The 5 Best Types Of Men’s Formal Shoe
Got a formal occasion coming up and have no idea what to put on your feet? Then you’re in desperate need of a comprehensive guide to the five types of formal shoe for men. Luckily for you, you can find all of them here. You’ll have access to everything you need to know in no time.
There’s no denying that many of us at one time or another – or a lot of the time, let it be said – assemble our outfits with little or no consideration for what we’re putting on our feet. Well, neglecting your footwear is a cardinal sin in our books and we think it’s about time we put an end to all this once and for all. It’s all too easy when you’re dressing for a formal occasion to grab your trusty black brogues and be done with it all. Who’s looking at your feet anyway? WE ARE. And a lot of other people for that matter. Your choice of footwear can make or break your outfit.
What you wear on your feet completely reflects what kind of look you’re going for, so take care when choosing your formal footwear. And if you’re feeling a little stuck, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to the best formal shoes you can rely on and when to wear them.
What Defines a Formal Shoe?
By men’s formal shoe, we mean footwear that might be passable for any type of formal occasion. They’re suitable for a wedding, the office or a business meeting – you get the idea. That said, with all the types of men’s shoes out there, it’s not surprising to get a bit confused. Luckily, we’ve got your back.
Not every formal shoe will compliment every formal outfit, that’s a given, and personal style also comes into play. Not everyone is a boat shoe kind of guy, and maybe you can’t stand the look of loafers – we’re not judging here. It’s important to pick styles that match your style and personality and most importantly look good with what you’re wearing.
Types of Shoes
When it comes to different types of footwear, men have quite a lot to choose from. It goes without saying that some shoe types are more formal than others. Considering that not all of them are appropriate for every occasion, you need to use your judgement to dress accordingly. Follow this simple style guide and you won’t go far wrong. We’ve ranked these 5 must-have styles from the least to the most formal just to make things a little clearer.
Must Have Shoes
When it comes to men’s stylish shoes, there are some shoe types that should not be missing from your wardrobe. If you see one of the shoe styles from the list below and suddenly realise that you’re not a proud owner yet, our style guide will help you discover their formal wear potential.
The Desert Boot
The desert boot is commonly considered a casual shoe, but can blur the distinction between smart-casual depending on the way you style it. Ankle length with 3 pairs of eyelets and typically made of suede, desert boots are usually worn with jeans. If you’re going down this route, make sure you opt for a dark wash denim in a slim, tapered fit and keep things formal on top with a crisp Oxford shirt and blazer in neutral colours.
The Boat Shoe
The fashion forward may be able to pull these off with the right colour combination shirt and jacket or even a suit, but most of the time the boat shoe is at its best with chinos and traditionally without socks. Despite being on the more casual end of the formal spectrum, they’re a smart alternative for the evening.
If you’re on holiday or on a night out and should still get you into a bar or club without any issues. Made of durable leather with a rubber sole offering a strong grip, their maritime heritage means they go best with nautical colours and patterns; horizontal stripes, navy blue and white.
The loafer really steps things up on the spectrum of formal shoes. Made of suede or leather, the most common variations of this shoe are the Penny and tassel loafer. A low profile shoe, they have the potential to be dressed down with jeans but look best when dressed up for formal occasions. Being a slip on type of shoe, they’ll probably be the most comfortable pair of shoes you’ll ever own – apart from you pair of battered All Stars, of course. With minimum effort to put them on, loafers are the epitome of stylish indolence.
The Penny Loafer
The Penny loafer gets its name from the practice of placing pennies in the Weejun diamond cutout as a source of funds for emergency phone calls by Ivy League college students who often wore this shoe style during the 1950s. You’d think that if they’re wearing a pair of expensive suede loafers they’d also have enough cash for a wallet. But that’s tradition, right?
