Every month, roughly one million men worldwide perform a Google search how to coordinate various shoe colors with different trouser colors. To fill this need, we’ve generated the ultimate guide of 25 pages to help any man coordinate any shoe with any trouser.
As much as matching the color of your shoes may seem intuitive, sometimes coordinating them with your trousers can be confusing. Even we have occasionally fallen into common pitfalls and paired the wrong shade of brown with our trousers!
In this guide, you will learn the basics of shoe color coordination. Use the following menu to jump ahead:
- All Shoe & Trouser Coordination Guides
- Common Shoe Color Coordination Overview
- Rare Shoe Color Coordination Overview
- Why Is It Hard To Coordinate Shoes?
- Our Methodology
- Free Printable Coordination Download
Alternatively, scroll down to read it all!
In this guide, you will read an overview of different options for matching shoes and trousers. If you want to learn more, there are 24 specific guides in total: 12 for the shoe colors, and 12 for the specific trouser colors:
Coordinating Trousers With Common Shoe Colors
In this guide, we provide a basic overview for matching your shoes and trousers. This section is dedicated to the most basic shoe colors, which are black, brown, and tan as you can see below:
Less Common Shoe Color & Trouser Coordination
Not all shoes are just black and brown, however. Men nowadays have plenty of colors to choose from, so we’ve included a number of contemporary shoes colors as well:
You can learn more about these different colors and how to coordinate them with our detailed guides. Simply head to the menu above to head to the right one that you need.
Why Is It Hard To Coordinate Shoes & Trousers?
We men have difficulty with this for a number of reasons:
- There’s a lot of conflicting information when we research the topic. Some folks say wearing black shoes with navy trousers is perfectly acceptable. Others say it’s an abomination. How are you supposed to know who’s right? Are both right? It can be confusing and frustrating to look for a standardized, straightforward answer and be unable to find one.
- It’s just as much an art as it is a science. Even though we’re proud of the resource we’ve created, we concede that there is rarely a solution that works 100% of the time. This is particularly true when we start talking about more unorthodox colors, like purple shoes or red trousers. For those of us who are more left-brained than right-brained, this can be quite tricky.
- There’s a plethora of factors that come into play. Dark brown shoes with dark grey trousers makes total sense. Does this still work when the shoes are suede as opposed to leather? How about if they’re penny loafers? Or if the trousers are casual instead of dressy? Should you even wear this combination in the summertime? It’s enough to make your head spin.
These questions only put a crack in the tip of the iceberg. No wonder so many guys are looking for answers!
Our methodology was to focus on color, first and foremost. We feel that this is the most important factor to consider and that everything else falls into place underneath that.
We analyzed every shoe color we thought was relevant in today’s market and paired them with every trouser color we though was relevant in today’s market. This formed a large portion of how we arrived at the conclusions we did.
With that said, there are going to be certain colors we didn’t address in the matrices above. We didn’t mention purple trousers, for example. Nor did we mention yellow shoes.
This isn’t because these items don’t exist, but rather because their rarity gave us the leeway to exclude them from this resource.
We feel that the information given in each individual article will help you make good decisions for anything we don’t cover explicitly here, and as always we welcome your questions in the comments section.
After color, our primary focuses were:
Seasonality: Some shoe and trouser colors work best in cold months, others in the warmer months. This played into our decision-making as it renders certain colors useful for portions of the year, but useless for others.
Material: Certain color combinations will work best with worsted wool dress trousers but not work well with, say, cotton chinos. The reverse can also be true. Some combinations will look better with leather shoes as opposed to suede, and vice-versa. We did our best to keep this in mind when we made our “yes,” “no,” and “sometimes” calls.
Shade Of Brown: We know, we already mentioned color. Brown shoes are such an extensive category, though, that they warrant a mention here. Even someone shopping for brown shoes for the first time will learn that there are approximately ten bazillion (give or take) different shades of brown, even within the “dark brown” and “light brown” categories. Whenever it was relevant, we made it a point to discuss particular shades of brown working well with particular trouser colors, or not.
