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40 years ago, I remember being taught that one never wore brown shoes with a blue suit, but that one could wear brown or black shoes with a grey suit. Now, I believe I read somewhere that brown shoes goes with navy, and black and navy is a faux pas. What happened while I wasn't paying attention?

I also have been told that, sixty years ago, in the U.S. Navy, aircraft carrier officers wore brown shoes, and officers on battleships wore black shoes (or vice versa). Of course, we don't have any battleships anymore, though the carrier task forces are a good trade for ships-of-the-line, and the guys on the thunderboomers probably are wearing shearling slippers. Not that I think that fashions in our blue water navy have much to do with my shoe choice in the morning. Then, of course, there are the white shoe law firms . . .

All very curious.
 

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I also have been told that, sixty years ago, in the U.S. Navy, aircraft carrier officers wore brown shoes, and officers on battleships wore black shoes (or vice versa). Of course, we don't have any battleships anymore, though the carrier task forces are a good trade for ships-of-the-line, and the guys on the thunderboomers probably are wearing shearling slippers. Not that I think that fashions in our blue water navy have much to do with my shoe choice in the morning. Then, of course, there are the white shoe law firms . . .

All very curious.
Up to about 10 years ago Chiefs and Officers in the surface Navy were to wear black shoes when in khakis. Aviation Officers and Chiefs were to wear brown shoes with their khakis. That changed in the late 90's and now you can wear either colour.
 

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I doubt black shoes/navy suit will every go out of fashion. Maybe there are modern corners of fashion which frown on that, but they must be very dark and dusty corners.
 

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40 years ago, I remember being taught that one never wore brown shoes with a blue suit, but that one could wear brown or black shoes with a grey suit. Now, I believe I read somewhere that brown shoes goes with navy, and black and navy is a faux pas. What happened while I wasn't paying attention?
Some people arbitrarily changed their minds. I agree with Matt. Nothing at all wrong with black shoes but brown can be more artistically challenging, i.e. FUN. I only wear black shoes with black or the darkest of gray suits. And even with dark gray sometimes I'll opt for some cordovan or oxblood shade for the shoes.
 

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Aviation Officers and Chiefs were to wear brown shoes with their khakis.
I used to wonder if this was so as not to clash with the brown leather flight jackets that they usually wore with their khakis.

Even though only officers and chiefs wore the brown shoes, the crew of an aircraft carrier was usually categorized as brown shoes (air wing) and black shoes (non-aviation ships crew) despite the fact that none of the enlisted men below E-7 wore brown shoes regardless of which group they were in.

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And even with dark gray sometimes I'll opt for some cordovan or oxblood shade for the shoes.
Burgundy shoes are often overlooked. People seem to lump them in with brown, but they are really much different. IMHO, they match better with navy and charcoal than brown does. It's a classic American business shoe color.
 

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Burgundy shoes are often overlooked. People seem to lump them in with brown, but they are really much different. IMHO, they match better with navy and charcoal than brown does. It's a classic American business shoe color.
That's a good point. I don't even own a pair of brown dress shoes, opting instead for black and burgandy. Of course I don't own any brown dress clothing, but for a navy suit I don't think brown shoes even come close to looking as good as do burgandy shoes. I especially like the look of a burgandy belt with a navy suit, and I can't wear the burgandy belt without the shoes.

For charcoal and other greys, I still prefer black shoes.

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Any combination of the colors can work, though it's not automatic. Visually, the no navy with black rule (and similar unnecessarily broad generalizations) stems from examples in which the navy and black are too close in color. This creates visual discord because the two regions look like they were supposed to match in color, but don't. This makes it feel like a mistake (even though it very well may not have been).

As long as you manage the color difference well, you shouldn't have any problems.
 

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I used to wonder if this was so as not to clash with the brown leather flight jackets that they usually wore with their khakis.

