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The Best Dress Shoes for Men

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The Best Dress Shoes for Men

Ever seen a well-dressed man wearing some tired old kicks? Nope? Us either. That’s why we put together the best dress shoes for men. These are the five essentials of a well-shod man.

Now, the best dress shoes for men aren’t cheap, but as designer Hardy Amies said, “It is totally impossible to be well-dressed in cheap shoes.” We agree. And so do the ladies. Many women consider a man’s shoes the most important thing he wears. (Did you hear that, single guys?)

Neglecting this part of your wardrobe can make you into the style equivalent of the guy at the gym who only works his upper body and ends up with a barrel chest and scrawny legs.

Some guys might build a shoe wardrobe by going to the nearest department store, finding the shoe section and saying, “give me one of everything.” Not you, though. You know that true style isn’t a game of who can drop the most cash on the trendiest stuff the quickest. It’s about finding the timeless pieces and wearing them with panache. That’s why we’ve compiled a handy guide to help you in your quest to build the ultimate dress shoe wardrobe.

To begin, we think the most important shoes any well-dressed gent should have in his arsenal are…(drum roll, please):

The Best Dress Shoes for Men - Brown Brogues

1) Brown Brogues

Why are brown brogues first on our list of best dress shoes for men? Because, they’re the jack-of-all-trades of shoes. There’s something almost spiritual about a fine pair of brown brogues. The leather should feel soft and supple, but not too smooth. If you gently run your fingernail across the surface, you should just barely be able to feel the skin’s natural grain. The color should be deep and rich. You’ll instantly feel manlier when you step into them, and you probably won’t want to take them off for a good while. When you finally do take them off, you’ll want to take care of them, because a well made pair will last for a long, long time, and they’ll only get better with age.

Keep them sleek and they can easily be worn with your workhorse navy and gray suits, while the brogueing (the decorative punching on the toes and seams that gives these shoes their name) makes them casual enough to wear with chinos or jeans. It’s hard to find something that doesn’t look good alongside a pair of brown brogues, so we suggest making them the foundation of your shoe wardrobe.

Our Pick – Brown Brogues:

The Best Dress Shoes for Men - Black Cap-Toe Oxfords
2) Black Cap-toe Oxfords

At some point, you’ll need a pair of black cap-toe oxfords. Someone you know will get married. Or maybe you’ll try to beat a traffic ticket in court. Perhaps you’ll have a job interview. A pair of black cap-toes will be there for you in your time of need. Wear them to any formal occasion. Or, if you work in a conservative environment, you can wear these shoes every day of the week.

Black cap-toes are what we like to call NFA (“Not Effing Around”) shoes. Since these shoes are limited to somewhat formal use, they lose a few points on versatility and come down our list of essential dress shoes to the number two spot. Still, they’re a key part of any man’s footwear lineup.

Our Pick – Black Cap-toe Oxfords:

Brown brogues and black cap-toes are the Lennon and McCartney of shoes. Sure, Ringo’s fun, but with brown brogues and black cap-toes you’re pretty much covered. From here, consider picking up a couple variations on what we’ve listed above. For instance, you can’t go wrong with a sleek burgundy cap-toe, or a streamlined black derby. With two pairs of brown and two pairs of black, you’ve got yourself a solid shoe wardrobe.

So, where do you go from here? It depends on your personal style and how you plan to wear your shoes. Owning all brown and black shoes doesn’t make you unimaginative. Lots of stylish men do just fine with nothing but brown and black oxfords and derbies in their closets. So we could have called it a day and stopped counting at two. That would be the, to use a bit of busienss jargon, minimum viable product version of this list. But we wanted to make this a more exhaustive list of best dress shoes for men. So we pressed on.  After all, we understand the desire to branch out. With so many awesome shoes out there, it would be a shame not to snatch up a few pairs. Here are some ideas:

The Best Dress Shoes for Men - Wholtecuts

3) Wholecuts:

Wholecuts are made from a single piece of flawless leather. Most shoes are made from several pieces of leather because the skins that are used to create shoe leather must be completely free of marks and blemishes. As you can imagine, it’s pretty difficult to find a large patch of skin without markings of any kind. (Look at your own skin. You probably can’t go that far without seeing some kind of mark or discoloration.) So, it’s much easier to find smaller pieces of unblemished leather and sew them together to create a shoe.

Because the hides necessary to create them are so rare, wholecuts are more expensive than their more mundane cousins. But hot damn, just look at these things! Is there anything more elegant than a wholecut? In case you were wondering, the answer is “no.”

Our Pick – Wholecuts:

The Best Dress Shoes for Men - Monk Straps

4) Monk Straps:

Monk straps are shoes that fasten with straps across the top, instead of laces. They have can have any number of straps: one is common and two is fashion-forward, any more is a bit excessive (unless it’s a boot). Though they have been hot in recent years, monk straps are classics. Traditionally, they’re less formal than oxfords, so if you work in a laid-back office, consider picking up a pair for work. Even in the most starched-shirt workplace, a pair of black single-strap monk straps will allow you to add a little dash to your personal style without making you look too cool for school.

