When you're picking out your shoes, should they match your outfit or contrast it?
In the Thomas Bird office we often discuss (and sometimes argue about) which shoes or boots go with which outfits. And some of the factors discussed are colour and contrast.
Should your shoes or boots be a different colour to the rest of your outfit or should you use a colour that is close or similar? Are there any rules on this?
Let's take a look at a few examples and compare different colour combinations to see if there is an answer.
A big contrast or actually quite similar?
Some colours go well together, like strawberries and cream.
We are big fans of oxblood and navy/blue as seen here - oxblood wholecut oxfords and a navy pinstripe suit.
If we got out our colour wheels from art or design class (below), we would see that these two colours, although visually different, are broadly in the same area of the wheel. So they complement each other. Many people think of oxblood as a reddish colour, but it also contains blue, which tones it more closely to the navy blue suit.
A bigger contrast
In this next example from @thesuitedtraveller, he pairs his Thomas Bird plum wholecuts with a light pale blue suit. Again looking at our colour wheel, he is stretching things further than in the first example, but they still complement each other.
The result is that it has more contrast. It is a much bolder look with real impact. This man knows ALL about colour. Even the tie and the rose match.
Blue and blue?
We all love the blues right? We really like the blue and blue combination when done right. For example here we like how these Thomas Bird medium blue chelsea boots pair with light blue denin jeans. It just works and it is so classy.
Black and blue?
While on one of our favourite subjects (chelsea boots) we have to say that we also love black chelsea boots with blue jeans as seen below.
OK it is a strong contrast. But black is not a really a true colour. Well we couldn't find it on our colour wheel. So in theory it goes with anything.
Blue shoes with a blue suit? Steady on..
Well we know that blue and oxblood harmonise really well together, but how about going all out blue with a dressy or formal outfit?
These two examples from @dailytouchofclass show how it works as a real statement. We love this look too. You think it's blending in but it's actually standing out. He's wearing a blue suit with waistcoat and Thomas Bird Bourne monk straps.
Here he is again wearing Thomas Bird Bourne blue double buckle monks, sockless, this time with a navy pinstripe suit,
Here is another of our favourite monochrome blue and blue combinations, this time from our friend @thesuitedtraveller, wearing a pair of Thomas Bird custom blue patina wholecuts.
Grey and grey - really?
Some folks think that grey is boring, but it's actually a very complex colour and we love it.
In this example, Thomas Bird grey wholecuts are paired with grey jeans. We think it works because both greys have a hint of blue in them, so tonally they are quite close. And because grey is more unusual colour to see around it is visually more interesting too.
Natural earth tone contrasts
OK grey and grey, yes. How about brown shoes with a brown suit?
Brown shoes do go with a green tone suit. Actually, like grey, brown is a very complex colour, so some go better than others. (We mixed about 20 shades of brown before we found the new dark brown we were looking for.)
Look at the classic look here from @the_classy_lad, wearing Thomas Bird tan brown wholecuts. It has an almost country gentleman feel. If you live in the countryside (at least like us in the UK) you will see a lot of brown and green in nature. Quite often with a grey sky so no blue to spoil that earthy colour harmony.
Neutral with a bold colour
We've looked at black and blue, and think it works because black is a non colour. Well white, and a neutral light grey are too.
So a good combination we really like is a strong, bold colour like oxblood with a neutral colour suit. That's what @edruizmenswear is doing here and we love it! He also then cleverly tones a reddish/pink tone shirt to bookend with the Thomas Bird oxblood penny loafers he is wearing. Another man that knows all about colour.
The classic look - black shoes with...
Black shoes are such a popular ensuring choice, because they go with almost anything. Again, not really a true colour (on our wheel) so they complement many outfits.
Here @iammatthewalexander pairs his Thomas Bird black wholecut oxfords with a navy blue suit, then a more charcoal grey jacket and trousers look. Both super classy.
So in conclusion?
As you can see, selecting shoe colour comes down to:
- your own sense of personal style
- the colours you like most or suit you the best
- the occasion - formal, more dressy or casual
- are you trying to blend in or stand out?
- are you standing out by blending in? (think blue and blue)
So does anything go? Yes!
We're seeing more and more new and innovative combinations. Sometimes we say 'wow' straight away. Sometimes it takes a little while to grow on us before we get it and it becomes a new favourite.
Style is not really about following rules set in stone. It's not about being practical. It's really about expression and what you love and what you want to say.
We hope we have given you a few ideas and inspired you to incorporate some of them into your own sense of personal style.
If you have your own combinations featuring Thomas Bird we would love to see them. Tag us on social media with #thomasbirdshoes and we will try to include the best ones in future posts.
Till next time.