The Tassel Loafer
A great shoe style for summer, the tassel loafer looks best when worn without socks paired with a pair of light coloured trousers or chinos. It’s sometimes difficult to know how to dress formally for the summer months; who wants to feel stifled and sweaty in a full blown three piece? The tassel loafer will help you achieve a relaxed yet polished look without having to deal with the hassle of lacing your shoes up.
The Chelsea Boot
Originally designed for Queen Victoria, the Chelsea boot is a slight deviation from the formal ‘shoe’ spectrum so to speak. Nonetheless, it is one of the most versatile and potentially formal styles out there, as long as you know how to style it. The Chelsea boot is made from suede or leather with an elasticated side panel that makes them easy to slide on and off, looks completely unique with a sharp, tailored suit. It makes a very welcome change from low profile styles like the brogue or loafer traditionally worn with suits.
Wearing a Chelsea boot with a suit says something about your individual personality and style; a man who can pull this look off isn’t afraid to stray from the norm and show everyone what he’s all about. Popularised by pop and rock legends such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, the history of the Chelsea boot is placed high up in the style stakes and has been a mainstay of Mod culture since the swinging ’60s. A favourite of ours we have to say.
If you’re wandering what shoes are in style, you simply can’t go wrong with brogues. They’re one of the most famous and timeless dress shoes styles in men’s wardrobes. These types of shoes are what you’d most commonly see worn with a suit, but they also work well with smart denim. Traditionally made of suede or classic leather, low profile and below the ankle, the brogue comes in smooth or perforated leather.
The brogue comes in shoe and boot varieties, as well as Oxford and Derby styles. The many varieties of the brogue make it an extremely versatile and wearable style, characterised by a perforated pattern on the upper. Don’t forget to take care of your brogues and give them a good polish once in a while!
Oxford brogues can be easily defined as the queens of men’s stylish shoes. The Oxford brogue features a closed lace, with eyelet tabs sewn on top of the uppers. Because of the closed laces, they can often be a bit of a pain to put on. Often double stitched and double soled, with a perforated wingtip detail, the Oxford brogue can look smart with dark denim such as a pair of selvedge jeans. Oxford brogues are at their best when paired with a well tailored suit. You’ll look like a true gent. Black dress shoes such as these ones are always a good shout for weddings.
The Derby features an open lace, with eyelet tabs sewn on top of the uppers. For that reason they’re considered to be less formal compared to their Oxford counterpart. The Derby brogue often lacks the perforated upper of the traditional brogue and it commonly goes with a more casual outfit.
That said, it’s not necessarily true that only Oxford shoes have the distinctive W shape of wingtips and Brogueing (the perforation you find on wingtips). Derby brogues can also have those features and the only factor that classifies them as Derbys is the open lacing. Derby brogues are a great match for your favourite suit trousers and blazer combo. Also, they’re simply perfect for office day wear. Being more versatile than Oxford brogues, they also go wonderfully with a pair of jeans or chinos and a sharp shirt.
The Best 5 Types of Formal Shoes
- The five essential types of formal shoes are the desert boot, boat shoes, loafers in both their penny and tassel variations, the Chelsea boot, the Oxford and Derby brogue including their boot version.
- Desert boots – can be elevated to more formal heights with a pair of chinos, a crisp Oxford shirt and a blazer.
- Boat shoes – perfect for an elegant summer gathering.
- Loafers – almost impossible to go wrong with loafers.
- Chelsea boots – pair them with your suit for a bold yet sophisticated sartorial statement.
- Brogues – a classic in a man’s wardrobe.
On That Note
When it comes to formal shoes there are plenty of options for you to choose from. Using your shoes to show off your individual personality and style is imperative to whichever look you’re trying to create. For that reason, put that lazy instinct on hold and take some time to consider which style suits you. Formal shoes can be a little tricky to get right and there’s quite a bit of info to digest on some of the best men’s shoes. But when you break it down a little care and attention is all it takes. With all the different shoe styles we’ve looked at, you’ve got plenty of material to get you started.