How to Wear a Grey Suit With Brown Shoes – A Style Guide

How to Pair a Grey Suit with Brown Shoes and Look Super Stylish

Variety is the spice of life, and this sentiment can be applied to men’s suits. Suits have gone through different evolutions and variations throughout the years, but they’re a classic for a reason. A quality suit is one of the most important components of a man’s closet. It can be dressed down or dressed up for every occasion with a little bit of personal styling.

While a black suit with black shoes is standard, sometimes it’s nice to branch out a little. A grey suit with brown shoes is a departure from the everyday standard of black on black. It’s fresh enough without being too bold, but still feels classic. A grey suit with brown shoes feels modern, and can even be sexy. The right grey suit can be dressed up or dressed down for work, weddings, or a casual weekend when paired correctly with the right shoes and accessories.

Think of the standard capsule wardrobe, which relies on rotating pieces most commonly worn to create a variety of almost endless outfits. A suit is key to a capsule wardrobe, because it can be mixed and matched with other articles of clothing. But black tends to be boring and gives off a very serious vibe. A grey suit is versatile and appropriate for all types of settings.

Want to make the switch from a black on black suit to a more fashion-forward outfit? Inside this guide, there are some helpful tips for rocking a grey suit with brown shoes with confidence including:

  1. Determining the color of the suit
  2. Experimenting with patterns on accessories
  3. Knowing when it’s appropriate to wear a grey suit

Knowing a little color theory for a grey suit and brown shoes pairing

Wearing a grey suit with brown shoes is not as intimidating as it seems. It’s just a matter of brushing up on some color theory. In fashion, grey is considered a true neutral color, like white and black, meaning it can be paired with any other color – including another neutral, like brown. However, it’s important to have an understanding of shades, hues, and tones so as not to have any clashing between the rest of the finished look.

On the color wheel, there are three color categories:

  • Primary colors – red, blue, yellow
  • Secondary colors – orange, green, and purple
  • Tertiary colors – vermillion, magenta, teal, etc.

Secondary colors are formed when primary colors are mixed together, and tertiary colors are formed when secondary and primary colors are mixed together. The more mixing of colors, the darker or more muted these colors tend to be. To get them on the lighter side, white is usually mixed in.

Depending on the shades of a grey suit and brown shoes, certain secondary and tertiary colors will complement the suit best, as they tend to be more muted.

This is all different from complementary colors, which are the colors on the color wheel that, as the name suggests, complement each other. When looking at a color wheel, complementary colors are usually opposite each other on the wheel. These create high contrast and wearing neutrals like a grey suit, and brown shoes can break up that high contrast in a more appealing way. It sounds confusing, but putting it into practice can help make it more understandable. Think about the paint swatches in a Home Depot and how it’s common to grab multiple samples for mixing and matching. The human eye innately knows what colors look best and vice versa.

Picking out brown shoes and grey suits

When it comes to brown shoes, aim for earth tones and warmer hues – the darker the brown shoe, the more formal it is. Colors like cognac, mahogany, bronze, and burgundy are all good bases for a brown shoe, allowing for more flexibility when picking a grey suit. Avoid light tan shoes that have a yellow or mustard hue to them, as they may resemble workman’s boots more than semi-formal wear. 

Another way to experiment with brown shoes is to pick ones with creative sole colors. This is a fairly recent trend that has made its way into men’s workwear, and allows for more subtle creativity. Colorful soles on the bottom of brown shoes add for a pop of color, as they’re usually bright, and those soles can be matched to other items being worn, or they can be the stand-alone piece in a muted, monochromatic look. Bold Society Shoes has several models that feature this look, which can complement a grey suit perfectly.

Picking a grey suit to go with brown shoes is even easier. There are multiple shades of grey, ranging from slate grey to charcoal grey, and all those options pair well with brown shoes.

On the darker spectrum, a charcoal grey suit and dark brown shoes have a more formal aesthetic, while a light grey suit and brown shoes are more appropriate for the office.

Once the palette for the grey suit and brown shoes has been established, it’ll be easier to pick out the other parts of your outfit, such as dress socks and the shirt, for a complete, stylish suit.

Next Level Men’s Socks

The next component of pulling a suit together is what’s under the shoes. The best transitional piece to nail the look of a grey suit and brown shoes is the socks. A well-known fashion style tip is to dress from the feet up. In this case, the rest of the outfit, including fun socks, are styled around the shoes. They can be the standard, plain colors – black, brown, grey – but socks are the perfect piece to experiment with patterns and colors. They’re smaller parts of the outfit, so they won’t draw so much attention away from the whole ensemble.

