Dress Shoes Defined

Style Starts at the Feet

 

Dress shoes are the cornerstone of any semi-formal to formal outfit.  The eye sometimes starts at the feet, and often are the prime target when making your first impressions.  Always make sure to take care of your shoes.  If they’re falling apart, scratched and scarred to death, or just extremely outdated, then it’s time for an upgrade. Don’t know where to start? Hit up your local DSW (Designer Shoe Wearhouse), Men’s Wearhouse, or Nordstroms. You can even get really lucky and find amazing deals at your local thrift store or consignment shop. If you want high quality footwear online, hit up Ace Marks, Allen Edmonds, Paul Evans, or Magnanni. The higher-end shoes will last you forever if you treat them right. Often times, high end shoe companies will even replace the soles of your shoes if you wear them out. Here are the types of shoes that are often found with business professionals, at the office, or in a dressier setting:



 

The Oxford.

An oxford shoe is as follows: a lace-up shoe that always has the curved stitching from the bottom of the lace section down to the welt. A shoe in which the upper leather where the lace eyelets are placed is sewn underneath the vamp (the front toe portion and side quarters).  It was first made in Scotland and Ireland, aka the Balmoral shoe.  The Black Cap-Toe Oxford it is one of the most formal shoe that a man can wear and versatile too. It can be worn at a classy dinner or ceremony, and even at the office. They are one of the more classic dress shoes and usually worn to the more formal events. They may look slightly boring so keep them polished and clean to give them a bit of “oomph”. This is one of the first shoes you should pick up, as there are three events you will wear them to: a wedding, a funeral, and a job interview.

 

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The Derby.

The big difference between the oxford and the derby is the way the upper leather is stitched on.  The upper leather in which the eyelets are placed are sewn on top of the vamp instead of underneath of it. This gives it a more casual appearance as the shoe has more depth. The derby is a lot more casual, but becoming more acceptable around the office environment. You can wear the derby style with a suit, dark denim, or a pair of chinos. I prefer a dark brown derby, as it is extremely versatile with most out-of-office outfits. A great addition to your personal wardrobe.

 

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The Monkstrap.

A monkstrap shoe is a shoe with no laces where a strap of leather crosses over the instep of the shoe and buckles to the opposite side. It can come in single, double, and triple straps (triple usually on boots). The monkstrap originated with monks, as the name suggests, but started as sandals with the cross over buckle. Later they were converted into a very stylish shoe that I personally wear quite often with my casual outfits.

 

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*Brogues*

​Brogue is a type of decoration used on derby and oxford shoes. It is perforations and serrations found along the visible edges of the leather.  It comes in quarter, half and full brogue and usually a staple in wingtip designs. Definitely a good way to stand out. You can find brogue designs on virtually every type of dress shoe, from oxford, derby, boots and monkstraps.

 

*Wingtips*

The toe cap of a full brogue is both perforated and serrated along its edges and includes additional decorative perforations in the center of the toe cap. A shoe with a wingtip-style toecap but no perforations is known as an “austerity brogue”, while a plain-toe shoe with wingtip-style perforations is a “blind brogue”. While these terms might not mean much to a large group of people and you may never really need to know the difference between austerity and blind brogues, I like to share little nuggets like this

 


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​The Loafer.

​Seriously, who doesn’t know what a loafer is? A slip-on shoe with no laces. Loafers sit low, exposing the ankle, and typically has a low heel. Ranging from Italian to penny to tassels. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of loafers with the exception of the penny loafer design. I don’t enjoy dangling bits hanging from my shoes, bouncing around. They are quite distracting. Of course you can go with the bit loafer, which has a metal bit that stretches across the top of the shoe for a little flare – without all the distracting bounces.

 

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The Boot.

The types of boots almost seems like an endless list.  For a dressier boot, you can look to the Derby, Oxford, and Chelsea. To achieve a more casual appearance, check out the desert and brogues.  For those in the southern US and Mexico, the Western boot is the most versatile footwear as it’s worn with jeans, special events, and to the office in a suit. Desert boots are low-cut ankle boots. They are great for your casual style. Desert boots are lightweight and streamlined, so that you can dress it up or down. They go better with your button up than a typical pair of sneakers would, work well with chinos, as well as dark denim.

 

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​The Color.

​The most common colors of dress shoes are as follows: Black, Dark Brown, Tan, and Oxblood.  Those four colors are the most versatile of the color spectrum. Nowadays you can find all shoes in every color. For the other colors such as navy, purple, green, and what-have-you, you may have to special order them through a shoemaker.  These aren’t nearly as versatile, and for someone who doesn’t have an immense shoe collection already, I’d start with the versatile then work my way up to the fun colors.

 

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With thousands of types of shoes to choose from, these shoes are your best shot when it comes to a dapper style outfit. The shoes listed are typically great with a dressed up appearance, and some will work for an amazing street style look. I look forward to seeing some of you sporting incredible footwear. Any other questions or comments, recommendations and whatever is on your mind, shoot me a message.

Til’ next time.

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