Everything You Need to Know About Men’s Dress Shoes Plus How to Upgrade Your Dress Shoe Collection
How much do you really know about men’s dress shoes? Even if you wear business attire daily, there’s a good chance that you could learn a few new things about your footwear. With this guide, you will never wonder what sort of dress shoe would be right for the occasion. Let’s start with the basics and go on to tips that will help you ensure that you always have the perfect pair of shoes for any dressy occasion.
Exploring Different Types of Men’s Dress Shoes
Dress shoes for men come in more types than many people realize. While you are sure to be familiar with some of these examples, others will be new. That means you may want to add more types to your collection.
1. Oxford Shoes:
Considered one of the most classic types of dress shoes for men, Oxfords sport a series of eyelets that are attached under the vamp. This is sometimes referred to as a closed lacing style. The lining is typically padded slightly to ensure comfort, since they are designed to work with all sorts of business attire. If you want something that’s basic and relatively free of ornamentation, the topline of these shoes will work well with slacks and a sport jacket. They are also the shoes to wear with suits on a day to day basis when you want to look professional but not too formal.
2. Brogues or Wingtips:
Brogues and wingtips are more ornamental than their Oxford counterparts. The heel is usually low and the tongue is usually not visible under the topline. What you will find is perforations that provide a subtle decorative touch. While these also work well for the office, they are also good choices when attending a dinner that calls for business attire. They also work well if you are invited to an occasion that calls for business dress but not formal wear. You could even be the groom or a member of the groom’s party and they would make ideal men’s wedding shoes assuming the dress code does not call for formal wear. When in doubt, a nice pair of black brogues or wingtips will take you just about anywhere.
3. Derby Shoes:
Considered one of the most comfortable dress shoes for men, the Derby has what’s known as an open lacing style. This means the eyelets are sewn on the top of the vamp rather than being hidden. Sometimes called Gibsons, this design is great for a business casual setting. It’s also one of the dress shoe types that happens to work well with a pair of jeans.
4. Monk Straps:
Monk straps are dress up shoes for men that slip on rather than lace. They come in single and double strap designs, making it easier to go with a more conservative look or one that’s slightly more visually interesting. Like many types of dress shoes, the heel is lower and the cushioning is just enough to ease the stress of walking on harder surfaces like exhibit floors.
5. Dress Boots:
Dress boots provide a simple and quick solution for men on the go. The boots are usually made of leather and may slip on or have a zipper on the side to make it easier to slide the boot on the foot. Most boots of this type will extend a few inches above the ankle and tend to taper inward slightly. This helps to prevent the boot from interfering with the straight line of the slacks or pants. As with other types of dress up shoes for men, the boots may or may not sport welt stitching. If possible, do find a boot that includes the stitching; this will make it easier to have the sole replaced and get more years of use from the boot.
6. Chelsea Boots:
Chelsea boots are typically ankle-height and include some type of elastic on one or both sides. This makes them easy to slip on and off. Like some types of dressy footwear, the boots can be worn with business attire or they will work well with jeans. You can think of them as a perfect pair of party shoes for men’s use if you go on a business trip. They’re fine for wearing to meetings and presentations, and will work equally well when the work day is over and you want something comfortable to wear out on the town. Along with leather types, you can also find suede uses for the outsole of this kind of boot.
7. Chukka Boots:
The name of this shoe comes from the fact that a single piece of leather is used for the upper rather than several pieces that are stitched together. The style also uses a closed lacing look that makes it look a bit like an Oxford. In fact, wholecuts are sometimes referred to as a variation of the Oxford.
Expect wholecuts to come with heel designs that are similar to those found with Oxfords or wingtips. The toe box is usually ample, giving the design a little more comfort for men who have wider feet. You’ll find these are ideal for dressier occasions that call for a suit rather than a tuxedo.
9. Moccasins and Driving Shoes:
Moccasins are often made of softer leather and definitely sport a more casual look. Rather than having a separate heel, the sole is turned upward on all sides and sewn directly to an upper. The moccasin may be free of any type of ornamentation or it may include a single lace that can be used to adjust the fit of the upper. A dressier design works well in a more casual office setting and they definitely work well if you are planning on driving for a long road trip. Along with wear around the office or while driving, this is a great solution when you want to match a pair of jeans and dress shoes.
