Dress shoes mini datasheet

Horus

Ostrich
Gold Member
I think loafers have to be in suede to look cool. A casual shoe deserves a casual material. Leather loafers are weird.
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View attachment 23813
Correct. Although now these are strictly casual shoes which would never look appropriate with dress pants, only jeans, chinos or maybe shorts. Leather loafers, which look strange as you say, can be worn with both dress and casual pants.
 

Horus

Ostrich
Gold Member
Broguing

Broguing refers to the decorative punches in some shoes. Shoes with broguing are called brogues. The popular belief is that this originated in Scotland where they had holes in their shoes in order to let water run out while they were in the marshland, but I don't believe this is strictly true.

It should be noted that brogued shoes are less formal than non-brogued shoes and in the past they were considered unacceptable in anything except very casual environments. However, things have changed and these days, very few people other than funeral directors, lawyers, Mafia bosses etc work in formal/business environments where brogued shoes are not acceptable.

That being said however, you MUST have one pair of plain black capped toe Oxfords, and only buy black brogued shoes if you already own a pair.

I'll try to list the different styles in order of what I believe is most formal to least formal. I've shown them in both Oxford and derby styles. Remember oxfords are more formal than derbies and only look good when you wear them with formal clothes. Derbies are more versatile since you can make them work with semi formal or casual clothes.

Quarter brogues:

As these have the least amount of broguing, with only a line of punches at the cap, they are the most formal of brogues.




Adelaides:

Same broguing as the quarter brogues, with the addition of a line of broguing along the top of the sides. Usually only available as oxfords.



Half or semi brogues:

The same line of punches at the cap as quarter brogues, but more lines along the sides of the shoe and a decorative medallion on the cap toe.




Full brogues or shortwings:

The most heavily brogued shoe. Similar to the half brogue, but with the addition of a wingtip at the front.





Longwings:

The least formal of brogues. Sometimes referred to as gunboats. They've traditionally been very popular in the States, and although for a while they've been considered old man shoes, they are once again very popular. Alden cordovan longwings are legendary. Usually only available as derbies.
 

Horus

Ostrich
Gold Member
Building your shoe collection

Black cap toe oxfords:


The first (and possibly only) pair of quality dress shoes every man must invest in is a pair of plain black capped toe oxfords. This is not negotiable. Every man must have these in his wardrobe. Even if you rarely wear dress shoes, you will have plenty of occasions to wear them throughout your life. And if you do regularly wear dress shoes, you will get plenty of use out of them as they are the most classic and timeless shoe.

Remember if you invest wisely and you look after them, they will last a lifetime. You will wear them to job interviews, to your wedding, to your children's baptisms, to your children's weddings, and eventually to your own funeral. Have some respect for yourself and those around you by buying a decent pair rather than spending 50 dollars every time you find yourself in a situation where you need them.


From there it's up to you to assess your needs based on your profession and lifestyle. Perhaps after buying your black oxfords, you decide that's all you need because you only wear dress shoes twice a year. Perhaps you wear dress shoes every day for work in which case you will build up a larger collection. Perhaps you need to wear dress shoes but also require more casual shoes in which case you will mostly invest in derbies rather than oxfords. Perhaps you look great in a certain colour, so decide to buy several styles in the same colour. Or perhaps you live in a cold climate so invest in dress boots (of which I know little).

If you do wear dress shoes regularly, as I mentioned in a previous post, two pairs is a bare minimum as you must never wear the same shoes two days in a row. They need time to breathe and dry out with shoes trees, otherwise they will degrade much more quickly. If you wear dress shoes every day, I think it's a good idea to aim for five quality pairs so you have a small but decent rotation, but this isn't strictly necessary.

I would advise not going out and buying them all at once. Build up your collection over a long period of time. For most people this is a necessity anyway, since quality shoes are not cheap, (but in the long run much better value since they will last a very long time). By doing so, you will have time to understand how shoes fit your feet, which brands work best for you, which styles you prefer. If you end up buying everything at once, you will probably regret some of your investments.

Here's the order I would proceed when building up a collection. Again it's up to your own taste and requirements.

Dark brown:

Along with black these are a staple, but slightly less formal and very versatile.


Burgundy/ox blood:

Less formal than dark brown, but they can look really sharp with the right pants.


