How to Wear a Blue Suit and Brown Shoes - A Style Guide

blue suit brown shoes

How to Match Brown Shoes With a Blue Suit and Be the Talk of the Town

Whether you are a devoted type of person when it comes to wearing suits or just looking to spice up your regular suit-wearing game, the blue suit brown shoe combination is your way to go. The main reason why any gentleman should consider this color scheme is mostly since blue suits are the black suit’s closest relative in terms of their suave and timeless elegance. At the same time, brown shoes complement the blue suit so much better than the classic black dress shoes. This color combination could very well be the fashion counterpart to coffee and cigarettes. Of course, without being a detriment to your health. 

The blue suit exudes elegance intertwined with originality, both sought-after qualities in any given look. The brown shoes accentuate the color blue impeccably. However, it is not solely reserved for it, as, for instance, grey suit and brown shoes also make for a stylish combination. Both of these items of clothing come in many colors, shapes, and forms and are equally appropriate in formal, professional contexts and more relaxed, casual situations.

This results in this color arrangement being versatile and adaptable, so much so that it enables stepping out of your black comfort zone, but remaining within the boundaries of good taste for any given occasion. Especially when you take into account that office dress codes, which used to be very strict and unforgiving, are becoming noticeably lax with each season.

blue suit brown shoes

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Is it better to match black shoes or brown shoes with a blue suit?

Of course, as with anything, the blue suit and brown shoe combo has its fair share of detractors, for instance, Donald Trump’s top economic advisor who is an uncompromising proponent of black shoes. This viewpoint harkens back to the time when black dress shoes were the only appropriate shoes to wear in a formal setting and brown shoes specifically designated for casual events or warm weather. 

Such prescriptions are, to some extent, grounded in the inclination to respect tradition by wearing time-tested sartorial combinations. However, we are of the opinion that, ultimately, rules are there to be broken. If not, perhaps we would all still be wearing top hats and mustachios. But luckily, times are changing, and any fashion-forward gentleman will surely strive to keep up with the blue and brown times. 

When dressing for events that do not adhere to strict dress codes that instruct us to never combine blue suits and brown shoes, choosing between brown or black shoes is purely a matter of preference. If you want to keep it safe, then opt for black dress shoes. If you still want to keep it safe, only dress a little bit more daring, then feel free to go with brown. Don’t be afraid to add a tinge of brown color to your outfit as it is no longer considered an outrageous color combo like in the olden days.

How to wear a blue suit and brown shoes

However, those that want to join the ‘blue suit and brown shoe club’ need to be aware that there is an entire science to selecting and combining various features of the fabric, all of which may be equally important for sporting the perfect suit. Pay attention to the following features: 

  • color
  • shade
  • color temperature
  • material
  • prints
  • cut 

Since there are hundreds of tints and shades of the color blue, the task of opting for the perfect one in relation to the shade of your brown shoes is not a simple one. A convenient rule of thumb is the following adage - always consider the shade of your brown shoes and try to match the shade of blue with it. If you have dark shoes, then wear a darker, navy blue suit. If you have tan shoes, then be sure to opt for a lighter, powder blue suit, like the gentleman below.  

navy suit brown shoes

Source Image: paulaosoriotailored

When to wear a navy blue suit with brown shoes

The sheer number of shades and tints the color blue can assume accounts for the versatility of this look. Of course, the shades are in close connection to the level of formality of the given outfit. That is why different occasions conform to different rules of dress. Therefore, you should adhere to the established rules of what color and shade combination is perceived acceptable in regards to the following occasions and contexts.

  1. Workplace
  2. Business Casual
  3. Formal
  4. Smart Casual

Workplace

As previously mentioned, some style experts advise against wearing brown shoes in professional contexts. On the other hand, some are of the opinion that this is an outdated point of view, a remnant of times when culture, and in turn, fashion were divided on high-brow and low-brow. 

However, it must be said that black suit and black shoes are a staple in corporate, formal business contexts. So much so that, a study has confirmed, potential job candidates do not stand a chance of getting the position if unaware of ‘opaque’ dress codes present in London’s financial institutions. There is even a moniker that illustrates this phenomenon - ‘no brown in town’.

Therefore, it is essential to make your ‘style decisions’ in relation to the workplace environment, the sector, and general cultural perceptions. 

Type of professional setting

Do’s and don’ts

job interview, important business meeting, financial sector

Abstain from wearing brown shoes with a blue suit altogether

other sectors

Wear dark brown, almost black shoes

creative industry, a conference, business luncheon

Brown brogues are perfectly acceptable

Business Casual

Fortunately, the world of fashion has ushered full speed ahead into an age in which sartorial rules of the olden times are disobeyed and the bans on certain color combinations lifted. The once abhorred practice of say, matching black belt and brown shoes, bears no influence on professional environments that embrace the business casual dress code. 

Since business-casual looks allow a certain degree of freedom in terms of color combinations, there is no reason why you should stick to gingerly adhering to monochromatic outfits. Therefore, be bold, be audacious, and feel free to wear your blue suit with brown shoes proudly, sport a ‘black pants brown shoes’ look if you feel like it or don a pair of patterned dress socks. Everything is allowed so long as you look smart and stylish. 

