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POLL: Brown shoes and dark suits in ENGLAND - CBD? UCBD? Heresy? - Page 4

Poll Results: Are dark brown shoes acceptable with dark suits as appropriate professional dress in ENGLAND?

 
  • 24% (15)
    Never
  • 41% (26)
    Yes - but not as CBD
  • 29% (18)
    Yes - but not as UCBD
  • 4% (3)
    Yes - even as UCBD
62 Total Votes  
post #46 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by R.O. Thornhill View Post

In my work environment - professional, London-based, quite traditional - I would say that 95% of people wear black shoes with their suits. Not necessarily nice shoes, and we see a worrying number of slip-ons, but they are almost all black. Those who wear brown are typically not English.

I concede that black shoes will always be the most formal choice. When the occasion is black tie I will always reach for my matte calf, court shoes.
For important business meetings, dinners that require a lounge suit or interviews, my black captoes are my go to shoe.

For me though, these occasions are rare. I am lucky in that I can dress in the style of WAYWRN at work without it being a problem.
The CEO dresses in cardigans and chinos with a ubiquitous pair of suede loafers, much in the style of a Loro Piana display.

I ask you, as a man who notices the colour of people's shoes, are you more likely to approve of a person wearing square toed black shoes or a pair of dark brown, almond shaped captoes from a reputable Northampton maker? Is a person wearing black duck bills ever going to call somebody out for wearing a pair of dark oak EGs?

Furthermore, your CBD dress is required every day (I presume). For me there is a slight thrill, in dressing in black, to me it is different.
Are you not bored of wearing black shoes to work?
post #47 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Balfour View Post


I have been unable to escape this feeling when it comes to dark suits. 

I quite often wear odd jackets in the summer for practical reasons (keeping a suit to change into in the office for meetings, etc.) - commuting on the non-air conditioned underground in wool trousers is not fun.  I would normally feel very odd in wearing anything but brown shoes with an odd jacket.(*)  But I think that fits the mode, so it doesn't create a tension with the convention (although it is clearly not a CBD mode of dress at all).  Do you adhere to CBD for the office all year round, or make a concession for the Summer weather in mode (as opposed to summer suits)?

(*) The main exception being a blue odd jacket and grey wool trousers, but not much utilised in the summer.
I will wear cotton and linen in summer but always a suit, I never wear odd jackets to the office. No one around here does.
post #48 of 76
Ah, this black/brown stuff again. I suspect these days it would depend very much on your particular company/work environment but, in most cases, nobody will give a toss whether you're wearing brown or black. However, if there's any doubt, then it has to be black, obviously. This will be terribly frustrating to the average Style Forumite, who will be desperate to show off their collection of brown shoes which they've worked long into the night to perfect the antiquing on, along with their odd jackets, solid grenadine ties, beaded bracelets and 'exploding paint factory' effect pocket hankie but that's life. Typically, London CBD is dark suits and black shoes and the colour comes from shirts and ties (and even socks on occasion).
On the tieless shirt, it's pretty much the uniform in the political world these days: it's rare to find a lobbyist or think tanker in anything else. Yet it would be fairly unusual to be seen in odd strides and a sports jacket which does seem strange. Did that recently (along with brown shoes) and felt quite self-conscious.
post #49 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jermyn View Post

I concede that black shoes will always be the most formal choice. When the occasion is black tie I will always reach for my matte calf, court shoes.
For important business meetings, dinners that require a lounge suit or interviews, my black captoes are my go to shoe.
For me though, these occasions are rare. I am lucky in that I can dress in the style of WAYWRN at work without it being a problem.
The CEO dresses in cardigans and chinos with a ubiquitous pair of suede loafers, much in the style of a Loro Piana display.
I ask you, as a man who notices the colour of people's shoes, are you more likely to approve of a person wearing square toed black shoes or a pair of dark brown, almond shaped captoes from a reputable Northampton maker? Is a person wearing black duck bills ever going to call somebody out for wearing a pair of dark oak EGs?
Furthermore, your CBD dress is required every day (I presume). For me there is a slight thrill, in dressing in black, to me it is different.
Are you not bored of wearing black shoes to work?

To paraphrase Johnson, if you are tired of finely made black shoes you must be tired of life

I find the whole 'black shoes are so boring, look at me wearing brown shoes with a conservative suit' thing one of the most irritating SF orthodoxies. Brown shoes can look good with navy suits - but in my opinion most people get them wrong. Most people who try this look fail badly, and look contrived. Even if you get this right, I don't think that they ever look CBD.

To me, this look screams 'look at me' - and I think that no single item of a man's wardrobe should do that. Certainly not in a business setting. What a man wears should always work as a whole, and be appropriate for the setting

In the same way that I think that navy socks (OTC) works best with dark navy suits, I find that black shoes work best. They help create a single line, with no jarring or break.

