He Said, She Said: Black Shoes with Navy Suits, Methinks Not

To help keep things moving here at CHS, I have two contributors: Miss M and Beau.  They don’t post often, but when they do, I am always happy to have them.  As a rule, I don’t edit their content because I like to have another voice on the blog, but I didn’t agree with a few of the tips in the Men’s Style post yesterday. 

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?

First off, I believe that a navy suit with black shoes is at best, an iffy sartorial decision.  And as my friend J pointed out to me, using a police uniform as a fashion example is not a good idea.  In my opinion, navy suits look best with chocolate brown shoes.  If you’re a woman you can also try grey shoes, but for men, your choices are brown and brown.  The only possible exception would be a midnight blue suit with a dark pinstripe.  Outside of that, brown shoes are essential. 

A navy blazer can indeed be paired with charcoal pants, I do it all the time.

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. 

Here, my dear friend Beau contradicts himself on the topic of whether a staffer can wear mismatched slacks and jacket to work.  He seems to imply that doing it with navy and charcoal is fine but khaki and navy is out of bounds. 

While I think it is perfectly acceptable to wear khaki or charcoal slacks with a navy jacket, I think the suit is the crisper, more professional, and frankly, a helluva lot sexier.  However, if you want to pair a khaki pant with a navy blazer, make sure that the blazer is perfectly tailored and the pants are long enough.  Why?  Beyond the fact that good tailoring is essential, the khaki/navy combo is the uniform of choice for Hill interns and I’d hate to see a paid staffer mistaken for one of the serfs.  (Just kidding, I love my interns.)

As an aside I think blazers with gold buttons are tacky to begin with, but definitely don’t pull it out with charcoal pants.

I love navy and gold together, and navy blazers with gold buttons are a classic.  Of course, you don’t want buttons to be the size of hubcaps, and the embossed gold crest on the pocket is best saved for the club or Gold Cup.  So while not every navy blazer needs to have gold buttons, I don’t consider them antiquated or faux pas.

On a related note, I would also like to take this opportunity to say that I hate, loathe, despise and deplore when men wear red/burgundy shirts with black suits and/or black ties.  It think this look is positively atrocious and the perfect example of why blogs like District Cut are necessary.  So please, stop channeling your inner Guido and put this hideous combination to rest in the nearest trash bin.


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  1. Belle says:

    Again, we’re not talking about women. We’re talking about men. For whatever reason, the perceptions seem to be different.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. Belle says:

    Again, we’re not talking about women. We’re talking about men. For whatever reason, the perceptions seem to be different.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  3. Lindsey says:

    I think the rules are different for mens and womens attire. Belle and Beau are both correct in their assertions.

    April 29, 2010/Reply
  4. I object! says:

    I have to object! Maybe for men it’s a faux pas, but for women? Vogue has done spreads with black and navy, and it’s all over the runways! I would much rather put on a pair of black patent leather pumps with a navy suit than any brown footwear.

    April 29, 2010/Reply
  5. Belle says:

    I think DKNY made it acceptable for women when they started doing black tights with black shoes and navy at a Fall show a few years ago, but I am not a fan of the look on men, esp. in Summer. The brown shoes lighten things up for warm weather.

    April 29, 2010/Reply
  6. Julie says:

    I disagree. I think navy with black pumps look so much classier (and professional) than brown and navy for women. I have a lovely navy pinstripe suit that I wear with black pumps. I’ve tried pairing brown with it but it just doesn’t look good. With business attire black and navy work but for casual attire I have no problem wearing a navy dress/skirt with nude or tan sandals/pumps.

    April 29, 2010/Reply
  7. Belle says:

    Again, we’re not talking about women. We’re talking about men. For whatever reason, the perceptions seem to be different.

    April 30, 2010/Reply
  8. Bianca says:

    well…the thing with navy and grey is that when you put them together on the hill you run the risk of looking like a page…which is probably the last thing i’d like to look like…

    April 30, 2010/Reply
  9. a says:

    Uh for woman I have a radical idea – Wear navy pumps with a navy suit!

    April 30, 2010/Reply
  10. District Cut says:

    Thanks for the shout-out Belle! I completely agree that brown shoes look much better with a navy suit. But I think I agree with Beau of the navy blazer with gold buttons. I recently bought a Tommy Hilfiger one and have regretted it ever since. Something about it just looks a tad cheap and cliche to me. But alas, fashion is about expressing yourself. So if you can wear a navy blazer with gold buttons and make it look good than more power to you.

    April 30, 2010/Reply