Find out how to put shoes and outfits together

“I love your new men's shoe collection,” customers tell us, “but will these shoes look ok with those trousers?” “Can I wear brown shoes with a navy suit?”

The question of what shoes to wear with what outfit crops up so often we thought you might like an article setting out a few general tips.

As with all what-looks-best-with-what decisions, putting shoes and outfits together is very much a matter of personal style. If you like a particular look or a particular combination, we’d always be the first to recommend that you go for it. But if you’re not quite sure how to do your outfit justice with your choice of footwear we hope you’ll find the following guidelines useful.

Shoe style – and colour

There was a time when highly polished black lace-up shoes were the order of the day for all smartly dressed men getting dressed for work. Now, just as suits in conservative shades of navy and charcoal still have their place but aren’t your only option, so it is with black shoes.

They’re utterly indispensible for formal occasions, but for other occasions you have a range of colours and styles to choose from. And, with more contemporary business wear, both smart and ‘smart casual', black can be limiting.

Our top tip, therefore: Try not to think of black as your default shoe colour.

The four shoe styles every man needs

Broadly speaking, there are just four styles of shoe that every man needs to pull together his smart and smart casual outfits:

  • the brogue
  • the Oxford or Derby
  • the loafer, and
  • the ankle boot.

Taking each of these in turn…

The brogue

The brogue is the most distinctive, the most delightfully British – and also the most versatile.

Dark brown brogues

Treat yourself to a pair of dark brown brogues and they’ll instantly give your navy and grey suits a new, more relaxed, more contemporary look. They’ll also look brilliant with your wool trousers and jackets. And smart chinos and jackets too. Especially sports jackets – for that quintessentially British look that’s enjoying such a big revival right now.

Then, come the weekend, wear your dark brown brogues with jeans. See what we mean about versatile? Dark brown brogues will go with every colour in your wardrobe – from navy and grey to green, burgundy and denim.

Honey coloured or tan brogues

For a stronger contrast and even more relaxed look, consider a honey-coloured tan brogue. These are a match made in sartorial heaven with grey Prince of Wales check. And, like dark brown brogues, they also look great with denim.

If you’re concerned that the colour contrast is too vivid and there’s too much attention drawn to your feet in honey-coloured brogues, here’s a tip. Wear a shirt, jumper or jacket that has a touch of tan (it need only be a subtle touch in the weave, the check or the stripe), so that your ‘top and bottom’ are co-ordinated.

Talking of co-ordination, it’s always a good idea to match your shoes and your belt. This is essential with all formal outfits, less so with more casual outfits, but it can help to pull things together.

Back to the brogues…

Black brogues

Black brogues, of course, need no introduction here. Our only advice would be not to try to pair them with casual outfits. Too severe. Keep them (polished to a high shine, of course!) to wear with your smart suits and they’ll do you proud.

The black Oxford or Derby ‘dress shoe’

In sleek, highly polished black, these are the shoes that every man needs in his wardrobe for black tie functions and more formal business occasions. The most obvious difference between the two is the characteristic cap toe of the Oxford. Which you choose is a matter of personal preference.

The loafer

The joy of loafers is that they’re so easy to slip into – and also to use to dress outfits up or down.

Again, it’s a question of colour…

Black loafers

Black loafers will add a pleasingly subtle relaxed touch to your suits. Brown loafers, meanwhile, will give your suits and smart ensembles a distinctly different look – less traditional, more laid back. A touch of ‘continental’ flair.

Brown loafers

Team brown loafers with casual clothes such as chinos, button-down shirts and jackets, and they’ll have the opposite effect – lifting the outfit and making it smarter, dressier.

The ankle boot

The ankle boot, aka chukka boot, is the most casual of your essential styles.

Suede chukka boot

A relative newcomer to the workwear scene, the suede chukka boot is the key to finishing your most casual of ‘smart casual’ outfits for dress-down business occasions. Wear with, for example, smart chinos and either brushed cotton check shirts, knits or jackets.

We offer a choice of navy and chocolate brown and recommend that you tie the colour of your boot with a colour in your top half. That’s not to say that you need to wear a plain navy or brown shirt, jumper or jacket to match. Just make sure there’s a touch of the boot colour there somewhere – in the weave, check or stripe.

And, yes, in answer to all of you who have asked this question … you CAN wear suede chukka boots with suits. Contrast with your suit colour as you please and pick up the boot colour in your shirt or tie – for a fabulously stylish contemporary look that’s 100% your own!

We’ve extended our collection of beautiful bench-made shoes this season. To see them all – visit our shoe collection.