Smart Casual

Although equally suitable for your workplace, business casual, and formal settings, the brown shoes and blue suit combination especially shines in more relaxed, informal occasions. Blue suits are traditionally seen as more casual than black suits, and more versatile than grey suits. Since brown shoes inherently reduce the formality of the blue suit, this means that your outfit can easily pass as business casual and smart casual at the same time. This also means you can join your friends and go to a bar after work without standing out.

The blue-suit-brown-shoes outfit is also perfect for more ‘casual’ events and gatherings that nevertheless require a certain amount of ‘polish’ such as:

  • Art exhibitions
  • Theatre productions
  • Conferences
  • Weddings
  • Receptions

Formal

The same goes for occasions which might require what are considered formal, classic pieces. For instance, wearing a tuxedo or a bespoke, traditional black suit to weddings, formal gatherings, or televised events was the norm back in the day. But today, a blue suit with brown shoes can be just as elegant as the classic black satin lapel. 

The versatility of the color blue spans many hues, from the classic navy blue to royal and powder blue. This means that even some state officials like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Justin Trudeau, or Prince Harry gladly don, for instance, true blue suits since the definition of what is formal can be subject to interpretation in some cases.

Another advantage of wearing blue suits combined with brown shoes is that it builds a great foundation for a variety of non-traditional color combinations of garments and different tie patterns and dress sock patterns. The Canadian Prime Minister is often spotted wearing a red tie contrasted with a crisp blue suit, and we must say, it works wonders for him.

blue suit black shoes

Image Source: menwithclass

How to match a blue suit and brown shoes with other garments

So, since we have covered the dress codes and the appropriateness of wearing different shades of blue for different occasions, it is worth noting that this combination allows you to mix and match different colors and patterns. We will focus on the following:

  1. Shirts
  2. Ties
  3. Types of shoes
  4. Brown shoe shades

Shirt

Our sartorial common sense tells us that when in doubt about choosing the color of your shirt, it is best to stick with the classic crisp white shirt. In addition to white, a lighter pink shirt or blue shirt with brown shoes can also make quite an effective combination as they make the blue fabric of the suit pop. 

Just make sure you do not go overboard and stick with very subtle, light shades of these alternative shirt colors if you are attending events with a formal dress code. If not, then there is no reason not to wear an even brighter blue or pink shirt. 

navy blue suit brown shoes

Image Source: menwithclass

Pro tip 

Pink shirts go wonderfully with plum ties or plum pocket squares. 

However, this does not mean that other colors are prohibited. That is the beauty of the blue suit. You can mix and match it with almost any color, except for maybe mustard or olive green, the blue’s natural enemies. But wearing, for instance, a black shirt with a blue suit is considered fashion-forward in the world of Hollywood A-listers.

blue suit with brown shoes

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If the occasion allows it, you can opt for a shirt with a subtle pattern, like stripes or even polka dots.

The materials worn most frequently are cotton, cotton blend, or polyester. Cotton shirts are most comfortable, and your best choice, but they do tend to crease and show perspiration when it is extremely hot. So, if you have been invited to a beach wedding, you might want to opt for a cotton blend. 

For more formal occasions, the rule states you should wear cufflinks, as opposed to buttons, which are perfectly appropriate in the office.

Ties

Another benefit of wearing a blue suit and brown shoes is the array of tie colors you can incorporate into your outfit. In this case, the options are almost endless as a monochromatic tie will work just as fine as a tie with stripes, texture, or patterns. 

However, there is a logic behind matching your tie with the rest of your ensemble. If you opt for a non-white shirt and a loud, extraordinary tie with patterns and multiple colors, then subdue the rest - wear, for example, a plain blue suit and dark brown, almost black shoes. On the contrary, if your suit is bright and loud, then you should tone down the shirt, tie and other accessories like the pocket square.

navy blue suit with brown shoes

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Also, silk ties are the norm, but of course, matte silk which is rarely flattering. You might consider other materials depending on the temperature and color and texture of your suit. Like with shoes, lighter blue suits go well with lighter ties and vice versa. 

For the summer months, ties can alternatively be made of cotton or linen instead of silk. Sometimes you may opt for a woolen tie if your suit is, say, navy blue and your shirt black or navy as well. 

Blue suit + tie colors

How it works

Blue

The blue tie should have a dense texture to separate it from the suit. 

Black or grey

Also a powerful look, however, should be worn in winter and should be heavily textured (fine grenadine weave, for example) 

Red, Burgundy, Brown

Blue suit paired with a red tie is frequently called ‘the power look’. 

For a more subdued but equally impactful fashion statement, choose burgundy or brown.

Pink, Coral, Prawn

These colors go wonderfully with blue suits, but are mostly reserved for the summer months. 


Types of brown shoes

As previously stated, brown shoes complement the blue suit impeccably. If you pay due attention to the appropriate shade (dark suit - dark chestnut brown, lighter suit - lighter shade of brown or tan), there is little chance you could go wrong. 

