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What Shoes should you wear with Suits?

Oct 07, 2014 - Calibre

Assuming you’ve already completed the all-important jacket and pant purchase, then congratulations, you’re one step closer to sartorial nirvana. However, in your quest for style domination, one question may be left unanswered…

What damn shoes should you be wearing with your suit or tailored trousers?

The reality is, shoes can make or break your outfit, particularly as far as suits are concerned. After all, they are arguably two of the most considered purchases a man can make. In the first part of a four part series, we will show you the right combinations to have you looking your sharpest from boardroom to banquet.


Oxford shoes


It is common for people to (incorrectly) refer to as any smart lace up shoe as an Oxford. Ironically, it’s a rarity in that this shoe has one true defining characteristic – its lacing. The eyelet facings are stitched underneath the vamp (front section of the shoe), which is often referred to as a closed front.

If you invest in one pair of black formal shoes in the forthcoming months, make it an Oxford. They will transfer you from the office wear to eveningwear with effortless ease. You could also pair them with a blazer and tailored pants for less formal events, such as a cosy pub date. However, refrain from wearing such formal footwear with denim or you could end up looking like your grandfather.

Calibre Tan Flex Leather Lace Up


Derby shoes


Confusingly referred to as an Oxford in America, the Derby differs to the Oxford in that the eyelet tabs are sewn on top of the vamp; occasionally known as ‘open lacing’. The open tabs mean that the Derby is much more likely to fit a wide range of feet shapes as the laces will allow for more adjustment.

Which begs the question, what should you wear them with? The same advice would generally apply for the Oxford; invest in a black pair and reserve them for formal settings, or wear day-to-day with a navy or charcoal suit, a crisp tailored shirt and a silk tie. 

Calibre Black Flex Leather Lace Up


Half / Quarter Brogue


This great shoe is more versatile than Robert De Niro switching from drama to comedy and back to drama again at the drop of a hat…  The number of times this shoe will make an appearance this season is a testament to the number of circumstances in which it can be worn. Opt for a pair in brown or tan to liven up outfits where black may appear a little conservative.  It’s the little details that count.

Calibre Flex Leather Brogue Shoe 


Chelsea Boots


Some people may scoff at the idea of wearing boots with a suit, particularly one with no lacing but frankly if it’s good enough for Mark Ronson, it’s good enough for me. Starting life as a practical alternative to the rigid boots of Victorian Britain, they quickly became a hit with the wealthier horse riding contingent and underwent a particularly strong renaissance with 1960s mod culture.

With its simple and narrow silhouette, the Chelsea boot works perfectly with a slim-cut suit. For a more reserved approach, opt for a pair in black as the contrast in colour will be less obvious. Fancy throwing caution to the wind and making more of a statement? Go the tan route with a navy suit; you’ll be the envy of the entire office. 

Calibre Flex Half Leather Boot in Taupe


Final Thoughts


So there we have it. By following some simple guidelines, you have no chance of making any fashion faux pas any time soon. Debates will continue over the shoe colours you should wear with formal attire, but my personal take is that you should not deviate away from black, brown, tan or oxblood. Finally, make sure your belt matches the colour of your shoes. In part two, I’ll be looking at the options at your disposal when it comes to wearing chinos. Until next time…

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