What Color Shoes To Wear With Brown Pants - A Style Guide

What Color Shoes To Wear With Brown Pants

What Color Shoes To Wear With Brown Pants to Look Effortlessly Stylish?

Ok, so you are more than prepared to match your black shoes with khaki pants because let’s face it, you do not have to be a learned fashion guru to coordinate black shoes as they, more or less, work well with just about any other color or garment. But what about other shoe colors in combination with brown pants? 

If you want to up your dressing game, it is a viable question that we will duly answer, and hopefully, clarify any dilemmas that any proud owner of brown pants may ever encounter. Brown can be a tricky color to style, but with this guide, you will be ready for any brown shade that comes your way. From tan chinos to dark brown dress pants, nuances of brown will no longer present a matching conundrum. So, let’s dig in. 

The compatibility of brown pants with different colors

Admittedly, brown pants could be likened to an endangered species in the world of fashion if compared to their black or navy counterparts, and this is even more noticeable in the world of suiting. Many sartorial pundits would advise you to stick to other colors of dress pants, like black or navy, but there is no reason to steer clear from brown. 

The reason? The stiffness of most dress codes has loosened up with the times, and lucky for us, that means that all aficionados of the richness of chocolaty nuances can freely indulge in wearing brown trousers. Now that brown pants have been admitted to the party, what rules do you have to abide by when matching them with your plus two, that is, the color of your shoes? 

what color shoes with brown pants
Image Source: tomfordmen

The key to matching brown pants with shoes boils down to contrasting two shades. They should complement each other, so, in most cases, it is a smart move to avoid wearing an identical color, or, at least, an identical shade of pants and shoes. Think of it this way - the same way a blue shirt makes brown shoes pop, or how matching a pink shirt with brown shoes makes for a delightful contrast, pairing brown pants with different shoe colors should follow the same logic. 

In contemporary fashion, matching different colors of garments is no longer considered merely tolerable. In the past, this practice has been greeted with lukewarm acceptance. However, times are changing. 

Today, matching items of clothing in different colors, like shoes and bags, which had previously been considered unimaginable is inundating the runways. Take a look at any high fashion event, like the Gucci Summer 2020 Collection and you will quickly grasp that the hegemonic dress codes of the past now provide a fertile ground to build upon those rules by adapting them. Or even breaking them. 

brown shoes brown pants
Image source: gucci

Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to wear a black belt with brown shoes, or to combine a black jacket with brown shoes. Of course, since the color disparity isn’t so clear-cut in the case of, say, matching brown pants with brown shoes, we will delve into all possible shades of brown pants and, in turn, the colors, shades, and nuances that your footwear can assume to complement your brown pants.

Matching brown pants with different shoe colors - shades and other factors

There are several factors that may influence the color of your items of clothing, especially pants and shoes. Since pants and shoes make up the core of your outfit, it is sometimes necessary to adhere to principles of a particular dress code in the process of matching your brown pants with different garments. Or, better yet, common sense. So, different brown shades are appropriate for different:

  1. Degrees of formality
  2. Seasons
  3. Accessories and other items of clothing

Degrees of formality

The following scheme is not an exhaustive list of shades of brown pants applicable within each dress code but rather main representatives of nuances and color temperatures that are considered appropriate. 

Dress Codes

Shades of Brown Pants

Business Professional

Cafe Noir, Drab dark brown, Taupe

Business Casual

Cafe Noir, Drab dark brown, Dark Brown, Taupe, Khaki

Smart Casual

Drab dark brown, Chocolate, Chestnut, Copper, Khaki, Tan

Casual

Drab dark brown, Mahogany, Camel, Khaki, Tan...

For example, wearing copper brown pants is perfectly acceptable in some companies with a smart casual dress code, whereas it is a serious faux pas in companies that have a designated Business Casual or strict Business Professional dress code.

