Casual shoes like sneakers are the backbone of men’s footwear fashion. They are comfortable, stylish, and highly versatile. But, no matter their quality or construction materials, they are not professional shoes to wear with suits. You cannot rock a pair of low-top sneakers to work with a dress pants, button-up, and tie outfit as that role is reserved for dress shoes for men.
These shoes are an essential component of formal wear. If you want to look professional, you need a pair of high-quality men’s dress shoes in your closet.
Best Dress Shoes for Men
The world of dress shoes is vast with an array of distinct types, color options, and material choices. Not to mention the extra knowledge like learning how to stretch leather shoes.
Navigating this world might seem daunting at first, but you can make it easy by looking at the best men’s dress shoes on the market.
Without further ado, here are 8 of the best dress shoes for men:
If we had to recommend just one type of dress shoe, oxfords would be the one. They are timeless footwear that has been a staple of men’s dress fashion for decades and for a good reason. They are the ideal starting point for your dress shoe journey and the prime example of men’s leather dress shoes.
The defining feature of most oxfords is their closed lacing. In other words, the inner vamp edge is above the shoe’s facing. The result of this particular arrangement is a shoe that hugs the natural contour of your feet, giving it a very slim silhouette.
As for styling oxfords, pretty much anything goes. You can dress up with these shoes with suits and all that stuff, or dress down for a more casual-centric approach to dress clothing. Also, brown oxford shoes with brown pants are an excellent combo with nearly limitless possibilities.
The simplest way to explain brogues is as a fancier version of the oxfords. They have a similar shape to the oxfords but look much more stylish and glamorous.
The signature characteristics of brogue shoes are also their main appeal, and that is their decoration. You will find decorative stitches, serration, and perforations on the top in swirling patterns and connecting lines. There is no set amount of decoration either. You might find some brogue shoes that are covered from back to front with design details and others with barely a couple of perforated lines.
These can spice up almost any outfit you rock them under. Even the most professional-looking and serious suits will get a glow-up that’s stylish while following the formal fashion protocol. Brogues in white are also the best white dress shoes for men.
Derby shoes look very similar to oxfords, so much so that you might even confuse them with each other at first glance. The telltale sign of derby shoes is their simpler design. They have a very similar silhouette to oxfords but derby shoes are one of the best casual dress shoes for men.
This casual nature is reflected in their material options as well. While oxfords are mostly available as leather dress shoes, you can find derby shoes from soft microfiber or other similar materials as well. This variety in materials equates to more color options as well.
You can wear them with almost any oxford shoe outfit and they will work okay at worst. That said, since these high-quality men’s shoes are more casual-focused, wearing them with full suits is not a good idea. Instead, these work best below pants like chinos or rolled jeans topped with button-ups and polo t-shirts.
Monk Strap Shoes
These are the middle ground between oxfords and derby shoes when it comes to being formal. This balanced design gives them the ability to work well on both sides. You can rock them with the most dapper suits or fancy cuffed jeans.
The defining feature of these shoes is their lack of laces on top and a wide strap that then goes into one or two buckles. These shoes are usually made from shiny leather and the strap is leather as well. The overall silhouette of them is fairly slender and contoured. This fitted shape makes them some of the most comfortable dress shoes for men as well.
The prime example of a stylish double monk strap outfit would feature a pair of dark blue jeans with rolled cuffs, a blue and white striped button-up, and a drab green blazer. You can also swap the button-up for a maroon turtleneck for more style, or swap the jeans with chinos for a more formal-inspired look
Loafers are the sneakers of modern men’s dress shoes. In other words, loafers are one of the most casual dress shoes on this list. That said, there are many different styles of loafers out there and some of them look formal enough to qualify for black tie tuxedo outfits.
The biggest defining feature of loafers is that they are a part of the “slip-on dress shoes for men” club. They do not have laces, buckles, or even a Velcro strap. Another signature characteristic is the raised seam that runs alongside the toe area of loafers, though some designs might not have this.
Styling loafer dress shoes for men is both easy and complicated. Easy because they are exceptionally versatile. You can rock the same loafers with a jeans & t-shirt combo and everyday office attire. But, this ease of styling is also the hard part. Since there are so many possibilities, it can be confusing to find the outfits that you like the most.
Also, if you’re looking for the ultimate black shoes with khakis pants, black leather loafers are the way to go.
Dress boots are a hybrid between classic tall boots and oxford shoes. That is to say, their design is very similar to classic oxfords but they have a noticeably longer shaft. The benefit of this unique design is that it has the style and fashion appeal of regular oxford while also providing the comfort of proper boots.
The unique shape and design of dress boots are instant identifiers. Some variations of these high-quality men’s shoes also have wingtip broguing on the toe area.
Dress shoes are one of the most interesting entries on this list when it comes to styling as they are the only boots that can be worn under suits with confidence. You will have to put a little effort into matching the shoe and suit color. Other than that, you’re ready to amaze everyone with your mix of practicality and stylishness while also staying professional.
Chelsea shoes are the definition of beauty in less. Their shape is extremely streamlined and devoid of many design details yet they look majestic below almost any outfit. They are a descendant of the ankle boots and have a similar shape yet give off a very different, men’s high-end dress shoes vibe.
The lack of details, laces, or straps on the front is an immediate identification of these nice dress shoes for men. If that’s not enough, look to the sides and you’ll find wide elastic gussets. These elastic gussets are also how you can wear them without any supporting structure on the front and why they fit so snuggly on your feet.
The best matchup of these dress shoes is with jeans and winter ensembles. An outfit featuring a pair of blue jeans, cream turtleneck, and brown shearling coat would get an upward lift with a pair of brown Chelsea shoes. Some even consider these the ideal men’s fashion dress shoes as they go so well with modern men’s fashion.
Opera pumps are the essence of formal Victorian-era fashion and a modern essential for anyone interested in men’s formal attire. They have a slim low-top silhouette that hugs your feet comfortably from all sides. These were originally worn to events like operas and dances so they are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
They are the quintessential black dress shoes for men and their defining feature is their shiny patent leather construction. Proper opera pumps also have a distinct grosgrain bow on top.
You’ll see the best results when you pair these shoes with black pants, black tuxedos, or suits. These are not as common today as they used to be just a few decades ago. But this gives you a great opportunity to give them a try and mix them with modern fashion.
FAQ – Dress Shoes for Men
Dress shoes are footwear that isn’t a sneaker or boots and pairs well with formal clothing. Any footwear that exposes your feet can’t be considered dress shoes either.
The minimum number of dress shoes a man should have is one. A man should own at least a single pair of nice dress shoes for formal events and situations. There is no upper limit, but the ideal would be to own at least one pair of each, oxfords, loafers, tuxedo shoes, and Chelsea shoes.
Dress shoes are the preferred footwear for formal clothing. They pair well with dress pants, button-ups, suits, and tuxedos.
The most versatile dress shoe color is the good ol’ black with brown following not far behind.
The most versatile dress shoes are loafers. The same pair can be worn under a tuxedo and a jeans/t-shirt outfit.
Dress shoes for men are essential. No matter your lifestyle or job, you need to own at least one pair of dress shoes for formal occasions. Sure, sneakers are great but you can’t wear them under a suit, or to a job interview. Different dress shoes also open a whole world of unique outfits and ensembles that won’t look good with casual footwear.