Brown shoes are everywhere. When men – particularly younger ones – pick a shoe to wear with a suit or dressier pants, the go-to is all about brown. Black, or even very dark shades of brown or burgundy, is apparently just too serious, as if being perceived as serious is scary. So we see a lot of brown these days.
The big mistake I see men make when jumping on the brown shoe train is with the shade of brown. A lot of men choose a shade of brown that is too light or a shade that completely contrasts the fabric with which it’s worn. For me, the rule is simple: except for sneakers, the shoes should always be darker than (or as dark as) the pants.
But here we are, in a mode where many men don brown shoes that are a whole family of shades lighter than their pants. When I see a guy in light brown shoes, my eye goes right to his feet. Combine that with “fun socks” and we’re experiencing a strange fetish where men seem to crave a lot of attention for their ankles and feet – a curious phenomenon since feet are generally regarded as one of the least attractive features of the body. (Ask around.)
On the opposite hand, the reverse combination of darker shoes with a lighter suit or pants doesn’t apply the same way, as the eye is drawn to light more than dark.
I’m not really big on bold colors because I’m neither confident nor comfortable with them. My suits are varying sober shades of blue or gray, my pants are generally darker shades with the exception of my khakis, and my jeans are darker blue. My shoes? With the exception of my sneakers, they’re all on the darker side.
Black shoes, for some reason, seem to have a waning popularity and have been branded as something to avoid. Maybe they’re perceived as too “severe” or dark, but that never bothered me. My approach to shoes is often like my approach to humor: the darker the better.
This isn’t to say that shoes in a nice rich brown can’t be wonderful. They are. Gorgeous, in fact. I have a pair of loafers in what was called “cigar” brown. They’re fabulous. My all-time favorite pair of shoes is my Alden Chukka Boots in what Alden calls “Color 8,” which is basically burgundy. The color is so rich and beautiful. But, again… they, like all my non-black shoes, are darker than all the pants I wear with them.
Ultimately, I want attention drawn to my face. In fact, I’m a big subscriber to the philosophy of dress that suggests that what I wear should bring notice to me, not to my clothes. I’m not interested in wearing anything that steals the show. My mug is the star, and the clothes and accessories I wear are complementary backup singers, all designed to support the star. That’s how I play it.