There's a time and place for everything..

Including brown shoes

Does the old saying, “never brown in town” still hold sartorial water? You might have thought in this day and age of more relaxed dress conventions and dapper but careful playing with the rules, those days of strict adherence to the very letter of the sartorial law are gone. Well, yes and no……

Even last year there was a debate on correct dress and work place convention made the main print newspapers! In certain professions – admittedly blue chip – candidates were still turning up to interview incorrectly dressed – and being turned down. This was variously ascribed to the lack of interview preparation advice being given to those outside top end universities and schools through to the profusion of style blogs incorrectly maintaining anything goes when you walk out the door. This is not always the case!

Clearly a lot revolves around whether you are dressing for work or play. However, certain broad rules do still apply – and in many ways it doesn’t matter what you believe; in a work environment how other people consciously and subconsciously perceive you is more important. Unless you are lucky enough to be the boss – and in any large company that will mean you’ve put in 20 plus years of hard work and commuting so you’ve earned the right to bend the rules – you cannot afford to stand out for the wrong reasons. If you’ve been told you’re the future star because of your performance, congrats, good for you, but don’t stand out as that person wearing mismatching comedy socks when meeting and greeting as the boss will be quietly blowing a gasket…

First things first. In the blue chip professions – wherever you are – never brown in town. Always black. The rise of much lighter blue suits over the past five to six years has muddied the waters here as they are, rightly, popular with younger professionals having a more vibrant and youthful feel. However, many style blogs, photo shoots and dandy type bloggers have paired them with brown shoes or boots of various hues. It looks great but not when briefing the important new client your firm’s keen to sign up. Black means black shoes – Oxfords or brogues are equally acceptable – not Chelsea boots or any such equivalent. Chelsea boots do look damn smart under jeans but they are a more casual option whether you like the fact or not and do not look good protruding from under a suit in a magic circle law firm’s office.

Classic Black Oxfords

Black Brogues

Now quite clearly, should you work in a less structured environment, you will enjoy that much more flexibility in dress. That said, once again the boss criteria comes into play; unless you are the boss, look at how your colleagues, line managers and so on are dressed.

This is not to say you should just become a mindless sartorial drone. There are many ways to discreetly show taste and elegance; the well-cut jacket, the refined Goodyear welded shoe, the quality correct shirt – not to mention accessories (Pocket Square!!) from your fountain pen through to tablet case. Abide by the rules – no brown in town – between eight and five; it just means after hours you’ll enjoy casting the shackles aside and experimenting with your dress all the more…

Thank you to our Swedish friends at The Sabot shoes for allowing us to use their images! View their collection here.

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