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Should You Wear Brown Shoes With Black Pants?

Let us tackle that great fashion rule about not wearing brown shoes with black pants showcasing how times have changed, tips on how to wear this combination and when to wear them.

This is a close look at a man wearing black slacks and a pair of brown leather shoes.

There used to be a time when fashionistas would follow all the rules, no prints with stripes, do not mix patterns or stripes and polka dots, etc. We can take from this revolution that there are NO rules when it comes to fashion.  So, when you are looking for what to pair your black pants with, you should think about what is best for you.

What suits you as an individual and what you are comfortable in. It is said that the “clothes maketh the man,” which may or may not be accurate.  The way you dress reflects yourself, for it is a reflection of your style and personality. 

There used to be a rule which stated that you could not pair black pants with brown shoes.  However, that rule went out years ago. Most recently, many fashionistas or even the general population will agree that you can wear black pants with brown shoes.

In the following article, I will attempt to assist you by giving you a few reasons why and how you may pair black pants with brown shoes.

Choosing The Right Shade Of Brown

These are various brown leather shoes with a belt and watch on the floor.

When choosing a brown shoe to pair with your black pants, the correct shade of brown is very important. Pairing a brown shoe with your black pants rather than a black shoe means you have a more extensive range of shades of browns and styles to choose from, instead of the standard black.

Many shades of brown are derived from the more earthy tones. For example, the following are a few names you may consider when choosing the right shade of brown for your shoe.

  • Cocoa
  • Chestnut
  • Dark Brown
  • Walnut
  • Mahogany

An excellent tip to remember when choosing the correct shade of brown shoes to match your black pants is to go for the darker shades of brown instead of the lighter ones such as tan.  Tan does not pair well with darker pants and would suit lighter pants better.

How To Combine Brown Shoes With Black Pants?

This is a close look at a man wearing black jeans with brown leather shoes.

Combining your brown shoe with your black pants is not that difficult if you remember the following guidelines:

  • Keep away from too dark brown shoes: It would be best if you tried not to combine two similar colours. If you are wearing a black pair of pants, go instead for lighter brown brogue shoes.
  • Keep it casual: Try to keep it on the casual side. Black pants are formal, but the shoes and accessories with the shirt are a great way to make your best smart casual outfit.
  • Accessories:  It is an unspoken rule that the belt has to be the same shade of brown as your shoes. You may also add a nice brown leather watch, which will give you the perfect outfit.
  • A White (dress) shirt for the day: There is just something about a simple, crisp white dress shirt.  This combination of a white shirt with a  black pair of pants and brown shoes is simple, easy, and works.
  • A Grey, black, or blue (dress) shirt for the night: When you need to change your outfit for the evening, you may consider a grey, black or blue shirt. For the evening, the darker look works best.

Choosing The Right Pair Of Shoes

For a formal or special occasion and If you are wearing black wool pants, you may consider the following types of shoes:

Oxford Shoes

This is a close look at a pair of brown brogue oxford shoes.

Brown Oxford shoes are the most formal choice among the brown shoes. It will continue to be a smart casual look. You can never go wrong with a pair of Oxford and a pair of wool suit pants.

Brown Derby Shoes

This is a look at a pair of brown derby shoes.

Slightly more casual are best worn with jeans or chinos for the more casual occasion.

Brown wingtip shoes

This is a close look at a pair of brown wingtip shoes.

These shoes are the selected choice of the more discerning, stylish people. Wingtip shoes are also known as brogue shoes so that you will find the typical broguing on them.

Brown boots

This is a close look at a pair of waterproof brown boots.

When wearing brown boots, ensure that the pants cover the ankle, so nobody notices the boot.

For those occasions that call for that casual, laid-back look. When you choose to wear jeans or chinos;

You have the same options mentioned above but may also wear brown sneakers with your jeans or chinos.

When To Pair Black Pants With Brown Shoes?

This is a close look at a man wearing black jeans and brown boots.

A Black pair of pants is a traditional classic in every man’s wardrobe.  It goes with everything and with every color. The only difference is the type of pants being worn. For example, it may be a pair of chinos or jeans for a more casual look or a more formal pair for those special occasions. 

If you wish to pair your black pair of pants with a pair of brown shoes, here are a few simple rules to follow that will help you pull off this look like a pro.

  1. Use a lighter shade of brown shoes for the more casual occasion or look and a darker pair of shoes for the formal occasion or the office.
  2. Depending on the occasion, choose a shoe type that will compliment your pants style. For example, for a special occasion or to the office, you would choose shoes such as an Oxford or Brogues on a more formal pair of pants.  For a casual look, you may wear a leather sneaker or boots with jeans.
  3. When pairing with a belt, match the belt with the colour of your shoes. So, for a darker shoe, you would choose a darker colour belt, and with a lighter shoe, you would choose a lighter colour belt.
  4. There are no hard and fast rules in fashion that apply here.  Experiment with light to dark shades of brown for different occasions.  However, the tone of the shoe does make an impact on your outfit.


Men are very limited in their choice of clothing. They have jeans, chinos, and formal trousers, which they wear on those special occasions, to the office or when meeting friends on a casual basis.  So, when it comes to deciding which shoes to pair with their black pants, it is not that much of a train smash.

They have black, which is a good choice.  However, on some occasions, you may want to change things up a bit. That is when you decide to choose from a variety of shades of brown.  However, there are a few guidelines to follow (I wouldn’t call them rules because there are no rules in fashion these days).

I have tried to help you by giving a brief description and explanation on how to wear your black pants with brown shoes. The final decision is left to you and what you think works best for you.


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