Like most bloggers, I track my search terms. Guess what’s most common? The meaning of life? Just kidding. Shoes. “What color shoes should I wear with navy blue?” Let us consider why it’s harder to decide what shoes to wear with navy than, say, with gray, or forest green, or burnt umber. Here’s what I think.
Women have heard that there’s a rule against black.
I am here to conclude, definitively, you can wear black shoes with navy clothing.
How did the no black shoe myth get started? I looked around. No trace of origin to be found. I considered. Is it like white shoes after Labor Day, a remnant of our upper class habits? In the absence of proof, I theorize. What? That’s the prerogative of social anthropologists, especially us amateurs.
My theory is that this rule, if it ever existed, was to prevent the wearing of black shoes with very, very dark navy. Because with a very dark navy pair of pants, or skirt, and let’s say, a pair of matte black leather shoes, it might be possible to think that the wearer had been CONFUSED. That the wearer had MADE A MISTAKE and worn black shoes THINKING SHE HAD ON BLACK CLOTHES. Oh, the horror.
In case you still query the present-day acceptability of black with navy, here’s corroboration. From Highly Diverse Sources.
“Black shoes can most definitely be worn with a blue suit. But it depends which blue. Sky blue and hues all the way to teal and French blue (none of them a good idea anyway) call for something different, like a light-brown shoe. Navy, however–the default setting for suits–is perfect for black or brown shoes, right up to a pale tan if you’re brave. Or from Naples (Italy or Florida). The motto is choose your suit first, then buy the shoes.” (Esquire)
“For another example of a celebrity breaking this rule, see the photo of Rachel Bilson (left), mixing navy, black, AND brown. Her outfit looks adorable and fashion-forward, proving that this rule is really just a dumb myth.” (College Fashion)
“Traditional wisdom long held that navy suits must be paired with navy or brown shoes. But, in the past decade, black shoes have become acceptable and fashionable to wear with navy. This is primarily due to navy and black pairings on the runway from designer Donna Karan.” (eHow.com)
If you are STILL worried, try black shoes with a high gloss sheen, further differentiating them from your clothes. If your clothes are shiny, matte shoes.Of course, as previously discussed, you aren’t limited to black either. The thing about navy clothing is that almost any color shoe can be said to “go.” In one way or another. For example, in the “preppy” style (I use preppy in the current sense of the word, not as in went-to-Exeter), one could wear lime green, or bright red, or pink shoes. Color-wise, all those choices work. They just have a certain feel to them you have to take into consideration.
Conversely, if you follow the Stacy and Clinton “pop of color” practice, you can go with orange, or lavender. An edgier Artsy Cousin can pull off wearing shoe colors right next to navy (but with enough yellow or red tinge to avoid confusion), forest green or aubergine. A Grande Dame senior partner can sport fabulous chocolate brown crocodile pumps.
The sheer flexibility and range of navy is what makes it tricky. So I will put forth my particular High WASP prejudices for you to avoid, with the caveat that they are only that, prejudices, and navy is a case-by-case phenomenon.
- Light brown with navy is declassé unless we’re talking sandals. I don’t know why. This can make nudes, or pink, difficult to pull off too.
- White with navy better be pretty clearly nautical or don’t try it. White bucks for men perhaps, but there I defer to Reggie Darling.
- Gold with navy should be worn a la Grecque, somehow. Or on a red carpet with very avant garde jewelry.
- Bronze is the best metallic, inasmuch as it’s the most surprising.
- Turquoise-studded sandals would look fab.
- Purple and aqua are tough, as they tend to verge into navy territory dangerously near to the SHE COULDN’T SEE THE DIFFERENCE gaffe.
In sum, it’s about the style tribe signals you want to send, your color sense, and your tendency towards the sombre or the cheerful. The strict or the playful. Not about rules. Here are some examples, from previous posts.
All this extends to jeans. They are navy, you know. And east side bride says Bensimons are the way to go. I’m a fan of Tretorns too.