Our Pick – Monk Straps

The Best Dress Shoes for Men - Loafers

5) Loafers:

Loafers (also known as slip-ons) get a bad rap. They’re often called the lazy man’s shoe and many old school men’s style aficionados argue that slip-ons are too casual to wear with suits. Sorry grandpa, but we’re gonna have to push back on this one. The way we see it, it’s the man wearing the shoe who determines if a combination is elegant. As with your other shoes, the more streamlined they are, the dressier loafers become. Tassels are completely optional (and not necessary in our opinion).

Our Pick – Loafers:

There you have it. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to amassing one badass shoe collection. With shoes like the ones we’ve listed above, you’ll always be kickin’ it (or NFA) in style.

Got a question to ask us on building a dress shoe wardrobe? Leave a comment for us below!

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107 thoughts on “The Best Dress Shoes for Men”

  1. Great looking site. Presume you did a bunch of your very own coding.

  2. Great article. Those shoes are walnut colored vs. brown, which color would you recommend? What do you think of half/semi brogue vs. the full wingtip in brown?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad we could be helpful to you, Mike.

      As for walnut or brown, you would get no argument from us if you called those brogues above walnut. They’re also brown. Brown comes in many shades from dark espresso and chocolate browns to lighter shades like walnut, or cognac, or tan, or British tan. Different brands use different words to describe their shoes but the catchall is brown. So it’s not an either/or situation. We love the richness and the attitude a lighter brown brogue gives off but a dark brown shoe may be the most versatile when it comes to pairing, so we say, keep a pair of each in your closet.

      As for how much brogueing the shoe should have, that’s a personal preference. Whether the brogueing goes all the way back to the heel or just over the toe is a low-priority design detail to consider when picking a pair of shoes. If you like the look of the shoe, and the shoe is in a color works with your wardrobe, then go for it no matter where the brogueing stops.

  3. Paul Cherrie says:

    I just purchased a very nice pair of Paul Smith Toe Cap Oxfords. They are however quite a high gloss leather. Can I wear these for other than formal wear? They are not patent leather tuxedo shoes but look almost like it. Would love your input on this.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Some shoes are treated for a high shine. This is different from patent leather, but not quite as matte as other shoes either. They’re meant to be worn like any other dress shoes and look great with a suit or a pair of tailored pants and a sport jacket. They can look a little too dressy for, say, jeans, but other than ultra-casual outfits, you should feel free to wear them, Paul.

  4. Awesome! Its actually remarkable paragraph, I have got much clear idea on the topic of from this post.

    1. We’re glad you could appreciate it! Stay stylish.

  5. brown brogues are definitely the most versatile of the bunch, and pretty much is the case in any part of the world. surprised that you didn’t list a suede or brown chukka here as that also tends to be very versatile.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Agreed, Rick. Most guys in our office walk around in brown brogues. As for suede, we have another story dedicated to that type of shoe :)

  6. The monkstrap that you recommend has been discontinued. Do you have another recommendation?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Yup, this piece was published back in the summer of 2013 so the shoes may not be in stores any more. Still, the styles are timeless. While that exact single monk strap is out of stock, the folks over at Herring keep churning out great shoes, like this Rothwell II monk shoe.

      Happy strapping, Derrick!

      1. Black Lapel says:

        By the way, spurred by this comment, we’ve updated this story with a new recommendation for a monk strap shoe.

  7. Brogues are so last decade. Who wears country brogues, even in a formal guise?! It’s all about the refined & elegant Italian toe shape. Much prefer shoes by Santoni, Ferragamo or Thomas Bird. The wholecut shoe by Thomas Bird is the best value shoe I’ve ever seen. A tenth of the price of a Berlutti, but definitely not a tenth the shoe!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We think some crowds would disagree with you, Alistair. But, to each their own. These are great brands you recommend. Excellent taste!

    2. Totally agree.

  8. I would prefer black cap toe shoes, as they look very classic and perfectly complement with most of my wardrobe collections

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Exactly why they’re on this list! They’re essential to any well-dressed man’s wardrobe.

  9. Black Lapel, I love the blog and I appreciate your guidance and advice!

    I can’t decide between a pair of British Tan Brogues or Taupe Brogues. I like both colors but I’m in need of some advice. What do you think?

    Thanks!!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks, cowboy! We like the idea of both brogue shoes you mention. The British Tan shoes are more of a common staple, and taupe brogues will up your personal style factor. Your decision should really come down to this: which color matches best with the rest of your wardrobe?

  10. I love how well you keep up with the comments section, great work!

    Question: I have to wear sharp dress shoes every day, but I also have to commute through the metro (and rain) everyday. Would you recommend a commuting shoe as well?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad the comments are helpful!

      To answer your question, any of the shoes you see here are made from quality leather that can stand up to daily wear (that includes commuting) as long as you maintain them. That means not wearing them two days in a row and regularly conditioning and shining them. Your cobbler can do some extra things, like covering the soles and yearly weatherproofing, that will help you fend off the rain.

      For more on winterizing your shoe wardrobe, check out our Winter Survival Guide to Dress Shoes.

