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The Shoes for the Navy Blue Clothes | Manolo's Shoe Blog

The Shoes for the Navy Blue Clothes

Manolo says, one of the Manolo’s internet friends has asked him the question.

Dear Manolo:

Please help. I am a CPA, and as such, I am accustomed to relying on rules to help me make decisions. I am unsure of the specifics on several shoe rules, so am turning to you, the highest authority thereon, for clarification.

I was of the belief that ladies should never wear black shoes with navy blue business clothing. I thought the rule was that navy blue, brown or cordovan were the only acceptable choices for shoe color. Have the rules changed?

In addition, what are the rules for the wearing of suede shoes? The wearing of suede shoes seems wrong to me during the day in the spring and summer, but okay during the day in the fall and winter, or anytime of the year at night. Please advise if such a rule exists.

Thank you very much for your assistance.


Unlike the summer-only rule about the white shoes, which the Manolo suggests you mostly ignore, the rule about the navy blue clothes and the black shoes is one you should mostly not ignore.

The problem is that the navy blue does not have the glamourous connotations, instead we think of it as the professional or the nautical color, and thus when we pair it with the black shoes it has the potential to become too drab, or too uniform. (Black clothing and black shoes do not suffer from this drabness because black has the glamourous associations.)

The trick to the navy blue clothing is to wear the shoes that offer the color contrast, such as the tans, the cordovans, the creams (especially in the springtime), and if you wish to really make the statement, the light blues and the greens.

Here are the pair of the super fantastic, cream-colored Giuseppe Zanotti shoes to wear with the navy blue clothing.

E7706 Giuseppe Zanotti   Manolo Likes!  Click!

As for the suede shoes being acceptable only in the fall or the winter, or during the nighttime, the Manolo does not consider this the rule so much as the powerful suggestion.

Finally, and most importantly, the Manolo asks his friend the CPA Rebecca, why is she worrying about the navy and the suede? Now that the tax day has passed, should she not be laying on the tropical beach with the Raspberry Jumborita and the cabaña boy?

17 Responses to “The Shoes for the Navy Blue Clothes”

  1. Phyllis April 23, 2007 at 4:21 pm #

    In addition to tan and cream, a pearl grey suede pump is also quite nice with navy blue in the spring.

  2. Comma Queen April 23, 2007 at 4:52 pm #

    Oh, no. I never thought I’d be writing to correct you, Manolo, whom I love and admire for your grammatical correctness. However, I must say, you should have asked, “Should she not be lying on the tropical beach,” instead of “laying.” The shoes, though, are perfection.

  3. Elizabeth April 23, 2007 at 5:53 pm #

    Oh, how timely! I’ll be headed to a wedding soon and, since it’s German, wearing a navy blue dress. Thanks to your tip, I’ll pair it with cute white sandals instead of navy pumps.

  4. la petite chou chou April 23, 2007 at 6:28 pm #

    Just out of curiosity…what does being German have to do with wearing navy?

  5. Elizabeth April 23, 2007 at 6:59 pm #

    Ah, sorry…the wedding is in Germany. We tend to wear more muted colors over here, so no fun sun dresses for me.

  6. ym April 23, 2007 at 10:31 pm #

    I also thought that the suede was the fabric of the daytime and should most assuredly not be worn in the evening when the leather or faille would be the appropriate option.

  7. Tailypo April 24, 2007 at 12:42 am #

    Oh Manolo, I must confess a certain disappointment with the brevity of your discussion of the great Navy Suit Shoe Controversy — which in my mind rivals Nature v. Nurture in its endless permutations, vehement opinions, and ultimate unprovability. The rule I learned at my shabby-genteel mother’s knee was: Black Shoes With a Navy Suit Make You Look Like The Postman. It was cordovan or go barefoot, as far as she was concerned.

    I was shocked to discover (through a co-worker’s comment at my first post-collegiate job) that for many, back shoes are considered the only proper choice with a navy suit, and that my cordovan shoes were considered ‘brown’ — the depth of footly faux pas when it came to navy.

