What Colors Match Brown Shoes?


What to wear with brown shoes can be the source of many stressful mornings spent trying on your entire closet. You want the components of your outfit to complement one another, not clash. Brown can look expensive and luxe when used right, and it isn't so difficult to wear this color if you follow a few basic tips.

Colors Found Outside

Take your cue from Mother Nature. You can't go wrong with organically driven neutrals such as other browns, tans, camel, white, sand, amber, bone or gold; or greens such as loden, olive or pine. Even neutral dark gray tones (think river rocks) can be worn with brown. For brighter choices, flowers and plants as well as the sky can also yield good options such as light or medium blues, pinks, yellows or purples.


Patterns also work well with brown shoes, especially tweeds. Other choices are checked, argyle, plaid or paisley; or choose prints inspired by animals such as leopard, giraffe, alligator or tortoiseshell. Patterns that feature neutral colors (like earth tones) will work well, and be sure to use them carefully. You certainly do not want to be mistaken for a piece of furniture.

Other colors

Browns tend to look attractive with darker colors that complement it. For example, deep colors like navy, burgundy, cognac or eggplant look attractive with brown shoes. Blue jeans are a good choice, too.

Light colors such as pastels can also be used. For example, pair a pale yellow or blue shirt with khaki pants and brown loafers. Both men and women can follow this suggestion.


One thing to keep in mind is the style or type of shoe you are wearing. The less shoe material on your foot, the less noticeable your shoe color. For example, brown sandals can benefit from something eye-catching like a Hawaiian print, while brown boots would look better next to something more neutral.

Also, a general rule of thumb for brown is that it usually doesn’t match with black.

Personal Preferences

Finally, you must be comfortable with your outfit, so ultimately whatever makes you feel the best will be your best choice.

So if you only like some tones in the brown color palette, buy shoes in those shades. If a certain brown reminds you of the time you fell into mud, avoid that color. If wearing brown shoes with a black skirt, a chartreuse top and an orange belt makes you feel like a million dollars, just go for it.

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  • Terms of Adornment, The Ultimate Guide to Accessories; Deborah Chase; 1999
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