Wearing a black suit doesn’t mean you’re limited to pairing it with black shoes alone.

That’s because black can make an excellent partner for so many colors.

So, don’t limit your shoe options just because that’s how it’s always been done.

Consider this your sign to explore some more unique shoe pairings.

Black Shoes

The black suit is best for your formal needs. It’s your go-to for all of the fanciest events.

black suit. white dress shirt, black tie, and black Oxford shoes

So, if you need to be at your most proper or professional, you need black shoes with your black suit.

This combination is a must for all black-tie events, funerals, and perhaps even some professional circumstances.

In fact, you can seldom go wrong wearing black shoes with your black suit.

Black striped double-breasted suit, white dress shirt, burgundy paisley tie and black derby shoes

The only risk with donning this formal color is that you can appear too stuffy or overdressed at more informal events.

But even then, you can swap your Oxfords for a more playful shoe style, like monk straps.

Black suit, white dress shirt and black monk strap shoes

In conclusion, you mostly want to lean on leather Oxfords or Derbies when pairing black shoes with your black suit formally.

Although, you can also sport a pair of slightly less formal shoes, such as monk strap shoes, dress loafers, or Chelsea boots.

black double-breasted suit, white dress shirt, and black leather Chelsea boots

Only step away from leather shoes when wearing a more casual shoe style.

Dark Brown Shoes

Yes, you can wear brown shoes with a black suit!

Dark brown dress shoes can help break up the look of all-over black. It’s still a very dressy look but is a subtle notch down in formality.

To keep the formality high, go with a white dress shirt and a dark-colored tie, like navy or charcoal.

The shoes must be very dark to achieve this suave style. The goal is to have only a slight difference between your trousers and shoes; there shouldn’t be a significant contrast in your shoe color.

One of the upsides of veering away from black shoes with your black suit is that it creates more opportunities to play with color in your other accessories.

Black suit, white dress shirt, grey tie and dark brown oxford shoes

For example, you can incorporate some unexpected shades in your tie and pocket square.

Burgundy & Oxford

These are two wonderfully dressy options that aren’t entirely formal. Adding a dash of red or purple to your shoes brightens up your somber suit.

black suit, burgundy sweater, and oxblood tassel loafers

This pairing is ideal for semi-formal or smart-casual events. You’ll definitely stand out for your fashion choice, not for being too formal.

Oxblood and burgundy dress shoes ensure your black suit doesn’t give you an overdressed style. Either of these looks killer with a maroon or a patterned tie.

black suit, white dress shirt, burgundy tie, and burgundy oxford shoes

But it’s also an opportunity to replace the dress shirt with a sweater or a turtleneck and give your outfit a more casual vibe.

White Sneakers

Hey, your black suit deserves to have some fun, too!

Try taking your stuffy black suit in a completely different direction and casual it up. Pairing white sneakers with your black suit is a total baller move and will give you a super jazzy style.

black suit, white crew-neck T-shirt, and white canvas sneakers

Make no mistake; pairing a suit with sneakers is a very informal look.

But on the bright side, white sneakers with your black suit opens you up for adding a laid-back T-shirt under your suit.

You can also replace your formal white dress shirt with a less dressy-colored button-up dress shirt. A pale blue, deep pink, or bright purple shirt can feel quite playful.

Can You Wear Other Color Shoes with a Black Suit?

Most other shoe colors are challenging to pull off and mismatch with your black suit.

Grey is an unorthodox color for men’s dress shoes. But if the shoe style is casual (sneakers or runners) and other details match, it might work for you.

black suit, white t-shirt, and light grey sneakers

Another option I’ve not mentioned purposefully is black sneakers.

The key here is to opt for minimalist sneakers and contemporary suit-fit designs. That said, avoid athletic or bulky sneaker styles.

Black suit, black crew neck t-shirt and black sneakers

How about blue? In most cases, probably not. Blue and black can be difficult to pair well.

Other Things to Consider

If only color were the sole consideration for your shoe choice! However, like all things with fashion, style requires many factors to think about.

For example, what other accessories do you intend to wear with your suit?

If you plan on wearing a belt with your black suit (and really, you should plan to wear a belt with this very dressy suit!), your shoes should match.

how to wear brown belt with brown shoes

They don’t need to be a perfect match, but they should at least be close.

The Shoe Style

The shoe type and material it’s made from matter greatly when choosing how to dress.

More formal shoe colors, like black, should accompany a traditionally formal shoe style, like Oxford or Derby.

black oxford vs. derby shoes

When you embrace a more playful color, like brown or burgundy, you can branch out into a less dressy style, like double monk straps.

For shoe material, leather is the go-to choice when wearing a black suit for formal or professional business needs.

leather vs. suede dress shoe material

Leather shoes feel a better match for a black suit, regardless of the shoe color. That’s due to their smooth and shiny texture, which complements the refined nature of the suit.

Suede shoes, on the other hand, can soften the formality of the black suit, making them a great option for more casual or creative occasions where you still want to maintain an element of elegance.

Keep in mind that suede or canvas will make any shoe informal, regardless of the color.

Occasion and Formality

Are you dressing for a black-tie wedding? Then don’t even think about expressing your personality with white sneakers and a black suit!

how to wear black oxford dress shoes with black suit

Your super dressy events have very little freedom for expression; stick with standard black Oxford shoes.

Yet, if you are heading out for the evening for a relaxed dinner followed up with some dancing, maybe you can embrace those white sneakers or maroon brogues.


One’s mind naturally imagines lighter colors for summer clothing and associates darker shades for winter colors.

When the weather gets warmer, that’s the ideal time to consider playing with nontraditional shoe color choices.

That doesn’t make those colors a wrong choice in colder months; they just seem more natural when the temperatures rise.

Alexander Stoicoff

Author: Alexander Stoicoff

Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.