Understanding Men’s Dress Shoes isn’t difficult.
Like most things in life, if you break it up into sections and apply a few guidelines it turns out to be pretty simple.
This guide is a overview of mens dress shoe formality meant to help you “generally” understand shoe types, the levels of dress, and what style shoe can be worn with what style clothing.
Note – this chart does make generalizations that some shoe afficionados may have issue with. I admit it’s not perfect – if you have suggestions, email me. In later articles we’ll tackle the issue of color matching and address specific styles like suede and cordovan.
- The dressiest oxford men’s footwear selection. Sleek, refined, most often sold in black or brown but appropriate in any dark conservative color.
- Style variations include plain toe, cap toe, brogue, and whole cut.
- Appropriate for a suit, if casually styled works with sport jackets and odd trousers. Do not combine with jeans or chinos.
- Every man who owns a suit should own a pair of classic oxfords that are minimally styled. If you wear suits daily you should rotate three pairs or more.
- Less dressy than Bal oxfords, identified by lacing system sewn outside of shoe.
- Well dressed men know these can be worn with a suit, but are better with an odd jacket and trousers. Can be worn with jeansassuming they are casually styled
- Style variations include cap toe, wing tip, brogue, wide variation in materials like suede and mixed leathers.
- Common variations are saddle shoes, derbys, spectators, and laced moccasins
- A classic shoe that should serve as your 2nd or 3rd pair depending on needs -the more extreme the styling, the less versatile the shoe.
Men’s Dress Boots
- Dress boots are meant to be worn when the weather dictates protecting the ankles from water, mud, and snow -in levels of formality they should not be worn with a suit, although they can if the weather calls for it. If wearing under fair weather conditions, boots should be worn under the rules applicableto a pair of informal bluchers.
- Style variations include cap toe, wing tip, broguei, wide variation in materials especially water resistant leather cuts.
- Appropriate for a sport jacket and odd trousers or jeans. Only wear with suit in rainy/snowy weather.
- A man should consider boots if he is exposed to conditions that warrant their wear -otherwise, reserve them for your 4th to 5thpair.
Men’s Loafers or Slip-ons
- The least dressy choice, they are a product of comfort and convenience.
- Only with a suit when traveling, they are at home with a casual odd jacket and trousers minus necktie. Can be worn with jeans or chinos as well.
- Style variations are wide -usually the more delicate and closer resemblance to oxfords the more dressy. Also, the greater the exposure of sock the less formal.
- Common variations are monk straps, tassel loafers, penny loafers, unlaced moccasins.
- Loafers are a travelers best friend -easy to slip on and off when going through airport security or when relaxing on the plane,I recommend they be the 2nd pair a traveling man owns or the 3rd pair for a man who like to look sharp around town in jeans and button down shirt.
Images courtesy of Leffot Men’s Dress Shoes – Visit their blog for an amazing collection of images and information.