In this detailed guide, we cover how to pair brown & grey clothing to create classic, timeless men’s style that will have you looking dapper irrespective of the occasion you are dressing up for.
The occasion is set. You’ve worked tirelessly to elevate your style game – to transition from Napoleon Dynamite to Dwayne Wade. Yes, I mentioned both those names in the same sentence (sweet!). You’re ready to look swanky for the big day – presentation, date night, you have it. The fancy tie is in place. Heck, you’ve even got a pocket square to match. The watch is on point, as is your shirt. But with a range of colors and accessories meshed into your attire, you start to wonder what your base colors should be?
Neutrals are always a safe option, but the thought of wearing more than one neutral makes you shudder. Will they clash, and subsequently wash out the rest of your look? Contrary to popular belief, grey and brown, two of our most important neutral colors, can co-exist. Provided they are utilized using the same principles we apply to the rest of men’s style – contrast, relevance, seasonality & occasion. With that said, here is our detailed guide to mixing and matching brown and grey for the ultimate look!
Courtesy of www.nextluxury.com
While grey is generally a cooler tone, brown is a warmer tone. One of these two neutral colors can typically be combined with more contrasting and sometimes more vibrant shades. However, there is absolutely no reason as to why brown and grey cannot be combined, given the vast range of shades for each color. With shades of brown ranging from a very light beige or tan to dark brown ,with medium tans and browns in between, and grey ranging from light grey all the way to charcoal, there are an abundant supply of opportunities to effectively pair these two colors together to create a truly formidable look.
For purposes of illustration, we are primarily going to focus on the most common way of pairing brown & grey – grey pants with brown shoes. While other options, such as a grey suit and brown overcoat can work, or a grey suit and brown tie, we prefer to have your wardrobe staples – suits and shoes, be in grey and brown so that they provide a canvas upon which to build the rest of your ensemble.
When pairing brown and grey, the first rule also happens to be the golden rule. Contrast is essential. In fact, it’s indispensable. An effective combination would include pairing a more muted grey with a darker shade of brown. The closer that the grey and brown are in terms of saturation, and the less subsequent contrast that exists, the more you will have to compensate by introducing variation via texture or patterns.
This works particularly well with grey pants and brown shoes. Browse through any major suit e-tailer online, and you’ll come across a plethora of looks featuring grey pants and brown shoes. The trick, as mentioned above, for an optimal look, is to find a pair of brown shoes with an appropriate level of contrast.
As you will see below, balancing this with the appropriate level of formality is a skill that you will develop. For example, lighter grey pants will work with a rich tanned pair of shoes, along with a darker pair of brown shoes – however – it is imperative that the shoes are not a chocolate brown, as lighter grey pants are typically reserved for less formal occasions.
Light grey pants with sockless tanned brown shoes makes for an incredibly dapper statement during the spring / summer months! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Alternatively, lighter grey pants can be worn with lighter brown shoes – as long as there is sufficient contrast in either hue or texture.
With a wide range of brown hues to choose from, including burgundy, bronze, tan and mahogany, you can mix and match until you land upon your ideal combination. While some men are more comfortable in a more casual, tan colored brown shoe, others prefer a more formal mahogany or burgundy pair.
Looking to add further spice to your grey pants / brown shoes attire? How about introducing patterned pants for further flair. Examples of patterned grey pants include:
- Checkered / Plaid Grey Pants
- Grey Tweed Pants
- Medium Grey Pants with a fine pinstripe
- Darker Grey Pants with a chalk pinstripe
The Dark Knot Pro Tip:When pairing light grey pants with brown shoes, opt for sufficient contrast in color or texture, all while paying attention to formality of occasion. Lighter grey pants can be worn with tanned shoes or a darker brown pair, as long as it is not a pair of chocolate brown shoes (too much contrast will signal that you’ve dressed both semi-formal and formally for the same occasion!). Conversely, a charcoal grey pair of pants should be worn with a darker brown pair of shoes, as charcoal grey suits are typically reserved for more formal settings.
2. Seasonality & Formality
Taking into account seasonality & formality are incredibly important when pairing grey with brown. As an example, you will want to combine an overcoat with flannel. Conversely, brown loafers with a charcoal grey suit and no socks are not going to work! Consideration of seasonality and formality will ensure a polished, refined look that epitomizes dapper elegance.
