How to Wear Black Pants and White Shoes Without Looking Like a Wedding Singer
‘If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.’ - George Washington
If we equate the freedom to dress according to one’s own prerogative to freedom of expression, then this adage rings especially true in times in which dress codes are as fluent and prone to interpretation as any other mode of behavior. George Washington envisioned a society in which everyone had the liberty to express themselves freely, and lucky for us that he did because now we can reap what he had sowed, especially in terms of fashion choices.
However, his white bourgeois wig would have probably fallen off if he saw the layers of freedom we can garner in our wardrobes nowadays. We don’t blame you, George. Who would have guessed back then that in the distant future you would not only be allowed but considered fashion-forward while wearing, say, a blue suit and brown shoes?
‘But, what is a suit anyway?!’ our hypothetical George Washington would dumbfoundedly exclaim.
Why you should wear black pants with white shoes
All jokes aside, strict fashion imperatives about what is in the domain of good fashion sense simply do not make sense anymore. Street chic is in, old-timey gentleman’s restrictions are out. If you want to combine a light grey suit with brown shoes, you are free to do so. If you want to add a grey shirt to complement those brown shoes, you are free to do so as well.
Notice how much the word ‘freedom’ is mentioned? It is because fashion is, essentially, a form of liberation. Fortunately, we have ushered into free-flowing, freedom-loving times in which combining black pants with white shoes is a sign of exquisite fashion sense resulting from a free-thinking outlook on life. That being said, let us dig deep into the liberation movement called black pants and white shoes.
The philosophy behind wearing black pants and white shoes
As we have already mentioned, the influence of street style has made an irreversible impact on how the appropriateness of our attire is perceived. So much so, that new dress codes are being established by the hour. Sure, there are still occasions in which you have to conform to time-tested guidelines of how to pair your shoe color with, for example, brown pants. But, the undeniable fact of contemporary fashion is that there is greater leeway than ever before.
That’s where the black pants and white shoes combo comes in. For some, a harbinger of change, and for others, a stalwart of a new fashion zeitgeist in which individuality and freedom of expression are imperative. Define it as you may, it combines the casual, street fashion influence with the elegant, suave tailoring fit for any smartly dressed gentleman.
How does this peculiar melange come to be? The answer is this - it simultaneously adheres to and breaks the rules of dress. The monochromatic black outfit exudes elegance and tradition, whereas white shoes add an air of mutiny against head-to-toe blackness. In total, they generate a progressive but still an overall elegant color combination which is a viable option in many different contexts and events.
Types of white shoes - formal and informal
In order to be able to appropriately assess what shoes to match with which type of pant, or, on the contrary, to be aware what are the opposing combinations that will fit into the street chic or smart casual mode of dress via contrast, it is advantageous to distinguish between what is usually considered a formal or informal shoe. So, let’s take a look.
Buck dress shoe
Double Monk Strap
White shoes can be difficult to maintain because they quickly get dirty, and any damage to them is more visible. Therefore, they are mostly reserved for indoor events and dry weather.
However, this shouldn’t put you off of wearing white shoes as they compensate for this bad trait by being, deservedly, the epitome of style and, we dare say, sprezzatura. What another way to show the world that your style is so refined and so effortless than by wearing a pair of white brogues or kicks?
Black pants as an essential item of clothing
It is almost redundant to say that black pants are the essential item of clothing. Whether you are a tech-savvy entrepreneur or a retired real estate agent, black pants are the ultimate go-to item due to them being:
- so versatile,
- so easy to pair,
- so suave,
- so effortless,
- so easy maintenance
- so easy to combine with crazy Soxy socks
We have only nice things to say about black pants.
And why limit yourself to pure black? There are numerous shades and nuances derived from the black color foundation that can be paired impeccably with white shoes. However, we will mention those that are most frequently worn and most accessible on the market:
Derivatives of the color black
Color and matching properties
Black toned down with a grey hue, perfect with white canvas shoes
The violet hue adds a touch of luxury to your black and white combo
Charcoal pants and white shoes make for a perfect workplace outfit
The brown hue with white shoes is perfect for open-air events
Accentuates white shoes nicely thanks to its navy blue hue
Types of black pants that match with white shoes
Once you have decided on the perfect shade of black to accentuate your white footwear, you have to opt for the perfect pants. Sure, pants come in numerous shapes, cuts, and forms, so it is no easy task. Ultimately, you just might resort to wearing any black pants that you already own, as they are incredibly versatile.
That is precisely the beauty of the black pants and white shoe combination - they are two opposing entities working together to create a neat color combo. Once you step over the threshold of wearing approved color combinations or exclusively monochromatic combinations, you will be prepped to freely combine formal and informal items of clothing as well.
However, you still need to pay attention to certain contexts in which some types of black pants fit better than others. For that reason, we will discuss which types of pants fit which occasion, but firstly, it is important to acknowledge the traditional degrees of formality ascribed to most frequently worn types of pants and shoes.
