How to Choose a pair of Dress Shoes

How to Choose a pair of Dress Shoes

Have you ever received an invitation to a formal event — and then looked down at the sneakers you’ve been passing off as work-appropriate? Oh no. You’ve never bought dress shoes! We get it, it’s an investment and you’ve been putting it off because you don’t want to choose the wrong pair.

Don’t worry, we’ve prepared a quick guide to get you started.


When will you be wearing them?

A quick way to decide how formal your dress shoe needs to be is thinking about when, or what occasions you will be wearing them for.

If you are purchasing a pair of dress shoes for a formal occasion like a black-tie evening, go for an oxford. Oxfords have a closed lacing and a sleek silhouette, and are generally regarded to be more formal. Black oxfords without any broguing are considered the most formal.

If you are planning to wear them for less formal events like afternoon receptions or even everyday work, go for a derby. Derbies have an open lacing and are less formal, while still looking smart. Brown derbies with broguing are considered more casual.

What pants will you be matching them with?

No one wants a shoe they can’t wear with anything. Our pants and shoes should complement each other, because no one wants to be a fashion disaster.

If you mostly wear black pants, go for a black shoe. You can’t go wrong matching black with black. Remember, black pants with brown or tan leather shoes is a ‘fashion no no’!.

However, if you mostly wear other colours like navy or grey pants, go for a brown or even burgundy shoe. These colours are less formal, so it’s a great time to be adventurous with your fashion choices. 

how to choose dress shoes

What toe-shape should you choose?

Look for shoes with a moderately shaped toe: almond or round-shaped toes are good choices to start with.

Avoid shoes that are too broad or square-toed. You don’t want to look like someone’s uncle bringing back last decade’s look. Shoes that are too long or pointy are a no-go as well. You want to make a statement, but not that much of a statement.

What type of shoe should you start with?

Lace-ups such as oxfords or derbies are the best to start with. They are formal and professional, while slip-ons are typically less formal.

Most of all, choose a shoe that looks and feels comfortable for you. The best way to find what fits you is to go out and try it on! We hope this guide was helpful for you in narrowing down the options and getting started on picking out a dress shoe.

Not sure how to take care of your new shoes? Read 3 Steps to Polish your Dress shoes


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