Black vs Brown Dress Shoes (Which Shoe is Better?)

Black vs Brown Dress Shoes

Black shoes or brown shoes?

What is the best choice if you want to spend a lot of money on shoes while building your interchangeable classic wardrobe?

I’m going to share five tips with you in this article to help you choose the best shoes for your needs.


Let’s start off by discussing formality.

The most formal of all the colors is going to be black. If you have the same style of shoe in brown and black, the black shoe will be more formal.

There are now some dress codes that call for black shoes, such as black tie. If you’re going to frequently wear black tie and a dark gray suit, in this situation you should probably wear black shoes.

There is no getting around the fact that brown will never be as formal as black. However, brown has many advantages to black because there are many more options available on the casual side.

Simply put, the lighter the shade of brown, such as a tan, the more informal it will be.

When you reach a medium brown, this is something you can dress up, dress down, and wear to a professional setting.

The most formal of all the browns available is when you can choose a darker shade of brown.

The winner in terms of formality depends on your individual requirements.

You must wear black if you’re going to wear a black tie. If you won’t ever wear black tie and you’ll be in a more relaxed setting, think about wearing brown.

What is in Your Wardrobe?

Let’s now discuss the items in your current wardrobe.

If you have a lot of cool colors and all-black accessories, such as belts, watch straps, and bags. If you prefer black suits and dark charcoal grays, or if black is your favorite color, you should probably stick with black.

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Simply put, it will go with the clothes you already own and the colors you already gravitate toward.

On the other hand, brown shoes will probably go well with you if you normally gravitate toward blue suits, true blue, navy blue, lighter blue, olive green chinos, and dark brown pants. Since these colors are warmer tones, they will go well with you.

Again, you have a lot of options. You are welcome to bring some darker brown shoes as well as lighter brown shoes.

Brown is probably going to be your best choice in the end.

Again, it all comes down to what you currently own in your closet to determine who wins in terms of matching your current wardrobe.

Dressing Up and Dressing Down

Next up, let’s talk about dressing up and dressing down.

This is going to be black’s weakness. You shouldn’t really want to dress down something that is black because it is formal.

I’ve seen some guys pull off wearing black shoes with jeans, but I think it’s quite challenging and I really don’t like the look.

You have a lot of options when it comes to brown. They go well with a suit, but they also go well with a more relaxed suit, a pair of odd pants, and a sports jacket.

Light brown shoes would look wonderful with jeans, but I wouldn’t wear dark brown shoes with jeans.

Because you may combine brown with various fabrics, it has a lot more options. An illustration would be brown with blue suede. There are many ways to dress this up or down in this situation.

Therefore, I’m going to have to give brown the win when it comes to versatility.

Style Choices

The topic of style options is next.

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The majority of the available style options for black will fall into the more formal category.


It is logical.

Returning to the first point, black is the most formal of all colors. The black we’ll see in wholecuts, the black we’ll see in Oxfords, and the variants of that will all make sense.

There, black is going to really dominate. Additionally, we’ll see black over boots.

However, black starts to lose ground to brown when it comes to other styles, particularly the more casual ones.

It will simply look nicer when worn with loafers or monkstraps due to the informal nature of the brown color and the vast range of shades.

Here, brown actually has an advantage over black.  Simply put, it complements this less formal color better.

I am aware that some of you guys adore black shoes and desire additional options for casual attire. When that happens, I want you to look at oxblood and maroon.

If you already have a lot of black shoes and want something that would match your current wardrobe, this is a wonderful color.

I’m going to have to give that brown has the win when it comes to style options for your shoes.


Let’s now discuss maintenance.

Black shoes are rather simple to maintain. If they get a little scuffed or dusty, all you have to do is take a brush, clean them off, apply some black polish, and you’re good to go.

It’s not always the same however for brown shoes, particularly lighter colored brown shoes have a problem.

If you purchase polish, it can be too dark, the wrong color, or it won’t perfectly match; it might even darken the leather.

Make sure to test any polish or wax on your tongue before applying it. You want to test it where you can actually see it if it does darken and you don’t like this in a place where no one else will see it.

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You should speak with the shoemaker to learn what they suggest for the specific pair of shoes, in my opinion.

Many larger manufacturers have products available for you to apply on your shoes that you can purchase directly from them.

I will therefore have to concede that black shoes have an advantage in terms of maintenance.

The Winner

When I add everything up, it appears that the brown shoes prevailed.

But this wasn’t truly a battle or a competition.

It was about arming you with the knowledge you needed to make the best purchase possible for yourself because, in the end, if you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on a pair of shoes, you want something that will be interchangeable and that will go with the bulk of the stuff in your wardrobe.

And when you wear it, you’ll just feel fantastic and like a million bucks.

brown vs black dress shoes


  • Christopher

    Christopher has 9+ years of experience as a creative fashion designer who stays current with the latest trends.

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