How to Pick the Right Men's Shoe Colors

One of the biggest questions I hear guys asking is: “What color shoes do I wear with these pants?” Well, I have an answer. This will be a great cheat sheet to use when you’re not quite sure what shoes to choose. 

One general rule to use is: the nicer the pants, the more conservative the shoe. Unless your personality and style is crazy and all over the place, and you feel the need to wear eccentric combinations. But for the rest of us, that means if you’re wearing a suit, make sure your shoes are darker than your pants and that you’re wearing an oxford and not a loafer. As the occasion gets dressier, your options are a little more limited. 

If you take one thing away from this article, it’s: get a nice pair of black shoes … or two.

Men's Shoes to Wear with Navy Pants

You can wear a pretty wide variety of colors with navy pants. Thankfully, it’s a very flexible color.

Shoe Color Options for Navy Pants:

  • Brown (not light brown)
  • Black Bordeaux (reddish-brown)
  • WalnutTan (darker shades)

My Pick: Johnston & Murphy 'Melton' Oxford: This is a classic shoe that will last you for years and can be worn with just about anything from slacks and a sweater to a suit. Buy on

Men's Shoes to Wear with Jeans

If you’re wearing medium to dark jeans then you’re safe with almost any neutral color. 

Shoe Color Choices for Jeans

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Tan
  • Bordeaux (reddish-brown)
  • Sneakers (normal colors)

My Pick:  Dr. Martens 1461: The classic shoe still looks great today with a pair of jeans when you need casual, but not sneakers. You could go either black or brown for Classic Doc Martens, but these are perfect. Buy on

Men's Shoe Colors for Brown Pants

When wearing brown pants it’s good to keep telling yourself that your shoes need to be as dark as your pants. That makes your options a little slimmer. 

Shoe Color Options:

  • Brown (any shade)
  • Tan
  • Black

My Pick: Dockers ‘Perspective’: A great shoe for the money that gives you something to dress up a pair of jeans or khakis, and can even be worn with a more casual pair of slacks. Buy on

Men's Shoes to Wear with Olive/Green Pants

Olive or green pants are a little trickier because the color makes a bad choice more pronounced, but you still have some pretty good options. 

Shoe Color Options for Olive and Green Pants:

  • Brown (Darker shades)
  • Burgundy (Bordeaux)
  • Walnut
  • Black

My Pick: Bass 'Weejun - Larson' Penny Loafer: Hand sewn leather in a great, classic penny loafer you can wear many times per week. Buy on

Men's Shoe Colors to Wear with Black Pants

I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to wear black pants (especially a black suit), then you need to wear black shoes. That’s it. That’s the list. 

Shoe Color Choices for Black Pants:

  • Black

My Pick: Florsheim 'Edgar' Oxford: Great value for a pair of “go-to shoes” for your black suit. Buy on

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