I wear CBD 4 days per week, and I always wear black shoes. I have ~10 pairs of black shoes in steady circulation. None quite the same as another; all subtly different. I take great enjoyment from these small differences.

To use a wine analogy, black shoes are like an old Bordeaux - not as flashy or attention-seeking as a fruit-forward, highly alcoholic Napa, but better suited for serious occasions; and infinitely more rewarding if you give them the time and know what to look for

R-O-T

PS. In answer to your hypothetical - I would dismiss "duck bill" man as beyond rescue, but would wish the man in brown shoes learnt to appreciate the ascetic pleasures of a fine black shoe
post #50 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by R.O. Thornhill View Post

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
To paraphrase Johnson, if you are tired of finely made black shoes you must be tired of life
I find the whole 'black shoes are so boring, look at me wearing brown shoes with a conservative suit' thing one of the most irritating SF orthodoxies. Brown shoes can look good with navy suits - but in my opinion most people get them wrong. Most people who try this look fail badly, and look contrived. Even if you get this right, I don't think that they ever look CBD.
To me, this look screams 'look at me' - and I think that no single item of a man's wardrobe should do that. Certainly not in a business setting. What a man wears should always work as a whole, and be appropriate for the setting
In the same way that I think that navy socks (OTC) works best with dark navy suits, I find that black shoes work best. They help create a single line, with no jarring or break.
I wear CBD 4 days per week, and I always wear black shoes. I have ~10 pairs of black shoes in steady circulation. None quite the same as another; all subtly different. I take great enjoyment from these small differences.
To use a wine analogy, black shoes are like an old Bordeaux - not as flashy or attention-seeking as a fruit-forward, highly alcoholic Napa, but better suited for serious occasions; and infinitely more rewarding if you give them the time and know what to look for
R-O-T
PS. In answer to your hypothetical - I would dismiss "duck bill" man as beyond rescue, but would wish the man in brown shoes learnt to appreciate the ascetic pleasures of a fine black shoe

excellent
post #51 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oleg View Post

Ah, this black/brown stuff again. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I suspect these days it would depend very much on your particular company/work environment but, in most cases, nobody will give a toss whether you're wearing brown or black. However, if there's any doubt, then it has to be black, obviously. This will be terribly frustrating to the average Style Forumite, who will be desperate to show off their collection of brown shoes which they've worked long into the night to perfect the antiquing on, along with their odd jackets, solid grenadine ties, beaded bracelets and 'exploding paint factory' effect pocket hankie but that's life. Typically, London CBD is dark suits and black shoes and the colour comes from shirts and ties (and even socks on occasion).
On the tieless shirt, it's pretty much the uniform in the political world these days: it's rare to find a lobbyist or think tanker in anything else. Yet it would be fairly unusual to be seen in odd strides and a sports jacket which does seem strange. Did that recently (along with brown shoes) and felt quite self-conscious.

amusing and so true, ty
post #52 of 76
yes, a pair of dark brown oxfords really screams LOOK AT ME


are you folks serious?
post #53 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post

yes, a pair of dark brown oxfords really screams LOOK AT ME
are you folks serious?

Brown shoes in the City don't "scream", but they probably do mark the wearer out as dandyish.

What I'd say, as a relative outsider to SF, is that users here spend a lot more time thinking about their shoes than the average style-conscious Londoner working in a traditional professional setting. For the latter, a well cut suit and a decent shirt and tie combination are usually far more important. Shoes (like suit materials) are conservative, and do not vary much. Which might explain why John Lobb is the most famous bespoke shoemaker in the UK by a country mile, whereas others, especially G&G, are more celebrated here. Not that many London professionals buy bespoke shoes at all!

The SF aesthetic is basically un-English. The mild English bigot in me would describe it as the global internet's interpretation of the Italian interpretation of British style. Which isn't a bad thing.

Not that my opinions should count for much with you, I'm 21, and currently wearing a blue and bright pink freshers week t-shirt.
post #54 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jermyn View Post

What I find interesting through reading some of these responses, is that some people are genuinely aghast at the idea of wearing brown shoes in London.
I always thought that "no brown in town" was just a quirky, old-fashioned saying which had little relevance today. Most of my peers either agree with me or absolutely do not care (i.e. they bought black shoes because they were an easy 'default' choice).
The sole exception to this being the friend I mentioned before, who had this sartorial rule hammered into him at an early age.
I am interested, how many of you were taught this rule by your fathers etc. as opposed to hearing it later on in life?
Did you decide to wear black shoes because you were told to do so, or did you go with black shoes as a result of observing those around you?

Interestingly enough, my father didn't really wear black shoes, except for work (he was airline crew for nearly 40 years).

When he wasn't aboard a plane working, he much, MUCH preferred brown shoes; burgundy even more.

I just started wearing black shoes because it was the convention while I was growing up. My school shoes were black monks, at least until public high school, and black was the norm for when I started working.

