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Ask Beau: Color Combos for Men


I am wondering about color choices and flexibility in mens suiting. For example, is it acceptable to wear burgundy shoes and belt with a black suit?  Can you pair a navy jacket with charcoal pants? Obviously khakis and navy blazers are typical but what are the rules for guys about mixing and matching with suits, belts and shoes?


Thanks for the question. Color combinations are something that most guys don’t think about in the mornings. Generally speaking, a guy will throw on black shoes with black, blue, gray, charcoal, etc.  And they will wear brown with all the varying shades of brown, navy and green (like olive, a nice choice if you ask me).

Quick note to all those guys out there donning brown shoes with a blue (or navy) suit. Don’t do it, always wear black shoes with blue or navy suits. If you think I’m wrong, look at your nearest Police Officer and imagine the same outfit with brown shoes. Gross right?

Now on to your question. You can indeed wear burgundy shoes and belt with a black suit and it can be quite elegant. Before you go out and blow a bunch of money on nice burgundy shoes though, I’d suggest trying some on in your suit to make sure that they are for you, ‘cause if the shoes aren’t quite burgundy you’re going to look a little off. Also, please, please, please make sure your belt matches.

A navy blazer can indeed be paired with charcoal pants, I do it all the time. However, you have to be careful with the other clothes you’re wearing. First, black shoes and black belt obviously are a must. Don’t wear a shirt that will clash like yellow. The best would be a white shirt patterned shirt. Finally, and most important, do not wear a navy blazer with gold buttons. You’re wearing charcoal pants remember? The gold will clash. As an aside I think blazers with gold buttons are tacky to begin with, but definitely don’t pull it out with charcoal pants.

As for khakis. Unless you’re wearing a khaki suit, let’s leave those in the closet for the weekend and pair them with some chucks. Khaki just isn’t nice enough to be wearing with a wool jacket and a tie. Remember you want the material on the bottom to match the material on the top. Your favorite pair of Chinos and a blazer isn’t going to cut it for work. If you were referring to the color, and not the fabric, my apologies because that’s fine, just do it in recess because if you’re wearing a tie at work, your pants and jacket should match. 

Beau is Capitol Hill Style’s resident men’s style expert.  Belle is extremely glad that he did not advocate for the wearing of burgundy shirts with black suits and ties. Such action would have been grounds for dismissal, and he would be known as CHS’ former men’s style expert.  If you have a question for Beau, send it to capitolhillstyle (at) gmail (com).


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  1. anon says:


    Excuse me – but gold buttons on blazers are tacky? I am scared to see your wardrobe. A blazer sans gold buttons may be called a faux pas, but a gold-buttoned navy blazer is a must in any male’s wardrobe – and about as classic casual as you can get.

    Belle – keep up the great work. We love reading you!


    April 28, 2010/Reply