“What belt do I wear with these shoes?!”
I’m sure that’s a question you’ve asked yourself at some point.
I thought the answers were obvious. But I’ve been running this site for 8 years now, and I still see this question come up. So I decided to write this article and, with my definitive answers, ease your fears, quell your anxiety, and rock you to sleep like a newborn baby 👶🏽
Not only will I show you what belt to wear with brown shoes and black shoes, but any other shoe you might own… from chukkas to sneakers and everything in between.
Shout out to my friends at Anson Belt and Buckle for partnering with me on this article. I’ve been using their belts for a year or two now, and they’ve replaced every other belt in my wardrobe. No joke! My other belts are now tucked away in the back of my closet 😉
Anson’s a solid choice because they carry a ton of options… not just color, but also material. Yep, they offer leather belt straps, but also canvas, nylon, suede, and microfiber. They even offer concealed carry options.
Check out their selection here (the box set is the best deal). I recommend building a set of 2 buckles and 3 belts. That’ll give you the largest number of options at a great price.
Three Easy-To-Follow Guidelines
I put together a quick 4-minute video highlighting 3 easy-to-follow guidelines when it comes to matching your belt and shoes (including when it’s necessary, and when it’s not).
Check it out below! And subscribe to Effortless Gent on YouTube if you haven’t already 🙂
Matching belt and shoes: The Basics
In case you’re curious, the Anson belts I wear most are a graphite (dark grey) canvas, a camo canvas (yup!), and a medium brown leather. My favorite buckle is the antique gold model because it looks a bit worn, and it’s not too shiny.
I also dress more casually, so these work for me, but if you’re a suit-and-tie-every-day guy, you’ll also have dressier options in black and all shades of brown, depending on your shoe choice.
Well now that I’ve gotten into my own personal preferences when it comes to belts, why don’t we just get into the meat of this whole thing. Are you excited to finally have all the belt and shoe matching answers you’ve been looking for?
Good! Let’s get to it.
Here’s the overarching, general rule… what it all boils down to: Brown shoes, brown belt. Black shoes, black belt.
Simple, right? Of course, there are exceptions and various shades of brown, which is what we’ll be covering below.
Black is, by far, the easiest to match. There aren’t any variants of black leather. So if you’re wearing black shoes, wear a black leather belt.
Brown, on the other hand, can be much more confusing. There are many shades of brown. How close do you have to match?
Let’s get into the specifics of matching shoes and belts that aren’t black.
Matching brown shoes and belts: The Specifics
Does it matter if you match browns exactly?
The general rule you want to follow: Match your leathers as closely as possible.
So if you have a pair of medium brown wingtips, you should wear a medium brown leather dress belt — and, ideally, a medium brown leather watch strap (assuming you’re wearing a watch with a leather strap).
But what if you want to wear a pair of dark brown oxfords, and you only have a medium brown belt?
Follow the general rule of matching as closely as possible. If you’re choosing between a medium brown leather belt and a black leather belt, wear the medium brown belt with your dark brown oxfords.
It helps to take a look at your current shoe selection and figure out the color(s) you wear most. If you frequently wear dark brown and black leather shoes, it would make sense to own a dark brown and black leather belt.
“What about my accessories, like wallet, briefcase or bag, leather nipple tassels, etc.?”
Great question. Shoes, belt, and watch strap are the three things that get the most attention. If you have one wallet and bag (and set of leather nipple tassels), no one’s gonna fault you for not matching your leather.
If you do have accessories in both brown and black, then it would make sense to use the black wallet and bag when you’re wearing black shoes, belt, and watch strap (and vice versa if you’re wearing brown)… but you don’t have to.
Life is honestly way too short for trivialities such as these. But if you’re concerned, by all means, match away.
When can I get away with mixing brown and black leather? Like can I ever wear a black leather belt with brown shoes?
No. That looks weird.
Unless you’re a male model walking the runway of a fashion show with a black and brown mixed leather theme, don’t mix leather colors.
