Whether you wear suits often (or, like me, not as often you’d like), I think you’ll agree that there’s something undeniably dapper about the combination of a blue suit and brown shoes.
The blue-brown combo is one of the most classic color pairings in menswear, and for obvious reasons.
Blue conveys a cool sophistication, while brown adds an earthy ruggedness; together, they provide that perfect combination of sharp-meets-strong that so many of us strive for.
The problem is that suiting up in style involves a lot more than just wearing the right color combo.
I wish I could say that you’ll look like a catalog model or a movie star as soon as you throw on a blue suit and strap on a brown pair of shoes, but the truth is that there’s so much more that goes into making the look work.
And that’s where this post comes in. Below you’ll learn everything you need to know to look sharp and stand out while rocking a blue suit with brown shoes.
How to Wear a Blue Suit with Brown Shoes
Your Guide to Rocking a Classic Menswear Color Combo
The Advantages of Pairing Blue Suits with Brown Shoes
Before we get into the specifics of how to rock the blue-suit-brown-shoe combo, it’s worth taking a minute to discuss why you should.
Let’s go over a few of the elements that make this such a classic – and indisputably dapper – combination.
As I mentioned above, one of the main reasons the blue-suit-brown-shoe combo works is because that it combines two colors that bring completely different, but totally complementary, impressions to your overall look.
Blue can convey a lot of different things depending on the shade. Dark blues like midnight blue and navy immediately convey depth, expertise and sophistication, while lighter blue shades suggest trustworthiness, reliability and tranquility.
Either way, blue is a color that speaks to a man’s mind and character.
Brown, meanwhile, speaks to a man’s physical presence. Brown is obviously an earthy color – it’s literally the color of dirt, earth and autumn – which gives it a rugged, and therefore masculine, appeal.
By combining these two colors with your suit and shoes, you get the best of both worlds:
The blue helps you convey a strong sense of confidence and character, while the brown sends the message that while you may be suited up at the moment, you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves and get down in the dirt when you need to.
Works with Every Skin Tone, Body Type and Hair Color
Another advantage of the blue suit brown shoes combo is that it works well on basically every guy.
Few color combos are as versatile as blue and brown. It doesn’t matter what color or shade your skin is, what color hair you have or what your body type is: blue and brown work for everyone.
Here’s a perfect example. The two guys below could hardly have different body types and skin tones—and yet they both look great in the blue suit brown shoe combo.
On the left is talk show host James Corden: pasty, pudgy, reddish brown hair (and at the moment this shot was taken, unfortunately open-mouthed).
On the right is a model for Suitsupply, one of my favorite suit stores. He’s slim, black, has a chiseled jaw. In terms of body type, he’s practically the exact opposite of Corden.
And yet both guys look dapper as hell rocking their blue and brown combos, which demonstrates just how versatile the look can be.
Wide Range of Shades—and Options
The blue-brown combo doesn’t just work with a wide variety of skin tones and hair colors; it also comes in a wide variety of color tones, shades and patterns, which makes it even more versatile.
Blue suits come in a wide range of shades and hues, from very dark shades like midnight and navy to very light shades like sky blue or baby blue.
While each shade conveys a very different message and feeling, pretty much all shades work with brown dress shoes.
And speaking of brown shoes, dress shoes are definitely the best – though not the only – type of shoes to pair with your suit. Fortunately, brown shoes also offer a pretty wide variety of shades and colors, from reddish hues like burgundy to lighter, even orangey hues like cognac.
Of course, some combinations tend to work better than others, and I’ll get into the specifics about how to make each shade look its best below.
But for now it’s worth noting that one of the big advantages of the blue-brown combo is that, no matter which shades you’re rocking, you can rest assured that you’re on the right track.
Wearing a Navy Blue Suit with Brown Shoes
How to Make Brown Shoes Look Great with a Dark Blue Suit
One of the most suave and unimpeachable iterations of the blue suit/brown shoes combo is the navy blue suit paired with dark brown shoes.
In fact, when it comes to pairing certain shades of blue suits with certain hues of brown shoes, you can use this classic combo as a good rule of thumb:
Darker shades of blue, like navy and midnight, pair well with richer shades of brown, like deep chocolate, or reddish browns like burgundy.
This look evokes sophistication and class, which is why you see it so often on businessmen, politicians and lawyers.
