How to Wear a Black Belt and Brown Shoes – A Style Guide

How to Match a Black Belt and Brown Shoes to Look Effortlessly Stylish

Black and brown are two of the most common colors in a man’s wardrobe. Easy to style and suiting all body types, these two dark colors are flattering. But one cannot just simply rely on the two colors. Black and brown alone are rather dull- fashion is about experimenting with cuts, colors, patterns. Men’s fashion should not be boring, so make sure to allow yourself to wear clothes that make you feel good.

If you do not wish to dress all the time in black, brown, and other dark colors, it does help to have some general guidelines. When building your wardrobe, keep in mind what colors go well together to allow you to get started. Not only that but also what clothes fit you best and what accessories go with them. Accessories are important, and shoes and belts are at the top of the list. While shoes are an obvious addition for everybody, belts – not so much.

Why should we even wear belts anyway? Well, for two main reasons:

  • Better fit
  • The pants have belt loops

You may think that because your pants are fitting just fine, and there is no need for a belt to keep them together, you do not have to wear one. However, the general rule of belt-wearing is that one should be worn on all pants that have belt loops. No belt on a pair of pants without belt loops looks unfinished and lazy. Plus, they may still help keep your trousers fitting even better.

When, and what color of belt to wear?

This is a question on every man’s mind. Must I match my belt and shoes? Just like women have been advised to match their bag with the shoes, men are also advised to pay attention when picking the belt and the shoes. While on a daily basis, it is not absolutely necessary to do so, there are cases when it is important. The more dressy/formal the outfit is, the more you should be careful. For example, you have to match the belt to your shoes not only in color but also in material and texture. Are the shoes in shiny black leather? The belt is the same.

While matching black can still be very easy, matching brown can be slightly tricky. Brown shoes and belt should be the same color – if not, then they have to be very close shades of brown. Take your brown shoes with you when you go belt shopping to make sure they go well together. This will save you money and time, and allow you to invest in a great high-quality brown belt.

As we already mentioned, it is important to match when the outfit is very formal and elegant, when you are wearing dress shoes. When it comes to a more casual outfit (khaki pants, jeans) with casual shoes (sneakers, loafers, chukkas), you can be more flexible. That is when you can match your belt to your whole outfit. In this case, a black belt goes well with shoes and outfit on a scale from black to white (think of shades of grey). For any dark or warm-colored shoes (navy, olive, mustard, magenta, cobalt, burgundy, etc), brown belts work best.

Check out this table for an overview on when and how to match the colors of your belt to your shoes and outfit:

StyleBelt colorShoe & outfit color
BrownExact or very close shade of brown
CasualBlackWhite, light grey, dark grey, black
BrownBlack, dark tones (of green, blue, purple) or warm tones (or red, yellow, orange

The table above can serve as a general guideline, as a starting point on your journey to having coordinated outfits. But there are many ways in which you can play with the colors of your outfit, belts, and shoes.

What colors go best with brown shoes?

Now, we all know black shoes are rather easy to style, while brown shoes are trickier, especially as they come in different shades of brown. In this case, it is not only your belt that should be carefully chosen, but the entire outfit should be color-coordinated. Let’s see how we can start building a color scheme that will go well with your brown shoes – and how this will help you choose a belt that works.

  1. Black and white
  2. Neutrals (grey, khaki, olive, navy, beige)
  3. Mid-tone colors (mustard yellow, magenta purple, emerald green, cobalt blue, tangerine orange)
  4. Pastels (lavender, light shades of pink, blue, yellow)

Black and white are a great way to get started, always. And both colors go great with brown. For a formal occasion, your black suit, white shirt, and brown shoes are a great combination. More informal/casual outfits are black chinos, white shirt with rolled-up sleeves, brown loafers and brown belt. If you prefer sneakers, brown sneakers go great with off-white chinos, white t-shirt, and a light brown or multi-colored canvas belt.

You do not always have to go for crisp white (unless it is a formal shirt), but you can go for various shades of white. These would actually be very light shades of beige such as ivory, cream or eggshell. They are easier on the eyes and are excellent color choices for casual wear.

Moving onto neutrals, our color palette is getting wider, while still staying easy to match and versatile in terms of occasions. Slowly add to your collection shades of grey, khaki, olive, navy, and beige. These colors, together with black and white, go together easily.

For a formal outfit, how about a light grey suit combined with brown shoes, off-white shirt finished off with brown dress shoes and brown leather belt? For a casual outfit, go for dark jeans, a navy shirt paired with a brown jacket, brown suede shoes, and brown suede belt, of course.

