Somewhere between beige and brown trousers live tan trousers. This highly versatile pant is what we often think of when we hear the word “khakis (the proper term for the color),” “chinos,” or even sometimes “Dockers.”
They’re 50% of the dreaded “khakis and a polo shirt” dress-down dress code of the nineties.
Thankfully, times have changed and it’s easy to pick up a couple of pairs that are cut well, it’s just up to you to pair it with more than just a
n ill-fitting, athletic logo-having, bland polo shirt.
The shoes you wear with these can be the deciding factor between cool and boring, so read on for a full guide.
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 Tan Trousers With Different Shoes
Best Shoe Matches
As a casual look, this pairing can’t be beat. Think beige suede desert boots with an almost copper-colored trouser, perhaps with a grey shirt.
If you want to dress a pair of khakis up a bit, throw on some burgundy shoes. The tan will pick up on the brown in the shoes, and you can easily toss a blue sport coat on in this scenario.
This is the go-to pairing for khaki pants. Dress them up with dress shoes or dress them down with casual shoes, either way this is a totally safe option for most business and social occasions.
Because khakis are by nature a “medium” shade of brown, they go well enough with any shade of green without you necessarily look like shrubbery as dark brown trousers would. Put on any shade of green shoe here. Light green is great for spring and summer, dark green is good for fall and winter.
Another safe option, khakis and light brown shoes are an easy pairing to make in the springtime with nearly any tops and accessories. Shoes in a shade of light brown called “British tan” work particularly well.
Tan trousers are the perfect vessels for navy shoes. This combination would look good with a khaki suit as much as it would with casual tan pants. Let the formality dictate which type of shoe you wear, but rest assured that navy blue will shine here.
Like navy blue shoes, purple shoes pair very well with tan trousers. Definitely a statement shoe in this context, it’s best to let the shoes do the talking here. Either keep the other outfit components neutral, or make them purple-friendly so they play nice with the dominant shoes.
A smart, colorful, summertime combination, this conjures ideas of New England, where I’m originally from. Khakis with red boat shoes and a stylish polo (read: the polar opposite of the polos we talked about above) makes me think of the WASP-y summers I was too blue collar to experience in the first place.
Either way, the combo is sweet. Try it with drivers for a different vibe.
A tan suit in cotton with a pair of white bucks is classic American style. You can’t go wrong at all here.
Acceptable Shoe Matches
This combo works best only with light grey shoes. Dark grey shoes, rare anyway, are a bit too stark for tan.
No-Go Shoe Matches
We have strong feelings about black and tan being mixed. Actually, we have one strong feeling: no.
This combination doesn’t do it for us, but British tan – the orange-y tan we mentioned above- can work because it’s tempered with some brown.
Links To Other Shoe & Trouser Coordination Resources
Shoe & Trouser Master Coordination Matrix – FREE Download