Light brown/tan/walnut:

Again going down the heirachy of formality. This colour is less versatile, but if you pick the right style they can work great serving the double purpose of formal and smart casual.
 

Horus

Ostrich
Gold Member
Matching pants with dress shoes:

There are some colour combinations of pants and shoes that always look great, some that look acceptable, and some that look terrible. These are just my opinions and some will disagree. But I believe if you've never thought about this before, the following are good guidelines which will help you figure out what is best for you.

In general, your shoes should be an equally dark or darker colour than your pants. If you wear lighter coloured shoes than your pants, it will usually look off. You may not realise this by just looking down at your shoes. But if you look in a full length mirror it will probably become apparant. Also, shoes that are lighter than your pants will draw the eyes downwards.

Black pants
There's no versatility here. Only black shoes work. Anything else looks completely ridiculous. You'll probably only wear black pants in very formal settings.

Navy pants
In the past, navy shoes were considered obligatory with navy pants, but these days it's a very rare colour of shoe. Burgundy or dark brown shoes look great. Black looks great if you want to look more formal. I see a lot of younger guys trying to wear light brown shoes with navy - I think it looks odd but many disagree with me.

Dark gray pants
Black, burgundy and light brown.

Light gray pants
Light brown and burgundy. Black and dark brown are okay but might look off depending on the shade of gray

Beige pants
Light brown and burgundy work best here. Dark brown isn't the best choice and never black.

Tan pants
Light brown, dark brown and burgundy. Again, never black.

Brown pants
Not sure because I never wear them. I think brown pants and suits look very dated.

I'm sometimes surprised how many men I see wearing formal or semi formal clothes where they've put no thought into how colours work together and they look ridiculous. Just a quick thought into this will transform your entire appearance. We all act more civilised when we're well dressed and around well dressed people. And being well dressed doesn't mean preening over your appearance. It just means having a basic understanding of what looks good, making a few investments, and looking after what you have.
 
Thanks for making this thread. I've had my old pair of (relatively cheap) black dress shoes for about five years now, and they've held up pretty well all things considered but the lining is starting to come apart at the heal on one of them and I was thinking about buying another pair, a little bit better in quality. This thread has been very useful in helping me decide what to look for in my next pair of dress shoes. I guess the one thing I'm curious about, is that you've said multiple times that "every man must invest in is a pair of plain black capped toe oxfords." Aesthetically I've always sort of preferred the plain toe to the capped. Is the capped shoe being the standard just convention, or is there some other reason (such as durability) that a plain toe should be avoided?
 

Horus

Ostrich
Gold Member
Thanks for making this thread. I've had my old pair of (relatively cheap) black dress shoes for about five years now, and they've held up pretty well all things considered but the lining is starting to come apart at the heal on one of them and I was thinking about buying another pair, a little bit better in quality. This thread has been very useful in helping me decide what to look for in my next pair of dress shoes. I guess the one thing I'm curious about, is that you've said multiple times that "every man must invest in is a pair of plain black capped toe oxfords." Aesthetically I've always sort of preferred the plain toe to the capped. Is the capped shoe being the standard just convention, or is there some other reason (such as durability) that a plain toe should be avoided?
You're very welcome. Re the capped toe Oxford, it's just a question of taste. This is just me trying to impose my preference on people who read this thread. But it's a taste that is evidently shared by many since all major shoe makers offer the capped toe Oxford as their flagship model. You're in the United States so I would recommend the Park Avenue by Allen Edmonds. It's not worth the full retail price so wait until they have their regular sales where you can get them 100 to 150 off. Or if you're in a position to really splash out on something you will take pride in for a lifetime, the next time you visit New York, you can pick something up from Crockett and Jones or Carmina.
 
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rotekz

Ostrich
Gold Member
The YouTube channel 'The Elegant Oxford' is great for learning how to care for dress shoes. There is so much more to it than simply applying a wax polish.
 
I got a pair of black Park Avenues last week, largely based on the advice from this thread. I can't believe I waited this long to buy a decent pair of shoes. A huge step up from what I was wearing before.
 

ball dont lie

Kingfisher
Gold Member
It really depends on your style as a whole, the weather in your area, how often you are walking/biking instead of car to parking garage to office.

