Unless you’re wearing a tuxedo or working as a referee, we suggest avoiding black shoes. Brown provides a much more versatile footwear option because it pairs nicely with every color of clothing except black (navy suits in particular look good with brown or burgundy shoes). And versatility, of course, is the key to each of the six men’s clothing essentials.
Not only do they work across the entire wardrobe, but brown shoes also accentuate the elements of individual outfits. Our V.P. or Product, Jason Smith, explains: “The brown shoe is best because it creates contrast. That’s the best part of dressing: creating contrast with textures and colors. Especially with how much dark denim is out there these days, black shoes tend to get lost.”
This contrast-creating dynamic also applies to the waist. “Brown belts,” Jason says, “look fantastic because they break up the transition from the torso to the legs. By creating contrast, you can distinguish between the features of the body.”
Above all, brown shoes offer a superior alternative to the black, square-toed shoe, which has unfortunately become the default “going out” option for many younger men. Shoes are the first thing that women notice about a guy’s outfit, and there’s no surer way to make a bad impression—at least from a style perspective—than this. Any brown shoe, provided it’s not a square-toe, will automatically put you well ahead of the game.
In terms of which style is best for you, it depends on your personal preferences. Loafers will perform extremely well in terms of price per wear, since you can pair them with jeans or, as pictured above, with a suit. If your tastes tend toward rarer items, consider an investment piece like the lace-ups pictured below, which could very well lead your wardrobe in another category: most compliments received.