You can build something along these lines for winter too: replace your shirt with a sweater and shoes with brown Chelsea boots. You can mix and match neutrals to your heart’s content.

Interested in adding some more color and contrasts to your outfits? Mid-tone colors such as mustard, magenta, emerald, cobalt or tangerine are just some of the choices. The simplest outfit you can create with brown shoes is dark-colored trousers with a sweater in any of the colors mentioned before. For a bolder look, check out a brick-colored pair of trousers with a checkered shirt, paired with a brown belt and brown shoes. How about a full-on cobalt suit perfectly matching also with a brown belt and brown shoes? Such colors are rather easy to incorporate into your outfits, as long as you keep it to around three colors, on top of the brown of the shoes and the belt.

Lighten up your wardrobe with some pastel colors. You already have off-whites and greys, but how about giving a try to pink or lavender? Choose the color intensity that you feel comfortable with and suits your style. For summer outfits, you can try white chinos, a pastel-colored shirt, and brown loafers.

There is one color combination that was not mentioned and that is not advisable. Do brown shoes match with a black belt? Not really. This can work in a case where these are your only choices, or the shoes are very dark brown. In which case, you can distract the attention from the difference in colors by choosing wisely the rest of the colors in your outfit.

What type of pants can you wear with a brown belt and brown shoes?

Now that we have matched the dressing style to the belt and the outfit, let us see the types of pants you can wear well with a brown belt and brown shoes.

  1. Jeans
  2. Pleated pants
  3. Chinos / khakis
  4. Dress pants/suits

Jeans + brown shoes + brown belt

Jeans are an ever-present item in everybody’s wardrobe. Men and women, young people and older people, everybody has at least one pair. Jeans are one versatile item, so of course, you can wear them with brown. For a casual outfit, pair your favorite black jeans with a white t-shirt, blue denim jacket – and finish the outfit with a brown belt and shoes. For an edgier look, get out your ripped jeans, and your black leather jacket with brown shoes.

Pleated pants + brown shoes + brown belt

Pleated pants get their name because of a fold sewn between the pocket and the fly, allowing for more material around each leg (compared to the skinny pants). They are comfortable and can both dressed-up and dressed-down. Dress them up with a shirt and a matching blazer. Dress them down with only a t-shirt.

Chinos/khakis + brown shoes + brown belt

Comfortable and stretchy, yet easy to wear, chinos and khakis are other choices for your brown shoes with, let’s say a grey shirt, and belts. Just like pleated pants, you can dress them up with a chic blazer, or dress them down with a polo t-shirt. In either case, the shoes should match the style you are going for. For example, loafers for a more chic style, and sneakers for a more casual vibe.

Dress pants/suits + brown shoes + brown belt

While pleated pants can also be categorized as dress pants, or be part of suits, because of the variety of the materials they come in, they are not always formal; thus, the need for a formal category of clothing. A great, well-tailored suit can be excellently worn with a stylish pair of brown dress shoes. Finish it up with accessories in the same shade of brown – scarf, bag, belt – and you are ready to face the day. 

Want a quick overview of how you can match the pants to the shoes? These should give you some ideas on your next shopping trip!

Type of pantsTypes of shoes
JeansAny type of shoe except elegant dress shoes
Pleated pantsDress shoes (if the pants are dressy), sneakers (if the pants are more casual)
Chinos/khakisSneakers, loafers, chukkas, Chelsea boots, oxfords (basically any style of shoe)
Dress pants/SuitDress shoes (oxfords, monks, wingtips, etc), Chelsea boots

We have seen so far why you have to wear a belt and when to wear one (which is almost 90% of the cases). We have seen the colors that go great with brown belts and brown shoes, such as charcoal, and what type of pants you should have in your wardrobe to match with your brown shoes.

Shifting our attention to belts, let us have a look at the types of belts out there and how you can wear them best.

How about belt material?

So far we have talked about colors, and only briefly mentioned materials. One example was that your black shiny leather shoes should be matched with a black shiny leather belt. But not all belts are made of leather — there is so much variety out there.

  1. Leather
  2. Suede
  3. Rope
  4. Canvas

Leather belts

Leather belts are the first image that pops into your mind when you think of belts. A classic, leather belt should definitely be in every man’s wardrobe. Usually, a stiffer leather belt would go best with a formal outfit. For a more casual vibe, you can add a braided leather belt to your collection. It should not be worn with a suit, but rather with a more casual/sporty outfit.

Suede belt

Suede is still leather, albeit the underside of animal skin. But because of how it looks and how it should be styled, one can qualify it as a different material. Suede belts are usually more casual, but can still be formal. Remember the rule of matching? A suede belt can go excellently with a pair of suede shoes in the same color.

