“No brown after six” and “no brown in town” are catchy little sayings that were created to help men remember rules of social dress in the 19th century.  Do any of these rules still apply? Should men even care about the rules of etiquette for dress these days?  The answer is yes, especially for business.  Although rules of dress are more open to interpretation these days, it doesn’t mean that they should be disregarded.  Men aiming to climb the corporate business ladder and impress for any reason should still pay attention to certain rules of professional dress.

One topic that is particularly confusing surrounds footwear for men.  When does one wear black versus brown shoes?  This topic should begin by examining three questions.  How formal is the event I’m attending?  What time of day will the event take place?  What time of year is it?  These questions will guide your decision making with not only professional dress but also with social dress.  

For the purpose of this blog, we will examine when TO wear brown shoes and when NOT to wear brown shoes.

Wear Brown Shoes

Charcoal Grey Suit-  Dark brown shoes, no Tan.

Mid Grey Suit- Dark brown shoes, Burgundy Red shoes (These shoes are very versatile and should possibly be your first purchase in the brown shoe department.)

Dark Navy Suit-  Brown shoes (a modern look), Burgundy, Tan, Mid-Brown

Light Navy Suit- Chocolate brown shoes, Medium brown shoes

Dark Brown Business Suit (charcoal brown)- Absolutely wear brown shoes!  You will want to achieve a little contrast between your pant and shoe.  Chocolate brown and medium brown are good choices.  You will need to stay away from Tan in business.

Do Not Wear Brown Shoes

Formal morning dress (morning coat or stroller)

Formal evening dress (white tie or black tie)

No brown shoes with black suits

When attending the opera

Pro Tips

1.  Black is still the gold standard for business.  If interested in purchasing your first pair of business shoes, then you cannot go wrong with a black cap-toe Oxford shoe.

2.  If you are a bit conservative, then always choose a shade of brown dress shoes that are darker than your suit color.  

3.  Last but not least.  If you are wearing a belt, then try to match your shoes to your belt.  

Overall, the most important thing is that you look and feel good.  It will boost your confidence and help you focus on the business at hand and not your appearance.  Best of luck!