Matching formal black pants and white shoes
This is a non-exhaustive list of pants that can be categorized as being more on the formal side. Of course, if self-proclaimed fashion authorities define something as formal or informal, it does not mean this label should stop you from combining them with white shoes that are considered informal. And vice versa.
- Suit pants
- Odd pants
- Flannel Trousers
- Tapered pants
- Cavalry twill pants
Traditionally, you shouldn’t mix suit pants or trousers with such an outrageous and flamboyant shoe color, which white, admittedly, is. We’re talking about white dress shoes, which existence and usage are marginal. So, play it safe and stay away from white shoes altogether when the following dress codes are enforced:
- Formal - high-profile business luncheons, meetings, funerals
- Business - a strict dress code in which white shoes do not fit in
- Black Tie - wearing a tuxedo or a made-to-measure suit is the norm
The only exception would perhaps be wearing a wingtip white leather shoes in combination with a tuxedo for a black-tie or white-tie event. Anything less formal could come off as too daring or, god forbid, impolite.
‘Odd pants’ sounds like an odd term, but it is fairly simple. Suit pants are traditional dress pants that are a constituent part of suits. However, odd pants are, basically, suit pants worn separately, with blazers or sports jackets, or even without them, with a classic dress shirt or a button-down. Therefore, their degree of formality is inherently slightly lesser. For that reason, black odd pants are the perfect match for white shoes resulting from them being less formal, but still a very preppy relative of suit pants.
Black odd pants with white shoes are perfect for a slightly spruced up Smart Casual look. This combination can often be seen at spring and summer weddings, banquets and other events and situations in which strict dress codes are loosened up to allow a bit of individuality to shine through. There are a variety of white shoes that are allowed entrance at such events:
- White brogues
- White oxfords
- White monk straps
- White wingtip shoes
- White buck dress shoes
- White loafers
- White boater shoes
- White canvas shoes
- White low top leather sneakers
Choose your shoes according to your preferences and season. Steer clear of, say, canvas shoes if you are going to an indoor wedding. Likewise, wearing white monk straps on a beach or ranch wedding is also not the best choice because, we assume, you don’t want to ruin your beloved (and pricey!) leather shoes.
Of course, you could even spice things up with colorful dress socks as you can deviate from the norm of wearing black pants and matching black socks. These outfits work great with patterned, spotted or even completely outrageous socks. Remember, it’s a free country!
Black corduroy pants
Corduroy pants, also called cords, can be styled to look very dressy, but are also a few degrees less formal than black suit pants. The key to their appeal is their interesting texture, with corduroy pants with narrow ridges (11 wales i.e. ridges) considered more dressy than their wide-ridged counterparts.
They are also worn with blazers or sport jackets, but are more casual (and more comfortable) than trousers, thus, they provide a suitable foundation for white shoes. Think brogues, moccasins, boater shoes for a dressier, more suave look, and canvas shoes and white slip-ons for a casual yet sophisticated appearance.
Black or Charcoal Flannel Trousers
They are similar to suit pants in terms of appearance, however, they are not made of worsted wool. They are made of softer wool, hence, they are not prone to creasing, which makes them an affordable, easy to maintain, and, last but not least, stylish alternative to classic woolen suit pants. They usually come in grey or charcoal, but they can be black too.
As for the type of white shoes that come into consideration, white brogues and oxfords complement the black or charcoal flannels perfectly as they carry a touch of effortless luxury. You can also pair charcoal flannels with brown shoes rather than white, especially if you’re going for a slightly toned down, traditional ensemble.
If you want to steer clear of the possibility to seem stuffy, then you can easily combine stylish lace-up white kicks for a slightly preppy look (the minimalist Keds) or, for a more casual gait, something along the lines of all-white Adidas Sam Smiths.
For a rebellious, charcoal flannel look reminiscent of the mods fashion style and teddy boy culture, pair up with black and white wingtips or pure white or cream pointy Derbys or Oxfords. Channel The Beatles or The Specials and their early fashion statements.
Tapered pants refer to the cut of the leg rather than the color or material the pant is made of. A tapered leg narrows down gradually and provides a tight fit near the ankles, so it is perfect for drawing attention to your footwear and socks.
If you’re going for a punk-rock sort of aesthetic that is intended to steer your outfit completely off the beaten track, you can then pair up the iconic Converse Chuck Taylor’s with black pants that have a tapered or even cropped leg. You could go sockless or otherwise make a statement by wearing socks - striped, dotted, or themed, as this is the seemingly formal cut that is perfect for stylistic innovation and improvisation.
Cavalry Twill Pants
Not as popular as its other formal trouser cousins, the cavalry twill is characterized by the twill, that is, a diagonal sewing pattern.
They are perfectly matched with blazers, especially black and navy blue blazers. And we all know what accentuates these colors perfectly. OK, brown shoes. But also white. For possible shoe types, these pants are on the dressier side of the formal-informal spectrum, so be sure to stick to equally dressy shoes on formal occasions.