Enter Soxy, a premium lifestyle brand that makes bold, classic, and crazy socks (and other accessories) to help empower people to express themselves and their individuality. Made in South Korea, Soxy socks feature high-quality craftsmanship and technology to ensure a “best socks guarantee:”

  • Engineered elasticity so socks stay up
  • Manufactured with combed cotton for ultra-softness and to adapt to the shape of the foot
  • Pre-washed to reduce shrinking
  • Reinforced heel and toe areas to prevent rips

Soxy has a variety of unique patterned socks that perfectly tie together a gray suit and brown shoes. The key is picking a Soxy sock with colors that will complement or contrast the colors of the suit and shoes. 

Soxy’s square socks, for example, feature a pattern of alternating grays and blues in cooler hues. These are perfect for complementing a lighter grey suit with brown shoes, as the greys will transition into each other for a seamless look. They’re bold enough to add another pop of color, without detracting from the overall style and look of a grey suit and brown shoes. Soxy’s designs are exclusive to the brand, meaning these patterns and color combinations can’t be found elsewhere.

Pattern-mixing between the socks and the grey suit also takes the overall look to the next level. The pattern on the grey suit should be subtle so that the pattern on the socks can be bold. If wearing a lightly striped grey suit with brown shoes, the socks can be grey with thicker stripes or stripes in the opposite direction. Experimenting with patterns and colors is encouraged, and the best way to do that is to start off with subtle details before switching to bold ones.


Suit ShirtsShoesSocks
Slate Grey SuitPink ShirtCognac ShoesStriped Pink Socks
Charcoal Grey SuitWhite ShirtBurgundy ShoesPolka Dot Purple Socks
Pinstripe Grey SuitNavy ShirtBrown ShoesZigzag Patterned Socks

Matching shirts or accessories with socks

There are endless ways to streamline a grey suit and brown shoes with the rest of your outfit. Since grey and brown are neutral, they go with almost every color combination. But too many colors in one suit can look tacky as opposed to stylish, so it’s important to limit it to three or four colors. This can seem limiting at first, but it provides an opportunity to experiment with color families for the shirt, tie, and pocket square. Again, going back to the color wheel and seeing what colors work together is an important step.

One way to keep it simple, but colorful, is to match the tie and pocket square to the cool color of the socks. If wearing a crisp, white shirt with a grey suit and brown shoes, a classic complementary color is navy; navy for the tie and pocket square, and maybe a navy pattern for the socks.

Feeling experimental? For a light grey suit with brown shoes, there’s the option of either wearing pastels or contrasting with darker hues, or sometimes adding both. If the shirt and the shoes are pink, for example, the tie and the pocket square can be a deeper rose color to really look sophisticated. Pairing a pink shirt with brown shoes and a grey suit looks modern, fashion-forward, but professional at the same time. Playing around with shades of the same color leans towards a monochromatic look, but the grey suit and brown shoes visually break it up.

If trying to color match all the components of a suit seems a little daunting, stick with socks. Soxy’s designs are sure to add color and style without being too loud or distracting.

Matching the dress code with a grey suit and brown shoes

With the basics of color and style down, it’s time to move on to the harder stuff: when to wear a gray suit and brown shoes. While a grey suit is meant to be versatile certain dress codes must be adhered to, like black or white tie formal, and it would not be appropriate to break that code.

Since the combination of a gray suit and brown shoes deviates from the standard black suit, it’s important to know when it’s appropriate to wear. Fashion is fickle, and certain styles and colors fall in and out of favor due to whim, sometimes historical context. This makes men’s dress code a little tricky to nail down, since there are various versions of casual and formal within societal and cultural spheres. Outside of work, the grey suit brown shoes pairing could be deemed acceptable at events with the following dress code:

  • Business Casual
  • Business Formal
  • Cocktail Attire
  • Semi-Formal

These can range from after-hours happy hours to birthdays to weddings and adhering to the dress code is considered a sign of respect. There is some leniency, however, and some fashion rules can be broken with the right sense of style. From business casual to a cocktail attire dress code, there is room to experiment with not only the shades of a grey suit and brown shoes, but with the fabric textures and styles as well. Since a grey suit is versatile and classy, it’s not too hard to be well-dressed for these half-casual, half-formal events.

The fancier the event, the darker the suit and shoes should be. Think charcoal grey suit and chocolate brown shoes. You can pair a blue shirt with brown shoes and a grey suit for a pop of color. A semi-formal event leaves some room to experiment, but it’s best to play it safe with classic, darker colors – even for dress socks. Keep them muted, and the pattern should be subtle as well.

Finding the perfect brown shoes for a grey suit

One way to match the dress code as best as possible is by picking the appropriate shoes. Once the colors for a grey suit and brown shoes are chosen, the next step is determining the shoe style. Men’s professional shoe wear has mostly stuck to the classics, with small details making distinct differences. Yet, there’s still a wide range of styles, from casual to formal shoes. So, what kinds of shoes can be worn?SHOE TYPES AND FORMALITY LEVELS

Boat ShoesOxfordsPenny Loafers
Sneaker-HybridsOpera PumpChelsea Boots
DriversChukka BootBluchers

In addition to the style of brown shoes, the decorative brogue on a shoe and the leather material of the shoe can determine its formality as well. This traces back to the older roots of the shoe, when brogues were mostly associated with farmer’s footwear, and the holes in the shoes were meant to help drain water. Now brogues are more in fashion and have climbed up the ranks of formal footwear.

