‘Don’t wear brown shoes with a blue suit’, City law firm partner tells trainees

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📸 Wikicommons: sweeticecreamphotography

A partner at a top City law firm has reportedly passed on a provocative piece of advice to unsuitably dressed trainees.

Speaking at Thomson Reuters’ ‘Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law’ conference yesterday at London’s Hilton Tower Bridge hotel, the unnamed partner told juniors, “Don’t wear brown shoes with a blue suit”, legal affairs journalist Catherine Baksi reports.

It’s fair to say the partner’s fashion pointer created quite a stir among the legal Twitterati.

“This is silly,” pointed out Matthew Richardson, a family law barrister at Coram Chambers, while another user wrote, “sounds like lack in sense or fashion; or quite possibly both. People should wear what they want. The partner should get out of others’ wardrobes, or just get out more. People see an expert for his/her expertise, not for their dress sense”.

While Howard Kennedy media law partner Mark Stephens simple wrote, “Sh*t”, before posting an image of himself (embedded below), and presumably taken the same day, of him wearing brown shoes with a blue suit!

Turning it back on the partner at the subject of the controversy, David Hughes, a civil and public law barrister at Phillips, a law firm based in Gibraltar, asked “Was he well dressed?” before adding, “Brown shoes — of the right shade — are right for a blue suit.”

Another user had a stern piece of advice to throw back at the City partner:

This isn’t the first time a lawyer has posted controversial remarks to do with corporate dress. Katherine Cousins, a City solicitor, had in 2013 written a fashion blog for the then-named Berwin Leighton Paisner‘s intranet during her time there as a trainee. The blog was later pulled by the firm (which has since merged and is called Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner) over concerns it was inappropriate.

Her advice, which includes “skinny ties are for Hoxton bars” and that men should punt for a “dark blue, charcoal or grey” suit — “black is only for funeral attendees and bouncers” — and smart shoes that are “not too pointy” nor worn without socks can be found in her 115-page debut novel, Successful Solicitor: Get Ahead of the Game as a Junior Corporate Lawyer.

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Nothing wrong with a navy suit and brown shoes. This is one of those rules pompous people just make up.



Maybe for a night out in the town, not for the office.



If you wear black and navy, you may well be dressed appropriately but you’re still just as much of a twat as me in my brown shoes and blue suit. They do not go.



You’re wrong, sorry mate.



Keep telling yourself that. We can spot you from a mile off, and swerve to avoid.



Good hope you do.


Court of Appeal dress code

Brown trousers.

Blue shoes.



Am I missing something? I thought wearing brown shoes with a blue suit was the preferred aesthetic….



It’s traditionally not done and a bit of a faux pas; black shoes are preferred. I was advised by my pastoral tutor at school to avoid brown shoes with a blue suit when applying for professional jobs.

‘In September 2016, a report by the Social Mobility Commission showed that some candidates were not successful at interview (sic) because they wore brown shoes. The report (titled the Socio-Economic Diversity in Life Sciences and Investment Banking…) states “relatively opaque codes of conduct also extend to dress. To provide one example, for men, the wearing of brown shoes with a business suit is generally (though not always) considered unacceptable by and for British bankers within the investment banking (corporate finance) division.”‘



That is literally basic good taste. It is in the same league as “don’t wear running shoes with a suit to your interview”.



I strongly agree, but I just wanted to prove I wasn’t talking out of my arse.



Tell you what, to all these people “outraged” here: take your brown shoes and preferably wear them with your pastel or white stripped or checked suit to your interviews. You will look well dapper.

We will be all waiting anxiously to hear the stories of your success, being inundated with job offers.


I don’t agree. Navy and black is a faux pas in Italy, and brown is seen as much more complimentary. Maybe just a British thing?


Think this is typically a French concept.


In casual dress I wouldn’t wear black and navy. In business dress I wouldn’t wear anything other than black shoes.


The lunacy is that brown shoes just look better with a blue suit – blue and black look awful together. I’d not wear it to a client meeting or interview due to the number of grasping middle class losers that still care about this, but wear it to the office all the time as I don’t want to look like a twat after work.



