An attractive shoe with a traditional style. Incredibly durable. Features footbed padding that makes the shoe comfortable for hours of wear.
They don't run true-to-size, and most men find that they need a size or so smaller than their actual shoe size.
A popular shoe by a trusted name in men's clothing. Gets our top marks for padded comfort and quality leather construction at a mid-range price point.
Compared to the quality of the shoe, the laces don't match up, but this is a minor concern.
Features soft latex cushioning and flexible construction. Numerous stitch designs are available in black and varying shades of brown.
We found that the shoe runs long for the size, and some testers felt that the toe is somewhat pointy.
A classic style available in three colors. Has shock-absorbing gel padding in the footbed. Stands out for its no-mark sole.
The leather is a bit stiff at first, so the shoe requires a break-in period to reach optimal comfort. Somewhat costly.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Whether it’s to wear with a classic suit for the office or an elegant tuxedo for a wedding, every man should have at least one good pair of dress shoes in his closet.
If you don’t know an Oxford from a loafer, though, choosing the right men’s dress shoes can seem like mission impossible. That’s because you don’t just have to settle on the right type of dress shoe – you need to find the right material, construction, color, embellishments, and other features to ensure that the shoes will not only complement your look but be durable, too.
At BestReviews, our goal is to make your shopping experience stress-free. Ready to buy a pair of men’s dress shoes? You’ll find our five favorites in the product list above. For everything you need to know about selecting the right dress shoes for your style, keep reading.
Oxfords are one of the most classic men’s dress shoe options on the market. Oxfords feature the following:
Eyelet flaps sewn under the vamp, which covers the front of the foot
Sleek, minimal appearance
Derby dress shoes were originally sporting boots. Derby shoes are similar to Oxfords but feature the following:
Eyelet flaps sewn on top of the vamp for open lacing
Wider fit for increased comfort
Versatile appearance that lends itself to both business casual and formal looks
Oxford dress shoes get their name from Oxford University, where they became popular with the student body in the early 1800s.
Loafers are moccasin-inspired dress shoes. Loafers feature the following:
A saddle, or piece of decorative leather that lays across the top of the shoe, which may be plain, slitted, or adorned with metal hardware or tassels
Elevated seam in the toe area
Monk strap dress shoes are similar to Oxfords, but they don’t have laces. Instead, monk strap shoes feature the following:
A wide strap that fastens across the front of the shoe
Single or double metal buckles on the strap
A dress boot is similar to an Oxford but with a taller shaft. Dress boots typically feature the following:
Elasticized side gusset or zipper
Loafers and dress boots are often casual enough to be paired with jeans.
Men’s dress shoes feature a variety of toe styles that each provide a distinctive look.
Plain: This type of toe offers the simplest, cleanest look with no adornments of any kind.
Cap: This type of toe features a horizontal stitch across the front part of the shoe to create a cap for the toe.
Wingtip: This type of toe features a cap in a “W” or “M” shape that gives a wing-like design.
Split/apron: This type of toe features a stitched seam that runs around the toe.
Most shoes with a wingtip toe are Derby style, though some Oxfords also have a wingtip design.
Most men’s dress shoes are made of leather. However, if you want your shoes to last as long as possible, it’s important to consider the type of leather.
Full-grain leather: This type of leather isn’t treated much, so its surface, or grain, may contain some flaws or texture. However, it ages very well and often develops an attractive patina over time. Full-grain leather is considered the highest quality, so dress shoes that feature it are usually costly.
Corrected leather: This type of leather has been sanded to remove surface flaws and texture. An artificial grain is then added and sealed in place to create an attractive, stain-resistant surface. However, corrected leather creases easily and may peel over time. That said, most men’s dress shoes use corrected leather.
Most manufacturers clearly identify shoes that are made with full-grain leather. Corrected leather is often referred to as simply “leather.” You can also spot full-grain leather by its deeper, richer color and textured feel. Corrected leather tends to have a smooth feel that’s similar to plastic.
Some men’s dress shoes are made with suede or a combination of leather and suede, though these styles tend to be more business casual than formal. If you’re uncomfortable with animal products, you can also find men’s dress shoes made of high-quality faux leather that looks very similar to the real deal.
