You’re in need of a new pair of dress shoes, so you go out and make a fast search, which yields a plethora of choices.
You’ve got all these different types of men’s dress shoes in front of you.
You’ve got monk straps, loafers, Balmoral oxfords, and bluchers, and you’re trying to figure out which is the ideal style for you, which will go with the formality of the suit or which will be more casual and can be dressed down with jeans.
The goal of this article is to get those dress shoes out of the closet and explain the differences in formality so you can find the perfect pair for you.
Factors to Consider
First and foremost, let’s discuss the aspects that will influence the formality of most shoes.
The first consideration is the shoe’s build.
The general guideline is that the more formal the shoe is, the simpler and more formal the build is.
It grows more informal as the shoe’s construction becomes more complicated.
Lacing: Open vs. Closed
Another thing to consider is if the lacing system is open or closed. It will be more formal to use a closed lacing system.
Color & Material
The next component impacting the formality of the shoe is the material used in its construction as well as the color.
Black will be the most formal of all the colors, followed by other dark colors such as dark brown and oxblood. Those will be formal, not as formal as black, but formal nonetheless.
As the colors lighten, we move from a dark gray to a medium gray, then to a white, then to a light gray, all of which are more casual colors.
The material, specifically the top, will be more formal if we see smooth leather that can be polished. When you see something like suede, you know it’s going to be more casual.
When it comes to the shoe’s sole, leather tends to be more formal, while rubber tends to be more informal.
Plain Balmoral Oxfords in Black
Plain Balmoral oxfords in black are number one on my list, the most formal dress shoe available.
You’ll see that I’m being quite particular here, and I’m only including one shoe in this category.
The rationale for this shoe’s inclusion is because it may be worn not just with a suit, but also with a black tie if you polish it up.
It’s important to note that Balmoral oxfords have a closed lacing mechanism.
The lacing method is crucial here, and they are my top pick for the most formal dress shoe available.
Balmoral Oxfords (not plain)
Balmoral oxfords are number two on the list, but we’re getting away from plain.
We’re beginning to introduce cap toes. On the toe, we’re incorporating a small medallion design. We’ll be bringing in a wide range of colors, including ox blood, dark browns, and even a medium brown.
All of these will look excellent with an interview suit because we’re opting for darker colored shoes.
But, what we’re seeing here is a little bit more design, this is going to make it a little bit less formal.
The significant distinction is that these shoes could not be worn with black tie.
I’ve got the wholecut, which is number three on my list.
Some of you may wonder why the wholecut isn’t number one. It’s the most basic and graceful of all the shoe types.
I agree, but I wouldn’t rank it first because it isn’t typically worn with black tie.
I believe you could pull it off with a black pair of well-polished wholecuts.
The blucher, often known as the derby, comes in fourth position in terms of formality.
I understand that a blucher and a derby are technically distinct shoes, but the point I want to make here is that we’ve gone from a closed to an open lacing system.
You should notice a significant change in the shoes at this point.
It’s always going to be more casual with an open lacing system.
The history of the open lacing system is quite interesting. It was developed by the military. They wanted to produce the shoes as quickly as possible.
At the end of the day, these shoes are classed as less formal.
Many of you are still going to wear bluchers or derbies with a suit, and if it’s a dark color and looks beautiful, I’m not going to tell you that’s incorrect.
I adore bluchers and derbies, and I believe they are quite adaptable shoes that can be worn up or down.
They’re quickly becoming a modern classic, and wearing them with more formal attire is becoming more common. I believe there are just a few occasions in which it would be incorrect.
When it comes to brogue lacing systems, there are open and closed lacing methods to choose from.
Technically, you’ll see brogue oxfords, brogue bluchers, or derbys. The elaborate work that goes into the leather is what distinguishes brogues from all the other shoes out there.
Brogues are divided into four categories.
The quarter brogue, semi brogue, wingtip brogue, and long wing brogue will all be on display.
