Essential Shoes for Men

Posted by Rishi Chullani on

Shoes are expensive and take a long time to wear out so if you are a man who wears a suit (with or sans tie) frequently, you are bound to have a few pairs pile up over the years. However, this can quickly become an expensive proposition. Hence, this guide: Essential Shoes for Men. 

You are about to close that all important deal. She’s about to say ‘yes’.  In either instance, your dream crumbles through your hands and lands on your feet. Quite literally.  They’ve both looked down and you’ve failed the shoes test, miserably.

The suit was perfect, your color coordination was spot on.  But your shoe game was subpar.

Shoes sometimes get overlooked by men trying to improve their style game because they are expensive and tough to shop for.  If you are just starting your journey on trying to be a more put together and fashionable man, start examining your shoes.

A quality pair of shoes might be one of the most expensive items in your wardrobe so you want to make sure that you aren’t wasting your money on items you won’t be able to wear or won’t want to wear in just a short amount of time. This is why you need to start thinking about which shoes are essential shoes for men and how to get the most bang for your buck.

Having a bare bones idea of what shoes you need for your wardrobe will let you build a foundation of musts that you can craft to your style, and from there, you can add and replace shoes as you refine your sense of style.

Men's Shoe Colors

When it comes to the colors of shoes that are generally acceptable there are a surprisingly small number of colors, however their tones and combinations can be changed to create a multitude of looks.

The traditional men’s shoe colors are black (and grey to some extent), brown and if you are getting stylish, oxblood, which is a dark brownish red color. Each color goes with a certain array of suit colors which are very important to keep in mind. Straying from these traditional shoe colors down the road is fine, but these are definitely the best for your essential shoe collection.

When it comes to traditional suit colors, choosing a shoe color is fairly straightforward. Brown shoes go with brown, lighter gray, khaki, navy and other colored suits, while black shoes go with black, dark grey, khaki and sometimes lighter navy suits. There is a lot of overlap, but the main take away is brown shoes will usually contrast with your suit while black shoes should not unless in the case of khaki and navy suits.

As for Oxblood, you can wear this color nearly anytime you would wear a brown shoe, just keep in mind not to wear it with a burgundy suit.

One last piece of advice on wearing the classic brown and black shoes is to match your belt to your shoes. This will help you see if something just looks “off” and will make sure that you don’t make the old black belt, brown shoes faux pas, or vice versa. For those of you trying out your Oxblood shoes you can use a dark brown belt with a similar tone if needed.

Men's Shoe Styles

When it comes to formalwear shoes it can seem like there are an astounding number of choices, and to make things more confusing the style words that you may hear even overlap. There are brogues, cap-toes, oxfords, boots, wingtips, and single or double monk straps just to name a few.

These are things that you can enjoy getting into once you have experimented with and refined your sense of style.  However, as a starting point, the following shoes should make for a great foundation for your formalwear / business casual wardrobe!

Black Oxford Cap-Toe

The essential shoe that every man should have is the black oxford cap-toe. It is a style that is one of the most formal and looks great with your traditional black or charcoal suit. This particular shoe is as formal as any man needs to get on a regular basis while still being able to be dressed down enough to be worn to the office.

You can go simple or find a black cap-toe with some embellishments to show a touch of your personal style, but try and stick to a quality made shoe that looks timeless as this will be in your wardrobe for a long time if you take care of it.

Whether you are looking to dress up in a tuxedo for a black tie event, or seeking to polish off your suit with the right pair of shoes, your black oxford cap-toes will get the job done.

Essential Shoes for Men Black Oxford Cap-Toe Shoes

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Brown Wingtip (Brogues)

The second shoe essential to every man’s wardrobe is the brown wingtip. It’s a complex and sophisticated shoe that you can scuff up a bit or polish up to look shiny and new.

The Brown Wingtip, also known as the brogue, originated in marsh conditions of Scotland. They were initially designed with holes to drain out water. These traditional perforations and serrations (broguing) of the shoes are what sets them apart and gives them an elegant, differentiating characteristic.

While the brogue can come in a variety of brown shades, a darker shade will be the most versatile as it will work with both lighter and darker shade of brown and blue suits. 

Brogues are your ideal wardrobe companion because they work with almost any color suit and can be worn to the office day after day. This type of shoe quickly will become a workhorse. Whether you are dressing up for work every day or are just going to the odd business meeting, these shoes will look good in nearly any setting. 

Whether you are looking to suit up with a standard, three button two piece suit, or are looking to enter dapperville with a three piece suit for the day, your wingtips will be the perfect complement.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a refined, comfortable look, wear them with dark denim jeans and a button down shirt.

Essential Shoes for Men Brown Brogues

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Moving down the formality scale, loafers are an ideal choice for smart casual or relaxed formal settings, where you will be wearing chinos, or a linen suit, for example.  Their refined elegance and ease of wear make them the ultimate combination of casual and chic.

Loafers also offer the ideal aesthetic for going sockless. Of the range of loafer styles that are available, penny loafers are the most popular!

Essential Shoes for Men Penny Loafers

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The last pair of shoes is less specific and so should probably be purchased after you have diversified your shoe wardrobe with the above options. There are three broad categories of boots that one can choose from:

Wingtip / Brogue Boots

These are a classier rendition of what you would typically associate with men’s boots, and can be used with suits in formal settings.

Essential Shoes for Men Brogue Boots

Chelsea Boots

Chelsea boots, also known by the name jodhpur boots, paddock boots or dealer boots, are ankle high, close fitting boots. These ankle boots defined footwear in the 1960’s and are defined by the elastic side panel and the type of fabric used on the back of the book. Such elastic features allow you to casually slip in and out of these boots. It is precisely this ease of use that makes them a versatile pair to own, as they can be strutted to both office and casual settings with equal aplomb!

Lace Up Boots

Lace Up’s are the perfect casual antidote to your more formal brogue / wingtip boots. While lace up boots come in all shapes and sizes, what makes them different is that they are generally higher than the other styles, further lending to their casual nature.

By starting with an essential list of shoes you will be able to save money and set a foundation of shoes to build upon. Between your Oxfords, Brogues (Wingtips), Loafers and Boots, you should have something for every day of the week and / or type of occasion that you are attending!

And that's a wrap for this one. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it!

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