Lighter Grey Pants work perfectly with a slightly darker pair of brown shoes! Courtesy of www.primermagazine.com
Since the combination of a grey suit and brown shoes deviates from the standard black or navy suit, it is imperative to know when its appropriate to work this combination. Outside of work, the grey suit and brown shoes pairing could be considered acceptable at the following types of dress code events:
- Business Casual
- Business Formal
- Cocktail Attire
The deep hues of a pair of dark brown shoes perfectly complement the rich, deep hues of an elegant charcoal grey suit. Courtesy of www.styleforum.net
These events can range from happy hours to cocktail parties to weddings, and adherence to the stated dress code is considered a sign of respect. It is important to note that there is ample room to experiment with not just the shades of grey pants and brown shoes, but also with fabric textures and styles as well. Given that a grey suit and brown shoes combination is highly versatile and elegant, it is not difficult to be dressed appropriately for these occasions that are deemed half casual, half formal.
The Dark Knot Pro Tip: As a general rule of thumb, the more formal the event, the darker the suit and shoes should be. While a semi-formal event leaves some room to experiment with a range of shades, the more formal events should be dressed in charcoal grey suits and chocolate brown shoes. Additionally, for more formal events, it is best to keep patterns with the rest of your attire somewhat subdued.
3. Picking the appropriate shoe.
Assuming the brown & grey combination that you are going for consists of grey pants and brown shoes, the type of brown shoe is integral to putting together the right look.
Courtesy of www.ties.com
Oxfords are considered the most basic and timeless of dress shoes, and are an ideal starting point with your formal wear. These shoes gained in popularity in the 1800’s among college students, particularly at Oxford University. Oxford shoes are characterized by their closed lacing (versus an open facing and lace system for less formal shoes which you will see below), leading to a slimmer and narrower silhouette, which are ideally suited (no pun) for more formal occasions.
Brown Oxford Cap-Toes pair perfectly with these darker grey pants! Courtesy of www.stylemann.com
Oxfords, as pictured above, are offered in a range of variants, including whole cuts (popular), cap toes (popular), wingtips (fairly popular) and plain toes (not as popular). Because oxfords are best reserved for more formal occasions, these shoes in a darker variant such as dark or chocolate brown are the perfect complement for your charcoal grey pants or suit!
Brown Wingtip Brogues
Courtesy of www.ties.com
Wingtip brogues, characterized by perforations, are typically less formal shoes that can be worn with a range of suits, including lighter grey, blue, navy and brown suits. They are therefore an ideal pair to have in your wardrobe, as they can dress up less formal attire, and dress down more formal attire (barring the formal black suit!).
Brogues originated in the marsh conditions of Scotland. Brogues were initially designed with holes in order to drain out water. It is important to note that any dress shoe can have brogueing, as brogueing refers to the decorative perforations across various shoe designs. Brogueing can therefore be seen across a range of shoes from oxford, derby and monk straps in four cap toe styles: full brogue, wingtip brogue, semi-brogue and quarter brogue.
Few dress shoe and suit combinations are as exquisite as a pair of brown brogues with lighter grey pants! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Brogues are your perfect complement because they can be worn with virtually any suit color day after day. While we suggest pairing lighter brown / tan brogues with a lighter grey suit, darker variants of brown brogues are an ideal complement to a charcoal grey suit!
Double Monk Strap
Courtesy of www.ties.com
While the double monk strap is similar in shape and construction to an Oxford dress shoe, it is highly discernable by a wider swath of fabric that is fastened across the front of the shoe (versus an open, eyelet laced system employed by the Oxford). This wide strap is then fastened by either using a single or double buckle strap system.
Double Monk Strap shoes hailed from monks that used to wear them as a protective alternative to their traditional sandals. The strength and durability of these shoes made them an ideal choice for monks as their go to work shoe. These shoes eventually found popularity in Europe, and while they were initially deemed as being too casual, today, they are worn across a range of settings and are considered a highly versatile dress shoe option!
Brown Double Monk Straps can work exquisitely with a pair of darker grey pants! Courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com
If you are looking to complement your lighter grey suits, a lighter brown monk strap is an ideal choice. Conversely, charcoal grey suits are best worn with a darker shade, which would lend to an incredibly dapper look!
Courtesy of www.ties.com
Loafers are characterized by a decorative segment. This could include a plain strap, a strap with a slit (penny loafer) or a metal ornament (bit loafers).