Brogues in deeper colors, such as black or dark brown, will be seen. I prefer a medium brown, a light tan, or something along those lines. Consider using a suede, preferably a dark blue suede.
But you should have a good time with the brogues, which are a more informal style of dress shoe.
In general, they’ll be dressed down; you might be able to wear them with a casual suit, but they’re not something you’d want to wear to an interview.
I’m number six, and I’ve been given the Chelsea boot.
I ranked it so high because it has such a simple yet lovely style and is such a versatile shoe.
When I say shoe, it’s technically a boot, although its origins may be traced back to a walking shoe. It was never worn as a riding boot or anything similar.
It’s something that is just realistic for me.
It was popularized in the 1950s and 1960s by a variety of musicians, including storm troopers.
The point is that the Chelsea boot is something you can dress up or down, and I’m putting it high on this list because of its straightforward form.
The monk strap is the seventh item on the list.
We can trace our roots back to monks who used to wear this.
It began as a protective type of sandal, then evolved into a shoe.
The monk strap’s strap and buckle are the most important parts.
There will be single monks, double monks, and triple monks among the monks.
The double monk is one of my favorites. It’s one of the most comfy and elegant styles out there, in my opinion.
My favorite part about the monk shoe is when I’m going through security. I can easily put them on and take them off. With the buckle, they’re also a little different.
You don’t see them very often, but that’s also going to be their disadvantage, because they have that peculiarity with the buckle, which makes it a little more informal.
This is something I could wear with a casual suit. I won’t be wearing it with a suit that I’d wear to an interview. This would also look great with a pair of jeans.
It’s a really versatile dress shoe, which is why it’s on my list.
I’ve got the loafer, which comes in at number eight on this list. The loafer is, in my opinion, one of the most versatile pairs of shoes a man can own.
In general, it will be laid-back. Loafers come in a variety of styles.
The bit loafer, the tassel loafer, and the Belgian loafer will all be visible. The penny loafer, on the other hand, is my personal favorite.
This loafer appeals to me because of its clean, straightforward appearance. Wearing a dark hue will make it look extremely dressy.
You may also dress it down by wearing a more casual loafer with the same design but in a light gray suede.
The loafer will be one of your most versatile pieces at the end of the day. I believe you can still wear it with a casual suit in the summer or during the hottest months of the year.
These look great with both shorts and jeans. You can wear loafers with a lot of different outfits.
Then there are dress boots, which aren’t strictly dress shoes.
But, because I get a lot of inquiries, I’d like to address them. There are a few dress boots that are almost identical to dress shoes.
There are formal boots with a closed lacing mechanism available. Those that use a Goodyear welt or possibly a Blake stitch. However, they are constructed in such a way that they resemble formal shoes.
People may be perplexed by them because you would think, “Wow, this seems so well built, I could nearly wear it with a suit.”
However, you must keep in mind that dress boots are by their very nature casual. They’ll always be a little less formal.
There are a lot of dress boots on the market that are meant to look like a combat boot. The sole, which is at the bottom of the shoe, will be constructed of rubber.
They’ll be incredibly comfy when you’re out there; you can run in them, go hiking in them, and they’ll feel amazing.
The upper will be quite attractive and detailed; you can use a variety of leathers and colors, and you can even see suede on some of these.
But, at the end of the day, remember that the dress boot will most likely be relegated to the considerably more casual end of the spectrum.
I believe you can wear them with unusual trousers on occasion, such as gray flannel trousers.
They look terrific with dark-colored jeans, but they’re not something you’d wear with a suit.
Driving Shoes & Moccasins
I have moccasins and driving shoes to round out this outfit.
I’m including both of them since the construction, the build, and the materials that are frequently utilized when they are made are all very casual, lighter colors, and suedes. There isn’t even a proper sole on these.
They are, nevertheless, a significant step up from running shoes.
So, if you’re searching for something to combine with a pair of shorts, those are definitely worth considering.