It’s unlikely to have escaped your notice by now, but certain men find it easier to pull off a bespoke or made-to-measure suit than others. There is, of course, a reason for that. While your suit may be the most beautiful, well-fitting garment of any of your peers, the ability to wear it well is not innate for some people. One of the most common faux pas is footwear, and you’d be surprised at how many men have no idea what shoes are acceptable to wear with their tailored suits.
Fortunately, we’re on hand to help.
Colours should co-ordinate well
The colour of your footwear should always co-ordinate well with the colour of your suit. Simply put, if the colours clash, you may as well have ruined hours of expensive tailoring. The most common colours of dress shoe are black, brown and burgundy, and these go with more of the common everyday suit colours than any others. While white, tan and grey dress shoes are also popular, these can be more difficult to pull off successfully. As a general rule, your tailored suit should be matched with footwear colours as follows:
Light grey suits – These suits are the most versatile in a tailor’s arsenal, and can be matched with black, brown and burgundy shoes alike. With a grey suit, it’s possible to experiment with other coloured footwear too.
Charcoal grey suits – Charcoal grey suits are more inflexible than their lighter counterparts, and as such should not be paired with brown shoes. For a smart, stylish look, black or rich burgundy is very much the order of the day.
Black suits – It is more difficult to match a black suit with the correct shoe colour than it is a grey suit. As a general rule of thumb, you ought to stick to black shoes so as not to appear too casual, although more informal occasions will occasionally give you the opportunity to express yourself.
Navy suits – Navy suits can go with more or less any colour of dress shoe, although caution is still advisable. Don’t wear a burgundy shoe that appears too close to red, or you’ll be in danger of clashing. By contrast, a blue shoe will appear too close in tone to navy to really work properly.
Select the style carefully
Now that you have the colour sorted, it’s time to select the style of shoe you wish to wear with your tailored suit. There are a number of common styles acceptable to wear alongside formal dress, and this list is by no means exhaustive. It will, however, give you an indication of the kind of shoe you ought to be looking for.
Oxfords – Oxfords are among the most versatile shoe that any man can own. Suitable for all kinds of formal occasion, these shoes will go with pretty much anything. The peacocks amongst you, however, might want something more showy from their formal footwear.
Loafers – Loafers are a more casual smart shoe than oxfords, with the slip-on design eschewing buckles and laces. The trick to wearing loafers with a suit is to ensure that you select an appropriate pair of socks, as more often than not, these will be on show to all and sundry...
Cap toes – Cap toes are actually a variation on a theme, most commonly a modified version of an oxford or a derby. The ‘cap’ refers to an extra piece of leather over the toe, used to add both style and substance to the shoe. Cap toes are available both as ornate designs and more subtle products.
Brogues – Like cap toes, brogues are often restyled versions of other shoes, including oxfords and loafers. Brogueing is an embossing technique used to make a shoe appear more ornate and stylish – perfect for someone who wants to stand out whilst still appearing smart and sophisticated.
Monkstrap shoes – Monkstrap shoes can appear dressier and more formal than their alternatives, but that doesn’t mean that you should shy away from them. The buckle adds an attractive style cue to the shoe, while heavy brogueing can result in footwear that really stands out.
Opt for a rubber sole
There is a school of thought which dictates that suits should only ever be worn with leather soled shoes, but in today’s world that just isn’t practical. If you only ever wore leather soles you’d be looking to replace them every other week. Rubber soles are perfectly acceptable in the 21st century, so keep your leather-soled shoes for those special occasions.
For the ultimate luxury go bespoke
Ok, so bespoke shoes aren’t the cheapest but they are guaranteed to be the comfiest you will ever own. With Hemingway’s bespoke shoe service you can be sure to create the perfect pair that will not only last an age but provide your tailored suits with the finishing touch they need.
The process of bespoke shoemaking takes about 12 weeks from start to finish and begins with an initial consultation where we measure your size and gait and discuss any issues that you currently experience with your footwear (we will even make foot casts for trickier shaped feet). We then explore the myriad of different styles, colours and options available and advise on the best choices to co-ordinate with the key lynchpins of your wardrobe
There you have it – a guide to formal footwear that will have you looking dapper in no time. Just remember, no matter how well your suit has been tailored, how luxurious the fabrics used to make it are and how stylish the overall design is, wearing the wrong pair of shoes will completely undermine the fine tailoring of your suit and spoil your overall look. So choose wisely!
Keep an eye on our blog for more formal fashion advice, and don’t forget to order your beautiful bespoke shoes and tailored suits from us here at Hemingway Tailors.