Rope belt

Rope is a more casual material but should be worn in specific situations. One would wear a rope belt for a nautical vibe. That does not mean you can wear it only if you are into boating-related activities. It is also a great belt choice for summer or seaside outfits. How about cuffed white khaki pants, a Breton striped top, light brown loafers, and light brown rope belt?

Canvas belts

Last but not least, canvas is another material for casual belts. One would say they are more boring and functional than stylish, Your best bet for acquiring a canvas belt is going for a plain black or navy monochrome one. Style it with your most casual or sporty outfits. Canvas belts go great with khakis and jeans, and in terms of shoes, go for sneakers, boat shoes or chukkas.

Belts are a world of their own, with a wide variety of materials, ways to be processed, colors, buckles and so on. Start from these four types to have a base for your belt collection and take it from there!

Accessories to help you harmonize your outfit

The belt is a very important accessory for a man, but it does not have to be the only one. Women are not the only ones that can play around with accessories. Accessories can make or break an outfit, and this applies to men too. After having chosen your belt, shoes and clothing, how about experimenting a bit and switching it up with other accessories?

  • Socks
  • Laces
  • Ties
  • Scarves
  • Watches

While dress socks are technically accessories, they are actually must-have, especially during the cold season and all year round with dress shoes. Whereas in summer you can wear them with loafers or boat shoes, the rest of the year you are free to mix and match them with your outfit. Usually, socks should match the color of your pants as closely as possible. But you can allow your outfit to be a bit extra by having fun socks in a contrasting color (even very bright) or even a pattern. As long as the colors all over your outfit go together, a bold pair of men’s socks are more than welcome.

Just like socks, laces are a must – but they are also another way for you to add some pops of color to your outfit. Usually, laces are the same color as the shoes and are not doing anything but their job of keeping the shoes on your feet. Nobody looks at them or notices them. So why not use them to your advantage? For a rather neutral-colored outfit, how about some red laces? Or, if you’re feeling the call of the sea, maybe even blue

We discussed whether belts and shoes should match and it was a ‘yes’ especially on formal occasions. And on such occasions, it is mostly the case that a tie is required. Should this match too? The answer is ‘generally, no’. The tie should match and go well with the clothing overall (the suit/pants/ shirt etc).

Watches are another great way to match your outfit. There is a wide variety of watch styles out there, make sure to pick a timeless design, with a leather strap. You can start with a dark brown one, that can go with about any outfit, from formal to casual. Having a high-quality watch enhances the classiness of the outfit, be it even a casual one.

Scarves are a great accessory during the colder months of the year. They keep you warm and stylish at the same time. There are various materials, patterns and lengths to choose from. Try several of them in the shop, dressed with an outfit you want to wear with a scarf. Also, see what type of knots fit your style best.

Do not be afraid of playing around with all these accessories at once, as long as you have a color scheme that works and the same style all over.

Wearing brown shoes has never been easier

Black shoes are a given for every man, always there for you for every outfit. From black sneakers to black dress shoes and boots, they are working for all the styles. But going into the world of brown shoes is rather exciting. Not only because of its wide variety of shades and variations, but also because it is just different from black. Brown is warmer than black, giving your outfit a softer vibe all over. Go further with brown,  to your belt, and you not only have a balanced outfit but also less somber than having all black accessories.

If you are feeling nervous because of the color challenges brown might pose, fear not. For fashion is a platform where you express yourself, where you will make some unfortunate combinations, but you will end up at the end with a great sense of style. Above everything else, on top of having a great wardrobe and a sense of fashion, do not forget to show confidence. Your attitude will amplify any great outfit and will compensate for any awkward fashion combinations. Either way, you will come out as a winner.

There are a few simple tricks that you can exercise in the mirror by yourself, with your friends, and then at your next social event.

  • Smiling: It is the best way to build up and exude confidence. It lights up your face, makes you look friendlier and invites others to come over and chat with you.
  • Relax your eyes: Frowning can make you not only tense but also make everyone around you feel tense. Sometimes you might do it unconsciously; so take a moment, from time to time to be aware of your face muscles, and relax them for a few seconds. You will feel a difference!
  • Your pose: Confidence is associated with a powerful pose. With having a straight back, shoulders pulled to the back, and chin up. While all of those may make you seem unapproachable, try to still have a relaxed body pose, while also keeping your back straight. Add the tips from before, and you are all set.

Building a fashionable yet timeless wardrobe can take time and practice. Just like building up your confidence. Which in turn makes you go for bolder fashion choices. It all goes hand in hand.

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