Any architect will tell you that a house is only as strong as its foundation. The same goes for outfits. Fashionable footwear, like essential shoes, will allow your carefully chosen look to withstand whatever proverbial gale-force winds come your way. Your choice of shoe can emphasize your bold style choices, dress up a casual look, or serve as a visually stunning centerpiece.
Any way you choose to build your outfit, this dress shoe color guide will help you take any clothing choice to the next level.
The Classic Neutrals
Neutral doesn’t have to be boring. Shoes in neutral shades like gray, black, white, or brown allow your top, dress, or pants to pop—no matter the color. The beauty of neutral shoes lies in their versatility, much like our essential shoes for women, which can complement a wide range of outfits. A black loafer, the Sellah Loafer for example, pairs as easily with white linen pants as it does with blue jeans or a black dress.
Even the most avant-garde modernist building still requires a sturdy foundation. Neutral shoes provide a dependable anchor that lets your fashion imagination run wild.
For What It’s Earth: Earth Tones
Earth tones work in a very similar fashion to neutrals. Earthy shades like tan or burgundy have diverse functions, looking great alongside pretty much any style or color of clothing. The difference is that a burgundy shoe, while still anchoring outfits, stands out from the more commonplace blacks and grays. Tan shares the neutrality of brown and black while offering a summery lightness to shoe choice.
Earth tones occupy a middle ground where, depending on the clothing they’re paired with, they can be both a neutral foundation for a fun outfit or an interesting pop of color in a neutral outfit. Having a pair of earth-tone dress shoes in your closet empowers you to wear whatever makes you feel best that day.
Color Me Impressed
Henry Ford allegedly said of the Model T: “You can get it any color you want—as long as it’s black.” Thankfully, that’s not true of dress shoes. Black may be classic, but you can choose nearly any color under the sun to punch up your outfit.
One of the most elegant choices you can make is pairing a solid-colored dress with dress shoes of the same color.1 This monochromatic match-up is visually stunning and boldly simple.
You can also pair a colorful dress with a shoe one shade darker. A red dress with a burgundy shoe, for example, draws the eye upward and emphasizes the color choice. Here, an earth tone functions as a neutral within a more adventurous color palette.
Don’t Feel Blue; Wear Blue Instead
Blue shoes: not just for Elvis songs—and not just made of suede. Blue dress shoes fall into a few different categories with distinct use cases:
- Dark blues (navy, midnight, etc.) – Shoes in these colors are similar to neutral or earth-tone shoes. They have a wide application and look especially great as a dark contrast to white clothing.2
- Mid-tone blues (cobalt and royal) – The most similar to denim, mid-tone blue shoes are a great choice for matching with jeans. A blue heel, like the Chardonnay Heeled Sandal, elevates a casual denim look to a classy chic outfit without much effort. Alternatively, a blue shoe can be a not-too-overwhelming pop of color with an otherwise neutral outfit.
- Light and bright blues – Baby blue, light blue, sky blue—all of these colors just scream springtime and pair well with other pastel colors like pink or red, providing a bold contrast. Similarly to mid-tone blues, they would also work as an accent to neutral clothing.
Blue is one of the most popular clothing colors for a reason. It works as both a neutral base and an accent, depending on the shade. If you’re new to the world of diversifying the colors of your dress shoes, blue is an accessible hue to start with, as it can mix and match with nearly every outfit.
Two is Better Than One: Two-Tone Dress Shoes
For a throwback midcentury look, try returning to the two-tone shoe made popular in the 40s and 50s.3 A two-tone Oxford shoe gives you the best of both worlds: a neutral base and a pop of a contrasting color. This dress shoe style is as versatile as its single-color counterpart, but lends a historical elegance and a spark of extra pizzazz.
Fashion may evolve from season to season, but certain looks have timeless charm. Try two-tone color shoes to ensure that you’ll never go out of style. After all, they’re coming up on a century of relevance. It’s a safe bet that they’re not going anywhere.
Dress Shoe Colors for Every Season
Summer has its sundresses; autumn has its cardigans and jeans. Fashion cycles along with the seasons—dress shoes included. Each seasonal look has its own style of footwear that best suits it. Below are a few classic shoe and clothing combinations that let you show off your creativity.
Heels and sandals are the natural choice for a bright summer day. Both of these styles look great in bright colors. Try a green-heeled sandal, such as the Rosabel Heeled Sandal, with a white patterned sundress to embrace summery vibes.
