What Color Shoe to Wear With What: The (Non) Definitive Guide to mixing and matching shoes to your outfit

If I could only count how many times I have been asked, “what color shoe to wear with…?” I’d probably run out of digits.

Here’s the thing, there really is no, that’s right zippo, answer on what shoe color you should wear with what color outfit.

In style, there’s no blanket cookie-cutter answer, but a combination of elements that work in harmony to look great or not so great together. Think about shades, textures, hues, pattern, cut, balance, shoe style, design, mood, and how it all comes to together on you as a whole to determine what the “right” color should be.

There are more or less guides that you can observe, but there is no right answer until you SEE, with your eyes how something looks.

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When I do get a reader email or asked in one of my courses or one on one stylist sessions about shoe colors to wear what it signals is someone who really needs to consider the big picture of how style relates rather than getting caught up in the minutia of generic details.

Think about it, with a certain dress, an open black strappy sandal with a medium heel can look as equally lovely as a skyscraper nude platform pump…. it’s the openness or the illusion of openness with nude; the heel height and how it lengthens your leg along with the heel shape and how it’s congruent to the shape of your leg. Plus consider the possibility of wearing nude hose and that sends the strappy sandal right out the window and the closed toe wins. See, it’s all how it looks based on a zillion variables.

That said, there is a general guide that you can consider when you are trying to figure out what color shoe to wear with what outfit.

Before we hit color, let’s consider proportion:

  • If you have athletic or fuller legs, try a thicker heel and “sturdier” shoe, like a small platform and stacked heel
  • If you have slender legs, opt for a skinnier pencil heel and pointier toes to visually stay in sync.
  • A shoe with a more open vamp will create the illusion of a longer leg.
  • A longer fuller skirt usually looks more in sync with a platform or flat than a stiletto.
  • No matter the color, if you need to visually lengthen your leg, try a low to mid heel rather than a pancake flat.

Now for those colors…….


Classic Pumps: BB105 black leather pump by: Manolo Blahnik
Classic Pumps: BB105 black leather pump
by: Manolo Blahnik


Whether they are slingback, open-toe, D’Orsay, round toe, pointy toe, ankle strap or platform, a chic pair of black pumps are forever stylish and the ultimate in wear-anywear options. From white to black, from printed to striped, there’s no shortage on the hues of clothes they look great with, including denim. Pictured above: BB105 black leather pump by: Manolo Blahnik

White, Off  White, Cream

Superga Classic Sneakers
Superga Classic Sneakers

While you can’t go wrong with a pair of white sneakers with just about any colored clothing, there are plenty of on trend dressier white pumps and sandals out there worth giving a try. Just make sure they look balanced with the proportions of your outfit as they can tend to make your feet look bigger then they are. Pictured above: Superga Classic Sneakers

Browns, Russet, Luggage

DV by Dolce Vita - Zinc Sandal
DV by Dolce Vita – Zinc Sandal


From neutrals to animal prints, a smart brown shoe is destined to become a closet constant. But when considering pairing them with something darker, stick to moodier shades such as pairing a pair of crisp black trousers with a pair of luggage brown pumps as darker colored clothing highlights wear & tear on lighter footwear. Pictured above: DV by Dolce Vita – Zinc Sandal

Grays & Taupes

ISABEL MARANT Crisi suede concealed wedge biker boots
ISABEL MARANT Crisi suede concealed wedge biker boots


This is a hue that can go with anything, what to keep in mind is how the details affect the look. The pair above is discreet and country chic, so it’s best to keep them dressed down. But if you’ve got a pair that are more polished, they’ll make for a great addition to pastel, berry and even black looks. Pictured above: ISABEL MARANT Crisi suede concealed wedge biker boots


Embellished, Decorative, Jeweled, and Statement

GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI Coline Embellished Suede Sandals
GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI Coline Embellished Suede Sandals


A gorgeously decorated shoe may not see the light of day that often, but that’s okay with some precious! As long as the main color is black or metallic, there’s virtually no end to how high & low you can go with a statement making shoe. And if you’d like to highlight them to the fullest, try pairing them with an all white ensemble. Pictured above: GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI Coline Embellished Suede Sandals

Nudes, Beige, Tan

Promise Nude Wedge Sandal
Promise Nude Wedge Sandal


With a beige shoe the more open the shoe, the more fun or femme the outfit should be and depending on your skin color, it’s often best that they flawlessly blend into you skin. Plus they work perfect with rich browns, rusts and other autumnal go-to’s. Pictured above: Promise Nude Wedge

Pinks, Fuchsia, Violets

Kate Spade New York Clarice
Kate Spade New York Clarice


A pair of pink pumps like the ones above will add a sense of strength to even the most daintiest of floral frocks while they’ll add a sense of the shockingly exotic to the sharpest of black suits and pewter hues. Pictured above: Kate Spade New York Clarice

Prints & Patterns

Patterns: Ralph Lauren Uma Espadrilles
Patterns: Ralph Lauren Uma Espadrilles


Mixing prints and patterns has become a mainstay trend over the past few years with little signs of waning. But when it comes to footwear, you have the freedom to express yourself however which way you like. You can clash head-to-toe as long as it’s well-balanced or you can use a printed shoe to energize even the most neutral of looks. Have fun with it! Pictured above: Ralph Lauren Uma Espadrilles


Aquazzura Beverly Hills Sandal
Aquazzura Beverly Hills Sandal


When it comes to metallic accessories, who can resist? But the thing about metallic shoes to consider is all in the design. While a simple metallic flat can work just about anywhere from day to night, something more detailed such as the pair above is strictly for nights out and special occasions. And one of the best things to always remember about metallics is that they go with virtually ever color – yet not ever fabrication. A gold sandal may not be right for a heavy tweed suit or looks that are more casual. Pictured above: Aquazzura Beverly Hills Sandal

Reds, Corals, Burgundy

Nine West 'Jealous Eye' Pump
Nine West Jealous Eye Pump


 A pair of crimson shoes are certain to add a sense of unexpected edge to even the most classic of hues including camel, khaki, black and gray . Pictured above: Nine West Jealous Eye

Blues, Navy to Electric Blue

Vince Camuto 'Benningly' Patent Leather Ballet Flat
Vince Camuto
‘Benningly’ Patent Leather Ballet Flat

As much as a pair of chic blue shoes work to finish an oh-so-cute nautical look, they also look terrific with jeans in all sorts of indigo hues from faded to deep denims. Plus, they can also do wonders to highlight your tan. Pictured above: Vince Camuto ‘Benningly’ Patent Leather Ballet Flat

Do you have any shoe color tips? What color shoe do you wear with what outfit?

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Lead photo: Polyvore

Original Publish Date:  July 3, 2014

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