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How To Rock Coloured Dress Shoes (And Not Look Like A Clown)

Men are embracing colour again this season, and dress shoes are popping brighter than ever.

Once reserved for sneakers and driving loafers, statement colours, patterns and contrast soles are adding a touch of personality to dress shoes for men; be it the oxford, derby or brogue. Let’s take a look at the types of coloured dress shoes on offer, and how to work the bold-hued shoe into a formal, smart casual and more relaxed setting.

Breaking It Down

FeatShoes

Historically, shoes for men have typically come in classic black, neutral brown or tan. But, as witnessed on the catwalks in seasons past, designers have been pushing for a hyper, brighter interpretation of the common dress shoe.

After looking at the bold colour trends for 2015 for a little inspiration, decide what hue best reflects your personal taste. Then decide just how far you want to go: all-over colour, just a splash on the sole or upper, or more of an eye-catching pattern or print.

Block-Coloured

block

The one-tone, block-coloured dress shoe is the easiest, most streamline look to master. The all-over colour sits well with every dress shoe type, especially those made from suede. Block-coloured dress shoes are the most formal of the coloured variety, and pair nicely with a suit or trouser and blazer but sit nicely with chino shorts for a relaxed summer look.

Check out the Maison Margiela 22 red iridescent leather oxford and Oliver Spencer candy-hued lace-ups.

Contrast Sole

Tonal

A huge trend this season is the contrast coloured sole. In two variations, the first sees the dress shoe with a classic-coloured upper such as black, brown or tan. The sole, often chunky is then coloured, often in a sugary hue that works a severe contrast to the organic leather of the shoe upper, like the one pictured from Jil Sander.

The second style sees a pastel-coloured upper atop a white sole. It’s a summery dandy approach to dressing and requires a little confidence. Tod’s rubber-soled suede derby in powder blue and white is a great pastel option, while Ted Baker’s jupitta suede contrast sole brogue in burgundy is nice darker shoe over a light blue sole.

Bi-Coloured

Bicoloured

The bi-coloured or two-toned variety is similar to the contrast sole in terms of colour. However, the upper colours get a work over here instead of the sole, with contrast panels on the shoe coming together like pieces on a jigsaw puzzle.

Common styles are wingtip brogues and monk shoes, where the leather is already broken into segments due to the construction of the shoe. A dashing pair of wingtips comes care of Barker in blues, greens and corals, while Alexander McQueens produces a classic pair of bi-coloured monk shoes in a red and brown.

Pattern & Print

Print

From paisley to polka dot, zebra stripe to camouflage, patterns and prints are redefining the role of the dress shoe in men’s wear. As a suit shoe, spots on oxfords act as a pocket square for the foot, while army print derbies in patchwork panelling are a militant alternative to a bomber jacket.

Saint Laurent offers some rock-inspired, fur-lined monks with a creeper sole, while Mark McNairy offers a formal camouflage print with a wingtip design.

How To Wear It

Fantastically Formal

Formal

Derby shoes are more clean-looking coloured formal shoe than brogues. Offered in smooth leathers or texture-rich suedes, one way of wearing coloured shoes with formalwear is to let the footwear be the focal point. The most effective way is to offset the brightness with tailoring in black and neutral hues (navy, charcoal, beige).

Another, more formal way, is to opt for more sophisticated one-coloured hues for the shoes (think marsala, olive or navy) and then match the colour to your suit. Monochrome or tonal creates a dressier overall look for the workplace and fancy dinner, while for the super adventurous should opt for a tuxedo or two-piece suit with zebra or leopard print shoes.

Smart & Casual

SmartCasual

Coloured dress shoes in any form (block, partial or print) go well with smart casual attire. To avoid looking like a rainbow, it’s important to wear something neutral on the top or bottom of your outfit, and then work your shoe colour off the one statement colour from your outfit. The guide to colour matching your outfit will help, allowing you prefer complementary colours or analogous colours, with your look.

For complementary colour, try a cobalt blazer over bone coloured chinos with burnt orange derbies or tan shoes with a yellow contrast sole. Analogous colouring could involve dark green blazer with a bluish-green brogue, or a Prince of Wales trouser.

Super Relaxed

Casual

Denim jeans are a great casual pant with coloured dress shoes, sticking to a slim silhouette that evokes the look of casual trouser. Raw denim is slightly dressier compared to a classic or vintage wash, and roll up the cuff to show-off the absence of socks or ones with striking colour.

Summer is a great excuse for shorts paired with dress shoes too. Coloured brogues or derbies in prints such as spots or camo are a playful way for making your dress shoes more relaxed. The key to making dress shoes more casual to skip the socks, and add with nice fitted shirt or tee tucked in with no belt.

Final Word

As more luxury brands venture into the coloured dress shoe arena, more men need to rocking statement footwear – even to work. Just remember to pick colours you feel complement your personality and don’t sacrifice your masculinity. Then keep the rest of your outfit relatively parred down, incorporating textural wools, neutral heritage fabrics and denims with the coloured dress shoes, instead of an overload of more colour.

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