A great pair of go-to dress shoes is a necessary staple for any man’s closet. Even the most casual of men will need to suit up at one point or another. Before you lump all “dress shoes” into one category, find the right pair that suits you with our dress shoe guide. If you take the time to find a classic pair that is worth investing in, with the right care, they will truly last you a lifetime. Whether you’re a seasoned shoe aficionado, or just trying to cover your bases, we’ll break it down to the basics and make choosing the right pair simpler than you initially thought.
TYPES OF DRESS SHOES
The Oxford Shoe
The oxford is the most basic and timeless of the dress shoes, and a great starting point if you’re looking for a classic staple. They are very versatile option that can be dressed up with formal wear or down for a more casual arena. Gaining its name from its history at Oxford University, oxfords were a newer version of the popular Oxonians that were popular at the university in 1800. This half-boot style became outdated and students looked for an alternative style that was more current, thus the oxford shoe was born.
The shoe is characterized by its facing being stitched on under the vamp, or “closed lacing.” The facing’s placement provides a slim silhouette that hugs the foot’s contour. It is typical to keep a classic brown pair and black pair on hand. These will never go “out of style”, so keep them in tip top shape to last you for years to come.
The Derby Shoe
The derby shoe, also known as the Gibson or the Blucher, were originally intended as a sporting and hunting boot in the 1850’s. At the turn of the 20th century, derbies began to be appropriate footwear to wear into town. Derbies are often miscategorized as oxfords, as their shape is very similar and their differences are very slight. Though not obvious upon first glance, the difference lies in the facing placement. This simple detail, has kept the derby reminiscent of its sporting roots and acts as a less formal version of the oxford. Stylish brown should always be in your closet.
The Monk Strap
Classy. Classy. Classy. A timeless alternative to traditionally laced dress shoes adds a certain panache to any outfit in need of a little something extra. The monk strap has become a very versatile shoe style that can be dressed down with some cuffed jeans, or dressed up with your most dapper of suits. This is definitely a shoe that begs for a little attention and can easily become the focal point of an ensemble. Monk straps are often crafted out of leather or suede. Again, timeless colors of black and brown are going to be your go-to colors.
Traditionally seen as a beach style shoe worn with shorts, the loafer is a moccasin-inspired shoe that is most recognizable by its slip-on styling. The loafer was originally intended as a casual house slipper made for King George VI of England. The loafer did not become popularized as a casual shoe until it began being manufactured in the United States in the 1930’s.
The loafer often features a decoration that consists of a plain strap, a strap with a slit, a metal bit, or tassels. Its minimalist version, the Venetian, simply has the vamp exposed across the front of the shoe with no decoration. A signature characteristic of loafers is an elevated seam that follows along the shoe’s toe. A more casual variant of the loafer is the driving moccasin that usually has a softer, less structured look and features a dotted rubber sole.