What to Wear with Navy: The Best Shoe Colors

Choosing the Perfect Shade of Footwear for a Navy Outfit

Because it's a traditional, non-offensive, and generally well-accepted alternative to black, navy blue is one of the most popular colors in both men's and women's clothing — especially in the work place.

But, unlike black, the world isn't full of dark blue footwear. Consequently, a lot of people have difficulty figuring out which shoe colors will work best with their navy pants, suits, skirts or dresses. That old fail-safe option of just choosing shoes match their outfit isn't always available.

Unfortunately, that struggle often leads to utilizing the second easiest option: black. It's not a terrible choice, at all. Black shoes do work rather well with navy. But, it's certainly not the most exciting combination on the block, is it?

So, what's a girl — or a guy — to do?

Ladies, keep reading. Below, there are suggestions for shoe colors that will take any navy outfit to an entirely new level; along with tips for choosing additional accent shades; and a single, liberating hint that will make navy seem more exciting than ever before.

And guys, be sure to check out these tips for choosing the right men's shoe colors.

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The Secret of Choosing Shoes for Navy Clothes

Model walking down runway in navy dress and neutral sandals.
Johnny Louis / Getty Images

Before we get started, I'm going to let you in a not-so-secret secret: everything works with navy. Well, pretty much everything.

Off the top of my head, I can't come up with one shade that would be a bad choice. Unless, of course, you kind of just go crazy throwing in bits of this color and bobs of that hue.

But, if you stick to one color family + navy, you really can't go wrong.

So, instead of telling you what will and won't work — as I often do in these types of articles — I'm going to highlight a few of my favorite navy-based combinations below.

I also offer you this simple tip that will guarantee success: choose accessories that are in the same color family as your shoes. By limiting your outfit's palette to only two hues (navy, plus your accent color), you automatically have a winner.

Of course, that's an easy solution, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's the only, or the best, option. It's just one of many available.

If you find a two-color outfit too limiting, you shouldn't be afraid to experiment with multiple colors. I have a few tips on that as well.

Let's get started.

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Shades of Green

Close-up of green suede pumps, as worn by actress Reese Witherspoon.
Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Nearly any shade of green looks fantastic with deep, dark blue, from the lightest of mints to the darkest of hunters.

But, since navy is such a dark shade, for me, the real excitement lies in the contrast provided by lighter and brighter shades of the green family. Colors like wintergreen, chartreuse, kelly and lime green.

For a more harmonious, less contrasting look, choose shoes and accessories in darker shades of green, like hunter, forest, or emerald.

If you want to throw a third shade into the green/navy mix, try adding turquoise or aqua shades with darker greens; darker shades of teal and turquoise with lighter, mintier greens; or vivid blues with brighter shades of green.

Check out a few of my favorite shoes, in different shades of green, available on Amazon: 

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Yellow and Orange Shoes: Dynamic with Navy

Detailed shot of yellow high heels, worn by actress Jenna Ushkowitz.
Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic / GettyImages

If you were to look at a basic, mid-tone color wheel, you'd notice that the different colors of blue sit opposite of yellow or orange, depending on which shade you're looking at.

Darken the color wheel until you had a shade of navy blue on one side, and you'd see those bright yellows and oranges turn to shades like spice, pumpkin, and mustard.

Any and all of those yellow- and orange-based shades work wonderfully with navy.

Just like with green, the brighter the yellow or orange, the more contrast you're going to have in your outfit. And again, darker yellows and oranges will create a more toned-down look.

One look isn't better than the other. There is no right or wrong. It's all just a matter of personal preference, and the type of "look" you're going for.

Seasonal trends may play a part in your decision as well. For example, in the fall and winter months, you might want to pair a navy suit with a pair of rust pumps. In spring and summer, lemon yellow sandals might be just the ticket for that navy blue maxi skirt.

However you slice it, shades of yellow and orange are ideal for pairing with navy. For navy-based outfit that uses two accent colors, try yellow and orange together.

Check out some of my favorite yellow and orange shoes available on Amazon: 

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A Pop of Pink

Pink, suede, ankle strap sandals, worn by DJ Hannah Bronfman.
Jason Merritt / Getty Images for Take-Two / GettyImages

A navy outfit with pink accents is one of those combinations that is going to appeal wildly to some, and be a complete turn-off to others. In my book, it's a winner.

Much like red itself, pinks with red undertones provide natural contrast for the darkness of navy, and they also add a bit of whimsy and femininity to what can otherwise be a rather stern color. My personal preference is to wear shoes in deep, hot or true pink with navy.

If you choose pink shoes for a navy outfit, excellent partners include orange and yellow.

Blue-based pinks, or those that fall closer to light purples, also work wonderfully with navy, but they conjure up a completely different vibe of seduction, sophistication and mystery.

Pale to mid-tone shades of blue and turquoise work well with a navy/light purple combination.

Check out a few of my favorite shoes, in different shades of pink, available on Amazon:

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Shoes in Light Neutral Shades

Close-up view of actress AnnaLynne McCord's nude Christian Louboutin shoes.
Gary Gershoff / WireImage / GettyImages

Less controversial than some of the more colorful options listed above, shoes in shades of cream, taupe, sand, ivory, and nude are also ideal for pairing with navy outfits — especially in warm weather.

There is something a little bit sensual about the combination of light neutral shoes and navy. It's less predictable than black and navy, and it doesn't conjure up a nautical vibe the way white and navy can. Consequently, a lot of women will find shoes in these shades to be the most pleasing option.

Check out a few neutral color shoe options on Amazon: 

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Black and White and Red (All Over)

Red, pointy-toed pumps with suede uppers, as worn by actress Tatiana Maslany.
Christopher Polk / Getty Images for Critics' Choice Television Awards / GettyImages

Black, white and red are the three colors that are most often paired with navy blue. The obvious picks, if you will.

They're perfectly acceptable and equally wonderful choices. These combinations are so natural, in fact, that I don't even need to provide any tips for how to wear them.

I will provide one word of caution though: when pairing navy with white, or with white and red, you run the danger of creating a nautical vibe.

There's nothing wrong with that — unless it's not the look you want. But, as long as you're aware of the dynamic, it's an easy effect to counter.

Check out a few of my favorite options available on Amazon: 

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What About Brown Shoes and Navy Clothes?

Louise Bourgoin wearing brown shoes with a navy evening dress.
Pascal Le Segretain / GettyImages

Honestly, I'm not even sure where the idea that you shouldn't wear navy with brown comes from. In fact, I didn't even know it was a myth until I had received more than a few questions about the combination.

Now that I know this notion exists, let's clear it up once and for all: wearing navy clothing with brown shoes is perfectly acceptable.

It may not be the most dynamic combination on earth, but there's nothing inherently wrong with it.

Check out a few of my favorites brown shoes available on Amazon: 

Next Time, Consider Navy

As you can see, choosing shoes that work with navy clothing isn't difficult at all -- in fact, it's one of the easiest styling tasks you could have. So, the next time you're searching for an outfit to wear all your favorite colorful shoes with, you'll want to at least consider navy. It's a classic foundation that's lots of fun to work with.