When I was living in a 10 million person megalopolis, right downtown, walking or riding a bike a lot, I went with very different shoes than driving a car to a spot 100 ft from the door.

I used to live near Hong Kong in South China, and dress shoes meant something I wore basically to the bar or out dancing. Everywhere else I wore something very different if its 100 degree F with 85% humidity.

Now I live in a temperature climate and wear mostly Alden boots. I buy them from a mens clothing forum for about $200 barely used from people with way to much money. They are $600-800 new.

Anyways a good place to look for shoe deals is www.dappered.com. They often have great deals on Allen Edmonds and other good shoes.

A new company that makes well made shoes, for a low price, that can be returned is https://www.beckettsimonon.com/. I highly recommend their shoes for the price. Issue is that it can take a little while for the shoes to arrive at your doorstep.

For most guys that want something neutral that can be wore up or down, get a derby. I like captoe. I prefer dannite soles instead of leather, rubber is fine too. Leather soles are for lawyers or people who spend all day in an office. I walk around and do stuff.


Right now Brooks Brothers has very nice shoes half off (they are having financial issues) so instead of $750 its $300. Which is of course a ton of money. But its $7 to return things. You could order a bunch of shoes in a few different sizes, have fun trying on something of very high quality so you can get a feel for what looks good. Try them on with different clothes. And maybe keep a pair. If not, or $7 you learned something.
 

Batman_

Kingfisher
High quality shoes are not cheap, but they are an investment which will pay for themselves over time. For example, if you paid 100 dollars for a pair of black dress shoes, they will initially look good, but will wear out after three years and will need to be replaced. Over 30 years you'll pay 1000 dollars for the privilege of wearing low quality shoes. Alternatively, you could pay 500 dollars for a high quality pair of dress shoes which will look great, be oh so comfortable, and will last at least thirty years if you look after them and resole them when needed.
Unless you're wearing your shoes every single day, the average person can easily make a pair of cheap dress shoes last much longer than 3 years. But even if they wear out a bit, so what? Furthermore, what are the odds you'll like wearing your pair of $500 shoes for 30+ years anyway? Most peoples fashion sense changes a lot over time.
 
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Hypno

Crow
Three brands you see in U.S. department stores are Cole Haan, Johnson & Murphy, and Bostonian.

Cole Haan has different levels of quality. Some of theirs are very good, as good as Allen Edmonds, but they also put their name on some less expensive shoes made with cheaper materials. I avoid because I never know what I am getting.

Johnson and Murphy are very good shoes. I still have a cordovan pair (reddish leather) that I bought in 1994 and have resoled a number of times. Because they are cordovan, I typically wore them no more than once a week, which is why they lasted.

Bostonian is a good looking shoe but its not going to stand up to daily wear. If you are buying them for a special occassion, they are fine. If you are wearing them to work everyday, invest in something that is going to last.

I have also bought shoes from Charles Tyrwhitt. They cost as much as J&M or more, but I found them to be not quite as good. Would rather have J&M for the same money, and you can usually get J&M for less.

There used to be a Genesco outlet in Nashville out near the airport that sold Johnson & Murphy and Timberland shoes at close to half off. Not sure if it is still there.

BTW, I haven't seen it mentioned here. Match your belt to your shoes. If you wear suspenders or braces, then no belt.

Also, quality leather shoes need to breathe. Don't wear them on consecutive days. Buy some cedar shoe trees - those are the inserts you place inside the shoes. They help keep the shoes stretched to avoid cracks and wrinkles, and aid in drying out the moisture from inside your shoes.
 

Horus

Ostrich
Gold Member
Congratulations
I got a pair of black Park Avenues last week, largely based on the advice from this thread. I can't believe I waited this long to buy a decent pair of shoes. A huge step up from what I was wearing before.
Congratulations my friend. That's a fine shoe. You'll enjoy them for many years to come.
 
Great thread. Quality is key as pointed out. I haven’t tried any of the other brands except Allen Edmonds which are fantastic. I wear size 14/15 and EE so most brands don’t work for me. Allen Edmonds are a great fit. Being a less common size, over the years I have found some exceptional deals on used ones on EBay, send off to the factory for their $100 resole and touch up. They end up with a gorgeous patina and feel like new.
 
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