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Well-Groomed Q&A: Brown Shoes with a Grey Suit?

By Well Groomed

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Q: I’m a groomsman travelling from London to Orlando for my best friend’s wedding. The suit colour we have is a light grey TM Lewin Wentowrth 3 piece, to match the groom’s  slightly darker, tailored, grey.

The groom, and maybe the bride, insists we wear black shoes to what is supposed to be a fairly informal wedding. I’d like to wear brown shoes considering it is an outside wedding and (relatively) still summer, and the fact that its a warmer colour that really ‘suits’ the suit. How can I persuade them that the groomsmen would look better in brown shoes than black?And what is your opinion on brown vs black? –Joe

A: Joe, you’ve come to the right place. Style isn’t about rules, it’s about intention. As long as your grey/brown pairing looks intentional, not accidental, then it will read as stylish. So, don’t just choose brown shoes, mix in other brown elements like a belt, tie, or pocket square with the suits. If your friends are the kind that like nifty diagrams and stuff, then perhaps this figure will be helpful.

Can I mix grey and brown?
Need some photographic evidence for your stylishly conservative friends? Here ya go.
Obviously, in the end, it’s their wedding. Some people are just more comfortable playing it safe. So, if they still won’t bend, just suck it up and break the style rules at your own wedding. Let me know if you win the battle. Good luck!

shoe/suit cheat sheet: adapted from Esquire, shoes pictured: Kenneth Cole oxfords, image 1: Patters & Purples, image 2: Testament to Turquoise, image 3: source unknown

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0 Thoughts to Well-Groomed Q&A: Brown Shoes with a Grey Suit?

  1. Anonymous Reply April 6, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    No Way Brown is right with a Grey or Navy Suit! One can wear oxblood or burgundy with Navy or Grey, but Not Brown! It's as bad as wearing a Black Shoe with a Tan suit! Do not be listen to this article here!!

  2. Anonymous Reply April 8, 2012 at 5:44 am

    Shut up

  3. Anonymous Reply May 8, 2012 at 5:19 am


  4. Anonymous Reply May 25, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Brown is WAY right with both grey and navy. In fact, I think brown goes with charcoal as well. Black suits and black shoes are for funerals. And NOTHING else.

    Oh – and black shoes with a tan suit can definately work. Not sure what lame world anon # 1 lives in, but I'm glad I'm not there!

  5. Darren Reply May 25, 2012 at 4:12 am

    Fight, fight, fight!!! Just kidding. Keep the opinions coming guys.

  6. Anonymous Reply June 16, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Im going through this exact dilema myself.

    Silver / light grey morning suit for the wedding and I have found some lovely Dark Brown Loake shoes.

    Not yet purchased the shoes as all the other groomsmen are wearing black shoes.


    Mid Grey tailcoat

  7. Anonymous Reply June 27, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Buy the shoes. Why blend in?

  8. Amy Fortenberry Reply July 6, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Source for Photo 3 above:

  9. Anonymous Reply August 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    1 what's with the awful Kenneth Coles in the diagram?
    2 the diagram says charcoal with black shoes but the group in the second picture are clearly wearing charcoal and brown.

  10. Anonymous Reply September 25, 2012 at 8:49 am

    After I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments
    are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added
    I get 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that service?
    Many thanks!
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  11. Darren Reply September 26, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Hi Debs Dresses Dublin,

    I don't know of any way that I can opt you out of receiving follow-up comments. If you know how, let me know and I'd be happy to change it. My only suggestion is to put the notification service's email address on your blacklist.

    Hope that helps!

  12. Anonymous Reply November 24, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Wrong, ever feel like the world is a tuxedo and your a pair of brown shoes? I suppose a straw had would be the perfect accessory as well? Brown shoes don't make it!

  13. Anonymous Reply November 24, 2012 at 3:14 am

    A blind man can pick out the brown shoe with the grey suit by asking, do you put your shoes on before or after your slacks?

  14. Anonymous Reply May 1, 2013 at 11:08 am

    The only problem with this picture is an adult wearing Oliver Twist sized pants.

  15. james Reply September 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    what about med-dark grey suit, brown boots and belt, black tie.

  16. Darren Reply September 10, 2013 at 3:49 am

    I'm not really feeling that combo. I think having all three colors in one look would makes the look seem more of a mishmash than an intentional style statement. With all that said, if you've tried it on and you feel confident, then you should do it!

  17. Anonymous Reply September 12, 2013 at 3:00 am

    This is not quite right. Normally, brown shoes with a [mid or light] grey suit would look fine and indeed, can look very stylish. However, black is still "correct." The context is important to the question: he is a groomsmen in a wedding and the groom has instructed all the groomsmen to wear black shoes. Therefore, he should wear black shoes. Generally, brown shoes can be distracting and grab attention (but certainly look great). This effect can be desirable and intended to the individual. However, heads of state almost always will avoid brown shoes and stick to black with a business suit to avoid drawing attention to their shoes (and to maintain a conservative, "correct" appearance, just as senior bankers and barristers in the City of London wouldn't be caught dead wearing brown shoes in business attire. This isn't to say brown shoes shouldn't be done in places where it is stylistically acceptable — e.g., New York — or even the norm to wear brown shoes — e.g., Milan).

    Also, it is irrelevant whether it's a more formal or less formal wedding in Florida or if the ushers are wearing near "uniforms" (same tie, white shirt, etc.) or if they're allowed freedom — asked to wear a grey suit and can choose their ties — this is irrelevant. We have been told that the groom wishes his ushers to wear grey suits and black shoes. The wedding pictures will look a lot better if all men in the wedding party wear black shoes. If the groom instructed the groomsmen to wear brown shoes, likely all of the shoes would be different shades of brown unless the groom bought all of the ushers the same shoe model, which would be unnecessary and very expensive. The example photograph above is disingenuous to the context of the question as they are all wearing identical shoe makes. Realistically, if they were all wearing their own brown shoes, their shoes would all be different tones, with an effect that probably wouldn't look great. If the usher asking the question goes ahead and wears brown and all the others are wearing black — the usher in brown shoes may look fine when he's standing alone — however, it would be unsightly and distracting for him to be the sole male in the wedding party with brown shoes. In my opinion, then, in allowing the questioner's individual style to trump consistency for the group, the question was answered wrong.

    Keep it consistent and just do what the groom asks you to do. Showing the groom "evidence" that wearing brown shoes can still be "correct" with that particular grey tone suit is impolite and misses the entire point — an usher should not seek to be the only male in the wedding party wearing brown shoes. Black is always correct (unless it's a tan/brown suit) and, short of buying all of the ushers new matching shoes in any color, it's a safe call for the groom to ask his ushers to all wear black shoes.


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