Of course, just because they tend to wear this combo a lot doesn’t mean they rock it. Each group tends to violate one (or more) of the most fundamental tenets of how to wear a suit with style.
Businessmen tend to pair it with garishly loud ties (keep reading to find out what kind of ties you should wear), politicians tend to wear suits that are one-to-two sizes too big, and lawyers… well, despite what Harvey Specter would have us believe, lawyers tend to make even the most classic combos look less than ideal.
But don’t let the fact that this is a business-world staple fool you: the navy-blue-suit-and-dark-brown-shoe combo can work just as well at weddings, formal events or any other suited-up setting, as long as you avoid making the same mistakes as the aforementioned groups.
Here are a few tips to make sure you look sharp while rocking a navy blue suit with brown shoes:
Fit is King
I’ve written about this elsewhere a lot and provided a full, detailed breakdown of exactly how your suit should fit here.
So I won’t go too deep into the details here, but I will say this: it doesn’t matter how expensive your suit and shoes are, or how perfectly you’ve paired the colors of each.
If your suit doesn’t fit properly, it won’t look even half as good as you want it to.
Match Your Belt, Bag and Watch to Your Shoes
Keeping the color of all your leather accessories consistent is one of the top tips I give to guys who are buying their first suit, but in truth this is one of the most common mistakes made by both novice and veteran suit-wearers alike.
The rule here is simple: if you’re wearing brown leather shoes, you should make sure that every other piece of leather you might be wearing, including your watch strap, your belt and your briefcase or messenger bag, is a similar shade of brown.
They don’t have to match exactly, but they have to be in the same family. If you’re wearing dark brown shoes and a tan or light brown belt, you’re doing it wrong.
It’s also worth noting that this is one rule that extends beyond just suits and applies to casual looks as well.
So even if you’re rocking a casual pair of brown leather boots with your blue jeans (one of my preferred, go-to casual looks), you’ll still want to make sure your belt and watch band are in line with the color of your boots.
Keep the Shirt Color Light
Another big mistake I see far too many guys make, whether wearing navy suits or any other color, is wearing a shirt that’s as dark as the suit itself.
Whether you’re looking at the websites of stylish menswear stores like Suitsupply, Bonobos, or Indochino, or movies and TV shows featuring suit-wearing pop culture icons like Don Draper, James Bond, Harvey Specter and Neal Caffrey, you’ll notice something consistent across the board:
They never pair dark suits with dark shirts.
Universally, they almost always pair their navy suit and brown shoe combo with a crisp white shirt, and if they deviate from that script at all, it’s with other light colors that still complement the look, like light blue.
Far too often I see guys pairing black, blue and grey suits with navy or black shirts, which just looks amateurish.
If you want to make your navy suit look sharp, keep the shirt light, and preferably white.
The three tips I’ve shared here apply not just to navy suits, but to pretty much any shade of blue suit that you might pair with brown shoes.
But when you’re going all the way to the other end of the spectrum and rocking a light blue suit with brown shoes, there are a few additional things you’ll want to keep in mind.
Wearing a Light Blue Suit with Brown Shoes
One of the reasons why wearing a light blue suit with brown shoes is such a great move is because it’s bold.
As mentioned, a navy blue suit with brown shoes is a staple that you can wear anywhere, and as a result, a lot of guys do.
But rocking a light blue suit with brown shoes is a move you don’t see nearly as often, which is a shame—because it looks sharp as hell.
How to Rock a Light Blue Suit with Brown Shoes
The light blue suit and brown shoes combo can definitely help you stand out from the crowd, but one of the reasons why it’s rarer is because it’s a little trickier to pull off.
All of the rules and tips that I outlined for navy suits above apply to light blue suits as well, but suits on the lighter side of the spectrum also have their own unique rules you’ll want to keep in mind.
The first and most important one is that if your suit is light blue, you’ll want to keep everything else light as well. For your shirt, this means sticking with white.
For your shoes, it means opting for a lighter shade of brown—think “sand” instead of “mud.” Brown shoes that have more of an orangey color to them, rather than a deep red or purple, tend to work best with light blue suits.
Where to Wear the Light Blue Suit/Brown Shoe Combo
A light blue suit is inherently more casual than darker shades like navy, which is another reason why they’re not worn quite as often.
While they look great at summer or spring weddings and in other celebratory atmospheres, they’d probably feel a little out of place in a boardroom or a courtroom.