Black isn't boring. The simple elegance of a cap toe, unembroidered, with its clean lines,...there is no substitute. That being said, I wear brown as much as I can. There are so many shades, so many nuances of colour, burnishing, etc., that you can never have just one. And the subtle variances make can make everyday business dress just that much more interesting. I wore a pair of dark oak monks today, and I couldnt't help looking at them - the deep, rich colour, the you-can-hardly-tell-they're-there differences in shading; they ended the navy pant/sock line perfectly!

That being said - tomorrow I'm wearing a pair of black punch caps!biggrin.gif
post #55 of 76

Really interesting thread.

 

I work in a City firm (which is quite conservative in many ways, particularly in dress code) - I've only ever worn black Oxfords to work and probably will ever wear them going forwards. Notwithstanding the fact that I'm not so enthused about brown shoes with a suit, anything other than a nice (not novelty) tie which makes one stand out in the workplace or in the City is generally best avoided. And brown shoes would, in my firm, make one stand out, particularly if the individual wearing them is anything less than a partner. I've seen so many scruffy/cheap shoes at my place, but these still stand out much less than new/smart brown shoes, in my opinion!

 

I'm currently on a secondment to an investment bank and it's actually been very enlightening seeing the different dress here. One thing I've noticed a great deal of is brown shoes. They're not common, but I'll often see a few pairs a day. IBs are quite international in their employee make-up though (and this one being of US heritage makes it mildly less traditional City-ish), so I don't think it's that outlandish to see brown shoes here in the City in certain pockets.

 

Slightly away from the shoe topic, I've also noticed a difference in ties worn between the two. While law firms are generally more conservative than banks, it's notable how many bankers (from analyst level upwards) wear fancy printed ties (Hermes, Ferragamo etc). Lawyers don't dress smartly in this sense - ties are often very bland when worn. This divergence between what is "conservative" business dress and what is "smart" business dress is interesting, as lawyers may stick to the conservative side but can often sacrifice smartness (be it ties or shoes), whereas a banker might wear a very smart pair of brown derbys with a printed silk tie and a one button jacket and look smarter, but it's much less conservative.

post #56 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post

yes, a pair of dark brown oxfords really screams LOOK AT ME
are you folks serious?

Yes

On a fundamental level, almost every hue of brown creates more of a break than black next to a navy or dark grey suit. As such, it directs your attention downwards, away from the whole - in much the same way that a loud tie does. I find it funny how SF obsesses so with shoes - objectifying them outside a worn context. On this I guess I am more Brummell than Castiglione

Also contextually, brown shoes in the City of London do draw attention to the wearer, given their relative rarity

To me, the black oxford is the platonic ideal of a shoe

R-O-T
post #57 of 76
Some interesting points here. Particularly the distinction being drawn between Law and IB as well as between IBs with geographically divergent head-offices.

R O T I agree with a lot of what you said. I think that what you are wearing today sounds like an excellent choice of CBD attire. Your comment that a brown pair of shoes "screams" in the city is something I had not heard before. Most people will say they've heard "no brown in town" said before but they won't have too much invested in the idea. Perhaps you are slightly more aghast at the thought of brown shoes than you initially thought!

Personally, I think my view lies here: for CBD black shoes are always the MOST appropriate. It is just that I personally prefer the aesthetic virtue of dark brown paired with blue (with charcoal suits I would always wear black shoes). I have let this personal taste colour my opinion and realise that it does not adhere to CBD dress. Conversely, where shades of brown may make you stand out in a CBD context, the only people who will care enough to notice will likely posses a significant wardrobe of brown shoes themselves happy.gif

To my mind, black shoes are like foie gras. Excellent from time to time but the thought of daily use makes me feel ill.

I guess, given my tastes; it's good I ended up away from the City, in Mayfair cheers.gif
post #58 of 76

On the few occasions that I've left work at a decent time and strolled from St Pauls towards Jermyn St and through Mayfair, you do see a (subtle) shift in dress (those hedgies and the like). If I worked in St James or Mayfair I'd be ever so more included to try a pair of brown shoes.

post #59 of 76

In fact, I'm sure that if one had enough time to compare a selection of the Church's and C&J windows at the Royal Arcade/Cheapside with what's on display at Burlington Arcade/Jermyn St, there's definitely much more brown in the latter.

post #60 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post

I'll say it.
Fuck black shoes.
They suck in just about every way. They are complete uninteresting, lifeless, and look like crap with even the slightest hint of a scuff. They should be for black tie only. No they don't look good with a navy suit.
I have probably 12 pairs of brown shoes for every one pair of black shoes, and i still hardly ever wear black.
Black shoes are the devil's work.

Just be happy you work in NYC and can wear brown shoes with abandon, and don't have to worry about these ridiculous rules. I know I am. Besides, we have our own ridiculous rules here, like no cufflinks without suits.

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