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Switching up your footwear can really create an interesting and fresh take on your regular suit, especially if you also change up a few accessories. Traditionally, business suits were solids or subtly textured in navy, charcoal, or gray, but these days, in many offices, a business suit is any suit, meaning a matching jacket and pants. First, let’s start by taking a look at the different shoe and boot options for business suits, in general, and what rules and details you have to pay attention to, followed by an in-depth look into the different suit, boots, and shoe combinations. Of course, we cover the traditional ground but also a more contemporary ground and anything in between.
In general, business attire is a rather formal dress code and as such, you need formal shoes. That means your shoes or boot should be all leather with leather soles. You absolutely don’t want to wear any trainers or sneakers with a business suit and also, not these kinds of oxford sneaker combinations with thick rubber soles.
Also, chunky thick double or triple leather soles are not appropriate for all business suits and neither are chunky rubber soles. It goes without
saying that you should avoid any kind of contrasting materials such as spectators either in leather fabric or maybe even cowhide.
In terms of the last, you want something that is classic and elongated, maybe with a rounded toe or a chisel toe but definitely no chunky square-looking toe boxes. In terms of colors and finishes, a classic box calf in black or other darker colors such as oxblood or maybe chocolate brown are your best bet. Avoid any crocodile or stingray leather or something like elephant because they’re too exotic and maybe you can pull them off if you’re the boss. If you’re not, it’s not the best option. If your office is a bit more relaxed and you want to add a dash of color, maybe
consider adding a pair of shoelaces in a different color because that really changes the look of your entire shoe combination.
In general, a shoe paired with formal business attire should cover the entire foot which means no loafers with a deep cut, for example, and when you wear a double-breasted suit, skip loafers altogether because they’re too informal. If you live in a cold climate and you have a lot of snow in the winter, avoid wearing your really nice dress shoes directly to the office, maybe have them at the office or cover them up with rubber protectors or maybe you have a pair of lined winter boots that keep your feet toasty warm while heading to the office and just switching into your nice dress shoes there.
So in general, what are the footwear options you have for business suits? It all starts with the Oxford, of course, and Derbys. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cap toe, a semi brogue, quarter brogue, or full brogue, or a whole cut. These days, single and double monk strap shoes are also very office appropriate. In terms of boots, Chelsea boots, Balmoral boots, maybe even Jodhpur boots, and Button boots are all office appropriate. If you can just afford one pair of business dress shoes or boots, it should always be black.
On the other hand, if you have a navy, dark blue, medium gray, or charcoal suit, the black shoe would provide enough of a contrast that you can just get socks that are matching to the pants or something that’s a little more contrasty and picks up the color of an accessory that you have, your shirt, your pocket square, or your tie.
If, for some reason, you’re not a big fan of black, you can go with a dark chocolate brown, sometimes, in Italian, it’s called testa di moro or a few shades lighter of a brown which still work and look dark. Nothing too reddish or tannish.
As a general rule, keep in mind that a pair of dress shoes will always be a little more formal than a pair of boots when combined with a business suit.