“Want to know if a guy is well-dressed? Look down.” – George Frazier, American columnist
For the well-tailored man, the suit is a cornerstone of his wardrobe. A good suit, however, is nothing without a great pair of shoes to anchor them. If you think of your suit as your house, your shoes are like your car.
You wouldn’t want to pull up to a mansion in a Ford Pinto, would you?
Though there are many other colors that a gent can wear, there’s one pair of shoes that every man, no matter what his age or station in life, has in his closet: black shoes. Black shoes are the cornerstone of many gentlemen’s closets for two reasons:
- They are formal enough to have you covered in basically any situation, and
- We are told that they go with everything.
While it’s true that certain styles of black shoes are formal enough to be worn with even a tuxedo, they do not in fact “go with everything.” As you’ll see below, black shoes pair well with black trousers, grey trousers, and jeans. That covers a lot of ground for sure, but it’s important to be judicious about your sartorial choices.
NOTE: There are exceptions to every rule.
Use your good judgement, and feel free to leave us a comment if you have questions!
Read on for full explanations and reasoning of the above coordination suggestions. Or, click here to go see our Ultimate Shoe & Trouser Color Coordination Matrix showcasing how to match any color shoes with any color trousers.
How To Coordinate Black Shoes With Different Trousers
Best Trouser Matches – Can’t Miss
If you’re wearing black trousers, it’s not just advisable that you wear black shoes. It’s nearly a must. While the case can be made for light tan or less common shoe colors like grey, black shoes are easily the best bet to wear with black pants. As a rule, we recommend wearing black clothing in the evening specifically. It’s often too harsh for daytime wear, contrary to what we often see out on the street.
Grey trousers with black shoes is a classic combination that will work in just about any setting. Be it a job interview, wedding, funeral, or first date, this combination will work and look handsome regardless of the trousers’ shade of grey. Our founder and creative director Paul Anthony published a wonderful article in which he paired black boots with some lovely charcoal grey trousers, but you can take a sneak peek at the picture above.
A light grey suit with a white shirt and black shoes is an incredibly elegant, understated uniform that looks good on anyone. Try it in the summertime when you want to lend some sobriety to what you’re wearing.
Whether casual or dressy, black shoes are a perfectly good combination with jeans. This holds true particularly if you’re out on the town for a casual dinner and drinks. Keep in mind that the dressiness of the jeans should dictate the dressiness of the shoes. If you’re wearing slim, dark denim (sometimes referred to as “dress denim”) with a dress shirt and sport coat, that would call for a dressier shoe like a brogue or a cap-toe. If your jeans are lighter in color and paired with a casual sweater and jacket, consider a black derby, or even a streamlined-looking sneaker.
Acceptable Trouser Matches With Black Shoes – Be Sagacious
There is an ongoing debate about whether or not black shoes are appropriate with navy trousers. One school of thought says that navy trousers are better served by brown shoes, while the other says that combining two such classics will result in a simple, elegant, understated outfit.
Generally speaking, we advise brown shoes be worn with navy trousers. That said, we have a realistic view of the world at Bespoke Unit and understand that there are different strokes for different folks. Some men have professional restrictions on what they can wear to the office -think government or very conservative law firms- and as such will wear black shoes. Your call.
If you’re going to wear black shoes with an Earth-toned trouser, make it a tan trouser. While it would be better complemented by brown, black and tan has its own charm and will look fine if you insist on wearing black shoes.
White trousers will take to any shoe color. Just make sure it’s a summer evening if you’re going to pair them with black shoes.
Another summery pant shade, medium blue will pair nicely with black particularly after the sun goes down. Still, brown would be better.
No-Go Trouser Matches – Avoid These
Olive trousers are Earth-toned. Black shoes are not. Opt for a brown shoe here.
If you’re wearing a lighter-colored pair of chinos, black shoes are not your best choice. Again, we suggest brown shoes.
Chocolate brown pants are a wonderful alternative to charcoal grey. They will look terrible with black shoes, so wear tan shoes instead.
If you’re wearing Nantucket Reds, black shoes are not going to work. Tan, white, or even blue shoes will provide superior style.
Links To Other Shoe & Trouser Coordination Resources
Shoe & Trouser Master Coordination Matrix – FREE Download