If you’re headed to the office in balmy mid-August, let your dress shoes be the sunshine in a fluorescent office space. Choose bright yellow, orange, or even red flats, such as the Amorie Flat, with neutral tones to carry summertime with you wherever you go.
When you think of fall, you think of earthy, warm colors: brown crunchy leaves, red-gold sunsets, or orange pumpkins carved for Halloween.
Considering this, the autumn season is a time to showcase an earth tone. Try a burgundy flat, such as the Joseline Mary Jane, with a mustard sweater for a classic fall look. Neutral colors, like beige and brown, are wonderful choices for autumn as well.4
A Hazy Shade of Winter
For many, wintertime means boots. Pair those ugly Christmas sweaters with a tasteful black boot, or spruce up your plain jacket with knee-high water-repellent boots, like the Inessa Tall Boot. With something as versatile as dressy boots, it’s hard to go wrong.
On the other hand, some winter activities call for footwear that’s a little more refined: going to the theater, holiday dinners, or anniversary dinners. For those occasions, opt for a more formal shoe like the Jacynda Kitten Heel in patterns like leopard, or a red heel for a truly iconic look.
Spring Has Sprung
As mentioned before, a light blue shoe would go swimmingly with bright spring colors. A white dress sneaker would also go well, highlighting any look with a neutral, clean-cut appeal.
A blue-heeled shoe, for example, could be paired with a pair of fitted blue jeans for a look that transitions effortlessly from the workday to a night out. A white or cream loafer, such as the Kensley Loafer, is another excellent choice in the spring to pair with your more brightly colored tops and trousers.
A Shade for All Seasons
No matter the season, weather, or occasion, you can always fall back on neutral colors, particularly black. Black dress shoes suit the dead of winter as well as the peak of summer.
There’s so much diversity and room for exploration in the world of dress shoe colors, but it’s also helpful to have some tried-and-true pairs to wear when decision paralysis hits.
Pairing Dress Shoe Colors Like a Pro
Dress shoes alone can elevate a look from casual to chic. Jeans, a staple of casual non-formal wear, have become increasingly common in dressed-up and professional settings. Pairing jeans with dress shoes, whether it be a loafer, an elegant dress boot, or even a pair of strappy block heels, can elevate an otherwise unremarkable pair of pants to a true fashion statement.
Try pairing skinny jeans with a blue heel or a pair of loafers. Bootcut jeans naturally go well with boots, while straight-leg jeans can be a workplace staple when worn with black loafers. Let your choice of shoes turn your outfit into something special.
Embracing Fashion Diversity
Everybody is different; that’s what makes this world so beautiful. From diverse fashion influences to different body shapes, sizes, and skin tones, finding your perfect shoe color is less about following established rules and more about figuring out what works for you.
Try a variety of different cream, tan, and brown shoes to find something that matches your skin color. There’s no true “nude” shade since skin color is so diverse. Rather, experiment until you find your own particular nude shade.
Find Your Ideal Dress Shoe Color With Vionic
Dress shoe colors are an underrated way to take an outfit from good to memorable. Whether your next look needs a neutral loafer or a bright pink flat, Vionic has you covered.
At Vionic, we carry a wide variety of dress shoes in a wide range of colors. Choose between brown boots, blue heels, black loafers, or any other combination you desire.
Regardless of the style and color you choose, our shoes will always be a smart choice for your feet’s health. Featuring Vio-Motion technology, Vionic shoes will make sure you’re always walking in comfort.
Use these tips and tricks when browsing our collection and you’ll be sure to find a colorful addition to your next curated look.
- Bourne, Leah. “How to Match Your Shoes to Your Outfit.” Glamour. 24 June, 2019. https://www.glamour.com/story/how-to-match-your-shoes-to-your-outfit
- Stimpert, Desiree. “Blue Shoes for Women” Liveabout. Updared 23 May, 2019. https://www.liveabout.com/blue-shoes-for-women-2989940
- “Return of the two-tone dress shoes.” Forbes India. Updated 13 January, 2017. https://www.forbesindia.com/article/play/return-of-the-twotone-dress-shoes/45427/1
- “10 Types of Women’s Shoes for Every Season.” Kelly’s Thoughts on Things. https://kellysthoughtsonthings.com/10-types-womens-shoes-every-season/