Therefore, when it comes to occasions that are inherently more strict and uniformed, like business meetings, conferences, and similar occasions, your dress pants should be in shades that are on the darker side of the brown color spectrum, almost black, with matching shoes and belt.

As for all other events, brown is more than welcome because it is a step away from this stiff, corporate dress code. In companies that adhere to the Smart Casual dress code, lighter shades of brown can be frequently spotted, with a variety of shoe colors paired with them. Here is a list of the best shoe colors to match with shades of brown pants:

  • Black shoes
  • Brown shoes
  • Burgundy shoes
  • Grey shoes
  • Tan shoes
  • Navy shoes

It must be noted that pants that are on the lighter shade of the brown color spectrum go better with darker shoe nuances. For example, dark burgundy will make tan pants seem exquisitely stylish, while grey shoes may make your khaki pants seem bland and unappealing to the eye. So, if you are adamant about wearing driving loafers combined with your light brown or tan pants, then you may opt for navy driving shoes rather than the usual brown ones. 

what color shoes to wear with brown pants

These The Bold Society shoes perfectly balance the chic and elegant, the former expressed through the red sole and thread, the latter through the sleekness of the shade of navy. Of course, you will be dressed to the nines due to the impeccable quality of Italian leather in addition to these popping, vibrant colors and their supreme manufacturing. 

Contrastively, if you opt for dark brown pants, then you should stick to light colors, like tan dress shoes. Therefore, avoid darker colors and shades like burgundy. The only exception to this rule would be black shoes, which are, as we have previously stated, universal. Also, consider lighter shades of grey and navy shoes, especially if these shoe colors are your forte.

brown shoes with khaki pants
Image source: mensuits 

All in all, if matched correctly, the contrast between dark and light colors and shades will make for an exquisite and unique outfit that will be the envy of your coworkers, business associates, classmates… 

This principle is nothing new in the history of aesthetics. It originated way back in the Renaissance period when it was called chiaroscuro and was widely used by painters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Carravagio, and Rembrandt. So, when in doubt, remember - Leonardo da Vinci would approve your tan pants and dark brown brogues color combo!

Seasons

Depending on the season, the time-tested sartorial rule states that colder times of the year require you to wear darker outfits, and vice versa. Which, we dare say, makes sense. So, tan and khaki pants are ideal for spring and summer when there is no rain in sight to ruin the sleekness of your pants. 

However, brown pants’ time of the year is fall, without a speck of doubt. The brown nuances, especially darker ones, fit windy, cold weather not solely because of the shade, but also because brown pants are often made from materials that keep you warm, for instance:

  1. Worsted Wool
  2. Corduroy 
  3. Gabardine
  4. Tweed
  5. Calvary twill pants

When it comes to shoes that you should pair with your brown pants in relation to the weather, you need to think of both the aforementioned contrastiveness principle and, basically, if the elements allow you to wear this type of shoe. 

So, even though bronze moccasins may look impeccable in combination with your cream linen pants, you may want to abstain from wearing them on occasions that are not beach weddings or boat parties in the Mediterranean. 

Opt for stylish Timberlands or similar types of boots in winter months as a substitute for shoes that can’t provide the warmth that you need in cold weather. Besides, it would look way out of place if you showed up for work sporting brown suede loafers when it’s freezing outside. 

khaki pants and brown shoes
Image Source: lossebeer_film

Accessories and other items of clothing

Other important elements that may help you coordinate your brown pants and shoe color are the accessories and other items of clothing that you intend to wear. We will refer to:

  • Jackets and coats
  • Hats
  • Socks, Ties, Pocket Squares

Jackets, blazers and coats

If you are more inclined towards wearing monochromatic ensembles and you prefer to wear, for instance, a pure brown jacket or blazer with matching pants, then you could try to incorporate a different shoe color in order to build contrast. For more traditional combinations, you can stick with black or brown shoes. If you want to accentuate your brown even further, then navy shoes are an option. 