Loafers, or casual house slippers, were initially worn by King George VI of England. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that these shoes gained popularity in the U.S, and it wasn’t until the 1960’s that American businessmen and lawyers began wearing prolifically with suits.
Looking for the perfect pair of shoes with your light grey linen suit. Opt for penny loafers. Looking for a complement to that swanky charcoal grey suit? Tassel loafers or bit loafers (with a metal ornament) would work best!
Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Courtesy of www.ties.com
The Derby Shoe was originally a sporting and hunting boot that came into prominence in the 1850’s. At the turn of the 20th century, these shoes became prevalent amongst those looking to strut the town.
The Derby, as illustrated above, is often mistaken for Oxford’s, and vice versa. The key difference between the two is that The Derby shoe has its facing attached on top of the vamp, while with The Oxford, you have a closed lacing system, with the facing secured under the vamp. The open laced system of The Derby lends to a more casual nature, making them the ideal shoes to pair with one of your suits during the summer months or for a casual day out!
A pair of lighter brown / tan Derby’s would therefore work particularly well with a lighter grey cotton or linen suit during the spring / summer months!
The Dark Knot Pro Tip: While many of the above shoe options are highly versatile and can be used to dress up an either casual or more formal suiting ensemble, we would suggest pairing derby’s or wingtip brogues with lighter grey pants / suits in less formal settings and oxfords, double monk straps or bit loafers (with a metal ornament) with charcoal grey pants in more formal settings.
4. Addition of color
With grey & brown providing the canvas for which to paint the rest of your ensemble, introducing color can add instant flair to your attire. Whether you are wearing grey pants and brown shoes (most likely combination – others, for example, could include a brown overcoat and a charcoal grey suit), or other grey & brown combinations, introducing color via your shirts and accessories can elevate your look.
When first introducing color variation, it is best to work with tried and tested colors that can be worn across a range of settings, such as blue, burgundy or navy.
Once you’ve become comfortable working with classic colors to accent the rest of your grey & blue ensembles, you can start to experiment with alternative colors such as olive green or mustard, or even pastel colors such as a light blue, green, pink or purple.
Opting for a blue shirt to complement your grey pants and brown shoes is a sure fire way to look dapper. Play it conservative with a solid lighter blue shirt. If you want to make more of an impression, how about a bengal striped blue and white shirt, or a lighter microcheckered blue shirt?
Looking to make more of a statement by experimenting with color? A lighter pink shirt will have people instantly doing a double take, while a light green shirt will work perfectly with both that grey suit and those brown shoes. Either option would work extremely well with a navy or burgundy tie.
The Dark Knot Pro Tip: If the shirt color is not a wardrobe classic, such as light pink or green, we would almost always suggest going with a darker, conservative tie to pull the whole ensemble together. This is especially true because the base of your ensemble is a grey suit and brown shoes. Too many lighter colors will throw your attire out of balance. For example, a light green shirt with a light pink tie, for example, is a definite no-no (unless, you are dressing for a casual summer occasion – such as a beach wedding!). This brings us to our next item.
An appropriate tie that seamlessly straddles your suit, shirt, occasion and season can bring your ensemble together perfectly.
Opting for a light blue shirt with your grey pants? A solid or foulard (repeating pattern) navy, red or burgundy tie will pop off perfectly.
A grey vest with a blue shirt and navy / brown tie provides for a perfect combination, especially if paired with brown shoes! Courtesy of The Dark Knot.
To view The Dark Knot’s range of Navy Ties, please click here.
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Burgundy Ties.
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Red Ties.
Going with a light pink, light green or lilac shirt but in a more formal capacity, such as a cocktail reception? Rock these with a burgundy, olive green, or navy tie respectively (please note that we wouldn’t opt for a purple tie with a lilac shirt, as it would inject too much color variation with the neutral grey and brown tones).
A light pink shirt allows this burgundy tie to pop off perfectly. Courtesy of www.vintagetopia.com
To view Ties that match a solid light pink shirt, please click here
Feel free to view The Dark Knot’s Ties that pair with a lilac shirt
Are you putting together your grey suit and brown shoes in a somewhat formal capacity, such as a cocktail reception, but want to soften the look slightly? To be able to look dapper without feeling like your going full tilt. Silk Knit ties are the perfect solution.
