Black dresses are a wardrobe staple for many women. They are classic, elegant, and can be dressed up or down for various occasions. When wearing a black dress, the choice of footwear is an important consideration to pull the look together. While black shoes are a popular choice, they are not always necessary. Here is a detailed look at whether you need to wear black shoes with a black dress and tips for pairing footwear.
The Short Answer
No, you do not have to wear black shoes with a black dress. While black footwear is a safe, standard choice, there are no hard rules requiring black shoes when wearing black dresses. You can successfully pair black dresses with shoes in various colors and styles. The most important factors are choosing shoes that complement the dress style, hem length, occasion, and your personal preferences.
When Black Shoes Work Best
While not required, wearing black shoes with a black dress is a foolproof combination. Black shoes blend seamlessly with black dresses and tights or hosiery for a polished, monochromatic look. Here are some situations where black shoes are the best pairing:
- Formal events or black-tie attire – Black heels or dress shoes fit the formal dress code.
- All-black outfits – Black shoes complete the all-black look.
- Solid black dresses – Shoes don’t compete with prints or embellishments.
- Short and mini black dresses – Neutral shoes don’t cut off the leg line.
- Flowing maxi black dresses – Ground the flowy silhouette.
- LBD (little black dress) – A versatile shoe choice that always works.
When to Consider Non-Black Shoes
While classic, all-black outfits can start to feel one-note. The style can benefit from unexpected pops of color or texture from non-black footwear. Consider going beyond black shoes in these cases:
- The dress features colorful or metallic accents – Complement or match shoe colors to the dress details.
- You want to purposefully contrast the shoe and dress colors – Make a style statement.
- The dress code is more casual – Open up more shoe style options.
- You are styling the dress for daytime – Lighter shoes can work.
- The dress length shows more of the shoe – Opt for shoes that enhance the leg line or hemline.
- You want to individualize or modernize the look – Non-black shoes can update a LBD.
Guidelines for Wearing Non-Black Shoes with a Black Dress
When venturing beyond black shoes, follow these guidelines to choose footwear that complements your black dress:
- Stick to neutral, dark, or metallic tones – Shades like navy, gray, brown, deep red, or gold work well.
- Pick shoes in a similar dressiness level – Don’t wear casual sneakers with a formal gown.
- Consider skin tone – Lighter neutral shades can elongate the leg on deeper skin tones.
- Factor in the dress color saturation – Deeper blacks pair better with richer hues like red or purple.
- Match metallics in the dress – Gold, silver or bronze shoes coordinate nicely.
- Choose shoe materials that align with the dress – Delicate fabrics pair best with satin or suede shoes.
Shoe Style Options to Pair with Black Dresses
From heels and boots to flats and sandals, black dresses give you room to choose exciting shoe styles. Here are top footwear options to complement little black dresses:
- Classic pumps
- Platform heels
- Stiletto heels
- Chunky heels
- Ankle strap heels
- Slingback heels
Heels instantly dress up a black dress for formal or night events. Pick strappy heels or metallic pops for cocktails or dates. Opt for a chunky heel or low pump for all-day wear.
- Ankle boots
- Chelsea boots
- Mid-calf boots
- Over-the-knee boots
- Rain boots
Boots add seasonal flair to black dresses. Pair dressy heeled booties with cocktail frocks. Go flat or low-heeled for casual daytime looks. Make a stylish statement with thigh-high or colorful rain boots.
- Ballet flats
- Smoking slippers
- Pointed-toe flats
Flats complement daytime black dresses with their versatility and comfort. Opt for sleek leathers or patterns to contrast with solid black dresses. Metallic or jeweled embellishments can dress flats up at night.
- Gladiator sandals
- Ankle-strap sandals
- Slide sandals
- Platform sandals
- Metallic strappy sandals
From minimalist slides to strappy stilettos, sandals pair perfectly with black cocktail and summer dresses. Match metallics or bright colors to dress accents.
- Low-top leather
- Classic high-top
- Chunky platform
For day or night, sneakers lend black dresses a casual, street-style vibe. Stick to leather or suede rather than canvas for a bit of polish.
- Slide mules
- Pointed-toe mules
- Backless loafers
- Furry slip-ons
Mules epitomize black dress shoe versatility. Dress them up with prints, patterns and heels or go casual with a slide. A mule elongates legs when dress hemlines rise.
Best Shoe Colors to Pair with Black Dresses
While black shoes remain a foolproof choice, other hues can make stylish statements. Consider these top shoe colors for complementing black dresses:
Flesh-toned shoes extend leg lines. Nude heels turn black dresses into neutral column silhouettes. Metallic nudes (rose gold, platinum) modernize the duo.
Crisp white shoes pop against black dresses, creating visual contrast. White booties or sneakers lend a sporty, street vibe.
From fire engine to wine hues, red makes a dramatic impact. Red heels, flats or boots intensify a LBD for date nights.
Mirrored metallic pumps or sandals bring flash and dazzle to little black dresses. Silver perfectly complements cool-toned blacks.
Cobalt or royal blue shoes stunningly play off black. Navy is versatile for day or night dresses. Grayish powder blues soften harsh blacks.
Cheery shades like lemon, mustard, or gold inject color and fun. Yellow flats, sandals or pumps create sunshine-bright style.
Factors for Choosing Shoe Color with Black Dresses
Keep these tips in mind when selecting shoe hues for black dresses:
- Pick darker neutrals for formal events, lighter for casual settings
- Complement cool-toned black dresses with silver, purple, gray or blue footwear
- Pair warm black fabrics with gold, red, yellow or nude shoes
- Match metallic dress accents with same-tone shoes
- Consider skin tone when selecting shoe colors
- Avoid matching black shoes and tights for seamless leg elongation
- Use lighter shoes to extend legs under shorter hemlines
Black dresses offer plenty of mix-and-match potential with creative shoe pairings. While you don’t have to limit yourself to black footwear, classic black heels or booties remain go-to choices that always complement little black dresses. For variety, consider stylish pops of color, patterns or metallic hues that align with your personal style and dress details. Ultimately, choose shoes that make you feel confident and complement your look rather than strictly adhering to any color “rules” with black dresses.