What Colour Dress Socks to Wear With Brown Shoes? Full Guide

How Do I Pick Socks for Brown Dress Shoes?

brown dress shoes

I think black shoes are the most popular type of dress shoes for work.  

When the shoes are black, you immediately think black socks. 

The colour of the socks is usually connected to the pants, shoes, and the suit, which will give off a nice and neat impression. 

So, what about brown dress shoes?

What Are Dress Shoes?

Dress shoes are smart-casual shoes worn in workplace settings or formal events. 

They are usually polished, made from leather, and plain or cap toed. 

General Sock Rules for Dress Shoes

Socks that are not so visible when walking or standing are surprisingly conspicuous when you sit down.  

The classic socks that match brown shoes are the colours that match the colour of your suit. 

So, what suit colour matches brown shoes? 

Unlike standard black shoes, brown shoes can be a little more difficult to pair a suit with.

However, brown shoes have a variety of colours tones and different designs.

The underlying rule is that you should choose one that suits your taste and the suits you own.  

What Colour Socks Should You Wear With Brown Shoes?

The general rule of thumb: Match the colour of your shoes with the colour of your socks. 

If you match the colour of your socks to the colour of your shoes, your entire look will appear uniform and balanced. 

When in doubt, choose a pair of brown socks with your brown dress shoes.

But, that doesn’t mean you can only wear browns socks with your shoes. 

Formal Settings

Keep Your Colours Minimal

dress shoes

In a business setting, try to keep the colours in your look to a minimum. 

Unlike everyday casual clothing, it is better to incorporate only two or three colours in your look when wearing a suit. 

For example, a pair of black socks would pair nicely with a grey suit and brown shoes. 

If you are also wearing a tie, try to match the colour to your suit or shoes. 

Match the Colour of Your Socks to Your Apparel 

Take a look at a grey suit. 

Adding a pair of black socks will showcase a gradation of colours. 

With this outfit, if you’re also sporting black accessories like a black business bag, aligning the socks with this colour will give an overall sense of unity. 

Your outfit will give off a neat and polished impression.

grey suit

Match Your Socks With the Colour of Your Shoes 

To add apparel pieces to your coordination without introducing more colours to your outfit, try matching your socks to the colour of your shoes.

If you wear a light beige pair of socks, you might look barefoot.  

Instead, you might want to choose a colour closer to brown. 

If you want to go for a casual look, choose a striped or ribbed sock with some subtle patterns.  

Casual Settings

brown casual dress shoes

The combination of a suit with brown shoes is perfect not only for business settings, but also for parties and other casual settings. 

In these cases, a pair of black shoes may look too formal and conventional. 

Brown shoes are contemporary and modern, yet grounded. They will do well in casual settings that still require some formality.  

How to Complement Your Brown Shoes With Your Other Apparel

Your Tie


If you’re wearing a black tie, you might want to opt for a pair of black socks. 

This will make your whole look appear more cohesive. 

If your black tie has blue accents like polka dots or stripes, you might want to select a pair of socks in a similar blue shade to match the accents.  

Your Shirt

dress shirts

The colour of your shirt is another apparel piece you can match the colour of your socks to. 

If your shirt features two tones, you can match your socks to either colour.

Do keep in mind, however, that although most dress shirts are white, white socks are often frowned upon in the workplace. 

In this case, you may want to select another piece of your attire to match the colour of your sock to.

Your Jacket or Vest

suit vest

Your outerwear is the first colour others notice. 

It is also the colour that takes up the most surface area in your entire look.  

Matching the colour of your socks to the colour of your jacket or vest is a great way to balance your look.

Your Other Accessories

business bag

Aligning the colour of your sock to accessories, such as your belt, business bag or hat, can help give your look a sense of uniformity without looking too match-y.

Don’t Be Afraid of Adding Colour 

Bright colours, such as bright blue, green and red can go well with brown shoes. 

Yes, red socks!

A bold colour for sure, but definitely do try switching out your usual monotone black, brown, or grey socks for something a little more flashy. 

You might be pleasantly surprised!

Red is an intense colour but when used as an accessory, in this case socks, it can make an outfit look more refined.

They can give off a stylish accent and liven up any monotonous outfit. 

The red socks are only slightly visible between the leg of your pants and your shoes, but it packs a powerful (fashion) punch to the eyes. 

Pay Attention to These Points When Wearing Dress Shoes

Pay Attention to Lint and Piling

Lint and piling are a big no-no!

