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How to Match Your Shoes with your Outfit

The basis of every man’s outfit is his shoes. After all, shoes make the man. Just like your clothes, shoes reflect your personality, mood and outlook. Whether it is to impress your boss, a beautiful lady or your mother-in-law, your choice of shoes is vital but not necessarily easy. In the last decade we have seen that traditional fashion rules are blurring and new fashion combinations have become very popular. 15 years ago you could only wear a pair of black shoes under your suit, and now it is perfectly acceptable to wear a wide array of coloured and printed shoes. All these options haven’t made things easier but if you get it right, shoes can be your best partner in crime.

Black suits 

Black suits have always been the most popular type of suit. They are neutral, don’t stand out from the crowd, and fit the dress code for almost any setting and situation, whether it is a job interview, attending a business meeting or showing up at a wedding. Traditionally, black shoes are the only choice to wear under a black suit. After all, nothing beats black on black. That is not to say that you cannot add a little twist to your outfit. You can for example use blue laces to mix it up, or you can buy a black pair with blue accents such as a blue sole. This also makes your outfit that little bit more casual and playful, while retaining the neutral look of a classic black shoe. 

Wearing a tuxedo? Then a pair of black shiny patent leather oxfords is the obvious way to go. A bold alternative to the classic black dress shoe would be a dark blue coloured shoe with a print, such as a snake print or a crocodile print. In most cases these shoes are still made from calf leather and not from exotic animals like snakes or crocodiles. The print is just added in the finishment of the dress shoes. So don't worry, you are not violating any wildlife regulations. Lastly, you could opt for black smooth leather Chelsea boots, to make your outfit a little more laidback. Another bonus of Chelsea boots is that they are usually a little more comfortable to wear.

Blue suits 

Blue is the new black. Both in summer and winter, blue suits are suitable for business and for pleasure. It may be no surprise that blue suits are as popular right now as they have ever been. And for good reason… they're less formal and boring than a black suit, yet perfectly acceptable at even the most formal business meeting with that prospect you've been desperately trying to win over. There are many different blue toned suits around, ranging from dark navy to sky blue. A good rule to follow is the lighter the blue, the lighter your shoes. 

This mainly has to do with the fact that lighter coloured suits are generally perceived to be less formal than darker coloured suits. A navy blue suit combines perfectly with a cognac or brown smooth leather shoe. Another option is to combine your navy suit with a dark coloured suede derby, loafer or monk strap. Suede monk straps with two buckles have been very popular in recent years. According to the classic rules of fashion, suede is less formal than smooth leather. Although many people don’t know it, suede shoes are also cheaper to make than leather shoes. Nonetheless, suede shoes are very stylish and have been widely accepted in popular fashion trends.

Grey suit 

Perfect for a wedding or a spring day party. As mentioned, the lighter the colour of your suit, the less formal and the more playful it is. Nowadays, a dark grey suit can be worn at formal occasions. You just need to ensure your suit matches well with darker coloured shoes, such as black, dark blue or dark suede. In addition, black Chelsea boots are a great option. For less formal occasions, brown or light coloured suede shoes and boots, as well as brown smooth leather shoes are the way to go. A nice twist would be a more colourful tie or socks to contrast with the very neutral grey. Another great option to contrast this neutrality is to choose a coloured shirt. Especially black and blue suits require a light shirt, but with a grey suit there is much more freedom to choose something darker and more colourful. Or perhaps switch your shirt for a turtleneck. 

Semi-formal style 

Tired of wearing a suit all day long? For most occasions a nice pair of chinos (or even jeans) in combination with a shirt is perfectly acceptable. You may opt for a blazer to formalize your outfit. A classic option would be to go for cognac or brown shoes. The advantage of this choice is that brown tones fit well with both jeans and chinos and therefore brown or cognac shoes provide great value and convenience. And when shopping, isn’t that just what a man is looking for? Since suede shoes are less formal than smooth leather shoes, a nice pair of stylish yet comfortable suede derby shoes or monk straps will do the trick. Yet another great option, is a suede loafer. Especially on a nice warm sunny day, as they can be very nice to wear while being stylish as well.

Casual style 

The casualization of fashion is a major trend that cannot be denied. Especially in the last 5 years and certainly following the Covid-19 pandemic, people are familiar with wearing more casual fashion. There are plenty of options to keep this type of style stylish. If you like wearing colourful printed shoes, this is your chance to go all the way. If not, a nice pair of Chelsea boots are the preferred way to go. This can range from a nice pair of dark coloured boots for autumn and winter to brighter coloured suede boots for spring and summer. 

Extra tips 

Combining style with comfort: Shoes should first and foremost be comfortable. Why wear shoes that you simply don’t enjoy wearing? The point of dress shoes is that they have a certain appeal, a certain elegance that you simply cannot mimic with other types of footwear. Combine this elegance with comfort and you have the perfect dress shoe. 

Pay attention to the quality of your outfit and shoes: Often people discard the need for a good quality pair of comfortable and stylish shoes. They may wear very expensive suits, with little attention to their shoes. Just that little extra attention to your shoes can make the difference. This certainly does not mean that you need to buy very expensive shoes. Starting from around £160 ($210) there are very nice shoes around that are comfortable, stylish, and well made. 

Match your shoes with your belt and watch: Now that you know everything about matching your shoes with your clothes, we can look at other aspects of your outfit, most importantly your belt. While serving an obvious functional purpose, your belt can also be an important stylish part of your outfit. Luckily, there is one simply rule that covers the majority of options: match the leather colours. The closer you get to the colour of your shoes, the better. But don’t worry, a slight difference in tone is perfectly fine. After all, there are so many different shades of brown that it is very difficult to find the exact same tone. 


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