men's belts and shoes

Old school rule: A man must match the leather color of his shoes to the leather color of his belt. Black shoes = black belt and so forth.

Here is how this article came about. My handsome and dapper husband is traveling. While we were chatting on the phone this morning before his meeting started he asked me if I thought his shoes and belt needed to match. He was hoping the answer would be no, since what he had packed for shoes and belt did not match. I assured him that what he had packed was fine, and then I decided to find out.

Surely he’s not the only man to wonder this. It was always a hard and fast old school rule that men’s belts and shoes should match, but dress codes for men’s business attire have relaxed so much, perhaps many of the old school rules are no longer applicable?

The results:  most of my research suggests that men’s belts and shoes should match, especially for a dressy event or a business meeting. One reason the experts are holding fast to this rule is that it is more difficult to pull off NOT matching than it is to go with matching. You don’t want to end up looking clueless, color blind, or disinterested. Unmatched, you can definitely look like you flunked the style IQ test.

Tips on matching belt and shoes:

  • Browns are the most difficult color to match so do not do it from memory!
  • Buy your shoes first then find a matching belt. Of course, the shoes need to coordinate with your suit or trousers.
  • Shoes and belt do not need to match EXACTLY, but they should be very close.
  • Dress shoes definitely need a matching dress belt.
  • Men have flexibility with casual outfits, but be cautious. Casual shoes do not need a matching belt, just a belt that coordinates.
  • Mixing brown and black is a definite no-no.
  • If you go rogue you must be INCREDIBLY chic to pull it off. Feeling up to that?
  • The experts allowed a slight relaxing of the rule – wearing matching colors but different textures.

On all of the above points, The Wall Street Journal, Esquire, and GQ Magazine all agree. I wonder if they would agree that a man’s socks should match the color of his pants, or that the metal on his loafers, suspenders, buttons and cufflinks should all match the buckle on his belt?

*Update July 2017

Apparrel has an even more in-depth look, instructions and 3 secrets when putting together the outfit. Buy a matching belt while you’re buying the shoes – a concept the ladies have known about for a long time.

And one more burning questions answered – what about the socks?