The right dress shoe not only makes a great first impression, it supports the person wearing it. It can be difficult to put your best foot forward when that foot is trapped in an outdated or uncomfortable shoe. The perfect men's dress shoe combines form and function. Our top pick, the Allen Edmonds Men's McAllister Wing Tip, is elegant on the outside but comfortable on the inside.
The two most common types of men's dress shoes are the Oxford and the Derby. They share many similar features. Such as laces, a low heel and an overall streamlined look. The key differentiation is the way the laces are tied to the shoe. The Oxford has a closed-lace system with hidden flaps for a sleek and more formal appearance. The Derby has an open-lace system with visible flaps for a casual and more versatile appearance.
Some wearers prefer loafers, which slip on and require no laces at all. Loafers are perfect for everyday wear, but may be too relaxed for a formal event.
Dress shoes with plain toes feature zero embellishments. This is best if you're seeking a neutral look. For a little adornment, go with a cap-toe. Cap-toe dress shoes have horizontal stitching across the toe plus an additional layer of leather for added durability.
Wing-tips are also popular. They're like a cap-toe but the stitching is in a more-exciting double-arch pattern that resembles the McDonald's logo. Split or apron toes have stitching and an additional layer of leather around the toe as well as the sides of the shoe.
The majority of men's dress shoes are made of leather. The high-end option is full-grain leather, which is minimally treated and high quality. Full-grain leather dress shoes are built to last and look better the longer you own them. The midrange option is corrected leather, which is treated and can be of variable quality. Corrected leather dress shoes can peel or crease over time.
For vegans or anyone else uncomfortable with wearing animal-derived products, there are a number of faux leather shoes on the market.
If you own a black suit, you need black dress shoes. Brown dress shoes come in both light and deep shades to match any outfit. You can pair them with brown clothes but also navy, dark green and crimson red. Burgundy dress shoes aren't as versatile, but can make a striking impression with the right ensemble.
For formal events, the old rule still applies: Your shoe color should match your belt color. For more casual outings, feel free to mix things up.
The way the sole is attached to your dress shoe affects overall comfort and the shoe's durability. Look for high-end and midrange models with Goodyear welting or a Blake stitch. With Goodyear welting, the sole is stitched to the rest of the shoe for extra breathability. This allows for the soles to be easily replaced. With a Blake stitch the sole is stitched to the rest of the shoe, but the design is simpler and replacing the sole requires a special machine.
The third and final option is a cemented sole. You'll find these on low-end and midrange models. A cemented sole is attached to the shoe with an adhesive. It can't be replaced and is less breathable and durable.
While shopping, you might notice some shoes with decorative holes punched along the top and sides. This is called brogueing. While brogueing is traditionally associated with cowboy boots and other outdoor footwear, it has become quite popular in dress shoes as a way to mix formal and informal styles.
You'll also find shoes with tassels, which can make loafers more formal, and shoes with high-shine patent leather. These are perfect for tuxedos.
Low-end models with faux or corrected leather, cemented soles and minimal features can be found for $20-$60. Midrange models with higher-quality leather, better construction and flashier designs are typically $60-$150. High-end models of the finest materials and craftsmanship can be anywhere from $150-$500.
A. At minimum, you should own a pair of black dress shoes and a pair of brown dress shoes. Beyond that, it depends on how often you dress up. Even the highest quality shoe will wear out quickly if worn daily. If your job requires more formal attire, it's a good idea to have several pairs of dress shoes in rotation.
A. To prolong the life of your dress shoes, make sure to clean and shine them regularly. This will prevent the leather from drying out and cracking. To help keep their shape, it's also a good idea to store them on a cedar shoe tree and put them on with a shoehorn.
What you need to know: This is the best choice if you're looking to invest in a shoe that will last for years.
What you'll love: Footbed padding gives added comfort for several hours of wear. It is a classic design with superior construction.
What you should consider: Many users said they don't run true to size.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: These are dress shoes that get the job done with minimal damage to your wallet.
What you'll love: From a trusted brand name, it is made of high-quality leather given the price point.
What you should consider: The laces seem a bit cheap when compared to the overall quality of the rest of the shoe.
What you need to know: A handsome dress shoe, it comes in a variety of colors.
What you'll love: It is available in black, light brown and dark brown with a variety of stitch designs. It is very comfortable.
What you should consider: Some buyers disliked this shoe's pointy toe.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Frank Paiva writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.