There is a school of thought that is of the opinion that a man’s outfit is accessed from his shoes up, if this is true then the shade of the shoes is what colors people’s judgment. Shoes like everything else in men’s fashion has evolved in recent times. These days you can wear trainers with a suit and oxfords with jeans but the key to pulling either of these looks out is in color matching; get the shade wrong and you’ll look a mess. You may have faltered at some point and paired the wrong shade of brown with your trousers and as much as matching shoe colors can be readily learnt, sometimes coordinating them with pants can be confusing. Matching colors is one of the hardest things for men sometimes to pull off that’s why it’s easy to stick to tonal combinations of black shoes and black pants which can never go wrong. But unless you intend to only wear limited colors of pants all year round you will need a couple other colors of shoes to give you enough options to choose from.
Owning a black pair of shoes is the smartest color you could have in my opinion because it is a must-have in every man’s wardrobe and every man needs a pair of clean, black lace-up shoes. On the other hand, there is really no least- smart color to own but what would be the least-smart move to make will be not exploring your options. My recommendation will be to have fun with different shades and for those who knows little to nothing about shoe color matching there are some basic rules to guide you in your next combo. Here are some basic rules to match your shoes with your clothes putting into consideration your shoes smartness which is measured by decoration as well as its shade.
- Darker shades are smarter and more versatile than lighter colors
- Block colors are smarter than multicolor
- Trainers and smart-shoes obey different rules – white oxfords are weird but white trainers works with anything.
- When wearing a bright color on your feet, balance it up with neutrals.
- Coordinate your trousers according to the dominant color of a multicolor shoe
- Do not match your shoes and trouser shades too closely. You can use brighter socks to complement the shades.
Why coordinating shoes and trousers is perceived to be hard
Many men out there have difficulty with coordination for a number of reasons:
- Conflicting information on the subject. There are a lot of coordination suggestions out there and it can be frustrating and confusing to find a standardized and straightforward one rule fits it all.
- Coordination is much an art as it is a science. I’ll like to concede that there is rarely a suggestion that works in all cases. This is particularly relatable when we have unorthodox colors like purple shoes or yellow trousers to deal with which can be quite tricky to coordinate.
- Lots of factors come into focus. Since dark brown shoes with a dark grey trousers works perfectly does it still work when the shoes are suede opposed to leather? What if the trousers are casual and not dressy or the shoes are penny loafers?
All the what-ifs are enough to make your head spin resulting in a search for answers! Focusing on color first is pretty much the most important factor to consider before everything else in my opinion. After color the materials are a major deciding factor as well because some combination will look better with leather shoes as opposed to suede and vice-versa. We will be looking at the most useable and relatable shoe colors:
Black shoes are the smartest version of shoe colors in any category for every circumstance. A pair of black oxfords is probably the most dressed-up shoes you have in your closet and it is limiting to what clothes you can pair them with. They might look good dressed-up but pairing them with a pair of jeans can be a turnoff. Black shoes go well with black, grey or charcoal tailored clothing. It also works with blue but stick to darker shades of navy rather than the likes of royal blue. Casual pants can be tricky to coordinate because the less formal styles of black shoes are better paired with casual fabrics like chinos and jeans but Chelsea boots or a derby looks better than oxfords on casual pants. Finally, avoid shorts and black shoes if it isn’t a school uniform.
Brown shoes are an extensive category and there are probably hundreds of different shades of brown and there is a tone for almost any situation. The lighter the shade, the relaxed the look it gives. Brown is a great shade of smart shoes that are perfect with black suits or tuxedo adding personality alongside. Brown shoes are a perfect go-to for chinos of any color but be careful not to match up too closely by giving at least two shades of difference between your trousers and your shoes. Darker brown shoes can be paired with indigo denims and other washed out shades but with less formal shoe types like suede or Chelsea boots.
Oxblood can pass almost as a neutral and tend to work same way as brown shoes but they are a touch bolder. Oxblood color is a great way of adding an ounce of personality to your overall look, making a statement by integrating new colors in silhouettes you wear on a daily. Oxbloods are easy to pull off if you dress them down a touch. Oxblood derbies are more versatile than oxfords because they won’t work with your suits but can be worn with everything from navy tailored pants to jeans and chinos. Oxblood penny loafers are best paired with light-wash denim to tan, navy and colorful chinos.
Tan is brown most casual tone and it is best on more relaxed styles like boots or derbies. Tan suedes are best worn with fairly informal outfits and tan is always a great way to personalize your outfit and it is a great pair for brighter shades of blue or patterned fabrics like pinstripes. Tan works well with jeans of all shades and chinos of any color. Tan shoes are great with shorts especially with something lace-less like a penny loafer or texture suede.
Blue shoes are a perfect way to add personality to your looks in more casual styles. It may be an uncomfortable color for smart shoes. Textured blue leathers work well in navy and can be worn as a pop of color in black casual outfits. Blue suedes are an approved way to pull off blue shoes better than leathers. Blue suedes work well with any color of suit as long as it is not black same applies for chinos as well.
White trainers are the sneaker that has acted like a smart shoe in recent times. As long as you own a pair that is clean, crafted in premium leather and free from logos it can be worn with just about anything. They work with any suit color black inclusive, they are great with jeans, chinos and shorts – whatever trousers you have, white trainers will work. The only trick with this pair is keeping them the way it should be – white and crisp.
The multiple colors of these pairs makes it less versatile and they only work with neutrals unless you are able to pull off a major advanced color-matching stunt which will in no doubt leave onlookers with a headache. Since colorful trainers are very casual it is wise to stick with jeans (white, black), joggers (grey, black or navy) and chinos (tan and navy). You should let your shoes do the talking, if they are the brightest thing in your outfit then they will draw attention.
I believe this information will assist you better in your coordination game. Let me know how it played out in the comment section.