The only definite no-no is wearing a broad square toe. Unless, of course, you are wearing cowboy boots. However, since you probably do not want to look like Johnny Depp at a wedding, stick with brown dress shoes with rounded toes.

Both lace-ups and slip-ons are safely in the domain of good taste, of course, when properly polished and rounded. Here is a list of types of shoes that flatter the blue suit. However, each assumes a different level of formality. Let’s take a look at more formal types:

  • Oxford - the essential formal shoe
  • Derby/Bluchers - similar to Oxfords, different stitching of the upper leather 

Here are shoes that are equally attractive, but suitable for day-to-day wear and less formal occasions:

  • Monk straps - a slip-on with a buckle instead of laces, casual with a hint of formality
  • Brogues - refers to a signature perforation made in the leather; can be Oxford or Derby
  • Loafers - a slip-on, with no details on the upper. Think Gucci.
  • Moccasins - akin to loafers, only without the heel and elements on top.
  • Chukka - suede leather ankle-high boots. Don’t mix crepe-soled chukkas with suits.
  • Chelsea boots - another casual boot perfect for a rainy day.
navy suit with brown shoes

Image Source: menwithclass

Brown shoe shades

It has almost become a platitude - blue pants and brown shoes make each other stand out in a way not many other color combos can come close to. Nevertheless, you want to make sure you still choose the right shade as choosing one that is too light or too dark can noticeably undermine the natural complementary fit of blue and brown. For that reason, it is useful to know your brown color palette. Brown shoe shades are best observed in terms of shade groups:

  1. Light Brown - most notably Tan, Walnut, Cognac.
  2. Medium Brown - Standard Brown, Dark Brown, Mahogany
  3. Burgundy / Bordeaux - a dark brown shade characterized by a red undertone

How to match a blue suit and brown shoes with socks

In most cases, the golden rule is to match the color of your socks with the color of your pants. For formal occasions like a funeral or in corporate contexts, following this rule is paramount. So, if you are wearing black pants, stick to black socks. You shouldn’t risk creating a discrepancy between the socks and the rest of the outfit as it could be perceived as extremely uncouth. Of course, that your socks need to be dress socks of equal quality as the suit is beyond dispute.

Even though the choice of socks may seem irrelevant in comparison to other, clearly visible elements of your outfit, a stellar ensemble is not complete without appropriate socks. It is naive to expect you will stand for the entirety of the event and in that way avoid displaying your dress socks. 

navy suit with brown shoes

In fact, you should do quite the opposite -  an interesting pattern can make your suit truly stand out. Since men’s fashion accessories come in limited numbers compared to women’s fashion, we had better make the most out of what we have. 

So, be sure to play around with patterns and shapes, especially if they fit in with the rest of your outfit. For instance, if your overall look is very polished and prim, there’s no reason not to add a touch of personality with, say, polka dot socks. Or, if you've opted for an electric blue suit to a wedding, a great way to accentuate your brown shoes is to introduce matching striped dress socks. 

Blue suit and brown shoes are a stellar wedding combo

Fashion has been changing rapidly with each passing day, especially since the fashion society pointed the spotlights to, what one may at the least characterize as oddball designers such as Maison Margiela or Comme des Garcons. A similar tendency can be noticed in the world of suiting for weddings - the reins of formality loosened up, the dreary truisms of traditional approaches to wearing suits have been tossed out of the wedding hall to forever hold their peace. 

black shoes navy suit

Image Source: stitchandtie

And lucky for us, because in this climate, the blue suit combined with brown shoes reigns supreme. It has been noted that in the last few years, the popularity of the blue suit purchases skyrocketed. This is mostly because it is simultaneously classy, versatile, and exciting in terms of appearance. But also because it is easily adaptable to fit into many different wedding contexts.

Depending on the season and venue in which the wedding is taking place, you could choose between darker hues for fall and winter months and lighter hues for spring and summer. If in doubt, the evergreen (or better yet, everblue) navy blue suit is hardly ever a mistake. 

Some fashion consultants note that grooms should stick to cognac or black shoes, especially if they choose to wear the navy blue suit. However, the venue and the theme of the wedding can play a part in the choice as well. If your wedding is in an indoors, stylish venue such as a restaurant, winery or on an estate, then you should apply the aforementioned formula of wearing a suit in a dark color with shoes that have an equally dark color.

For outdoor or countryside weddings, like a vineyard, historic inn, beach or a ranch, shoe color can range from cognac to tan. Of course, they should be in harmony with the shade of the blue suit.

When it comes to other accessories, the belt should match the color of the shoes. However, weddings are a perfect occasion to express your creativity without the usual dress code constraints. You can play around with the colors of your pocket square, your shirt, tie and dress socks, and even adjust them to represent the theme of the wedding, if there is one, of course.

The elegant experience

navy blue suit black shoes

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Once you enter the world of blue suits and brown shoes, you will realize that this is an amazingly attractive and versatile combination, suitable for many different occasions. This quality of mixing the best of both worlds is what makes it an alluring color combination for men of all ages, professions, and preferences, and we hope you will have fun with matching it with other pieces to create many stylish looks.