One style we intentionally omitted from of our matrix was multi-colored shoes.
We did this because the potential permutations for color combinations are theoretically endless, and if we dove down that rabbit hole we never would have finished this resource!
This occurs often in the sneaker world, but you can also find shoes with more than one color on dress shoes as well. Saddle shoes and spectators come to mind.
Our advice is to coordinate your trouser according to the dominant color of the multi-colored shoe. After that, you can tie the other colors in the shoe back into your outfit by being strategic with your accessory selection.
Let’s say you have some red, white, and blue saddle shoes, where white is the dominant color. You would want a neutral, summery trouser to pair with these, but then wear perhaps a blue shirt and a red tie to play off of the other colors in the shoe.
Free Printable Download For Reference At Home
You can download a one-page printout of these guides for your convenience. We hope you find it to be a useful reference and that you share your experience with us in the comments section!
Now that you have read about the most comfortable men’s dress shoes, you can read some of our other related guides to dress shoes and other types of shoes:
- Top 10 Best Men’s Dress Shoes
- How To Coordinate Shoe Color With Jeans
- How To Coordinate Tan Shoes & Trousers
- Best Shoes For Standing All Day
- Bespoke Unit Shoe Homepage
"This is a great resource. Between this color matcher and the concept of a capsule wardrobe you are helping make those of us working at being well dressed a little bit easier. Thanks."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★
This is a great resource. Between this color matcher and the concept of a capsule wardrobe you are helping make those of us working at being well dressed a little bit easier. Thanks.
Thanks for the kind words! I often use these concepts myself too!
I’ve scoured through this article but I still don’t know what colour socks to wear!
Sorry, the article really looks at shoe and trouser combination rather than socks. However, usually the best way forward is to complement the colour of your trousers or sometimes the shoes. When in doubt, black socks are always a solid bet.
Thank you for confirming that I was told in college – match your socks to your trousers.
Happy to help!
All the best,
I would like to know about the shoes in the above picture. Who makes them?
Paul bought these from Cheaney.
Thank you for the quick response!
Hi Mike! Great article I stumbled upon while trying to help steer my husband toward a solid choice in shoe purchasing options for the WINTER season. Just a quick question, without sparking a debate about whether or not conservatively fashioned “Cords” are even a good choice? He is a regional dental sales rep, driving from office to office, in sometimes very damp/freezing conditions. What type of shoes would you recommend? Suede or leather? Also, do the same color choices apply when thinking of cords in colors like black, navy, chocolate, tan (and the annual-wearing of Christmas Red)? I’d really love to hear your feedback, or steering to another article as insightfully written! Thanks in advance for your help!!
Sorry, Charles! After I hit Post, I realized I gave Mike the props for your article. That’s what I get for being so quick to respond/ask questions without even putting on my glasses. Keep writing!! sc
No problem at all! The original author of this article was actually called Mike too so it didn’t offend me whatsoever! However, he’s left us since so I’ve been taking care of the comments.
Firstly, cords are absolutely fine for business casual wear. They look great with a sport jacket and maybe even a woven tie.
For humid climates, I’d highly recommend leather shoes with a Goodyear welt. While this type of shoe construction is more expensive, it’s much more robust and water resistant. Something by Allen Edmonds would be a great choice!
As for freezing conditions, our top three recommendations for the most stylish winter boots might be of interest perhaps?
Finally, your shoe colour may change with black trousers as opposed to brown ones. In short, they’re colours that don’t mix well together. If you head further up the article, there’s a section with links just under the infographics that will take you to some relevant guides for this.
Hope this helps!
Hi Charles ,
Thanks for such valuable info. Just wanted to ask you what shoes color should I go with my cherry colored trousers.
Cherry is a tough one but it’s also very versatile as it’s more-or-less a combination of the characteristics of brown and red trousers. I’d opt for either mid-brown or even tan shoes with burgundy trousers.