Grey or camel jackets or coats are also a great match for brown, tan or cream pants. If paired smartly, you could even wear your camel or ivory Burberry trench coat. In this case, the shade of your pants should be three nuances warmer or three shades darker for pairing with ivory. If your coat is camel, go three nuances darker to keep everything balanced as well.

khaki pants with brown shoes
Image Source: menwithstyle

Hats

Additionally, especially if monochromatic outfits are more to your liking, you could even coordinate the color of your shoes with the color of your hat. So, if you want to wear, for example, a dark grey hat or a charcoal hat, then choose the shoes in a similar nuance. Just make sure your pants are in a warmer and lighter shade of brown, like bronze, chocolate or chestnut brown. 

brown shoes with brown pants
Image Source: mensuits

In general, grey and brown make an excellent color combo, just pay attention to their color temperatures - pants in warm tones should be coordinated with shoes in cool tones in order to create a contrast in your monochromatic outfit, and vice versa.

Socks, Ties, Pocket Squares

Other, less prominent accessories like socks, ties or pocket squares more often than not serve to break up the monotony of a single color. So, especially if you want to combine brown pants and brown shoes, these can serve to wake up your outfit and give it more flair. We will observe what are the best ways to combine brown shoes and brown pants in greater detail later on. 

tan pants brown shoes
Image Source: mensuits

Finding the perfect socks to go with brown pants

If you opted for brown pants and, say, navy shoes, then your tie and socks should be in concord with the shoes. A good example of remaining within this restriction but still personalizing your navy-brown or grey-brown color combination would be to introduce socks that have a checkered navy pattern like these Soxy dress socks or these brown and grey polka dot socks

brown pants with brown shoes

You can play with patterns freely since brown pants are considered to be more on the casual side as it is, which in turn provides a perfect basis for experimenting and approaching fashion in a nonchalant manner. 

If you are all up for making such a statement, then you may consider wearing socks that channel your inner quirkiness and express your style while remaining within the boundaries of tasteful, quality dress, like these pink and yellow sunny-side-up eggs socks

what color shoes go with brown pants

Matching brown pants with brown shoes

As with other shoe colors, matching brown pants with brown shoes follows the same logic. It is important to contrast the brown shades of your shoes and pants. If you wear the same shade, then you will suffocate in the brown and your outfit will look excessively stifling and drab.

Since you want to avoid looking like an old-timey real estate agent, or even worse, a wardrobe, then make sure you wear one article of clothing in a lighter shade of brown and another in a dark shade of brown. 

Alternatively, you could wear the same shades, but should then compensate with garments that are in other colors. Colors that go best with brown are the following, so you could wear, for example, a jacket, shirt and/or socks in one of these colors:

  • Black 
  • Navy 
  • Grey 
  • Maroon
  • Taupe

If you are wearing pure brown pants and shoes, then you can go either way in terms of contrast, so you could wear other garments that are darker than brown, like a jet black shirt and socks, or lighter, like taupe. These combinations are, of course, extremely fashion-forward, so they would be fitting for a dinner party or an art exhibition. 

When it comes to more temperate, but still striking color combinations, pure brown and cream is your way to go. This color combination is reminiscent of the suave, funky 60s, and just like the pure brown or chocolate brown combined with black, it is for those daring gents that like to leave a lasting impression.

what color shoes with brown pants
Image Source: mensuits

Brown shoes color spectrum

It is advantageous to know your brown shoe color spectrum to be able to adequately pair them up with brown pants. Take a look at this table to quickly place your footwear in the right shade category.

Light Brown Shoes

Medium to Dark Brown Shoes

Burgundy Brown shoes

Tan

Neutral

Oxblood

Cognac

Bronze

Bordeaux

Walnut

Mahogany

Chili


Note: We delineated the general categories in which brown shoes fit in since the shade of your brown shoes may slightly vary depending on the following factors: 

  • Manufacturer
  • Type of material (Leather, Suede, Canvas…)
  • Shine/Matte
  • Age

Now that you are briefed in terms of which shades fit into which shade category, you are ready to mix and match these brown shoe shades with shades of brown pants. 

