How To Match Shoes With Outfit
A core component of male fashion is the shoes, and the shoes must match the wardrobe. After all, wearing a tuxedo with a pair of Chuck Taylors is – while some people find it delightfully kitschy – a definite non-starter. (Seriously, don’t. Not now, not ever.) However, some wardrobe choices are perfectly suited to a good pair of Chucks.
None are ever suited to two-tone wingtips. (Don’t. Not now, not ever.)
How, then, to know what shoes to pair with what ensemble?
By learning about which type of shoes match which type of wardrobe, of course! Here are a few pointers to make sure you pick the right footwear to go with the rest of what you wear.
The Pants Are The Key
Though the shirt you’ll be wearing and any outerwear certainly matters, perhaps the most important criteria in determining shoe choice is the pants. The trousers you select have much more impact than your shirt does, though the top shouldn’t be neglected.
Jeans go with just about any shoe, except for brogues, Chelsea boots and Oxfords. These are just too formal to wear with jeans. However, make sure the shoes aren’t too underclassed for the rest of what you’re wearing.
For instance, khakis are slightly more formal than jeans, but less so than slacks. Corduroy, however, depends on what the rest of your ensemble is; a corduroy suit demands a bit more dressing up than a pair of cords and a t-shirt, which is a completely acceptable outfit.
Slacks demand at least semi-formal shoes, but they can be less than full business-professional caliber. Suit pants, however, must be accompanied by shoes to match – dress pants get dress shoes, though the degree of formality depends on the type of suit. Tuxedos, the most formal of attire, require the most formal of shoes to go with them.
Thus, if you have a good understanding of the pants you’re going to wear, you should be able to figure out what shoes will match.
Picking Shoes To Go With A Suit
If you’re looking for shoes to go with a suit, take a moment to consider the suit. Is this an actual suit, or are you wearing slacks and a blazer?
Furthermore, consider material and texture. Suit materials such as seersucker, corduroy, certain tweeds and so on are certainly less formal than classic wool. The material will tell you the degree of formality of the suit in question and therefore what sort of shoes you should pair with it.
Informal suits such as seersucker and corduroy should be matched with shoes that are casual but not too casual. Athletic shoes of any type would be too casual and oxfords would be too formal. Boat shoes and many loafers would be fine, as would casual leather lace-ups. The same guideline would therefore apply to suits of other types of linen.
Tweed is a very versatile fabric. One of its original purposes was as outdoor wear for English gentlemen (as some tweeds are water repellent) so some tweeds are good as robust winter fabrics. Others are casual, and some are a hair shy of business-professional dress. In either case, this means restrained, classy footwear is required and that means a sensible pair of leather shoes. Pay attention to the cut, however; some tweed suits are clearly more casual than others.
If wearing the classic grey tweed (with or without elbow patches) a solid pair in black is good, but so is a nice tan. Sneaker-esque leather shoes (such as those made by Skechers) may or may not be too informal for use with a tweed suit, depending on the cut. If your tweed outfit has an actual suit cut, omit them for a professional dress shoes. Like brogues? This is where they are deployed. Chelsea boots are acceptable as well.
A classic woolen suit is close to the most formal type of dress. Thus, shoes must match. Classic leather-soled Oxfords are heavily favored and are just the done thing. Wingtips can be acceptable if restrained and never – repeat, never – brogues.
If merely wearing a jacket with jeans and a t-shirt…anything leather between a brogue and an athletic shoe will do, and preferably black.
A Brief Word On Boots
A certain amount of care has to be taken with boots, as some are perfectly suited to semi-formal wear and some are suited to stalking elk on in the Rocky Mountains. Leather hikers worn for fashion, for instance, can be worn with pants that are on the dressier side of casual – such as khakis or chinos – but take care in boot selection. Actual hiking boots worn by actual hikers on the other hand…not so much.
Choose a 6-inch or shorter boot; an 8-inch boot is for outdoor/work use. Logger boots, for instance, should not be worn with anything formal, and frankly you aren’t going to be wearing them long indoors because your feet will boil. Then you’ll start feeling pretty stupid for buying a $200 pair of outdoor work boots when you work in an office.
However, a Chelsea boot or Oxford boot pairs well with a dressy tweed jacket and pants. If wearing such shoes, make sure to leave a little space between the cuff and the boot. This lets you show them off a bit, which is desirable.
Matching Shoes To Colors
The next aspect to be aware of is matching the color of shoes to the color of clothing. Obviously, the shoes and the belt should match, but certain colors of shoe are best suited to certain colors of fabric.
For instance, black shoes go with just about everything…except for fabrics in white, cream, or any shade of brown, as they clash too much.
Brown or tan shoes, on the other hand, go well with just about any color except black. Exercise restraint with grays as well; a gray woolen suit should not be paired with brown shoes, but a tweed suit is perfectly fine.
Colored suits, such as those in maroon, navy, or the odd purple, can be worn with just about any color shoe, though certain colors will clash. Burgundy, for instance, does not go well with purple and neither does dark brown.
For the most part, it’s not the worst idea to pair a suit with shoes of the same color, though not always. For instance, olive green pants should not be paired with olive green shoes, nor vice versa; black or brown is better. That shade needs a certain contrast in order to work best.
Just make sure your belt matches.