Find perfect socks to go with white shoes and black pants
Finding the perfect pair of socks to match your white shoe black pants combo is easy! You can go with the classic white, black, or any color under the sun! If you’re feeling adventurous, try patterned socks such as these orange polka dot socks from Soxy.
Of course, you can go even crazier with, for example, these chef socks to show everybody who makes the best tacos in town!
Matching informal black pants and white shoes
We will dedicate due attention to informal and casual pants and even sportswear as the trend of combining black pants with white shoes has found its place primarily in the domain of casual menswear.
Word of advise - if you are going for the ultimate, show-stopper, head-turning ensemble, then you should follow the aforementioned principle of simultaneously breaking and complementing the all-black unity with white footwear. Think yin and yang, only without the dots.
- Black jeans
- Black chinos
- Tracksuit pants
Jeans have been a mainstay of menswear for decades. There are plenty of reasons for this - they are durable, stylish, comfortable (most of the time), the shapes and cuts they can assume are numerous, they work both in semi-formal and casual contexts. What more does one need? Of course, classic jeans have blue hues, but black jeans are just as present in retail as blue jeans are.
However, precisely because they are so versatile, sometimes they can be tricky to match or even buy as it is dependent on your body type. Additionally, as with everything in fashion, there are jeans which are more or less formal.
The versatility of the jeans is, in a way, a double-edged sword, as not every pair of black jeans is a panacea, an all-applicable item of clothing. You shouldn’t be swayed to think that your black skinny jeans are perfectly appropriate for a job interview in a company that adheres to a smart casual dress code.
To be on the safe side in such situations, sport regular and slim fit black jeans that fit you like a glove with a matching blazer or sport jacket. Also, avoid jeans with details and embellishments like chains, bleached denim, ripped denim, and the like. When it comes to shoes, white, tennis shoes are on the casual side, but are workplace appropriate in the creative industries.
On the other hand, in non-formal, no dress code situations, black jeans are marvelous to pair as they provide the perfect basis for combining… well, just about anything.
- Wear white or cream high-top Converse Chuck Taylors with black jeans and a black hoodie for the ultimate ‘too-cool-for-school’ look.
- Wear white canvas low-tops with black jeans and a plain black tee and you are good to go just about anywhere and be Berlin-stylish without feeling overdressed.
- If you want to go even further down the casual lane, then wear a monochromatic tee in any color you want. Polo shirts and button-downs are also an option.
- You can wear espadrilles, loafers or boat shoes with a black polo shirt to channel Steve McQueen’s macho refined style with a modern twist. Pair this up with a watch and sunglasses on you are ready for a boating extravaganza or a casual stroll in the city center.
Basically, with black jeans, the possibilities are almost endless.
While jeans provide firmer structure than chinos, which are also made of cotton, they are considered to be more dressy than jeans. The fabric has a twill weave, which allows them to strike a happy balance somewhere between smart attire and comfortable casual pants.
This means you can combine your black chinos with anything from white brogues to ‘oh-so-popular’ minimalist chunky trainers a la Balenciaga. As for the top, a colorful T-shirt or a button-down shirt are equally appropriate options, depending on the degree of formality you want to assume.
Of course, for the ultimate, fresh off the Vetements runway, you could combine normcore elements like a white baseball cap with white chunky New Balance shoes or leather low-top sneakers with black chinos for a touch of suaveness.
Tracksuit pants and joggers
While many wouldn’t even consider tracksuit pants and joggers as a viable option to wear anywhere but in the gym, thanks to social media networks and celebrities that have approved this trend, tracksuit pants are a trend to die for. This ‘dress code-bending’ has sprung up from the 90s hip hop community and other subculture movements in cities such as New York, London, Paris, Berlin, and even Seoul.
Unlike in the past when fashion was dictated mostly by big fashion designers, the trendsetters in the world we live in today don their tracksuits proudly in the suburbs of metropolises. Lonsdale, Adidas, and North Face sportswear are the dominant brands of the European youth fashion, whereas Nike, Supreme and Off-White reign supreme all over the globe.
There are numerous quality brands that have entered history by designing white sports shoes. Also, they come in so many shapes, sizes and textures unlike other types of shoes, and due to that quality, they have become the essential area of interest for many a fashion aficionado.
If you are ready to jump on the bandwagon, consider that as with extremely formal occasions that require you to pair suiting with nothing else but black dress shoes, extremely informal tracksuits and joggers are primarily matched with trainers or sneakers.
Of course, no need to mention that the difference lies in the fact that you can choose any color of footwear that comes to mind. However, black tracksuit pants go wonderfully with white footwear, and, it must be noted, this combination makes for a slightly more composed look as it is comprised of only two colors.
The black pants and white shoes experience
All in all, this combination will work wonders for you as it will allow you to get out of your comfort zone while retaining a polished and well-thought-out signature style. Enjoy the black and white experience!