So you want to know how to match your belt to your outfit.
Most people will tell you, “brown shoes, brown belt… black shoes, black belt” which IS true. But is that really the whole story?
- What if you’re not wearing black or brown shoes?
- What if you are wearing white sneakers, do you have to wear a white belt?
- Or with a casual outfit, do you have to match your shoes and belt exactly?
In this article, I’m gonna answer all those questions and give you guidelines to follow so going forward, you won’t be confused about how to match your belt with your outfit (or your shoes… really, it depends).
Let’s get started, yeah?
“Should you match your belt with your pants or shoes?”
OK, so there are some basic rules that you’d be wise to follow. Let’s get those out of the way first.
When you’re dressing formally (meaning suit and tie):
- Match your (leather) belt with your (leather) shoes
- Black leather shoes? Black leather belt.
- Brown leather shoes? Brown leather belt.
- Sometimes shades of brown differ, but get as close as you can
Those are the basics for matching your belt and your shoes. Again, this applies to formal (dressy) situations, i.e. wearing a suit and tie.
If you want the down and dirty details about matching your belt to your shoes, check out the article I put together. This is basically THE definitive guide to matching your belt and shoes.
BTW, these are the exact belts I wear 99.7% of the time
Quick shout out to Anson Belt & Buckle for partnering with me on this informative article. I discovered them a few years back and, no joke, it’s the only belt I wear (and no, I’m not just saying that either).
I have 6 Anson belts in different colors: all varieties of brown, black, grey canvas, even the camo canvas one!
Definitely give Anson a try. Once you do, I guarantee you won’t go back to regular belts with holes. The microadjustability is on point and you’ll always feel perfectly comfortable.
The $99 box set above (3 straps and 2 buckles, or 2 straps and 3 buckles) is the best value. All the belts you see as examples in this article are available on the the site.
They’re continually adding new colors and materials so you’re certain to find the exact color and style you need! Build your box set here.
Matching Your Belt to Your Casual Outfits
Great, so we established that when dressed formally, figuring out which belt to wear is easy.
What about for casual outfits? Or when you’re not wearing brown or black shoes? What kind of belt do you wear then?
And what kind of belt material is best for a casual outfit?
All great questions. Let’s get into it.
How to choose the right belt for your shoes and outfit: 3 Guidelines
Keep these 3 guidelines in mind when you’re dressing casually and trying to figure out what belt to wear, or how to match it.
- When dressing casually, match your belt to your outfit as a whole
- Any shoes or outfits on the black / white scale (white shoes, light grey shoes, dark grey shoes, black shoes) go with a black belt
- Any shoes or outfits with dark and vibrant tones (navy, dark green, dark purple), or warm, fall tones (brown, burgundy, tan / cognac, rust orange, mustard yellow) go with a brown belt
As you can tell, the rules of matching your belt to your shoes (or belt matching in general) aren’t as strict with casual outfits.
It’s more important that your belt looks great with the complete outfit.
In general, after considering your outfit as a whole, guidelines #2 and #3 should cover most of the bases.
If you’re wearing black shoes, 99.9% of the time, you will wear a black belt.
And in most cases, if you’re wearing white shoes or grey shoes, a black belt will work fine, too. (Guideline #2… keep up!)
If your outfit has lots of warm or fall tones, choose a brown belt, even if you’re wearing white or grey shoes (this is Guideline #3).
And obviously, if your shoes are in that family of warm / fall tones, you would wear a brown belt.
The key to always matching your belts, shoes, and outfits perfectly? Understanding menswear neutrals
“Menswear neutrals” is a concept I go into more depth on in our program, Smart Sharp Style, but essentially, it’s a set of clothing colors that go well with each other, as well as with any other color in your wardrobe.
So the menswear neutrals are: Black, white, all shades of grey, tan / khaki, olive, light blue, and navy. Your base wardrobe should be made up of clothes in these colors.
Of course, your wardrobe can have other colors in it, but for your basics and your essentials? They should be in these colors.
Because as I said, they go with every other color, as well as each other, effortlessly!
So if you’re wearing an outfit full of menswear neutrals, simply follow the 3 guidelines I pointed out above and you’ll be just fine.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to match colors in your clothing, you should check out this video:
How to wear belts that are NOT black or brown
Maybe you have a belt in olive or navy, or maybe it’s a multi-colored belt… how would you match these to your outfit?
First, consider the concept of menswear neutrals in the previous section. If your outfit is made up of mostly menswear neutrals, and your belt is a menswear neutral, it will work together.
Next, consider Guideline #1 that I mentioned a few paragraphs up in this article. You want to match the belt to your outfit as a whole.
Then, think about Guidelines #2 and #3 to determine if you should go with brown, or black, or some other color.
Even if your belt is the one standout piece in your outfit, maybe it’s a crazy color that isn’t a menswear neutral… that’s fine! It will work.
If you have a multi-colored belt, such as the blue and red striped belt, you want to make sure your outfit is primarily made up of menswear neutrals. If you’re wearing too many colors and prints, adding a multi-colored belt will surely look terrible unless done perfectly.
What color belt do I wear with…
Finally, in this section, I want to fire off quick answers to the specific belt-matching questions I get most frequently.
Here we go:
What color belt with blue shoes?
Brown belt, but consider the colors of your outfit as a whole. (i.e. If your outfit is black, white, and blue shoes, you would wear a black belt.)
What color belt with grey pants?
Brown, unless you’re wearing all monochrome (black, grey, and white). In this case, wear a black belt.
What color belt with white shoes?
Any color. Match the belt you choose to your outfit.
What color belt with black pants?
Black belt. If you want to wear a colorful belt, consider the colors of your outfit as a whole.
What color belt with gray shoes?
Black belt. Brown or colorful belts are fine too, but consider the colors of your outfit as a whole.
What color belt with blue pants?
Brown belt, but consider the colors of your outfit as a whole. (i.e. If your outfit is black shoes, white shirt, and blue pants, for example… you would wear a black belt.)
Hope this article helps answer all your belt matching questions!
Most important thing to keep in mind is this: With casual looks, match your belt to your whole outfit, not just your shoes.
That goes for whether it’s a brown belt, a black belt, or a multi-colored fabric belt. For casual outfits, or casual shoes, make sure the belt matches the complete outfit.
Don’t forget to check out the belts at Anson Belt & Buckle! I suggest grabbing a box set with a dark brown leather, black leather, and saddle tan leather strap, for starters.
Or, if you want to be more adventurous, they have a ton of different colors in canvas and nylon as well. Check them all out by clicking the button above!
Questions? Tweet at me!