 The different brogue styles, ranking from least to most formal are as follows:

  1. Full brogue
  2. Semi brogue
  3. Quarter brogue

Wingtips, for example, are less formal than a plain toe, while suede shoes are the least formal material. Again, keep in mind that the recommended colors for grey suits are always brown shoes that fall in the range of classic to dark brown or burgundy.

Need help with socks for formalwear? Leave it to Soxy. Soxy’s range of fun socks is divided between casual and dress, based on the length of the sock, the material, and the appropriate patterns or colors. Although Soxy is known for their bright designs, they have muted, subtle designs as well: small polka dots, thin stripes, and shades of purple and navy are all recommended for a night out on the town.

Grey suit and brown shoes for year-long wear

Other details to keep in mind when picking out a suit are the seasons. We’ve established that grey and brown are neutrals, but when it comes to fashion, certain colors, as well as fabrics, are more in-season than others throughout the year.

For a grey suit and brown shoes, the general rule of thumb is that spring and summer are for lighter colors, and fall and winter are for darker colors. This holds true for fabrics as well — a grey linen suit would be out of season in the winter, while a gray wool suit would be too hot for summer. This rule also applies to the shirt and socks, although there’s more leniency when it comes to those items.

The chillier seasons allow for more experimentation when it comes to pulling together a grey suit with brown shoes. Introducing solid colored turtlenecks in navy or black, for example, are a great way to maintain a classic look.

For a serious fashion risk and extra style points, try a velvet grey suit with some dark brown shoes. The key to pulling off this suit combo would mean minimal accessories or colors added in. A crisp, white button-down and some dark grey socks are all that is needed.

Look for inspiration

Still unsure of how to pair a grey suit with brown shoes? The best guide is a visual reference. Flipping through editorial magazines or catalog magazines can help, as the products are usually photographed and styled to be visually appealing. Editorial magazines like GQ will have more fashion-forward and stylish looks, while catalogs for department stores like Macy’s will feature more conservative, business options. Both are good to draw inspiration from for choosing the base colors of a suit and then building the rest of the wardrobe.

Think of celebrities known for their style and good taste. Google their red-carpet appearance photos. Training the eye to recognize what combinations look good together is half the battle.

Another place to look for suit and shoe color combinations? Other patterned articles of clothing. We mentioned earlier that Soxy has a variety of designs that incorporate grey and brown in their color schemes, and it’s possible to pull inspiration from those designs. But checking out other designs, like flannels, plaids, or stripes can help with learning how to mix similar colors together.

Going back to the color wheel mentioned earlier, another idea is to try varying shades of one color. Since it’s a grey suit and brown shoes, the outfit won’t be fully monochromatic, but pairing dark grey with grey or light grey can be very chic. Introducing patterns is another way to elevate an all-grey look, whether it be a patterned suit, a patterned sweater underneath or a pair of patterned socks.

Make it Fit: Tailoring A Grey Suit

The last detail for pulling a gray suit and brown shoes together is tailoring. It’s important to have suits tailored for a better, more comfortable fit, and to keep a suit from looking sloppy. This is most apparent when wearing suits that are too tight or too big. A perfectly tailored suit just skims over the body and still looks relatively smooth even when sitting down.

If the hem of the pants is too long, they’ll bunch up over the shoes. If the hem of the pants is too short, it’ll expose the dress socks, which are only a good look when sitting down.

Cropped suit pants, on the other hand, tend to be fashionable and trendy every other season, and are a good business casual option for a grey suit. A cropped grey suit and brown shoes, however, calls for no-show socks, as the ensemble would be jarring otherwise. Soxy also carries no-show socks, complete with vibrant patterns and designs to provide a hidden splash of color that only the wearer can see. It’s perfect for adding a little bit of individuality, even in a corporate setting.

Make a Grey Suit and Brown Shoes Work for You

Style doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s easy to fall back into the safety net of a black suit with black shoes. It’s a constant education in knowing what’s classic and what’s trendy, and how to incorporate those elements together to create a personal style that reflects character and individuality. Switching it up from a black suit to a grey suit is a beginner’s step that will pay off. Don’t worry about getting it wrong on the first try. Even celebrities on the red carpet make fashion faux pas! To recap:

  1.       Study up on colors
  2.       Invest in socks that will streamline the appearance
  3.       Tailor the suit for a perfect fit

Even if the only change made in your closest is to switch to a grey suit and brown shoes, sticking to the basics of menswear will help elevate the style and polish of the full look. Small steps in experimentation are best with smaller pieces, like ties and unique socks, and that’s where Soxy can step in for more flair.

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