Dressing your best for formal occasions requires, more than anything, attention to detail. Even with simple clothing choices, you can learn to put together a finely tuned outfit that will help you look and feel your best.

So in an effort to give you everything you need to dress to your heart’s content, we’re going to be covering one of the foundations of fashion in a series of articles all about dress shoes. And today, we’ll be covering the most classic dress shoe color of all: Black dress shoes, including the different styles you can wear as well as what socks and outfits to pair with them.

What Are Black Dress Shoes, Exactly?

Dress shoes are most easily defined by how they contrast with their polar opposites: Athletic shoes.

Rather than being made of synthetic materials and featuring lots of padding, black dress shoes are usually made of leather and focus on aesthetics first and foremost. You can still find comfortable dress shoes, for sure — but the point of wearing dress shoes is having a crisp formal look more than sport or walking performance.

Types of Dress Shoes

That said, once you get past the basic construction and materials for dress shoes, there’s a huge variety of style options. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Oxfords, arguably the most popular dress shoe style for men.
  • Monk straps, a laceless shoe style that is often regarded as slightly less formal.
  • Derbies, similar to Oxfords but with an open lacing pattern.
  • Loafers, a slip-on style of dress shoe.

As well as dress boot styles, such as Chelseas and Chukkas. Taken altogether, that gives you a remarkably wide range of style choices for any black dress shoe you might want to wear — so let’s get into the specifics of how and what to pair those shoes with.

What Outfits to Wear with Black Dress Shoes

Dress shoes, as their name implies, are definitely on the formal end of footwear. That means you’ll want to pair them with formal outfits — everything from office formalwear to dressy jeans and shorts.

black patent leather dress shoes with black bow tie, cuff links and black dress socks

And when it’s time to get really dressy — think tuxedos and wedding attire — black dress shoes really are the only way to go. You can choose a classic Oxford for this, but adding a little bit of style with wingtips will often work even better.

Basically, if you’re heading to the office or attending a formal event, black dress shoes will be a safe bet. But even for semi-formal or “casual Friday” situations, a nice pair of polished black loafers or monk straps will work like a charm.

How to Match Black Dress Shoes and Pants

If you’re like most guys, you’ll own two different pairs of dress shoes: A black pair and a brown one. And there’s a good reason that these two colors reign supreme in the dress shoe category: They cover matching with just about every color of pants that you can find.

Black dress shoes pair well with darker tones of pants, including shades of black, gray, and blue. If you stick with those three colors of pants, add in black dress shoes, and then follow the sock matching advice in the next section, you’ll always be good to go.

Brown dress shoes, on the other hand, are better suited for pairing with the earthy tones — khaki, olive, and brown. We cover this in more detail in our guide to brown dress shoes.

The Best Socks to Pair with Black Dress Shoes

There’s one big rule for pairing socks with any pair of dress shoes: Don’t even worry about the shoes! Really, you want to pair your socks with your pants, not your shoes — that helps to create a smooth transition from your socks to your pants, making you appear taller and better put together.

Finding the right combination of pants, shoes, and socks takes a little bit of work. But if you follow a few simple rules, you’ll be able to match any pair you’d like.

We’ve put together a full guide for how to match your dress socks, shoes, and pants. As a preview, here’s what that guide covers:

  • Black, blue, and gray always go well together. You can mix and match these colors of pants and socks with black dress shoes anytime you want.
  • Earthy tones go better together — so if you want to wear olive, khaki, green, or brown, you’ll probably need a pair of brown dress shoes to match them.

And if you already have a pair of black dress shoes that you’re looking for socks to match, take a look at the dark tones of our dress socks for easy pairing:

Black Socks with Black Dress Shoes

black dress socks with black dress shoes

Shop Black Dress Socks

Grey Socks with Black Dress Shoes

dark grey dress socks with black dress shoes and jeans

Shop Grey Dress Socks

Navy Socks with Black Dress Shoes

navy dress socks with black dress shoes and dark grey pants

Shop Navy Dress Socks

Related Articles:
What Color Socks Go with Black Shoes?
What Color Socks to Wear with a Navy Suit

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff

Our editorial staff is comprised of menswear experts dedicated to providing you with helpful information. Sharing everything from style tips to sock care instructions, these gentlemen are a wealth of knowledge for both our customers and the Boardroom Socks team.

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