It’s one of the first things about dressing well that we learn as young men – a black belt is worn with black shoes and a brown one with brown shoes – always; but what about blue, beige, and the more unusual options that are becoming increasingly popular? Wearing a belt and shoes in matching colours is a basic rule of male elegance but with eye-catching colours, it doesn’t always work so well.
Unless the trousers are in the same colour and therefore, camouflaging the belt and shoes, the combination often results in a look that screams ‘put together with great care’. It’s like walking into a living room where the sofa (cushions included) and curtains are in the same floral fabric. Elegance must seem effortless and a matching belt and shoes, which aren’t black or brown are anything but that.
Another reason for doing away with the rule is that matching shoes and belts, effectively make a person look shorter. This is especially so, when the shoes and belt contrast in colour with the trousers’, as what you’ll end up with, are legs that only appear as long as the distance between the belt and the shoes.
Rather than opting for identical colours, if your shoes are in an unusual colour, go for a belt in a colour that’s as close as possible to that of either the shirt or trousers – depending on whether you want to add or reduce visual height.
Taller men, whose legs tend to be considerably longer than their torso, will achieve a more balanced silhouette with a belt that mirrors the shirt’s colour, as this effectively visually elongates the torso. On the other hand, shorter men should aim for visually longer legs, making a belt in the same colour as the trousers’ the better option.
If it’s your belt that’s the fancy piece, go for shoes in a neutral colour, which blend in as much as possible with the trousers. Here, your outfit’s centrepiece should be your belt.
As is often the case, rules are never set in stone. With pieces in unusual colours – and in the case of shoes and belts, anything other than black or brown is considered ‘unusual’ – the safest approach is to make these the focal point of your outfit. Consequently, since there can only be one focal point, avoid having more than one piece in an unusual colour.