“But, B, what if I only have a black wallet? Can I wear brown shoes and belts?” OK, in this case, it’s fine.
Like I mentioned a few paragraphs above, no one’s gonna fault you for having one wallet, one watch, or one leather bag. If they happen to not match with the shoes and belt you wear that day, it’s fine.
What if I have a pair of shoes that are in between two shades of belts I own? How closely do I have to match my leather accessories to my shoes?
As close as possible. See the above photos.
Another scenario: Let’s say you have cognac / tan leather loafers, and a pair of chocolate brown wingtips. But you only have one medium brown leather belt whose color value is in between the two.
What do you do?
Wear the medium brown leather belt. Your shoes and belt are worn far enough apart on your body to where most people won’t notice, anyway.
And like I mentioned already, evaluate what color leather shoes you wear most often. If it’s dark brown, buy a dark brown belt. In my case, I wear a lot of tan / cognac leather shoes, so I have a tan / cognac belt to match.
I also have a medium-dark leather belt to wear with all my casual brown leather shoes, from boots to loafers and everything in between. I chose this color strategically; I knew this belt was close enough in color to a majority of my brown shoes and would get the most use.
When in doubt, choose the belt that most closely matches your shoes.
Again, the general rule is to get as close as possible when it comes to matching brown leathers. Doesn’t have to be exact, just close.
What if I wear blue suede chukkas, or burgundy leather loafers, or [insert uncommon leather color here]?
No one expects you to own a matching belt for every pair of shoes you have. So don’t think you have to wear a blue suede belt with your blue suede shoes. Just wear a belt that looks good with the rest of the outfit.
For warm colors like burgundy or plum or oxblood, medium to dark brown belts work just fine. For a dark blue leather, I’d probably wear a black belt, but there are always exceptions. Go with these suggestions (or your gut) and move on… it’s really not that big of a deal.
What if I’m wearing white or grey sneakers?
Same advice as above. Find something that looks good with the outfit. My go-to casual belt is the graphite canvas belt from Anson. I wear this most days, and it goes well with my sneakers.
In most cases, a standard brown leather belt works just fine with white sneakers and a casual outfit.
What about metals? Should I be matching the metals on my belt buckle, watch strap, the buckles on my double monks, necklace, wedding ring, earrings, navel ring, and chain wallet?
First off, I hope you’re not wearing one of those wallets with a chain.
Going back to the original, general rule: Match them as closely as possible.
If it’s a formal outfit: Matching metals and leathers matters more. So for instance, if your belt is a polished white metal, it would do you good to have a white metal watch (assuming you’re wearing a watch) and a white metal wedding ring (assuming you’re married and wearing a ring).
Does it really matter? I mean, it’s not the end of the world if your metals don’t match exactly, but it doesn’t hurt to come close.
This matters more in formal settings because we adhere more strictly to a dress code in formal events. But if your watch and ring are yellow metal, it’s not a huge deal if your belt buckle is white metal.
If it’s a casual outfit: It doesn’t matter as much. I match yellow and white metals all the time. Even my wedding ring is a mix of white and yellow metal.
But, assuming you have options, do your best to follow the general rule of matching the colors as closely as possible.
No one’s gonna care if you have yellow metal on your belt, and white metal on your wrist. Again, do your best, get as close as you can, and move on with your day.
And if you’re intent on matching your metals, Anson has plenty of metal finishes to choose from. Lucky you.
What other belt and shoe matching questions do you have?
I’d love to answer them in this post. Let me know what I missed in the comments below.
All the belts you see in this post are from Anson Belt and Buckle. It’s the only belt I use nowadays; I have one in brown leather, black leather, grey canvas, and that cool camo one you see in the infographic… which, surprisingly, gets a lot of use.
The best deal from them is the box set. You can pick two belts and three buckles, or three belts and two buckles (I personally would go this route).
As far as buckles, the traditional style in antique gold is my jam, but what works best for you will depend on what you wear day to day. Go for something polished if you want to wear with trousers, sportcoats, and suits. If you dress more casually, any of the buckles will work.