Brown In Town Or Country

One of the questions we get asked the most at Leviner Wood is if brown shoes go with gray suits. The short answer is “yes, very well.”

The Brits are adamant about it: no brown in town. And that applies to shoes, suits, hats and the like. The Italians are more forgiving, wearing whatever they feel like wearing whenever they feel like wearing it. Case in point: brown suede shoes. According to the Italians, they go with just about everything. Which is interesting when you know that it was an Englishman who popularized the practice.

The Prince of Wales, the one who married Mrs. Simpson and abdicated the throne, set the style compass for fashionable men of the 20’s and 30’s. He introduced Fair Isle sweaters (and saved a cottage industry that continues to boom), belts rather than suspenders, soft hats, turn down attached collars and secured the popularity of the tuxedo or dinner jacket for informal occasions. It was also he who decided to wear brown “reverse calf” (suede) shoes with a navy flannel suit while touring America.

It was a short step, if you’ll pardon the pun, to the brown shoe, in suede or leather, as a normal pairing with all flannel, from the odd gray flannel trousers (originally worn with tweed jackets and other country clothing) of the university student to the gray flannel suits which adorned the backs of Fred Astaire, Gianni Agnelli, Cary Grant and the rest of the sartorial icons of the golden age.

Allen Edmond’s semi-brogue Strand model in a beautiful walnut calf finish. Suitable for wear with just about everything except a tux. Available at Leviner Wood Custom Tailors and Shirtmakers.

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2 Responses to Brown In Town Or Country

  1. Michael Walton says:

    “The Brits are adamant about it: no brown in town”
    The way I understand the above quote is, don’t wear clothing made for the country into the city. It’s not really about brown as a color so much as wearing appropriate clothing for the circumstances.

  2. LW says:

    Very true Mr. Walton, especially in London. Although they will insist that brown shoes, even on a city last are not appropriate for business in the City.

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