Ask the Image Expert

Sherry Maysonave is the founder and president of Empowerment Enterprises, one of America's leading communication-image firms. Sherry conducts corporate seminars and coaches executives, professionals, and politicians in achieving excellence in communication and image. She is also the author of Casual Power: How to Power Up your Nonverbal Communication and Dress Down for Success

Shoes for Navy Suit

Question: I recently purchased a navy suit (probably a little more casual than professional). I am in my early 20's and am having a very hard time finding navy shoes that appeal to me. What colors are most appropriate to wear with navy pants?

Answer: You will be happy to know that you can stop looking for navy shoes. Wearing black shoes with navy pants or skirts is now acceptable, and has been for several years. Donna Karan broke this rule (thankfully for all of us) about ten years ago in her Spring Couture Collection (runway show) in Paris. She showed her entire navy collection with the models wearing black heels and black hosiery. It created a great buzz in the fashion world, especially the couture savvy noting how great it looked. Since that time, fashion-conscious women wear black shoes with navy clothing, particularly the garments of the darker, midnight navy hue. Forgo the navy legwear as well when you wear black shoes with navy clothing.

Occasionally, there is the lighter, brighter, royal navy fabric that actually looks good with true navy shoes. Otherwise, navy colors are very difficult to match. Itís not worth the time-consuming effort. And I agree with you, most navy shoes are sorely lacking in style. Listen up, shoe manufacturers!

In theory, you will look best if your shoes are as dark or darker than your hem length color. Thatís one reason black shoes work well with navy. A charcoal black, a very dark gray, and a deep burgundy color can also work beautifully. Brown/bronze tones also go with navy, particularly if your other accessories are brown, such as a belt and a handbag/briefcase. The fashion brave will often wear bright red shoes with navy. It can look trite and red shoes are risky for the workplace. When opting for any color other than black shoes with navy, be sure to pull that color into your outfit via accessories.

Best of luck to you,
Sherry Maysonave

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