamlessly as possible, and by ensuring your white shoes are clean, you can assist with this smoothness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions to finalize the topic.

Can You Wear A Black Suit With White Dress Shoes?

Wearing a black suit with white dress shoes, such as Oxfords or Derbys, is possible. You should keep these shoes for smart-casual events, where the dress code is relatively relaxed but a suit would still be appropriate.

It’s entirely possible and acceptable to wear a black suit with white dress shoes. 

They should still be reserved for smart-casual events and nothing more formal than that. At the end of the day, wearing a black suit with white shoes of any variety would never be considered formal. 

Can You Wear A Black Suit With White Tennis Shoes?

You should avoid wearing a black suit with white tennis shoes if possible. This combination simply creates too much of a formality clash between formal and casual apparel, which isn’t really appropriate for any scenario. 

The casual nature of tennis shoes, combined with the formal nature of a suit, creates a formality mismatch.

This formality mismatch would be immediately noticeable and actually quite distracting. 


Now you know the dos and don’ts of wearing a black suit with white shoes. Remember, if you’re ever unsure if it’s appropriate or not, you can ask the host(s) of the event.