10. Opera Pumps:
When you need something for a formal event, opera pumps are the way to go. These shoes usually include some type of silk bow across the vamp for a touch of subtle ornamentation. The materials of choice are usually black patent leather, although calfskin may be used by some manufacturers. Think of this as your go-to shoe if you are in a wedding party for a formal ceremony or need prom shoes mens that work well with a suit of tails or a tuxedo.
Remember that you want to examine the quality of the material for any pair of dress shoes. Pay close attention to the facing, the type of support that the quarter provides for the sides and heel, and how the shank/waist connects the sole to the heel. Your goal is to invest in shoes that hold up well and provide years of service.
How Much Does a Good Pair of Dress Shoes Cost?
They key here is to focus on good dress shoes. You can easily pick up a pair of discount shoes from all sorts of retailers that cost less than $30.00 USD. The problem is that while they may look good at first, the materials are not up to par. After a short time, the shoes will shoe a lot of wear. That means you will have to replace them sooner rather than later.
If you want to find a pair of men’s dress shoes that wear well and provide adequate support, expect to spend an average cost for men’s dress shoes of somewhere between $100.00 USD to $400.00 USD. It may be possible to pay a little less if you come across a sale. You can determine if the shoe is worth the money if it has the following qualities.
Quality Materials – Never settle for materials that squeak or are obviously made from second or third quality leather. Beware of shoes made totally from synthetic materials. Know what grade of leather is used and always choose first quality only.
Comfort – What’s the point of paying good money for shoes if they hurt the feet? You want something that’s snug enough to remain in place but not so tight that there’s no room for the toes. Always find out what’s used for the cushioning, especially if you are on your feet a lot.
Style – If your office has a dress code, go with a design that complies. If in doubt, check out what your coworkers are wearing. They will tell you how conservative or how relaxed the design can be and still fit in with the code.
How much should men spend on dress shoes? Try to keep within your means while investing in footwear that will hold up well for a few years. Perhaps the best men’s dress shoes under $350.00 fit nicely into your budget. It not, the best men’s dress shoes under $200.00 will still provide quite a few options. Remember that if you wear dress shoes daily, having at least two pair to rotate is a good idea. Three would work even better.
Questions That Deserve Answers
Do you have questions about dress shoes? Don’t feel alone. Even men who’ve worn one type for years often want to know more about how to select shoes for different occasions. Here are a few of the more frequently asked questions along with the answers.
1. Which type of shoes are best for suits?
Many experts will tell you that wingtips work best with business suits. You can get by with a nice pair of Rockport Men’s Northfield Oxfords or Clarks Men’s Tilden Walk Oxfords, especially if you tend to wear sport jackets and slacks some days and suits on others. Go with black or brown, depending on the color of the suit.
2. How many pairs of shoes should a guy own?
When it comes to dress shoes, four pair is not too many. This is especially true if you wear dress shoes to work five days a week. Three of those pair should be rotated from day to day. The fourth pair should be formal footwear that you can use when it’s time to break out the tux. A good choice for the office is Clarks Men’s Tilden Cap Oxford Shoes. For the formal occasions, remember that a simpler design is often a more elegant choice.
3. What shoes are in style for guys?
Wingtips and Oxfords never go out of style. You can wear them during any season and look well-dressed. Dress boots of different designs are popular but may or may not work well in some business settings. If you want to split the difference and have the right shoes to take you to most dressy occasions, a couple pairs of Rockport Men’s Sharp and Ready Colben Oxford shoes will serve you well.
4. What are the most durable shoes?
Durability has to do with the choice of materials and the quality of the stitching and other similar elements. Stick with a brand that’s known for producing higher quality dress shoes for men. You’ll find that a choice like Cole Haan Men’s Original Grand Shortwing Oxford Shoes provides everything you want in comfort, style, durability, and support.
5. What are the most comfortable men’s dress shoes?
Never underestimate the importance of comfort, especially on the job. Going with ECCO Men’s Jeremy Hybrid Tie Oxford provides the look you want with the comfort and support that you need to get through the day.
Remember that these tips for purchasing men’s dress shoes is only the beginning. You are the one who ultimately decides if a pair of shoes has the right look, feels good on your foot, and provides the support that you need. Feel free to try several brands and see what you think. In time, you’ll know which styles work best for you and happen to include all the other benefits that you desire.
Price – Use it as an indicator to filter out shoes made using cheap materials. Do not assume a higher price tag automatically translates to quality. Pay close attention to how the stitching is done, the welting, and other features. If anything seems to be not quite right, keep looking.