“Check out my new shoes” said my friend Adam.
“Nice. Uhhh, wait, another black pair?” I asked. “They look a lot like your other black shoes.”
“My oxfords?” said Adam.
“No, the other black ones”.
“No the other, other black ones!!”
And so the story goes. Black shoes or boots or bags, or clothing for that matter, is the most worn, over used, deemed “safe choice” color ever. Sigh.
No man’s footwear inventory would be complete without black. In fact, it’s a basic and always classic. And don’t even think of wearing another color shoe to a black tie event, black dress shoes are essential. But – does every dress shoe you own have to be black?
The term “dress shoe” also confounds things. Dress shoes are NOT sneakers. So why are we seeing guys wearing sneakers with their suits? And sometimes you see dress shoes being worn as the standard daily shoe with everything.
Focus first and foremost on quality and fit. People look at shoes. You could be wearing the sharpest suit ever, or your go-to navy blazer, decked out with a gorgeous shirt and great fitting pants and then – boom. Your shoes are scuffed, tired, and negatively stand out.
If they are always black…with every outfit you wear? Boring.
What are your options besides black dress shoes? For starters, brown is a beautiful thing with several amazing shades to choose from.
Check out these options:
• The dark brown oxford (topcap or lace-up) – perfect with a navy or grey suit.
• The medium brown or ox-blood wing tip or brogue – it’s a classic and works with grey suits or a dress pants, denim too.
• The loafer – think chestnut brown or slate grey. A great match with sportswear or chinos and jeans.
• The athletic shoe – this is usually leather/suede or canvas mix and can work in a range of colors. A white sole is hip these days and teams up with sports wear, denim or chinos. Just keep the colors monochromatic.
• The chelsea boot – chocolate brown nubuck or suede. Okay, black works too. Instant cool factor with dark denim in the fall in a dressed-down but quality way.
• And my all time personal favorite: blue suede or nubuck shoes. Oxford or brogue style. They rock.
The list could go on with saddle shoes, sneakers (that’s a whole other genre these days), driving shoes - all in a multitude of colors not to mention textures. Don’t forget endless color choices for shoelaces and soles.
Now it’s time to look in your closet and count your pairs of black shoes. I’m not saying to purge them all, but do an edit and keep the quality, newest looking ones. Maybe that’s two pairs. Max three. Still trepidatious about expanding your inventory? Try patterned socks with color!
Tomorrow I’m taking my friend Adam shopping. His shoe world is about to change.
We will not be taking black shoes home.
Claudia Mio is a wardrobe stylist and the owner of Go Wear You Want in Toronto.
When she isn’t styling clients or shopping wardrobes, you can find her telling people where to go and when to be there.