Even if you look extremely dashing in your suit, piling and lint on socks make it less attractive.

It looks sloppy. 

I know it is impossible to wear a new pair everyday. However if you notice piling, make a conscious habit to take care of them.  

Do Not Go Without a Sock


Socks can help fight off odour. 

Depending on the fibre of the sock, some socks have strong moisture-wicking capacity and can pull sweat and moisture away from the skin and into the exterior of the fabric making it easier to evaporate. 

The antimicrobial properties of certain fabrics in socks can also help fight off foul smells.  

If you decided to go barefoot in your dress shoes, not only will they get old much quicker, they will also start smelling like mouldy cheese. 

Do Not Wear White Socks

white socks

White socks are associated with sportswear. Wearing them in a professional setting can bring down the overall formality of your business attire.

A lot of formal work wear is dark-coloured.   

Think of a black or navy-coloured suit. Pairing this with a pair of bulky white socks could attract unwanted attention to your feet. 

Not only that, but dress socks are thin and light. 

Grab any pair of white socks from your sock drawer and look at them. 

They’re probably thick and bulky, with a towel-like feel. 

These thick towel-like white socks are made this way to absorb sweat during sports. 

Thus, making them the perfect go-to selection for sportswear, sneakers and athletic shoes. 

Not surprisingly, these bulky white socks are not going to sit well in your dress shoes. 

Your dress socks are made for your dress shoes.  

Sock Shades for Brown Dress Shoes

Here are some general guidelines for selecting a sock shade to go with your brown dress shoes. 

Match Your Suit 


To select the shade of socks for your brown dress shoes, match it to the colour of your suit. 

Connect the colours of your feet to your suit - grey suit with grey socks, navy suits with navy socks, etc.  

Refrain From Appearing Barefoot

dress shoes barefoot

You don’t want to appear barefoot.

Choose a pair of brown socks that don’t give off a barefoot appearance. 

Add a Splash of Colour

In a setting where you can the level of formality is not so stringent, you may want to show off your individuality with a pair of socks that have a fun pop of colours or patterns. 

Sock Materials for Brown Dress Shoes

There are many different types of yarns available to make socks.

But we will be discussing the most common 4 types as they make up 90% of the socks manufactured around the world. 



Cotton is a lightweight and breathable material, making it one of the most commonly-used fibres for manufacturing socks. 



Polyester is a synthetic material that is warm and soft. It is arguably more durable than natural fibres, which makes this material another excellent choice.  



Wool is a great insulator. Socks made from wool are extremely warm, which makes it the perfect option for colder climates.  



Nylon is a versatile material. While alone, nylon socks are water-resistant and not breathable, it is usually added to other fibres in blends.

By adding in nylon fibres, the new blend will become stretchy and more durable.  

Sock Patterns for Brown Dress Shoes

In a formal setting, subtly-patterned socks are great to go with your workplace attire. 

Not only do they give off a sense of individuality, they also lift up your look.  

We will be looking at some traditional and non-traditional patterns.

Select your patterned socks according to the formality of your workplace or the occasion. 

Traditional Patterns 


Pinstripes are characterized by very thin and narrow stripes. 

If you’re wearing a pinstriped suit, you could go for a pair of pinstriped socks of the same shade. 



The argyle pattern features diamonds of various colours on a knitted plain background. 

In a formal setting, you may want to opt for a pair of argyle socks in muted tones. 


ribbed socks

Ribbed socks are the most common pattern in dress socks. 

Not only are the patterns subtle, they also have a functional purpose. 

Ribbing allows socks to stay up better. 

Non-Traditional Patterns


striped socks

Stripes are less traditional and more of a contemporary pattern. 

Thick stripes are much less casual than thin stripes. 

In a casual setting, you might want to choose thick stripes. 

Whereas in a more formal setting, pinstripes are the way to go.  

Can Black Socks Be Worn With Brown Shoes?

black socks

Yes, they can.

And actually are encouraged. 

With a pair of brown dress shoes, keep in mind that when in doubt, choose black.  

If you’re unsure on what colour of socks to select, go with black. 

Grey suit, brown shoes with black socks are a classic combination. 

Our Verdict

Brown dress shoes are extremely prominent in the workplace. 

Their versatility is one of the reasons why some may favour brown dress shoes over black. 

Wear your brown dress shoes in a formal work setting and wear those same pair to a more casual day party. 

Compared to black dress shoes, brown shoes may not be as easy to pair socks with.

However, if you keep these tips in mind, we’re certain you’ll look remarkable. 


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