What Color Tie to Wear with a Blue Suit and Brown Shoes
As mentioned above, one of the ways that businessmen manage to mess up the otherwise unimpeachable blue suit/brown shoe combo is by wearing ties that don’t work with the color combo.
So let’s do them – and any other guys considering the blue suit/brown shoe combo – a public service.
Here are five tie colors that complement blue suits and brown shoes.
1. Blue Tie
What tie color could better complement a blue suit than… well, blue?
Pairing your suit with a similarly colored tie is a safe, stylish and go-to move.
Opting for a shade of blue that’s close to the hue of your suit pretty much always works well.
But you can also mix it up by selecting a shade on the other end of the light spectrum: if you’re wearing a dark blue suit, try throwing on a light blue tie, or vice versa.
2. Brown Tie
Admit it: you saw this coming.
In keeping with the theme of “this seems terribly obvious,” brown ties also work great with blue suits and brown shoes.
But while it may seem obvious, brown ties are actually not worn as often as you’d think, which is another reason why I like this move so much.
It brings a great cohesion and consistency that may skew a little toward the more conservative end of the spectrum, but really helps tie the whole look together (pun very much intended).
3. Burgundy Tie
Maybe it’s the Donald Trump effect, but I’ve never been a fan of red ties.
They’re too loud, too brash, too attention-seeking.
Wearing a bright red tie is what a guy with no actual power considers a “power move.”
But burgundy is a sophisticated alternative that works great with blue suits.
This look works especially well when you pair it with brown shoes that have some red in them, like oxblood, or what Beckett Simonon calls “Bordeaux.”
4. Orange Tie
Orange is a color I don’t recommend often.
So before I say anything else about, I should say this: orange definitely works best when used sparingly.
Falling directly across from blue on the color wheel, orange is a perfect complementary color that can help brighten up an otherwise staid look.
And since orange and brown are in the same color family, an orange tie will also work well with brown shoes.
5. Grey Tie
And finally we come to one of the most versatile colors in menswear.
Whether you’re wearing a casual sweater with jeans or a finely made suit with patent leather shoes, grey works in almost any situation, which very much includes the blue suit/brown shoe combo.
A grey tie may not be as out-there as orange or as bold as burgundy, but it’s classic, classy and sophisticated—three adjectives that are never bad to have associated with your look.
What Kind of Socks to Wear with a Blue Suit and Brown Shoes
When it comes to choosing the right socks to accompany your suit, there are two (or as we’ll see below, possibly three) schools of thought. Any of them will work well, so it’s really just a matter of choosing the one that best fits your personality.
Old-School Thoughts on Socks
The first is the classic, if more conservative school, which says your socks should be roughly the same color as your suit.
The thinking here is that by matching your sock color to your suit and keeping the color consistent all the way down into your shoe, you effectively extend the appearance of your legs, which in theory can even make you look taller.
When you’re rocking the blue suit/brown shoe combo, the other advantage of sticking with a matching sock color is that, like the suit itself, blue socks will of course complement your brown shoes and make for a solid (if staid) combination.
New School Sock Game
Under this approach, you treat your socks as an opportunity to throw tradition and “rules” out the window and mix in some funky colors and/or patterns that would traditionally have been considered out of place.
Think bright colors like neon, patterns with funky shapes and symbols, that kind of thing.
This philosophy ignores the brown shoes altogether in favor of socks that make a statement in and of themselves.
My Preferred Option: The Hybrid
Falling squarely in between the old-school and new-school approaches to socks is my preferred option, which is basically a hybrid of the two.
When I rock the blue suit/brown shoe look, I opt for socks that have a cool pattern, but I keep the color scheme limited to the same colors that are present throughout the rest of my look.
For instance, if I’m wearing a navy blue suit, oxblood shoes and a burgundy tie, I’ll go for socks that have a darker shade of blue as a base color, but then have a pattern – like stripes or polka dots, for instance – that includes pops of red, to complement the burgundy in my tie and oxblood in my shoes.
In my opinion, this option gives you the best of both worlds: the colors stay consistent throughout the whole look, but the pattern on the socks adds a bit of modern flair to an otherwise classic combination.
How to Rock a Blue Suit and Brown Shoes at a Wedding
As I mentioned earlier, just because you most often see the blue suit/brown shoe combo in business settings doesn’t mean it has to be limited to boardrooms.
