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, then 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/low return -> navy blue suit with 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 commenting 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/high return -> navy blue suit with 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 with brown shoes gambit can 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, then 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 noted: there is a super-advanced technique of intentionally mismatching the belt and shoes to create “controlled disharmony”, but that is only for the very fashion daring, shooting for ultra 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 you’re in 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.

career map used to explain fashion and shoes in finance

Additional resources

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

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