Even though only officers and chiefs wore the brown shoes, the crew of an aircraft carrier was usually categorized as brown shoes (air wing) and black shoes (non-aviation ships crew) despite the fact that none of the enlisted men below E-7 wore brown shoes regardless of which group they were in.
The brown shoe tradition with the Navy started with the first 6 flight students. While training on North Island, they found their black shoes, which were well suited to steam ships, could not be kept clean around the dusty airfield. Their solution was to put in a request for authorization to wear brown shoes. Now, although any Navy personnel can wear brown or black shoes, its rare to see a non aviator wearing brown shoes or vice versa.
 

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The brown shoe tradition with the Navy started with the first 6 flight students.
Thank you for that clarification. I assume that is from Naval Aviation 101 at Pensacola.

The more I thought about my suggestion the more I realized that it probably wasn't right. Although I spent some time in Navy aviation on an aircraft carrier, my time on a flight crew (helicopter crewmember) was with the Marine Corps and if memory serves me right those guys wore black shoes with their brown flight jackets. Given the Marine Corps attention to such detail, surely they would not have allowed the Navy to outdress them in this way if my suggestion was indeed the reason they wore brown shoes. :icon_smile:

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Any combination of the colors can work, though it's not automatic. Visually, the no navy with black rule (and similar unnecessarily broad generalizations) stems from examples in which the navy and black are too close in color. This creates visual discord because the two regions look like they were supposed to match in color, but don't. This makes it feel like a mistake (even though it very well may not have been).

As long as you manage the color difference well, you shouldn't have any problems.
I can see where you're coming from with respect to matte fabrics. A navy blazer would look really bad with black trousers. However, I'd disagree when it comes to matte navy paired with a black material that has a sheen, mainly leather, but maybe silk as well. IMHO, in those cases, less contast looks better, so a brighter shade of navy or blue clashes with black shoes, but a midnight blue or a darker navy looks better with black than with any other color shoes.
 

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Thank you for that clarification. I assume that is from Naval Aviation 101 at Pensacola.
You would think so, But I doubt most of my friends have any idea about its true origin. Personally I blame it on the fact that I was a history major, but in general, it never ceases to amaze me how ignorant we are about the history all around us. I went to a college surrounded by majestic statues and monuments, but most of my classmates really couldn't tell you much about about them at all.

Given the Marine Corps attention to such detail, surely they would not have allowed the Navy to outdress them in this way if my suggestion was indeed the reason they wore brown shoes.
I will give you that. Its extremely tough to win any arguments when comparing Marine uniforms to the Navy, that being said, the Navy has done a good job in putting out sharp uniforms, I just wish they would add tails to their formal dress uniform (which is basically just a mess jacket with a white bow-tie, waistcoat, and black high rise trousers)

On navy uniforms, regadless of the reason that aviators adopted brown shoes in the first place, I expect they retained them not only for tradition, but also because brown looks considerably better with khakis than black does.
That brings up a very good point. The top reason is most definitely tradition, as well as a way to distance themselves from "the shoes" (their black shoe wearing surface warfare counterparts), but many will often add that it looks a hell of a lot better anyway.
 

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This subject has been discussed before in many guises but I can understand why it keeps popping up.

I don't get navy suits and brown shoes, but I really get navy suits and burgundy shoes. I think this combo looks better than navy and black. However 95% of the UK population thinks we should wear black shoes with everything! Wearing tan, browns and burgundy is oh so continental! We are an unadventurous and colour blind lot when it comes to shoes I am afraid. Moreover we don't care. 95% of British men care so little about what they put on their feet they don't spend money on shoes and hardly ever clean them. Things have changed, sadly:(
 

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Any combination of the colors can work, though it's not automatic. Visually, the no navy with black rule (and similar unnecessarily broad generalizations) stems from examples in which the navy and black are too close in color. This creates visual discord because the two regions look like they were supposed to match in color, but don't. This makes it feel like a mistake (even though it very well may not have been).

As long as you manage the color difference well, you shouldn't have any problems.
I think is a excellent advice and is often overlooked. There are blacks that are basically blue and blues that verge on the black. I think this also accounts for the uncertainty I feel about wearing brown shoes and belt with blue trousers. The shoes invariably look good but there is something strangely amiss about the brown belt against the blue waist. This could well be because of shade, or is it to do with the 'weight' of color which will be different in both cases due to the relative volumes of the fabrics in question?
 
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