Secret: People think you look like a twat.


Gordon Macdonald

Indeed, a black suit ware black shoes, a blue suit ware blue shoes, that should settle the debate! Only kidding, Monsieur A….


Jonathan Pearl

Any interviewer who has turned down a candidate based on what the candidate wore for the interview is foolish in the extreme, unless the job is for one in fashion.



Pastoral tutor at school? Posh kid gets inside tip early on how to work in the professions.



Those pesky Italians wear it. Way too forrin for a City lawyer.


City Trainee

No brown shoes with a blue suit is just common sense advice. I do not see anything controversial here.

A non story this one.



What kind of shoes does one wear with robes and a Star of the Order of St John? Asking for a friend…



I used to work for a gentlemen’s outfitters in Savile Row and I can say without hesitation that clown’s shoes are the preferred footwear in that situation.


just me

Pass that piece of information on to partners at Linklaters *ROFL*



It might be traditional not to wear brown shoes with a navy suit, but in my opinion it’s a more, modern, harmonious and stylish combination, especially if the shoes are shiny and well polished. However, I would not (if a man) wear it to an interview or traditional client meeting.



Well surely it’s not too much to ask lawyers to not dress like spivs?



Or estate agents from Chelmsford



This is absolutely correct – navy or grey suit with brown (or worse, tan) oxfords/brogues looks absolutely awful. It’s not difficult.



Black shoes with navy suit is a total fashion faux pas, as is mixing black and brown in an outfit! It just doesn’t look right.

Blue / navy suit: dark brown shoes.
Black suit: black shoes
Grey suit: navy / charcoal shoes



Wtf is a charcoal shoe? Did you have to walk into an open pit BBQ to get that look?



Top bantz



Wrong. Or maybe right for some high street firm in Watford, who knows.


Gok Wan

Tbf fair he is bang on. Reserve your brown shoes for casual Fridays and second rate weddings.

Exceptions can be made for those who are senior and stylish enough to know what they are doing.


Steven Seagull

Brown shoes should not be worn in the town anyway. They are for the country.



Both the article itself and many of the comments reveal a difficult and frustrating problem with social mobility: even when one passes on sensible and helpful advice, rather than take it board, the listener often gets offended and fights back.



Absolutely correct! The long-standing rule still holds: “no brown in town”.


Scep Tick

How about blue shoes with a brown suit?



Top bantz, here’s a TC


Managing JDP

Wait, that offer is subject to you sending over cup size.


Jonathan Pearl

People should leave their comments on sartorial elegance to “better halves” or Mums. I once went to a meeting with a guy whose suit still had a label on the outside of the sleeve – which is usually put there to assist retail staff to identify suits in a rack more quickly. These little labels are “supposed” to come off being worn. You might snigger, but it’s all the rage in some cultures to leave labels on, for instance, baseball caps. This is to signify that the item is newly purchased. Don’t be judgemental about these things. It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry. The people who would have us all wearing bowler hats and carrying tightly furled umbrellas are not necessarily the best lawyers, or negotiators.



I was taught that brown shoes are for the country only, and that only black shoes should be worn in cities.

I’m sitting here in a city wearing brown shoes.



Correct. “No brown in town”



Ironically I received an offer from my white-shoe firm while interviewing in brown shoes.



…and then you woke up and realised you’re standing in the middle of a tube carriage with your pants down.



Thanks, but no. Sidleys.



Yeh sure mate



It’s been a long but mostly happy 3 years now


Yeh yeh sure lol


Lol @ Sidleys being a white shoe firm. do you even law bro ?






Yeah, cool list bro. Shame it also includes Reed Smith and a ton of other non-entity firms apparently as “White Shoe”. What a horsecock list lol





Rofl @ Dechert being a white shoe firm , more like a crocs boot shop






I thought this had all been sorted out by Glanville Williams some time ago……

although I preferred Stanley Holloway’s take on the same subject myself. Brown boots, I ask you….



“top City firm”

*eye roll*



If it’s brown, flush it down…


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