A Men’s Guide To Styling Brown Dress Shoes


Chances are, you have a trusty pair of black shoes you can wear to the office or dig out of your closet for formal occasions. But if you’re tired of the same old, same old, we have three words for you: brown dress shoes. 

From casual to formal settings, brown dress shoes are a versatile way to confidently express your style and create exciting new outfit combinations. With an array of colors, materials, and trends, there are countless ways to pair brown shoes with men’s outfits. 

One of the most common misconceptions is that you cannot wear brown with black. On the contrary, this chic pairing couldn’t be more in style. In the following comprehensive guide, we’ll debunk these myths and more while showcasing different men’s outfits to wear with brown shoes. 

 

Exploring Different Types of Brown Dress Shoes

There are many options to choose from in the wide world of brown dress shoes, and while some are more formal than others, the right shoe often depends on personal preference. Let’s break down the most common types of brown dress shoes. 

  • Oxfords – A standard dress shoe style for men, Oxfords are a timeless classic that can easily dress an outfit up or down. They’ve been around for hundreds of years and remain a staple in any wardrobe. 
  • Wingtips – Also known as brogues, wingtips are similar to Oxfords. They feature a pointed toe cap and are a more formal option. You’ll have a much easier time pairing wingtips if the toe cap closely matches the shoe’s upper, but choosing a pair with contrast can let you flex some sharp fashion finesse.
  • Loafers – Featuring a comfortable lace-free, slip-on style, loafers are a versatile option for formal wear. Whether crafted with leather, suede, or velvet, styling men’s outfits with loafers is one of the simplest ways to add a trendy touch to a basic suit. 
  • Dress boots – A sleek dress boot is the least conventional, but perhaps most fashion-forward, formal wear option. 
  • Chelsea boots – A smart-casual version of a dress boot, Chelsea boots strike the perfect balance between function and fashion. Plus, they’re some of the most comfortable men’s dress shoes and provide an opportunity to stay stylish even in inclement weather. Take our Danfield Lace Up Boot, for example.

No matter the type you choose, a brown dress shoe is the perfect addition to your closet in 2024.

 

Brown Dress Shoes for Casual Wear

A simple brown dress shoe can easily add a creative touch to a casual outfit. If you don’t need to be dressed to the nines but still want an elevated look, try pairing brown dress shoes with an everyday shirt-and-pants combo.  

Brown and tan pair perfectly, so you can’t go wrong with khaki slacks and a brown dress shoe. Add a neutral polo shirt, and you’re ready to transition from a team meeting to happy hour. 

For a weekend look, wear brown dress shoes with blue jeans to effortlessly blend chic and casual. Try leaving a button-down open over a plain T-shirt, or slip on a bomber jacket in the cooler months. 

 

Pairing Brown Shoes with Suits and Formal Attire

We all know the typical black shoe and black suit. But if you want to express your personal style and make a statement, brown dress shoes are the way to go. 

Here are some considerations to remember when pairing brown dress shoes with suits and other formal wear.

  • Avoid high-contrast combinations – Colors that starkly contrast each other are overpowering in an outfit. For instance, you should not wear a light brown shoe with a black suit. Instead, aim to pair dark brown shoes with a black or navy suit. In the warmer months, a light brown shoe matches gray, cream, and pastel suits.  
  • Match your socks – You should have a matching pair of socks, of course, but you should also make sure that your socks match the color of both your shoes and your pants. Neutral tones are always a safe bet, as long as you stay within the color palette of your outfit and avoid high-contrast combinations—especially with white socks.
  • Remember the details – Think of your belt, tie, watch, and even pocket square like a symphony, all uniting in perfect harmony. Choose earth tones to match your brown dress shoes. 

There’s no reason you can’t wear a brown shoe with formal attire, and in fact, you might never go back to black.

 

Seasonal Transitions: Adapting Brown Shoes for Different Seasons

In fashion, the typical rule of thumb is that dark colors are for winter, while light colors are for summer. There is some reasoning to this—lighter hues absorb less sunlight, so they stay cooler in warm weather. For instance, a black shirt on a hot summer day is a recipe for discomfort and pit stains. 

Brown dress shoes can be worn year-round, but you should adjust the shade based on your seasonal outfit. For example, a white linen suit in the summer pairs well with light brown shoes. Deeper browns, like umber and mahogany, are ideal with dark fabrics in the winter. 

