One of the most important aspects of your wardrobe is your dress shoes. You can tell a lot about a man from the dress shoes he wears and what he wears them with. Dress shoes can be worn with everything from dark wash jeans to men’s chinos, to wool trousers. They’re just not made to be worn with suits. But you’ll want to make sure you do it properly or your outfit will look off. Before I get into my Best Men’s Dress Shoes buying guide let’s take a look at why dress shoes are such an important part of a mans wardrobe.
Why are Dress Shoes a Men’s Wardrobe Essential?
Nothing caps off an outfit quite like a great pair of dress shoes. A perfectly styled pair of men’s dress shoes is an essential part of any wardrobe because they’re the first thing most people will notice. Shoes that look cheap or are scuffed up can be a sign that you aren’t detail oriented. To avoid this situation, take care to invest in the right shoe for the image you want to portray. Think of it as an investment in your future.
Dress Shoe Styles You Should Have In Your Closet
For a well-rounded wardrobe, you should invest in a range of dress shoe styles. Some of our favorites are Oxfords, Derbys, Bluchers, Dress Boots, Loafers, and Slip-Ons. But if I was going to start a new wardrobe the first three I would get would be the Oxford, Blucher, and the Derby in that order.
What is the Difference Between Oxfords, Derbys, and Bluchers?
Men’s dress shoes are often thrown together into one singular entity, but the truth is, there are some subtle differences between Oxfords, Derby’s, and Bluchers. To better understand these individual shoe choices, we will look at them individually.
Oxfords – The Oxford dress show is the most known and often times, other dress shoes styles are often called Oxfords. This type of footwear is, however, a more formal form and is most noted for its closed lacing system. The lacing is open at the top but closed at the bottom for a more formal look.
Derby’s – This type of shoe is the exact opposite of Oxfords. Derby’s are noted by their open lacing system. The bonus of this style is that those with wider feet can still have a beautiful shoe without the closed in feel of a traditional Oxford. Derby’s are great for less formal affairs with blazers, chinos, and jeans.
Bluchers – The difference between a derby and a blucher is actually remarkably slight. Derby’s have large quarter panels that have the eyelets sewn on top. Blucher uppers are made from a single piece and have small pieces of leather containing the eyelets attached to the top.
Different Style Elements for Dress Shoes
Apart from knowing the different types of dress shoes and how they fit into the world of men’s fashion, it is essential to understand various style elements. These elements are brogues, wing tips, cap toes, and split toes.
Brogues – Brogues are essentially the decorative perforations in the dress shoes. This feature was originally designed to allow the shoe to drain. They were popularized first in Scotland and Ireland and brogues come in various options as well. Full brogues maintain perforations throughout the shoe while semi-brogues have perforations primarily at the cap toe. And Quarter brogues have a line of perforations along the cap toe seam.
Wing Tips – Wing tips and brogues can sometimes be interchanged, but wingtips are actually referring to the pointed to cap spreading toward the side of each shoe. It somewhat resembles a wing, so the name has stuck. Wing tips may have or may not have broguing.
Longwings – Longwings are similar to wingtips, but on longwings, the wing runs the full length of the shoe.
Cap Toes – Essentially, this is just what it sounds like. It is a distinct line showing where the toe of the shoe is. Some shoes have them and some shoes do not. It is perfectly acceptable to have either in most settings.
Split Toe – Split toe shoes simply have a line sewn into the front of the shoe splitting the toe, just as the name sounds like it would.
Quality or Value
With shoes, quality and value are a slippery slope. If you go for the utmost quality, you will pay a pretty penny for your shoes. On the other hand, if you are too value conscious, your shoes can wind up looking cheap. Quality shoes will last longer than value ones, so investing in a good quality dress shoe will help your wardrobe last longer. A good way to think about is you wear your dress shoes a few times a week, go for quality. If you only wear them a couple times a month or less, go for value.
What Colors Should I Get?
The best colors to ensure that you always have a smart looking shoe is brown or tobacco along with a good black pair.
Muted Picks: Where to buy the best men’s dress shoes
5 of the Best Men’s Oxfords
A pair of black oxfords is an absolute must for any man’s wardrobe. Check out our mens dress shoe wardrobe essential guide for outfit ideas and additional brands. But for the purpose of this article, we’ve found the best mens oxford dress shoe brands at affordable prices.
