Men's dress and formal shoes can be hard to buy because, unlike women's shoes, they simply cannot be matched exactly to the outfit. But if you know what to look for, you can easily select one or two pairs that will go well with the rest of your wardrobe. Our men's guide to business shoes and formal shoes will help you make the right choices for fancy feet.
The Right Shoe Material
The majority of dress shoes for men are made out of leather. This is because this material looks the most sophisticated and offers the best combination of flexibility, longevity and exquisite looks. Shoes made out of full grain or top leather is the most durable and achieves the highest shine. Dress shoes that are colored are often made out of "corrected grain leather". This leather is buffed with an artificial grain to cover the natural imperfections in the leather.
Many other dress shoes are made of suede, which is a napped leather finish that is actually softer than top-grain leather. This is a durable material that many more "casual" shoes for work or semi-formal events are made out of. Other casual shoes are made of pebble grain, which is full-grain leather that has a brail-like pattern to hide imperfections
Some cheaper dress shoes use ultra suede, which is a microfiber knockoff of suede. This material is less durable, but is still used in many kinds of shoes that could be considered "casual dress".
Dress Shoe Colors
The color really determines how formal your footwear is. A black shoe is considered more formal than a brown or beige shoe. Also, the sleeker the shine or finish on the shoe, the more formal the shoe is considered. And even if it goes against common sense, the less ornate the design of the shoe, the more formal the shoe is considered. In other words, simpler is fancier.
Leather shoes come in a variety of colors. Here are some of the most popular ones, along with what they are best for:
A highly shined black shoe with little design would be appropriate for a black tie event and a light colored shoe with a design may be appropriate for church or work.
So Many Dress Shoe Styles
There are a number of options for formal men's shoes out there. But if you want a good everyday dress shoe you can hardly go wrong with, consider the diverse style of the Oxford shoe. They come in a variety of styles for different work or social situations:
Other options for men include:
So What Shoes Should I Wear?
The dress shoe style one chooses and price one should pay is determined by when and how often you use them. You may consider renting a pair of formal wear shoes for a one-time event such as a wedding. This is especially true if the footwear is for a child or teenager, as they will have outgrown the shoes long before they attend another formal event. This can also be true of "Easter shoes". I have purchased my children's Easter shoes at the children's consignment shop as they will only be worn for a few hours on a holiday. Our church encourages youths to be casual the rest of the year, so they do not get the mileage out of converting their Easter shoes to Sunday shoes. Your Easter shoes can also be passed on to cousins or neighbors who may also only have a small use for special-occasion dress shoes.
A good school shoe for boys before they hit the fashion conscience stage is often a suede running shoe or hiking shoe. They can be treated to be more water-resistant than a leather loafer and generally fair well on the playground. They tend to look nicer in darker colors than plain tennis shoes. Overall, they are a practical compromise between a play and a dress shoe for younger boys.
Most men should invest in two pairs of casual dress shoes for work. Switching your everyday dress shoes will extend the life of both pairs and keep both broken-in and comfortable to wear. It is also probably safe to have a more expensive "Italian leather" pair of shoes in your closet for unexpected formal events and special dates. Italian loafers are especially timeless in their style and, in a black tone, will do for most formal events.
A little insight and a sense of your own style can help take the fear out of shopping for dress shoes for most men.