It is often said that it is the shoes that make the outfit, and this certainly applies when choosing which shoes to match with your suit colour. The style, colour and fabric of your shoes can either elevate or demote the style and character you project. Looking sharp and sartorially sure of oneself leaves a lasting impression like nothing else. Below is our guide for matching shoes to suits. Firstly, let's start with matching your shoes to your suit colour.
In general, the lighter the suit colour (therefore the more informal), the more colour options there are available to experiment with.
Black goes with black only. This isn’t one of those rules you can break, when choosing your black suit shoes make sure you are wearing a nice pair of black shoes.
Charcoal suit shoes are much like the black suit, with black shoes being the only option.
Blue or Navy Suit
Blue hues call for black or brown footwear; note that navy suits sit better atop a slightly darker shade.
Long the domain of the of the college professor, the brown suit has made quite the comeback, and you'll be safest with a pair of tan, dark brown or burgundy shoes, but don’t stray too far from these colours.
Light Grey Suit
You can definitely be more creative when choosing your light grey suit shoes, which can reasonably be paired with a multitude of colours, most commonly black, burgundy, or brown.
Now, we'll touch on the different types of shoes, starting with more formal shoes.
For the most formal of situations, and usually the kind in which one needs to make a good impression, be true to tradition on this one; a pair of black patent Oxfords is guaranteed to match with a black tie dress code. However if you’re stuck on the almost outdated option of opera pumps, consider a modern, elegant alternative such as a loafer or slipper. Popular styles are textured, with velvet slippers or highly polished loafers being particular favourites. Pick up a pair of black, silk-blend socks as a subtle yet luxurious finish to evening wear.
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Derbies vs. Oxfords
Let's firstly address the difference between the Derby and a pair of Oxfords. The Derby has open lacing whilst the Oxford - its more formal brother- has closed lacing; meaning it’s stitched down, or is attached the the upper (the top of the shoe). Knowing this difference is vital, because turning up to a black tie dinner in a tux and Derbies is like confusing Bourbon with Scotch.
Both are timeless shoes, one can never go wrong with a hardy, well made pair of either. The more versatile of the two, without doubt, is the Derby; it can be worn as a classic pairing with a tailored suit, yet is just as at home when coordinated with a pair of chinos. The Oxford, with its stitched down lacing, gives a slicker impression, and is one of the few shoes worn with evening wear.
A fail safe option for workwear; the monk strap is there when you’re just about ready to ditch the Derbies for a day. The choice between a single or double strap shoe is down to personal preference although we’d say the former is smarter, whilst the latter has a slightly chunkier, cooler feel. Don’t be afraid to experiment with all dress shoes; most work well outside of formalwear, offering a smart edge to your off-duty get up.
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When looking to add a stylish yet effortless edge to your light grey suit, look no further than the a man’s wardrobe staple, the humble brogue. A mahogany hued handcrafted pair by Grenson will add a smart finish. For a more contemporary take on the brogue, opt for a pair by Japanese label Visvim; complete with their signature printed heel sole accent for a deliciously subtle detail. These beautiful crafted burgundy brogues will no longer leave you wondering what colour shoes to wear with your grey suit.
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The days when you could only wear a suit with a nice pair of lace ups have long since past. Below are a selection of some of casual options for less formal occasions or those that want to be a bit more daring with their style choices.
Chunky Soles - Boots Or Shoes
For those looking for a bold choice, an alternative for the ultra-modern office uniform is to opt for a shoe with a chunky sole. Make sure this shoe is polished and smart for a chic appearance, taking inspiration from Art Comes First duo Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh, who regularly dare to don their Dr Martens with classic double breasted suits. Offerings from Bass Weejuns, Red Wing and Alexander McQueen give a range of styles to experiment with; try these with a low key charcoal suit. Not a look for everyone, but definitely makes a bold statement.
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Originally described as “off-beat casual for up-beat intellectuals” by its inventor Clarks, the desert boot is a perfect option for those dreaded sticky summer days. This very British boot adds a relaxed aspect to office wear and is perfect when paired with a grey suit. The best thing about the desert boot is its versatility; packing for a business trip is painless when your footwear works just as well with Levis as with 9 to 5 workwear.
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Don’t be too quick to judge the loafer; the stale preppy stereotype is no more. Often overlooked as a formal shoe due to its slip-on quality- a durable, quality leather or suede loafer can look equally as smart as it’s more formal friends. If you’re still cautious, get acquainted with the penny style before looking into tassels and horsebit designs. As this shoe is more open it’s perfect for summertime in the city, but beware: if going sock-less is your thing then purchase a pair of invisible socks because let’s face it; no one likes swollen, sticky feet.
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If you don’t own any already, make the next item you purchase a pair of premium sneakers. Keep them sleek, low top, and minimal. This is a great way to carry office wear into casual territory. If you’re heading out after work swap your shirt for a sweater and keep it tonal by choosing a similar shade sneaker. Thanks to this increasing trend there’s now a huge variety available, notably by Common Projects (a.k.a- the holy grail of the luxe sneaker), Adidas, and Paul Smith. One last word of advice- this look must be sharp and well tailored; a relaxed fit and your old trainers risks looking like you’ve just been to the gym.
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Once you have decided which shoes you want to match with your suit, it’s time to start thinking about the main event - your tailored jacket. See our new video series on our YouTube channel exploring the details behind our tailored jackets and why they are the epitome of design and luxury.