It can look just as sharp at social and other celebratory events, and (as long as they don’t take place in Westeros…) there are few events as celebratory as weddings.
But suiting up for a wedding brings a whole host of considerations that don’t come up in other settings. So before you rock blue and brown to celebrate a conscious coupling, here are a few things you need to consider.
If You’re the Groom:
Can you Wear a Blue Suit and Brown Shoes For Your Wedding?
Back in our parents’ generation, the idea of a groom wearing brown shoes to his wedding was strictly verboten.
Weddings used to be simultaneously much more formal and much less stylish affairs.
Back then, a cheap, shiny black tux rental was considered more “formal” than a well made suit of any other color. (Ugh. Parents.)
Fortunately, nowadays things are quite different. A lot of couples opt for a more casual or rustic motif for their weddings, which gives grooms plenty of options that go beyond the traditional black tux.
So if you’re getting married and considering wearing a blue suit and brown shoes as your wedding outfit, here’s a good rule of thumb to follow:
If you and your partner want your wedding to be more formal, then stick with black shoes. Even though brown shoes and a blue suit can look sharp as hell, the look is traditionally considered less formal than black.
But if you want your wedding to feel more casual, rustic or basically anything other than “formal,” then the blue suit/brown shoes combo is absolutely an option you can – and should – consider.
If You’re a Guest:
Wearing a Blue Suit and Brown Shoes to Someone Else’s Wedding
When choosing what to wear, wedding guests have a completely different set of criteria than grooms and groomsmen (who don’t really have any choices to make, since their outfits are chosen for them by the groom).
Here are the things to think about when deciding to rock the blue suit and brown shoe combo to someone else’s wedding.
What’s the Dress Code?
Whether you’re planning to wear blue and brown, or any other combination, considering the dress code is always the first move when planning a wedding getup.
As mentioned, nowadays weddings tend to be less formal than they were in our parents’ generation; for instance, most of us will probably never get invited to a black-tie wedding. (Of course, if you do, make sure you don’t wear blue and brown!)
And that’s actually a good thing for those of us who love the blue/brown combo, because it works in pretty much any wedding situation that doesn’t require a tuxedo.
Wedding website The Knot has a list of the possible wedding attire categories, ordered from most to least formal:
- White Tie
- Black Tie
- Formal/”Black Tie Optional”
- Cocktail Attire
- Beach Formal
- Semiformal or “Dressy Casual”
- Casual or Daytime
While you can’t wear the blue suit/brown shoe combo at either of the first two, you can definitely rock it in any of the categories below Black Tie.
You can also use this list to guide you in terms of other considerations, like which shade of blue is best and what accessories to wear.
For instance, for a formal wedding, you’ll probably want to stick with the most classic blue suit/brown shoe combo, and go for a navy suit with dark brown shoes and a tie.
But for any of the categories below it, you could probably get away without the tie. And for the more casual categories like Beach Formal or Daytime, a light blue suit might work even better (and help you stand out more to any attractive bridesmaids) than the traditional dark blue option.
What Colors are the Groom and His Groomsmen Wearing?
Another thing to consider before suiting up for a wedding is what the groom and his guys are wearing.
If you weren’t invited to be a part of the wedding party, then dressing like you are can be a little… well, awkward—especially if you’re attending the wedding as someone’s date, or don’t know the groom all that well.
The last thing you want is to spend the whole day fumbling over your answer to the question, “So, how long have you and the groom been friends?”
If you’re close enough to the bride and groom, or to someone who knows what colors they’ll be wearing, try to get some insight into the wedding party’s colors.
If it turns out they’re all going to be in blue and brown, maybe consider breaking out your favorite grey suit instead.
Leave Your Jacket On at Dinner
This one’s not so much a tip about the blue/brown combo, but just good wedding etiquette advice in general.
Far too many guys make the mistake of taking their jacket off at dinner and draping it over their chair. This is the wrong move for two reasons.
First, it’s bad etiquette. Your jacket isn’t a top coat or piece of outerwear – you don’t have to take it off indoors! Doing so reveals that you’re not familiar with the rules or etiquette of menswear.
(And while you’re sure as hell not alone in that, it’s always better to be the classy guy who stands out from the crowd than the lemming who goes with the poorly informed flow.)
But there’s a second, arguably more important reason to keep your jacket on at dinner: it seals in the sweat.
