Just like most aspects of style, color coordination is cyclical. Something which isn’t “OK” today may well be OK a few years from now. The question is, can you wear a brown belt with black pants?
It’s possible to wear a brown belt with black pants as long as the belt is paired with brown shoes that are of a similar shade. Dark brown belts work well with more formal black pants, while light brown belts are more suitable for casual black pants like chinos.
That may be the gist, but as always, there’s more to it.
Here are some essential tips for wearing a brown belt with black pants in the most effective way possible.
1. Always Wear Brown Shoes
It’s crucial to wear brown shoes whenever you choose to wear a brown belt with black pants. Not doing so could potentially throw the whole outfit off balance and make it look poorly coordinated.
The “black doesn’t go with brown” principle doesn’t really hold true anymore. In fact, I’m skeptical that it ever did.
Black can definitely go with brown, as long as you stick to some pretty basic rules.
Matching the color of your belt to the color of your shoes will make everything look more intentional and well-coordinated.
It’s almost as though you’re sandwiching or blocking the black pants in between two brown items – the belt and the shoes.
2. Try To Match The Shades Of Brown
While wearing any pair of brown shoes with any brown belt would probably work, if you’re aiming for perfection it won’t be enough.
As best as possible, try to match the shades of brown as well.
For example, when wearing a dark brown belt, a pair of shoes in a similar shade of dark brown would look great.
For example, these dark brown Derby shoes:
Would go well with a dark brown belt like this example on Amazon:
In much the same way, when wearing a light brown belt, a pair of shoes in a similar shade of light brown would look just as good.
So, these light brown cap-toe Oxfords:
Would work better with a light brown belt like this example on Amazon:
It doesn’t have to match perfectly. It’s just something to consider whenever you’re shopping for the items.
When buying a brown belt, think about the shade of the brown shoes you’ve got at home and try to match it as closely as possible.
It’s the little things like this that make the difference between a good outfit and a great one.
3. Wear Dark Brown Socks
When wearing a brown belt with black pants, wear dark brown socks.
It’s common practice to match the socks to the pants you’re wearing as closely as possible. If you were to do that here, technically, the “correct” option would be to wear black socks.
The trouble is, it isn’t the best option for the specific combination of colors you’re going to be wearing here.
Taking the previous tips into account, you’ll be wearing a brown belt, black pants, and brown shoes.
What you want is a gradual transition from the black pants to the brown shoes. It isn’t essential, but it would be ideal.
One way of doing this is by choosing a sock color somewhere in between the black pants and the brown shoes you’re wearing.
Usually, this means wearing a pair of dark brown socks.
This transition from the black pants to the dark brown socks, and finally to the brown shoes works well because it’s gradual and appears natural.
Overall, it would be a better option than wearing black socks here.
4. Light Brown Belt With Casual Black Pants
We’ve talked about the importance of trying to match the shades of the brown belt and brown shoes as closely as possible.
But how do you decide whether to go for dark brown or light brown when wearing black pants?
Put simply, consider the formality of the setting you’re attending.
In general, light shades of brown look casual and would be a better option if the black pants you’re wearing are on the more casual end of the spectrum.
If, for example, you’re wearing a pair of black jeans, black chinos, or black dress pants made from a more rugged fabric, a light brown belt would work well.
Don’t get me wrong – you could easily wear a dark brown belt here as well.
But if you wanted a more casual aesthetic, a light brown belt (with light brown shoes) would be the way to go.
Another reason why it’ll look more casual is the contrast it’ll produce with the black pants. The lighter the shade of your brown belt, the more contrast there will be with the pants, and the more eye-catching and casual it’ll look.
5. Dark Brown Belt With Formal Black Pants
If you’re wearing a pair of formal black pants – for example, as part of a black 2-piece suit – wear a dark brown belt.
This dark brown belt should be matched as closely as possible in shade to the dark brown shoes you’re wearing.
In general, darker shades of brown will always look more formal than lighter shades.
In fact, there’s a good chance that a lighter shade of brown (eg. tan) may look a little strange when worn with a more formal pair of black suit pants.
The same goes for black slacks made from a more formal fabric like worsted wool.
Go for a darker shade of brown leather in these cases to be safe.
6. Consider A Dark-Colored Blazer
A dark-colored blazer would be a good item to complement the black pants and brown shoes. Ideal blazer colors would be black, charcoal grey, or navy blue.
They’d work well because they’re dark enough to sync with the dark items worn below, creating balance between the top half and the bottom half of the outfit.
In addition, they’re also neutral colors that are easy to combine with a variety of different colors without clashing.
This does assume you’re not wearing those black pants as part of a black suit, however. If you are, then you’ll have to wear the matching suit jacket they came with.
If, on the other hand, your black pants were simply dress pants, chinos, or another more casual item, you could wear them with a non-matching jacket such as a blazer or a sports coat.
It’s a great way to dress the outfit up a little.
7. Consider A Light-Colored Shirt For Contrast
After going for a dark-colored blazer and a pair of black pants, you may want to lighten up the outfit a little with your choice of shirt.
It’s a great way to add some contrast.
Wearing a light-colored shirt such as white, off-white, or even baby blue, will give you that contrast.
It would be different enough from the black pants and the blazer to prevent the overall outfit from appearing too monochromatic.
It’s a simple tip that’s surprisingly effective.
Sticking to this tip, as well as the others in this list, should ensure that you wear this combination in the best way possible, each and every time.