A Knitted Tie, as its name implies, is a tie that has been knitted rather than woven. Knitted ties are characterized by an open weave a narrow blade (typically 2.0 to 2.5 inches) and square ends (versus triangular, pointed ends that you typically see with a woven or printed silk tie). It is these characteristics that make a knitted tie ideally suited for casual wear.
Feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of exquisite https://thedarkknot.com/collections/knit-ties!
A grey suit and brown knit tie, worked to perfection! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Therefore, whether you are looking to dress dapper on an evening out with friends or a date night, or are looking for refined casual elegance at your next cocktail reception, a knitted tie can suit you over a range of occasions.
Brown & Grey Ties
Finally, how about (gasp!) grey & brown ties. Are you looking to complement your grey or brown suit or sports jacket? A brown grenadine tie, especially in more formal settings, will instantly elevate your look. Grenadine ties, because of their intricate weave, are the perfect complement to a brown or grey suit or sports jacket.
To view The Dark Knot’s range of exquisite Grenadine Ties, please click here.
Alternatively, a grey or brown silk tie will bring your outfit together perfectly. If you are wearing brown shoes as well, we would suggest adding a tie bar or a different colored pocket square to add a dash of flair and variety.
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Grey Silk Ties.
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Brown Silk Ties.
Introducing pattern is a great way to make an ensemble consisting of classic colors (grey, brown & navy for example) really stand out. Looking to make a statement? Opt for a polka dot, paisley or geometric / foulard silk tie. Or you could go even bolder with an animal printed silk tie!
It is imperative that when introducing pattern, that if your shirts are patterned, they are of a smaller scale (finer stripes, microcheckered), while your tie patterns are largely spaced apart (polka dots, paisley). A larger patterned tie will always pop off against a smaller patterned shirt.
Pocket Squares are an ideal way to inject your attire with instant flair. As a general rule of thumb, it is best to stick with a muted pocket square if your tie is of a louder color or pattern. However, if your tie is muted, such as a solid navy tie, your pocket square could be your statement piece. Have fun experimenting with more intricate pocket square designs, such as polka dot or paisley patterns.
If you are looking for textural variation, a linen pocket square would be the perfect complement.
In accordance with the cardinal rule, it is imperative that the color of your belt matches that of your shoes. Hence, if you are going with the timeless grey pants and brown shoes combination, please opt for a brown belt in the same or similar hue. Lighter brown belts will work with your tan shoes, while a darker brown belt will be ideally suited towards more formal attire.
A brown belt and corresponding brown shoes in a similar hue make for the perfect look when complementing grey pants. Courtesy of www.dappered.com
BROWN & GREY STYLE INSPIRATION
Now that we’ve gone over ways in which brown and grey colors can be brought together, we thought we would highlight some looks so that you can start experimenting with your men’s wardrobe!
Grey Pants & Brown Shoes
The timeless classic that we have discussed in this detailed guide, light grey pants and tanned shoes or charcoal grey pants with dark brown shoes will work perfectly. Mix things up by introducing pattern into your pants or suit, such as pinstripe or plaid.
A Charcoal Grey Suit paired with Brown Shoes always provides for a clean, dapper look. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Brown Overcoat with Grey Suit
Looking to layer your clothes during the fall / winter seasons. A tanned or camel colored overcoat can work wonders. Add in a brown tie for added effect.
A Brown Overcoat with a Grey Suit offers a timeless, classic look. Courtesy of www.styleoholic.com
Brown Sports Jacket with Grey Pants
While grey sports jackets are common, few items are as classy and elegant as a brown plaid sports jacket with grey pants. Spruce up this look with a brown grenadine tie for a truly exquisite look!
A Plaid Brown Sports Jacket combines with these Grey Pants for a stunning look. Courtesy of www.fashionhombre.com
Brown Accessories with Grey Jacket or Pants
Even if you are strutting a navy blazer with your grey pants, brown accessories can hold your ensemble together incredibly well. As mentioned above, a brown grenadine tie can truly bring your outfit to life and add a whole new level of textural depth and elegance. Alternatively, you can go with a grey or brown colored woolen or cashmere scarf during cooler seasons.
And that’s a wrap for this one! We hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as we did writing it.
A Brown Tie With A Grey Jacket always makes for an incredible look. Featuring The Dark Knot’s Lawrence Brown Silk Knit Tie!
And that's a wrap for this one! We hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as we have writing it.