 

Accessorizing with Brown Shoes: Belts, Watches, and Beyond

Adding details takes an outfit from good to great. Accessories show you’re in touch with your fashion sense and have done more than just throw on an outfit before heading out the door. 

Men’s outfits with brown shoes can be accompanied by a range of accessories, including:

  • Belt – Matching a brown belt to your shoes is one of the easiest ways to create cohesion in an outfit. Plus, if your pants have loops, it looks sloppy to not wear a belt. 
  • Tie – Whether you’re heading to the office or a formal event, a tie elevates your look while also providing an opportunity to be creative with the color or pattern. 
  • Watch – A classy watch is another simple way to elevate an outfit. Leave your fitness tracker at home and opt for a sleek analog model. 
  • Pocket square – Add a special flair to a formal outfit with a pocket square. It doesn’t have to be the same color as your tie, but it should be in the same color family or white. 
  • Sunglasses – Protect your eyes from UV rays with a fresh pair of shades. Sunglasses with brown frames or brown-tinted lenses will perfectly match your footwear. 

In the colder months, you may need a scarf, gloves, or hat to stay warm. Earth tones will tie an outfit together from head to toe. 

 

Brown Shoes and Color Coordination: Finding the Perfect Match

In color theory, brown is associated with earthiness, warmth, and reliability. It should come as no surprise that brown pairs best with other earth tones—it is the color of the soil, after all.

Earth tones are neutral colors inspired by colors found in the natural world. When wearing brown shoes, matching earth tones include:

  • Beige
  • Olive
  • Khaki
  • Peach
  • Mustard
  • Copper
  • Forest green
  • Maroon
  • Sepia
  • Taupe
  • Sky blue

While they aren’t classified as earth tones, gray, white, and black also go well with brown, and you can’t go wrong with these wardrobe staples. 

 

Care and Maintenance: Keeping Your Brown Shoes Looking Sharp

All well-made footwear requires regular care to preserve their looks and longevity. You can easily spot-clean them at home with mild soap and a washcloth or soft shoe brush. 

Brown footwear is often made of leather or suede. Here are some tips and tricks on helping these materials last.

  • Leather – For unfinished leather, use a saddle soap to help protect your shoe. For finished leather, mild soap works just fine. You can rub out any stains using a 2:1 water and white vinegar solution. Plus, all leather shoes should be regularly treated (every month or so, depending on the season) with a wax polish and conditioner. 
  • Suede – Use a soft rubber brush to clear away dirt or debris that has built up on the shoe. For stains, blot the suede with a bit of baking or talcum powder. Finish off with a conditioner or other protectant to help your shoes withstand the elements. 

Unless your shoes are waterproof or water-resistant, you should avoid wearing them in the rain or snow, on wet grass, or near a pool. Water and mud stains can be very difficult to clean. 

 

Brown Shoes for Special Occasions: Weddings, Parties, and More

Now that you know the ins and outs of styling men’s outfits with brown shoes, you’re ready to take any occasion in stride. 

Brown dress shoes are trendy options for formal events like weddings, showers, work meetings, fundraisers, and more. Pair high-quality Oxfords with a navy suit, or combine leather loafers with chinos and a button-down. 

One word of advice—while brown shoes are appropriate in almost every setting, you shouldn’t wear them to funerals or events that specify a black-tie dress code. 

 

Revamp Your Footwear with Brown Shoes from Vionic

At Vionic, we’re redefining comfort while staying ahead of the fashion curve. Browse our selection of brown shoes to discover loafers, boots, and more, with versatility for any wardrobe and season.

Our men’s shoes are designed for all-day comfort thanks to the exclusive contoured footbed, deep heel cups, shock-absorbing cushioning, and durable soles. Crafted with high-quality materials like leather and nubuck, our footwear is made to withstand everyday life and special occasions alike. 

Shop men’s new arrivals today and join the brown shoe team. 

 

 

Sources: 

Verywell Mind. The Meaning of the Color Brown in Psychology. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-color-psychology-of-brown-2795816

Gentleman’s Journal. How to properly care for your leather shoes. https://www.thegentlemansjournal.com/article/properly-care-leather-shoe/

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