Weddings tend to take place during warmer months, and even if you opt for a lightweight suit, there’s still a good chance you could be sweating under that jacket.
Keeping your jacket on may be a little uncomfortable if you’ve sweated through your shirt, but taking it off would be much, much worse.
Not only will people see the sweat stains on your shirt, but, depending on how extreme the situation is, the people in your immediate vicinity may also smell its effects.
Do yourself a favor and leave your blue jacket on. It may be warm, and it may even cause you to sweat a little more, but you’ll look a hell of a lot more put together.
Choose Shoes You Can Dance In
And finally, when you’re choosing a pair of brown shoes to wear to a wedding, consider the fact that between the cocktail hour and the dancing, you’re going to be on your feet a lot.
As much as possible, try to wear shoes that combine style and comfort in equal measure. I often say that a man’s shoes are the secret weapon of his style, and as a self-respecting style blogger I would never advocate wearing shoes that don’t look great and work well with your suit.
Fortunately, nowadays a lot of brands have realized that guys want to simultaneously look good and feel good, and have started making shoes that help us do both.
Check out the Where to Buy Brown Shoes section below to find out where you can pick some up.
Where to Buy a Blue Suit
I’ve rounded up some of the best suits on the market in The Men’s Shop, and wrote an entire post dedicated to the best places to buy affordable suits online, all of which sell suits that perfectly blend modern sensibilities with a classic silhouette that never goes out of style.
And while both of those lists are highly curated, they’re hardly exhaustive. So here’s a more robust list of suit stores and brands where you can buy blue (or any other color) suits:
- East Dane
- Ben Sherman
- Banana Republic
- Spier & McKay
- Nordstrom Rack
Where to Buy Brown Shoes
When it comes to shoes, the good news is that there are dozens of places to buy affordable brown dress shoes that look sharp.
The bad news is that, if you’re not super familiar with the ins and outs of shoe manufacturing, it can be hard to tell the high quality (and long lasting) shoes from the knock-offs and cheaply made alternatives.
As with suits, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite dress shoes in The Men’s Shop, all of which come in brown options (and in most cases, multiple shades of brown).
But here’s an even fuller list of shoe stores and brands where you can buy stylish shoes that will both look good, and last a long time.
Since you’ve read this far, I think it’s probably safe to say that you share my belief that the blue suit brown shoe combo is one of the most classic, dapper and must-have getups a guy can have in his style arsenal.
The good news is that after reading this post (thanks for hanging in there, by the way) you now have all the information you need to take the blue/brown combo to the next level.
If there’s any bad news, it’s this: while the advice in this post will certainly help you rock a blue suit with brown shoes, the truth is that knowing how to suit up in style is only one small piece of the larger menswear puzzle.
As I alluded to at the outset, personally I don’t have nearly as many opportunities to wear a suit as I would like. As a result, I’ve had to learn how to step up my style game not just when I’m suited up, but when I’m wearing more casual clothes, too.
The main thing I’ve learned? The (handsome) devil is in the details.
Whether you’re at a formal event or in the most casual of settings, if you want to look so sharp that you stand out from the crowd and out-dress the other guys, you need to make sure you’re mastering all the small things that add up to make a big difference in the way you look.
Fortunately, you don’t need to guess what those essential style details are—I’ve put together a checklist that will show you exactly what they are, and how to nail them.
Enter your email address below and I’ll send you an email outlining the Nine Details You Need to Nail in order to look your best—and out-dress all the other guys.
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More Resources ↓
From Irreverent Gent:
- How to
WearRock a Suit with Style: The Complete Guide
- How to Buy Your First Suit: 10 Steps to Take You From Beginner to Best-Dressed Guy in the Room
- Where to Buy (Affordable!) Suits Online
- The 14 (Most Stylish & Absolute) Best Men’s Pants Colors
- The 8 Most Stylish Men’s Shirts Colors
- The Best Men’s Shoes
- The Men’s Shops: Stylish and Affordable Suits
- The Men’s Shop: Sharp and Stylish Dress Shoes
More Advice on the “Blue Suit Brown Shoe” Combo
From Around Ye Olde Interwebs:
As the founder of Irreverent Gent, Dave shows thoughtful guys how to look sharp, stand out and feel confident. As an inveterate smart-aleck, he does it all with an irreverent sense of humor. And as a proud Canadian, he’s quick to apologize for all the lames jokes. (Sorry!)