Adam writes: Is it acceptable to wear dark colored slacks with dark brown shoes and a brown belt? Usually I pair black with black and tan with brown while my dark blue slacks sit in a corner and slowly decay. What’s the protocol here?
Earth-toned pants and suits will generally look their best with brown shoes. We all know that. But what about grey, or navy?
In England, the tradition is that black shoes are worn for business. That means that traditional business colors, like dark gray and navy, are paired with black shoes. If you’re English and work in a bank, it’s fine to leave it at that.
In the United States and Italy, the two other poles of the Western men’s style world, the rules are much less strict. Brown shoes often look quite lovely with navy – see the gentleman at right in the party scene above. It’s a slightly more casual look, certainly, but outside of bankers and lawyers in court, it’s tough to think of a suit-wearing daytime situation where it would be inappropriately casual.
Gray is a similar situation. Black is perfectly appropriate for situations where you want to tend towards the careful. If you like a little more flair, though, brown can be a wonderful companion to gray. Take a look at the fellow running for the taxi. Black is more conservative, but brown a bit more dashing. Perhaps because it suggests the more flavorful Italian version of men’s suited style.