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Navy Blue Suit Brown Shoes or Black Shoes?

Risk vs reward in fashion and careers

Navy blue suit with brown or black shoes in finance?

Should I wear black or brown shoes with a navy blue suit? This question comes up surprisingly often.  If you’re going for an interview or starting your first day at a new job in corporate finance you want to look your best! Like it or not, the way you dress plays a role in your colleagues’ overall impression of you.  Below we will break down the debate of: “navy blue suit brown shoes or black shoes” with an analogy to risk and return.


blue suit brown shoes


Low risk/return -> navy blue suit black shoes

Black shoes are the most conservative and traditional, and therefore the safest option.  If you’re risk averse, wear black shoes with your navy blue suit to significantly reduce the chances of standing out in a way that receives negative attention (i.e. people at the office comment that your fashion sense is off).

Along with lower risk comes less reward in the sense that you’re also less likely to wow anyone with your fashion sense.


Higher risk/return -> navy blue suit brown shoes

Blue suit brown shoes, on the other hand, involves a bit more risk.  If you’re in a super conservative working environment, they may look negatively on your attempt to be too fashion-forward.

If it works though, the blue suit brown shoes will propel you to the upper levels of fashion status at the office!


Matching the belt

It’s important to note that whether you choose blue suit brown shoes, or blue suit black shoes, you need to match the color of your belt to the shoes.  This point is critical.

If you wear brown shoes with a black belt your high-risk strategy will most likely fail, and you’ll be criticized for a poor attempt.  Conversely, don’t do the opposite and wear a brown belt (or any other color but black) with black shoes.

It should be footnoted: there is a super advanced technique of intentionally mismatching the belt and shoes to create “controlled disharmony”, but that is only for very chic.

To read more on the subject, see what the Wall Street Journal says about matching belts and shoes for men.


Fashion across corporate finance career paths

A big part of the answer to this question is, “it depends on which area of finance and which firm you work for”.  To learn more about competitiveness, personality and career paths in different areas of finance, explore our interactive career map below.



Additional resources

We hope this has been a fun and helpful guide to matching your navy blue suit with the appropriate pair brown or black shoes (and belt!).  To keep advancing your career beyond fashion, please explore these additional resources:

  • Why work in investment banking?
  • Investment banker salaries
  • Private equity careers
  • The role of investor relations

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