Shoes tell a lot about a man. They lend clues to his commitment to the small details. Investing in a quality pair of dress shoes is a must. Whether you’re looking to dress up your favorite pair of dark wash jeans, kill it at the office pairing them with your favorite navy blazer, or wear them for a night out with a black bomber jacket, a nice pair of Oxfords is a must.
Oxford dress shoes are among the most coveted formal footwear in the industry and having an excellent designed pair at your disposal is essential. Here are 5 of the best men’s oxford dress shoes available today.
Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap Toe Oxfords
Quality and comfort exude from Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap Toe Oxfords ($425). The uppers are made from Calfskin leather and the sole is made from Dainite rubber.
Todd Snyder Crockett and Jones Hallam Cap Toe Oxford
The Todd Snyder Crockett and Jones Hallman Cap Toe Oxford ($635) has a classic English Oxford design that’s perfect for all seasons. It features Danite Rubber soles that are perfect for slippery conditions. Sizing for this Oxford is standard ranging from size 8 to 13. They don’t have widths, so if you have a wider foot, you might want to consider the Allen Edmond Park Avenue Oxford.
Johnston & Murphy Melton Cap Toe Oxford
The Johnston & Murphy Melton Cap Toe Oxford ($179) is a beautifully crafted Oxford that is not only well made at an affordable price, but also very comfortable. The shoe is made from hand-selected calfskin for a luxurious look and feel. It comes with an exclusive Optima comfort system that features multi-layered cushioning for a high level of comfort, support, and flexibility. To make sure that your Oxfords remain odor free, the Melton also has a perforated forefoot lining that enhances breathability. Additionally, the Goodyear welt construction allows the shoe to mold to your foot for a truly individual fit, while also allowing for replacement of the outsole for years of use. the Melton comes in sizes from 6-16 and widths from B to EEE.
Charles Tyrwhitt Black Goodyear Welted Oxford Leather Sole Shoe
As the name states the Charles Tyrwhitt Black Goodyear Welted Oxford Leather Sole Shoe ($199) offers a Goodyear welted construction that ensures long-lasting durability, and allows for repairs when the time comes. They offer a formal design with a cap toe and come in sizes from 7 to 14. Widths for this Oxford are standard and wide so guys with larger feet should be covered.
Jack Erwin Joe Cap Toe Oxford
A simple black Oxford is hard to beat and the Jack Erwin Joe Cap Toe Oxford ($195) fits the bill perfectly at a great price. It features a fully leather lined padded insole and hand stitched leather outsole. This Oxford can go anywhere you do and will go great with anything your wardrobe. Sizes range from 7 to 14.
No man’s wardrobe is quite complete without a beautifully styled pair of Oxfords. Oxfords fit with formal wear as well as some casual outfits, so having multiple pairs will allow you to get the most from every outfit. It might take some time to find your ideal Oxford, but when you do, your wardrobe will thank you for it.
5 of the Best Men’s Derbys
Derbys are a great fall & winter dress shoe that can easily translate between casual and formal wear. Dressing them down with jeans or up with a nice cotton trouser or wool pants is an easy transition for these shoes.
5 of the Best Men’s Bluchers
You can pair dress shoes with pretty much anything in an essential wardrobe other than the most casual outfits. I’ve included three outfits below to try and show you the range. I’ve included outfits that include jeans, chinos, and, of course, a suit.
Best Men’s Outfits – How to wear men’s dress shoes
Men’s Dress Shoes With Jeans
1. Navy Blazer: @jcrewmens J. Crew Navy Blazer
2. Shirts: @alexmillny Alex Mill White Oxford
3. Denim: @jcrewmens J. Crew 484 Slim-Fit Stretch Jean in Dalton Wash
4. Boots: @jcrewmens J. Crew Tobacco Brogues
5. Tie: @thetiebar The Tie Bar Blue Roadway Stripe
6. Belt: @jcrewmens J. Crew Classic Leather Belt
Men’s Dress shoes With a Suit
1. Suit Jacket: J. Crew Ludlow Slim-fit suit jacket with double vent in Italian worsted wool ($425)
2. Suit Pants: J. Crew Ludlow stretch two-ply easy-care cotton dress shirt in solid ($70)
3. Tie: J. Crew Mercantile Knit Tie Navy ($44)
4. Pocket Square: The Tie Bar Linen Pocket Square ($10)
5. Dress Shoes: J. Crew Ludlow Balmoral Shoes Black ($198)
6. Watch: Bulova Men’s 96B104 Stainless Steel Dress Watch ($105)