Style Myth Busted: You Can’t Wear Navy with Black

YES, You Can!

How and Why to Try It!

Happy day, Reader Dearest!

Have you ever wondered why it is that men don’t waste time trying to find navy shoes that go with their suits?

Men commonly wear black shoes with navy suits. Yes, brown shoes with blue suits IS a thing, but black still rules the roost.

The military wears black shoes with blue uniforms, too!

Why and when did it become a “thing” for women to wear navy shoes with navy rather than simply wearing black? This seems to be more of an American problem, by the way.

Now, I love a good navy shoe. I love any good shoe, to be perfectly honest! BUT there’s no reason to shy away from wearing black shoes with navy, unless that feels too heavy for you!

This came up while we were doing a style exercise in the Style Splash group recently. I asked the ladies what colors they remembered being told weren’t “allowed” to be worn together. Navy and black came up more than once.

I remember pink and red being verboten. But you couldn’t get me to live by that “rule” for love or money!

Since diving deeply into color during my training, I’ve given up my color prejudices. I’m happy to mix an match all kinds of colors I’d never have imagined before. I do want them to share color properties that create harmony, but I see no reason not to wear blue and green, or red and purple, or navy and black.

Navy and black speaks to my inner rebel…

Why it Works

Navy and Black share color properties, they both have Dark Values, Black has a Cool Undertone and navy often does, too! (Some navys are warm, but most are cool.) What are color properties and what do they have to do with matching? Read this.

Easing Into Navy and Black

I didn’t start out pairing black and navy, except for denim and black. (I remember being warned off denim and black when I was a girl. I guess that was only for rebels.) I kind of eased my way into it over the past year. It started with light blue and black.

It’s all because of this skirt and last year’s Italian Capsule Wardrobe and Wardrobe Reboot. See my inner rebel wearing navy maryjanes with a black and white skirt? I know how to live on the edge, I tell you.

I remembered wearing bright blue (Klein Blue) and black in the 80’s; since that was a style vibe on another go-round, I tried this:

Still with light shoes to create balance with my light hair (and the eyelet ruffle on the top.) That’s the magic of TnT!

Getting Darker

Then, it was a small step to these looks.

I think the light blue silk shirt and leopard skirt outfits are my two favorites. I’d wear the navy eyelet top and black trousers on repeat for sure! They needed some lightening up and color, so green sandals, turquoise earrings and green and turquoise bracelets helped tie it all together.

Add Intention

Style is a matter of channeling cat-titude. It’s all about looking like you meant to do that. You know how cats have that look? They fall off the table or walk headfirst into a wall? And manage to look like they did it on purpose! Grab your I-meant-to-do-that attitude and mix navy and black to your little heart’s content. You might do that with attitude alone, but I’m always happy to let the accessories create that intention.

Old Rule: Don’t Wear Navy with Black

New School: Channel Your Inner Cat!

How About You?

What colors were not-to-be-combined in your world? Who told you that? Do you still feel that way? Or have you decided those rules aren’t ones you want to keep anymore? What color combinations feel daring to you? Can you see the TnT effect in the navy top and black trousers outfit above? Where else can you spot the TnT effect in these outfits?

Stylishly yours,


  • Kathleen McDermott

    Interesting. Cool blues, warm blues, soft blues, bright blues can all please my eye with black. But navy with black bothers me! Especially a black shoe with a navy outfit – other than jeans. Black footwear is so plentiful, but navy is scarce. I snap them up when I find them. I do like the navy eyelet top with the slim black pants, probably because the navy is “light” (eyelet vs solid fabric and sleeveless). And I think patent leather or strappy black footwear would bother me less than solid black worn with navy.

    • Liz K

      Interesting, Kathleen! When a man wears black shoes with a navy suit, does that cause the same discomfort? You’re right that navy footwear is scarce; I, too, snap-up when I find one I like! It used to be that every spring the stores were flooded with navy shoes. I agree that patent has a lighter look than matte black. I have a pair of black suede sandals that never feel right with any outfit… Time to release them into the wild!

      • Kathleen McDermott

        No! I think black shoes are the perfect shoe for men’s navy suits! (Grey or charcoal suits as well.) Cordovan OK too. Navy dress shoes for men would look so odd to me -not sure I’ve ever seen one, though they must exist somewhere. And the ‘brown shoes with blue suits on men trend’ is still off-putting to me. It continues to look wrong to me despite all the years it’s been a thing. Particularly the light browns. (And now I’m thinking that a woman’s pant suit would be OK with a black shoe, but not a skirt suit. Odd,)

        • Liz K

          A lot of people struggle with the blue suit brown shoe thing! You are not the only one. There is some serious fashion history that goes into the brown shoes thing. Cast yourself back a century to country versus city life. Country shoes were brown for the dirt and mud. City shoes were black. Brown shoes were for those with leisure time and country estates… As for me? It depends on the wearer!


    Liz, I didn’t get my Style Splash Day 25 today!! I don’t know any other way to contact you!! Please send!! Thank you so much!!!

  • Sally Williams

    Yep, I admit to finding navy + black a hard combination to wrap my mind around. Others blues, easily. Dark blue denim (that is functionally navy in color), of course. But “navy” and black? That’s tough for me. But I have this colorful silk scarf with fish on it that I love with a certain striped linen jacket, other than the fact that the scarf has a bit of black in it and the jacket has a navy stripe in it, but I overcame that initial reluctance to pair them and have been happy with the combination. I’m not sure I’ll ever pair a navy top with black pants, but I am feeling my way forward on being less caught up when using a print + print or print + solid that crosses the navy/black divide. (For some reason leopard/cheetah print shoes have long been an exception for me; I will happily wear an animal print shoe with black in it with navy pants. So I guess I’m expanding that to other prints.) I expect that I will at some point come across a scarf (or another item) I love that has both black and navy in it that will change the game for me, since having that kind of “bridge” piece helps tremendously with my own comfort level in pairing colors that I otherwise am unsure about! As for Cat-titude…haha, love it, it’s so true. My cat growing up was like “That wasn’t a *fall*, it was a spectacular sudden dismount! Now I’m going to clean my fur.” We could probably all stand to dress with a bit more cat-titude.

    • Liz K

      I think you are spot on about the connecting pieces, Sally! I have a scarf that pairs navy, black, creamy white and a pale lemon yellow. I wonder if that’s what started my black and navy interest… I’m going to remember “sudden spectacular dismount” next time I fall down at the gym or lose my balance at yoga!

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