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 we get into the details let’s take a look at why dress shoes are so important.
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
Men’s Outfit Ideas – How to wear men’s dress shoes
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.
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 Chinos
1. Bomber: American Trench Black Bomber
2. Shirt: J. Crew Denim Shirt
3. Tie: J. Crew Navy Knit Tie
4. Pants: Uniqlo Navy Flat Front Chinos
5. Shoes: J. Crew Brown Wing Tips
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)