Shoes made with corrected leather can’t be polished, which is why they tend to crack more easily than those made with full-grain leather.
A dress shoe’s construction refers to how its sole is attached to the upper part of the shoe. There are several different construction styles, but the three most commonly used for dress shoes are Goodyear welting, Blake stitch, and cemented.
This is the most labor-intensive type of construction, though it can be done by hand or machine. The sole is stitched to the rest of the shoe for maximum durability and breathability. It also allows for easy resoling if necessary.
This type of construction is similar to Goodyear welting, though it results in a simpler style. The shoes can be resoled but require a specific machine. However, shoes with Blake stitching offer increased durability at a more affordable price point.
This type of construction is the most budget-friendly. Instead of stitching the sole onto the rest of the shoe, an adhesive is used, which doesn’t allow for resoling. Dress shoes with this type of construction usually aren’t very durable.
Dress shoes with Blake stitch construction tend to be more breathable than those with Goodyear welting, making them a good option if your feet tend to sweat.
The heels on men’s dress shoes typically shouldn’t be higher than one inch. If you’re on the shorter side, however, you may prefer a slightly higher heel that measures about one and a half inches.
Black is the most common color for men’s dress shoes. However, it doesn’t always pair well with navy.
Brown is actually a more flexible color choice for dress shoes. For a dressy look, stick to darker brown shades because light brown shades like tan give a more casual appearance.
Dark red shades, such as burgundy, cognac, oxblood, or cordovan, are striking color options for men’s dress shoes, though they aren’t the most versatile.
When in doubt, opt for brown dress shoes. They’ll coordinate with suits in nearly any color except black.
Men’s dress shoes often feature embellishments to give them a more distinctive appearance.
Brogueing is a series of decorative perforations along a dress shoe’s seams.
Wingtip shoes are an example of full brogueing, while other styles only feature perforations along certain seams.
Tassels can add a sophisticated, classic look to men’s dress shoes. They’re usually found at the front of shoes and are a common feature on loafers.
Full-grain leather is made from the hide portion that’s just below the hair, making it more durable than other types of leather.
Men’s dress shoes vary in price based on the material, construction, and embellishments, but you can typically expect to spend between $15 and $500.
For a pair of men’s dress shoes made of faux leather, you’ll usually pay between $15 and $75.
For a pair of men’s dress shoes made of corrected leather with cemented construction and few embellishments, you’ll usually pay between $60 and $175.
For a pair of men’s dress shoes made of high-quality or full-grain leather featuring welted construction and embellishments, you’ll usually pay between $175 and $500.
Match the silhouette of your shoe to that of your suit. If you’re wearing a slim-cut suit, pair it with slim shoes. For a looser fitting suit, opt for dress shoes with a wide silhouette.
Keep your leather dress shoes in excellent condition by cleaning and shining them regularly. This will prevent cracking and fading in the leather.
If you wear dress shoes to the office every day, you should own several pairs. Even a well-made, durable pair will wear out quickly if worn daily.
To make sure your dress shoes keep their shape, store them on a cedar shoe tree.
Your dress shoes will maintain their shape more effectively if you use a shoe horn to put them on, rather than simply shoving your foot inside.
Q. How should men’s dress shoes fit?
A. Dress shoes should fit well the first time you try them on – don’t expect to break them in over time. You shouldn’t feel the front of the shoe pressing against your toes or bunching in any way. The shoes shouldn’t squeeze against the sides of your foot or slide right or left too much when you walk in them.
Q. What should I look for in a more casual dress shoe?
A. The type of shoe that you choose affects how casual it looks. Loafers and dress boots tend to offer a more relaxed look, so they pair well with chinos and other business casual clothing. It also helps to consider the material and color. Suede shoes give a more casual look, while a lighter color like tan works well for a relaxed, informal look.
Q. How long should men’s dress shoes last?
A. The lifespan of a pair of dress shoes depends on the material and how they’re constructed, as well as how often you wear them. Full-grain leather shoes with welted construction are typically the most durable and can last five years or more, depending on how often you wear them. Lower-quality leather or faux leather shoes with cemented construction typically don’t last longer than a year.
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