If you’ve ever bought a great pair of dress shoes only to find they didn’t go with half your wardrobe, this article is for you. Not all dress shoes are multipurpose, wear-with-everything types of footwear, and depending on the event you are attending, some dress shoes are more suitable than others. Since quality dress shoes are usually quite pricey, we’ve compiled this guide to take the mystery out of the often harrowing experience of buying stylish and appropriate footwear. Read on to learn about what to look for in dress shoes and how to select the right shoe for your next upscale adventure.
Dark colours like black, dark brown and cordovan (reddish brown) are the most appropriate.
The styling of the shoe determines whether it belongs with the dressy or casual clothing.
Oxfords - Originally known as Balmorals in England, oxfords are leather shoes with a relatively low instep, closed lacing and a non-rubber sole. Modern oxfords, however, may be constructed from suede or synthetic materials, but no matter the material used to construct them, oxfords are usually quite plain with few -- if any -- embellishments.
Like most dress shoes, oxfords traditionally come in black, cordovan, brown, burgundy, oxblood, chestnut, and occasionally, white. Oxfords are good all-around dress shoes that are appropriate for numerous occasions. For the office, basic, unadorned black oxfords will do the trick. Semiformal or contemporary chic events call for oxfords as well; though you can vary the color on these occasions, choosing shoes in shades such as cognac for a sophisticated but still down-to-earth feel. For formal affairs, revert to black oxfords made of highly polished, shiny leather, as well as heels and soles that are sleek and have as little bulk as possible.
Loafers - First making their appearance in the earlier part of the 20th century, loafers can be either dressy or worn as a dressy sport shoe. The distinguishing feature of all loafers, however, is a lack of laces or buckles. Traditionally made from leather, loafers are slip-on shoes that resemble a moccasin on top, but have a wide and fairly flat heel. Many loafers have tassels, although these are often dispensed with nowadays. Penny loafers have a strap across the upper portion of the shoe, which was originally designed to hold change or an ornament.
Cap toes - Cap toes are essentially decorated oxfords. Dress shoes can be embellished in a number of ways, but a cap toe on oxfords is by far the most common. Oxfords are usually quite spare with no superfluous features on the top portion of the shoe above the toe. In contrast, cap-toe shoes have an additional layer or band of leather over the toe. The extra portion might be a clean and simple line, in which case you will be able to wear them more frequently.
Dress boots - Dress boots are slim, ankle-length boots with a slight heel that fit the foot and leg quite snugly. This style of boot is often highly polished and is frequently embellished with perforations (known as a wing-tip pattern). These boots will look fantastic with dressy and casual clothes, such as a great-fitting pair of dark-colored designer jeans, a pair of dress trousers or a casual suit.
Monk strap - This style of shoe refers to dress shoes that are similar to loafers in that they don’t have laces. While loafers are typically plain or tasseled, monk strap shoes have a metallic buckle and a leather strap on the upper portion of the shoe; a feature that also distinguishes them from cap toes, where the leather strap is located above the toe portion of the shoe.