While most people own one, many find coordinating them pretty difficult. The question is, what color shoes should you wear with a black suit?
A black suit can be worn with black or dark brown dress shoes in formal settings. If the setting is semi-formal or smart-casual, consider wearing the black suit with oxblood or burgundy dress shoes instead.
That’s the gist, but there’s more to it.
After going through a couple of guidelines to follow whenever you color match black suits with shoes, we’ll run through the available options in more detail.
Let’s get to it.
How To Color Match Black Suits With Shoes
Consider these guidelines before making your decision.
Consider The Setting
Certain shoe colors will always look more formal than others.
Black and dark brown dress shoes are the best options when you’re wearing black shoes to a formal setting where there’s a risk of underdressing.
Examples might include corporate work settings, interviews, and funerals.
These are events where you’ll want to dress up and you’ll want minimal contrast between the black suit and the shoes.
The darker and more traditional the shoe colors, the better. While dark brown would be a reasonable alternative, if you really don’t want to risk underdressing, always go for black shoes.
If you feel as though the setting is a little more “smart-casual” or semi-formal but a black suit would still be appropriate, a more striking color such as oxblood or burgundy would be worth considering instead.
It’s worth mentioning that the material of the shoes you wear should be considered in addition to the color.
Shinier grains of leather such as calfskin or cowhide would be much more appropriate if you were looking to dress more formally.
However, if you were looking to dress down a black suit, the napped texture of suede would be a good potential option instead.
Always Wear A Matching Belt
When wearing a black suit (or any suit for that matter), be sure to match your belt to your shoes.
A common mistake is trying to match the belt to the suit.
The most correct and effective practice, however, is to have the belt match the shoes.
So, if you’re wearing black shoes, wear a black belt.
If you’re wearing burgundy shoes, wear a burgundy belt.
It may sound restrictive, but it’s the simplest way to make any suit appear well thought out and carefully coordinated.
The shades of the belt and shoes don’t need to be exactly the same. But in many ways, the closer they are, the better.
4 Shoe Colors You Can Wear With Black Suits
While these shoe colors have already been mentioned, it’s worth discussing each of them in more detail.
What they’d look like, as well as where they’d be most appropriate to wear with a black suit.
Black shoes should be worn with a black suit in formal and business-professional settings where you don’t want to risk underdressing.
While the black suit and black shoe combo is as monochromatic as you could get, it would be considered the most “correct” option in truly formal settings.
This may include settings such as interviews, funerals, and corporate work settings.
While you’ve got several black dress shoe styles to choose from, if you’re really looking to dress up, consider a pair of black Oxford shoes.
A pair of Derby shoes would usually be considered perfectly appropriate as well, despite being a notch more casual.
If you’re looking for a way to prevent a black suit and black shoe combo from looking too monochromatic, consider adding a splash of color with your tie or pocket square.
However, try to keep the general color theme dark. Consider a dark shade of a “cool” color such as forest or hunter green.
Alternatively, consider a dark shade of a “warm” color such as burgundy red or maroon.
Dark brown shoes can be worn with a black suit in formal and business-professional settings. The subtle contrast between the dark brown and the black prevents the outfit from looking too monochromatic while still coming across as formal.
Dark brown shoes are extremely versatile.
While they won’t look quite as formal as a pair of black shoes worn with a black suit, they’ll still look more than formal enough for most settings.
While it used to be thought that brown shoes and black suits don’t mix, this is considered outdated and incorrect now.
It’s perfectly acceptable to wear brown shoes with black suits and the contrast between the two appeals to many.
However, it’s best to stick to dark brown shoes and avoid lighter shades of brown such as tan when wearing a black suit.
Shoes in lighter shades of brown will usually contrast the black suit too much, to the point where it becomes overbearing.
Stick to dark shades of brown wherever possible.
Oxblood shoes can be worn with black suits in formal settings, but will always have a more relaxed and social look to them than black and dark brown shoes.
Because of this, it’s important to consider the dress code and setting before wearing the combination.
Oxblood is a dark shade of red but has strong dark brown hues that make it look more formal than other dark red shades.
However, they’ll never look quite as formal as black or dark brown shoes and shouldn’t be worn if there are any concerns about underdressing.
If you’re attending a more laid-back and social formal event where black shoes wouldn’t be necessary, oxblood shoes would be a reasonable alternative.
Burgundy dress shoes can be worn with a black suit in smart-casual and semi-formal settings.
Burgundy is a dark shade of red, just like oxblood. However, burgundy has distinctive purplish hues that make them more eye-catching and striking.
In general, they’ll look “redder” than a pair of oxblood shoes.
Burgundy shoes are dark enough to sync well with a black suit. However, it’s hard to deny that the contrast will be noticeable and in-your-face.
Because of this, avoid wearing burgundy shoes and a black suit to truly formal settings wherever possible.
Wear the combo to events that are social and smart-casual/semi-formal at most.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to a few FAQs on the topic to finish up.
Can You Wear Grey Shoes With A Black Suit?
Grey shoes should not be worn with a black suit because the combination often looks awkward and out of place. Grey is not a traditional color for dress shoes and it would usually draw unwanted attention.
If you were looking to make more of a statement, however, it may be worth considering.
Can You Wear Blue Shoes With A Black Suit?
Blue shoes shouldn’t be worn with a black suit, as the contrast between the two colors would be too attention-grabbing and overbearing.
The combination would look especially odd when wearing a black suit to a formal setting.
Blue is a more unusual color for dress shoes. They’d usually be more appropriate in casual settings where you’re free to take risks.
However, even in these settings, the combination would usually come across as too much.
If you do wear blue shoes with a black suit, however, try to find a pair in a very dark shade of blue.
The darker the blue shoes, the less contrast you’ll have with the black suit, and the less likely it’ll come across as awkward.
Can You Wear White Shoes With A Black Suit?
White shoes should only be worn with a black suit in smart-casual settings. The high-contrast combination will always have a casual look to it and should never be worn on formal occasions.
The style of white shoes most commonly worn with a black suit is sneakers.
While it’s a tough combination to pull off, it can be done if the setting is casual enough to allow for it and the black suit has a pretty casual look to it as well.
Black, dark brown, oxblood, and burgundy dress shoes are the best and most traditional colors to wear with a black suit. The one you choose should depend on the setting and the dress code.