All the best,
I work for a midrange men’s clothier in a college town, and have found your site to be an invaluable resource for novices to professionals. I’ve written your address on the back of my card more often than I can count.
Regarding the black shoes/blue or navy trousers (please help in my quest to eliminate the word “slacks”) debate, I personally believe them to be an affront to nature. However, with so many men having military and/or paramilitary backgrounds, where black with blue is not only common but practically standard, I’ve found that to be a losing argument. I’ve split the difference and worn them with a light blue custom suit, and have to say it is rather sharp (properly coordinated).
Thank you, and keep up the good work!
Thanks for your comment and we’re delighted to hear that you make such use out of the site! We work tirelessly to shape it into the men’s lifestyle resource and it’s great to hear that it’s being used by professionals such as yourself. We truly appreciate the support.
I understand your grievance towards black shoes and blue
slackstrousers (joking aside, most of us at BU are British expats living so we hear “slacks” but rarely say it). However, I’d argue that it’s a tough one to dictate for the reasons that you mention above.
Personally, I would look at it as a proportional scale with only the very darkest shades of blue potentially suiting black shoes and as the colour becomes lighter, the appropriate shoes would too. Nevertheless, shades of brown will always best suit blue trousers but there are exceptions to some rules every now and then.
Feel free to post comments whenever you’re next here and don’t hesitate to tell your clients to do so too if they have any questions!
Look forward to hearing from you again soon.
All the best,
Hello, Charles. Love the articles. I recently purchased a pair of bluchers online that looked to be a rich chocolate, despite the maker tagging them cordovan. It turns out, they were neither. In person, they’re a deep-ish maroon, rather than burgundy. Any trouser/suit advice?
Thanks, appreciate it. Can’t take the credit for the work! It was a collaboration between our founder, Paul, and Mike who is no longer with us.
I think that you can safely use our burgundy guide for this as the colour profile may be quite similar. However, it’s hard to say without seeing them.
All the best,
Thank you. This guide and your site in general has helped me out numerous times.
Any chance of an update. I have a few pair of pinkish pants that I’m not sure if I’m seeing all the possible combinations.
Glad to hear that you’re making good use of it!
We haven’t planned on adding any additional pages just yet but we’re certainly taking your comment into consideration and will look at what can be added to the guide!
Love this site.
Any recommendations for what color shoes to wear with various shades of purple trousers/chinos?
Glad you’re enjoying it!
Funnily enough, we’ve covered purple shoes but not purple trousers! This is actually surprising as our founder Paul is a big fan of purple so I would’ve thought that it would be here.
The logic is similar, though. Although blue or grey shoes are rare, they offer the best pairing possibilities. Out of the most traditional colours, I’d say that black is your best bet but you could try tan too.
thanks for sharing this post… it’s very useful for buyers.
Glad that it helped!
Man I wish I would have found this earlier in my journey to dress better especially as I get older. Great article and pictographs. Really simplifies and makes it easier to understand color coordinations and the whys behind some colors and shoes go well together while others don’t.
So my question is when it comes to trousers you don’t have anything for burgundy/maroon colored trousers/chinos why? I feel that its a pretty popular more frequent color of trousers most guys own compared to red. Anyways does the same rules apply to burgundy/maroon trousers when it comes to coordinating shoe color? For example can black Chelsea boots or low tops match well with burgundy trousers or stick to dark brown? Thanks in advance for the advice/clarification!
Thanks for your kind words!
Yes, indeed, you can generally follow red trousers as an overall guide for burgundy ones. However, since it’s much darker, it gives you more flexibility. While it’s a bit of a debate as to whether you can wear black shoes, brown shoes are fine, for example.
All the best,
Coming into the site and first thing I see is some wrinkled up, over sized chino’s draping over some boots. Not a great first impression.
You’re welcome to get your advice elsewhere!
Thank you this guide helped me.
Delighted that it helped!