  8. Nadine April 24, 2007 at 4:39 am #

    I’m so sorry, what’s cordovan? (It’s not my fault, I’m from New Zealand.)

  9. Poochie April 24, 2007 at 7:30 am #

    Cordovan is a soft, smooth leather originally made at Córdoba of goatskin but later made also of split horsehide, pigskin, etc. It is regarded as one of the most luxurious and durable leathers available. The cost of this leather is high due to its limited supply. Made from the rump of a horse, only two pairs of shoes can be made from a single horse. With proper care, a well made pair of cordovan shoes can last a lifetime, with improving patina and luster throughout its life.

    The term “Cordovan” has come to describe a color when talking about cloths and leather in particular, so to communicate that an article is in fact made out of true Cordovan Leather, a seller will usually advertise as “Genuine Cordovan” or “Genuine Shell Cordovan”

    It is a very dark burgandy brown. Pantone defines it as CMK 30-80-60-30 which corresponds to RGB 137, 63, 69 and #893f45

  10. Toby Wollin April 24, 2007 at 9:19 am #

    Poochie – do you mean to tell me that some poor horse is going around rump-less because of two pairs of shoes? Egad.
    The reason I don’t wear navy shoes with navy clothes is that I can’t seem to find a “navy” that matches. They seem to either be too grey or too black or too something else. So I end up wearing brown or ahem, cordovan. But cream…I’m going to have to investigate that.

  11. Bridey April 24, 2007 at 1:31 pm #

    Comma Queen said: “However, I must say, you should have asked, ‘Should she not be lying on the tropical beach,’ instead of ‘laying.'”

    You’re forgetting the cabana boy :)

  12. Renée April 24, 2007 at 2:52 pm #

    … I like red shoes with navy. This comes from my Catholic upbringing in which nuns always told us that little girls who wore red shoes were very naughty.Not only naughty but nautical as well.It’s a perfect combo.

  13. Jamie April 24, 2007 at 7:49 pm #

    I just finished writing a 3 part entry on the unwritten though commonly known fashion rules called “Pre-emptive White Pants Wednesday.” This notion was prompted by a few of us ladies in the office wearing white pants on a wednesday prior to Memorial day, hence the title. Let me tell you, everyone had an opinion from my mother, to co-workers, to boutique owners. You can read it at http://www.shoeflyer.com. If you click on the “In Jamie’s Shoes” banner on the right you will be taken directly to the writing. It was a fun piece to write! And who knows, maybe it will stir more fashion faux pas’s and farces banter. What fun!

  14. abby April 24, 2007 at 8:13 pm #

    huh, you learn something every day! i’d always heard that the no-navy-and-black rule was because it made you look like you were trying to match and failing.

  15. La Petite Acadienne April 25, 2007 at 11:37 am #

    Oxblood — the deep burgundy red – goes lovely with navy as well.

  16. La BellaDonna April 30, 2007 at 1:23 pm #

    Yet the Christian Dior paired the navy with the black accessories (including shoes), most successfully – also, the brown with the black accessories.

    Oftentimes, La BellaDonna finds, It Just Depends. She is partial to a medium or pale grey with navy; red with navy; white with navy; burgundy with navy. If she were feeling daring (which she does not often consider with navy), she would be tempted by green with navy – even the lime green with the navy.

  17. Gingersnap March 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    I beg to differ on wearing black shoes with navy blue suit couldn’t and wouldn’t do it. Why can’t we find the perfect navy blue shoe? I still can’t figure out why there are none to be found anywhere. Oh there are blue shoes but as one person commented, they are the wrong color navy too dark too light to turqoise ARGH….I have several hundred pair of shoes but only 1 navy blue strappy sandal and unfortunately, I have had them for so long that even the kidnest of care has finally left them well ready for the trash :(….so can someone tell me where the ever elusive perfect blue shoe is PLEASE