Can You Wear A Black Tie With Brown Dress Shoes?

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Black and brown are tough to combine, and many people wonder whether it’s socially acceptable to wear the two simultaneously—we get it. And while the “guidelines” explain one thing, we’ve all seen plenty of rule-breakers strut their stuff on the street–and do it well. But, nobody has ever laid down the law about black neckties with brown shoes, leaving the question to stir. Can you wear a black tie with brown dress shoes?

In short, yes. You can wear a black tie with brown dress shoes. While shoes and belts should always correspond, the color of your necktie isn’t such a serious rule, allowing a black tie and brown shoes to go together just fine.

On the contrary, you might be thinking: But, my shoes should pair well with my pants, so why would a tie be any different? And that’s a valid question.

Nonetheless, following some essential formalwear customs will keep you looking dapper. Although you feel like you have nowhere to turn, we’ll dive deep into the rules of men’s accessories and allow the facts to do the talking.

Fundamental Rules Of Matching Accessories With Your Outfit

To help you on your journey toward wearing your black tie confidently, we’ve compiled a list of a few essential guidelines to follow considering neckties. But, don’t let the rules scare you off–they aren’t that hard to follow, and nobody will die if you choose to break them. First things first, grab your confidence and suit up; you’ll need it.

What Should Match My Shoes?

The shoe-matching is a rather common question, so we’ll answer it here and now. In the laws of fashion, shoes have always needed to match a man’s belt. The two are the most essential items that you should coordinate. And don’t forget that all leathers in the outfit should also match, or at least be similar enough to look like they’re close relatives.

Should My Tie Match My Belt?

To sum it up, no; no rule says your tie has to match the color of your belt. If you do want it to match, then go ahead–by all means. But, if you do coordinate your tie with your belt, then it will, in turn, also need to match your shoes.

But, in all reality, your tie should match your shirt. Forget the rest; your shirt should almost always lay the foundation for the color of your tie. But, it’s also not necessary to match your tie to anything. It’s the only item where you can truly show your personality, and it’s not essential that it matches. In fact, allowing some contrast is—dare I say—a good thing.

Does My Tie Need To Match My Suit?

The tie versus suit ordeal is where it gets a bit fuzzy. Yes, your necktie should essentially match your suit, but not directly. You don’t need to stress about whether your tie is in the same realm as your suit.

Your tie should match your shirt, which should match your suit, which should technically act as the primary color scheme for the entire ensemble. So, if you’re playing the game right, then your tie will likely correspond with your suit automatically.

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What About Matching My Shoes With My Suit?

The suit and shoe debacle is a never-ending controversy in the male fashion world. And, for a good reason. Many suits simply do not go well with certain shoe colors, and we can all agree on that.

Most men opt to not wear a blue suit with black shoes, while others think it makes for a stylish ensemble. Everyone loves perfect harmony, but fashion rules are also designed to be broken. The general consensus is to match your shoes to the hue of your suit (e.g., earth tones with brown shoes), but there are other options.

Believe it or not—cue the gasps—you’re allowed to wear brown shoes with a black suit. The key to pairing shoes with adverse suit colors is to ensure that the rest of your outfit flows smoothly and is comprised of both to even things out and leave you looking stylish.

How To Wear A Black Necktie With Brown Dress Shoes

First, let’s take a look at the overall color scheme of your outfit. Brown dress shoes can usually be worn with black attire in general, as long as they match the rest of your get-up. So, does your ensemble have both black and brown hues in various places?

If so, you can most likely wear a black necktie with brown dress shoes without any problems. For example, if you’re wearing black dress pants with a brown tweed or checked blazer, you’re safe.

Next up: the shade. Generally, any tone is suitable–just ask David Beckham. But some of the more appropriate browns to wear with black fall anywhere between deep espresso brown (my personal favorite with black) and medium to light browns. Burgundy browns are for the brave hearts as they add a bit of a spin on the black-brown look.

Last but certainly not least is the type of event you’re attending. Various shades of brown pair well with black, but some are better for certain occasions than others.

If you’re heading to a job interview, a black necktie with dark brown dress shoes is a bit too dressed up and might send the wrong message. So, opt for more of a casual shade–the lighter it is, the less formal it is–but, of course, keep it professional.


If you’re on your way to attend a wedding, a medium-brown shade with your black necktie is a great combination. You’re still dressed up without being too formal, and you might catch the Maid of Honor’s eye.


If you’re on your way to a black-tie event, just toss your brown shoes back in the closet and walk away. When you’re dressing for black-tie, don’t even consider any shoe colors other than black.

Outfit Ideas For Wearing Black Neckties With Brown Dress Shoes

Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part when it comes to deciding on outfits. That said, we’ll give you a head start on wearing your black tie with brown shoes and instill in you the confidence you need to wear the combo well. Here are a few of our favorite looks:

Semi-Casual: For Your Weekend Date-Night

If you’re looking to keep things cool but dapper, don’t be shy; a casual occasion is the best time to take a black tie and brown shoes for a test run. Keep it simple with a pair of grey slacks, and white button down, a black tie and medium brown shoes.

Business Professional: For Your Day-to-Day Office Wear

Bored of alternating between your same three suits throughout the week? Mix things up a bit with the bold combination. Opt for your favorite, well-fitted charcoal grey suit. Button up a blue plaid or checkered dress shirt and slip into your black tie—it works even better if it’s squared. Clip it down with a silver tie clip and buckle up a dark brown belt with some matching loafers. You’re sure to get that promotion while looking jazzed up and sophisticated.

Formal: Your Go-To Ensemble For Weddings And Formal Events

Brown shoes and black ties work surprisingly well for formal ensembles, especially when the shoes are dark brown in tone. For occasions like weddings, funerals, galas, and other formal events, opt for a black, fitted suit, with a freshly pressed white dress shirt. Add a black or grey vest under your blazer and knot up your black tie. Lace up your cognac Oxfords and pair them with a matching leather belt. Then, to tie everything together with a brown leather watch.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, wearing a black necktie with brown dress shoes is completely acceptable. Not only will it look super clean and polished when done right, but your outfit will also convey confidence, which is always a good thing.

Whether you’re opting for more of a casual look or a formal get-up, black with brown won’t cause any problems. Just be sure to bring your swagger. Now go forth and break the unspoken style rules. We’re here for it.

What’s your favorite shoe-tie combo?

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