Usually, when men think of buying and wearing dress shoes, they often assume that they will be sacrificing comfort for formal style. It’s easy to then dread the entire process and the events they have to wear them to since they think it will mean hours of sore, tired feet. Especially today as the general work atmosphere has become increasingly casual, most men have very little knowledge and information about which are the best mens dress shoes and style to buy.
The good news is that these assumptions are outdated. There are numerous elegant dress shoes for men on the market which not only exude great style but are also comfortable enough to wear for hours on end. No need to groan about shopping for dress shoes, guys. This straightforward guide will give you the important features to look for when searching for that perfect pair.
What to Consider When Buying The Best Mens Dress Shoes
There are several different style types of dress shoes for men, each with their own different statements. You ideally want to go with a classic and versatile shoe which can complement a variety of looks. The top criteria when searching out the perfect dress shoe is as follows:
Comfort – This is of utmost importance. Check for the sole, cushioning, and other factors. For fit, focus on how the middle part of the shoe hugs your foot and how secure your heel is in the shoe. You want a “comfortably snug” fit with 1/2 to 1 inch of space in front of your toes. A good trick is to listen for a vacuum release sound when taking the shoe on and off. Additionally, make sure you try them on wearing the same socks you plan to wear with the shoes.
Style – While individual preferences and needs will vary, your best bet is a classic style.
Material – Leather is the standard and ideal material for dress and formal shoes; however, many dress shoes are also crafted from suede. If wearing a tuxedo, black patent leather is your best choice.
Quality – If you only plan to wear these shoes occasionally, it is not necessary to spend a fortune for a very nice looking pair. However, if you plan to wear them often, you will want to make a significant investment for high-quality shoes that will give you many good years of wear.
Men’s dress shoes generally come in three different toe styles:
Round toe – This is the most popular, classic, and timeless shape. When in doubt, always choose the round toe which can go with most formal and casual wear.
Square toe – While less popular, this shape can work if you have any issues with your feet such as toe swelling or wide feet. That said, this will not be a comfortable fit if you have a narrow heel and ankle.
Pointed toe – This shape is also not a popular choice but may work in some styles and occasions. This can make your foot look more elongated. The toe area itself is longer in length to allow for toe room.
While certain places and occasions may allow for square and pointed toe dress shoes, it is highly recommended to choose a round toe for all formal events.
Components and Stitching
Before we launch into the different styles of dress shoes for men, there are four basic components that make up the dress shoe.
How these components are placed when designing the shoe play a key role in the individual style.
Also, if you are buying shoes with laces, pay close attention to the shoes’ lacing (yes, there are different types and it does matter).
Closed lacing – The quarters and facing are located under the vamp and the laces close it together. This makes the fit less flexible but more formal.
Open lacing – The quarters are sewn on top of the vamp and facing is open to show the tongue. While this fit is more flexible, it is not as formal.
In addition, observe the stitching on the seams of the shoe. These also add their own elaborate flair to the shoes’ character. You also want to be aware of brogueing – tiny ornamental perforations arranged in different patterns on the shoe.
Styles of Men’s Dress Shoes
Now that you know the four components and lacing designs, let’s take a look at the distinctive dress shoe styles. While there are more styles and variations in addition to the list below, these are the most popular and widely available dress shoe styles.
Oxford – This is the most classic and timeless and can be worn with formal or casual attire. The distinctive attribute of the Oxford is its closed lacing. A more casual Oxford variation with open lacing is the Derby.
Monk Strap – These dress shoes are without laces. They are made similarly as the oxford but with swathes of leather across the front of the shoe with a single or double buckle to fasten it.
Dress Boot – This is a short lace-up boot styled like the Oxford or Derby.
Different variations of the men’s dress boot are the Chelsea Boot which is a slip-on, and the Chukka Boot which features just three lacing eyelets on each side. Additionally, there is also the loafer which is typically worn with suits and casual attire.
Popular Brands of Dress Shoes for Men
Most popular brands of men’s dress shoes are Italian designers although there are some very good American brands as well.
- Bruno Magli
- Allen Edmonds
- Magnanni Dionicio
- a. testoni
Determining Your Shoe Size
Since we explained earlier how to determine the ideal fitting for a men’s dress shoe, it is also a good idea to start by finding your correct shoe size and go from there. Italian designer shoes may pose a challenge since they go by Italian sizes. You can usually find conversion tables on the manufacturer’s web site. An example of some the most common sizes are listed below:
US Size: 9; Italian Size: 40
US Size: 9.5; Italian Size: 42
US Size: 10; Italian Size: 43
US Size: 10.5; Italian Size: 44
US Size: 11; Italian Size: 45
Best Mens Dress Shoes – Popular Brands and Reviews
Are you ready to price and compare some dress shoes? Let’s take a look at and review some popular best-selling men’s dress shoe brands.
This is an appealing twist of the Monk Strap style with the Loafer in a rich brown color. Imported from Italy, this dress shoe boasts impeccable quality.