When it comes to more grounded (no pun intended!) brown shades of pants, they usually come in these staple browns:

  1. Tan Pants
  2. Khaki Pants
  3. Dark brown pants

Matching tan pants and brown shoes

Since tan pants fit into the category of lighter browns, then you should consider darker shades of brown shoes, like mahogany or classic dark brown shoes. Burgundy shades work well with this shade as well because they have a tint of red in them, which opens up the ensemble efficiently to create a rounded, effortless yet well-thought-out outfit. 

In addition to that, mahogany or burgundy shoes are an amazing substitute for black. It must be noted that black shoes and tan pants are a no-go in the world of men’s fashion because their color temperatures combined make for a drab, cold and utterly uninteresting combination. So, as much as you are inclined to wear your usual black shoes, in this case, a hint of brown in your footwear will be a better solution.

brown shoes brown pants
Image source:chrismehan

Medium brown shoes are also an option, especially if your tan pants have a colder, lighter tint. If your pants lean more towards warm beige then it is better to stick to darker shades of brown shoes. If they could be characterized as having the color of wet sand, then medium brown or light brown, cream suede shoes work better.

You can pair up your tan and brown combo with a crisp white shirt and a smooth dark grey coat if you want to go for the timeless smart casual, work-ready look. Alternatively, light pink shirt can spice up your ensemble. If you opted for burgundy shoes, then don a maroon shirt to make the red tint pop. 

Matching beige, cream, and khaki pants and brown shoes

Since these shades are north on the spectrum of light brown shades of pants, we have put them in the same category with khaki.

what color shoes to wear with brown pants
Image source: Pinterest

Be it khaki chinos, trousers, jeans in khaki shade or, well, khaki pants, they can be matched with brown shoes to make a smart and comfortable day-to-day outfit. Since these shades are seemingly very similar to tan, the rules for matching them with brown shoes are mostly similar. 

However, khaki is defined by some to be lighter than tan - khaki actually resembles the color of dry sand, but sometimes, tan and khaki are mixed up. Be what it may, khaki-colored pants that have a warm feel to it go great with medium brown or walnut shoes, but cream and beige pants should be paired up with shoes that are about three shades darker.

khaki pants and brown shoes
Image Source: menwithstyle

Fun fact

Khaki pants were adored and often worn by John F. Kennedy and Katherine Hepburn. Because of their cut, they are a comfortable alternative to classic woolen trousers, so they can be worn in informal events to retain a smart, classy appearance.

Matching dark brown pants with brown shoes

So, the old saying that opposites attract would be true in this case in went something like this: ‘Opposites attract in smart casual situations’. So, you can wear dark brown pants with light, cream shoes if the designated dress code allows it. Driving loafers, boat shoes, and even monk straps that are on the lighter shade of the spectrum will complement them perfectly. 

tan pants brown shoes
Image Source: mensuits

Other than that, it would be best to match the dark brown shade of the pants and the shade of the shoes. As previously mentioned, it is considered uncouth to sport light brown shoes on formal occasions that adhere to strict Business Professional and Business Casual codes. Unfortunate for us light brown shoe lovers, but that’s just the way it is. 

Matching brown pants with alternative shoe colors

To sum up, when matching brown pants and shoes, in most cases, your way to success is to contrast light items of clothing with dark ones. Brown pants, although difficult to style, can make up an exquisite ensemble if you adhere to this principle.

Also, it is paramount to stay within the confines of natural, earthy tones if you’re going for the classy, office-ready look. Apart from that, in more casual situations and events, you could go with red, such as these loafers from Soxy, electric blue, pink, or yellow shoes.

brown pants with brown shoes

However, there is no need to point out that these combinations are strictly classified as street chic ensembles, as fashionable and suave as they may be.