- Calfskin leather
- Propriety cushioning for added comfort
- Leather sole
- Hand finished
- There have been some reports of the shoes running smaller than normal size.
Overall, these are some excellent quality shoes that add that sophisticated touch. When treated with the best care possible, you are sure to get many good years out of them.
Handmade in Italy, these classic oxford shoes are available in black, cognac, navy blue woven style, and cognac perforated style.
- Leather sole
- High quality
- 100% leather
- Timeless and sophisticated
- Occasionally, after 3 or 4 wears, the sole tends to separate from the body of the shoe.
Other than some very minor wear and tear issues, this is still an extremely high quality and impressive shoe which will complete the look of any formal outfit.
This handsome Oxford shoe also models a weave design paired with brogue styling. You get four intense colors to choose from such as Walnut Weave, Dark Chili Weave, Black, and Walnut.
- Calfskin leather
- Single leather sole
- 360 degree Goodyear welted construction
- Great fit and great comfort
- You may need to go for a half size bigger since the toe, while rounded, is more of an almond shape variation which can be tight in the toe area.
- There have been some reports of minor flaws in the leather and stitching.
All the same, this is a very high quality and versatile shoe at a very reasonable price considering its Goodyear welting. Chances are that you will be very satisfied with this well-made shoe.
This exquisite Italian-crafted shoe is made almost of all leather. Made in the Le Marche region of Italy, it brings a dressy and hip style to any function.
- Inglese Novolato Leather
- Leather lining and leather sole
- Rubber heel guard
- They have a slightly worn look to them which may not appeal to those with more traditional tastes.
While a very well-made Italian dress shoe, this particular model sports a trendier look. If you are style conscious, you may be able to pair them with suits which complement their edge.
Made and imported from Spain, this dress boot features a monk strap and 2-tone leather.
- Breathable leather lining
- Leather outsole with a rubber island for improved traction
- Cap toe (stitching across the toe) for added appeal
- This dress boot also has a trendy flair. It works great for a hip look but may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
- These are not made in Italy but in Spain. While still top quality, they won’t be an ideal choice if you’re looking specifically for Italian-made shoes.
They may not be for everyone; however, these crafted shoes add their own version of panache.
This is one of the most classical and traditional shoes available which can be dressed up for formal occasions or down for afternoon meetings or outings.
- 100% polished leather
- Cap toe, which is one of most popular toe designs
- Leather sole
- Five-eyelet lacing for a secure fit
- Size does tend to run large – it’s best to buy a size half smaller than you normally wear.
This is a superior quality shoe with an unassuming style which guarantees many years of good, comfortable wear.
There are two classic colors to choose from with this shoe – rich dark brown or black. This oxford style also features Nappa Leather from Italy.
- Downturned seams create a sleek look.
- Nappa leather from goat skin which makes a more supple upper
- Rubber heel for traction
- Everyday wear may lead to separation of the sole from the upper
- Some have reported wrong placing of the arch support which is too close to the heel and causes discomfort.
Nevertheless, this is a very classic, high quality shoe that exudes elegance. When treated with care, it will offer many years of good wear.
Available in black or brown, these are great dress boots to wear in cold weather with their waterproof construction and insulated lining.
- 100% leather
- Removable leather-covered inlay
- Waterproof and insulated for warmth and dryness
- Outsole has a shock point for additional absorption
- As compared to previous versions of the boot, the height has been reduced; it just reaches the ankle.
The faux fur lining can be too hot at times.
This is a good sturdy shoe and while it goes well with most business and casual outfits, it is primarily made for comfort. It is not imported from Italy but from Denmark which specializes in all-weather attire.
Made in Italy, this dress shoe is a one piece Oxford which is constructed from a single leather piece – not different pieces sewn together. This creates a sleek, elegant design.
- Made in Italy
- 100% leather
- Leather sole
- Minimalist design for versatility
- Some have reported that they run a little wide.
This is yet another well-made Italian shoe that can be worn to formal events or dressed down for more casual outings. It boasts a no-nonsense yet classical look.
If you want a sophisticated look for an affordable price, this is it. There are several colors and designs to choose from – from Wingtip Brogueing to simple cap toe.
- Flexible and comfortable
- Great variety of choices
- Non-skid rubber outsole
- Synthetic leather that causes some discoloration
- Some have reported discomfort in the heel area due to a seam
If you only plan to wear these shoes occasionally, these would look great without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that they will wear out quickly since the quality is lesser than higher-priced shoes. That said, they do provide a great look for any event.
Pick the Perfect Pair for You
When searching for the ideal pair of dress shoes for men, it is important to consider all guidelines, advantages, and disadvantages of each style and fit. And yes, pricing is also a crucial factor because you want the best quality and comfort for your money. While online shopping is the most convenient, it is recommended that you visit a well-reputed shoe store to determine your best fit. The right investment for a good, long-lasting style is priceless.