  11. Hyacinth Pestaina says:

    Very interesting information for male dress shoes. Do you have information on 5 dress shoes a lady should have. Also, what about a lady’s corporate shoe wardrobe?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Well Hyacinth, we make men’s clothes, so we stay focused on menswear. Hence, we haven’t published anything on women’s office wear, but we do think there are some great sites out there like Man Repeller. For some good shoe options, check out this Pinterest board of Office Shoes for women.

  12. How about if you have small feet like myself? I am a size 6. I have a really hard time find shoes in my time. Usually Cole Hann carries that size. Do you guys have any suggestions?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      There are plenty of great looking, quality options in a size 6. You’ll probably just need to shop online. British brands like Herring, Church, Loake and Barker all make quality shoes in a size 6 US (that’s a 5.5 UK and a 40 EU). You can check them out. on the Herring website. And if there’s nothing there to your liking, try out Shipton & Heneage’s selection.

      Of course, if you’re looking for the true custom experience, you can get a pair of custom shoes made to your specifications from the shoemaker that is bringing custom men’s dress shoes to the masses Awl & Sundry. All of the brands listed above make quality shoes at varying price points and they all make a size 6.

  13. What is the most versatile brogue shoe? Wingtip or semi brogue? Oxford or derby?

    1. Versatile is a loaded word, TH. So we’ll start with the caveat that an extremely versatile shoe for one guy may be completely impractical for another guy, depending on where he intends to wear his shoes, what he’s got in his clothing wardrobe and what other shoes he’s got.

      That said, the most versatile shoe for us is the first one on this list. Full brogues like the ones we featured above can be worn with everything from a three-piece suit to a pair of jeans. Lighter browns can be limiting because they tend to look strange with dark suits, but a medium to dark brown pair can look great with any suit color except black and will still work with chinos or jeans. If we were stranded on a particularly stylish island for the rest of our lives, these would be the shoes we would want with us.

  14. Great article and comments! Are bespoke shoes “worth it” from a functional basis (as well as style)? Are they much better for comfort and ease on the feet?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We can’t speak to the quality of all bespoke shoes, but if you’re wondering if the idea of a bespoke shoe is worth it, the answer is emphatically, YES. There’s nothing like putting on a shoe that was made specifically for your foot.

      That said, you don’t HAVE to go bespoke to get a really well-made comfortable pair of shoes. We’ll stand behind (or in) any of the shoes we highlighted above.

  15. I have a pair of J Adler brogues that look very similar to the Alden bluchers shown above! Have you ever tried any of their shoes? They have became my favorite!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We haven’t gotten our feet into J. Adler shoes as of yet, but we’ve heard good things. Sounds like you’ve had good experience as well.

  16. Thanks. Comparing http://www.allenedmonds.com/aeonline/producti_SF270_1_40000000001_-1_ and the Rothschild http://www.loake.co.uk/loake-1880/toe-cap/rothschild.html

    Which one do you prefer? Is the Allen Admonds Park Avenue Cap-toe Oxfords better? In the article, is your view come from America or from England or somewhere else?

    Thanks

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’ll stand behind both of these shoes, John. Actually, to be more accurate, “we’ll stand IN both of these shoes.” The quality is excellent in both.

      The choice should come down to how they feel on your foot. That means understanding the last (the shape of the insert around which the shoe is crafted). The 65 last used by Allen-Edmonds to make this shoe is their longest last and best for a long narrow foot. The Duke last used to make the Loake shoe is slightly more full and good for an average width foot. If you’re in doubt, order both and try them on at home to compare them, then make your decision.

  17. The picture of Brown Brogues shoes is not in merlot burnished calf as you stated in the link. So, do you recommend the color in the picture or merlot burnished calf color?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Good catch, John. We have updated the link above.

      To answer your question, we don’t have a strong preference in either direction when it comes to color. The Walnut color is the browner of the two and looks great with brown, blue and olive pants. The Merlot may be more appropriate for a guy who owns a lot of gray suits and slacks. Both are a versatile choice so you really can’t go wrong.

  18. Thanks for including us!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      No problem. You keep making great shoes and we’ll keep telling guys about them!

  19. James Darrel says:

    What about some men’s football cleats. I think they are also important in a men’s wardrobe.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We enjoy a good football game (American and soccer) as much as the next guys. (Don’t get us started on the decline in sideline style since the old days of Bear Bryant in the college ranks and Lombardi and Landry in the pros!) But we’re talking about dress shoes here, James, so we left out athletic shoes.

  20. Well, Great collection of superb designed Men Dress Shoes is here, which provides extra ordinary features. These smart, descent shoes make the dressing complete as its an important part of the personality.

  21. Just had to have this pair of Scoth & Soda rust color slim fit jeans, they fit great. Now I need some ideas for tee shirt/shirt colors. Don’t say earth tones, too vague and I don,t look good in brown tops. I did find one colorful shirt at Brooks Brothers dominant navy blue plaid with a an exact rust stripe and dark green etc.. Need more ideas and I don’t like solids to bland. For shoes I assume black, British tan and brown anything else?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Not sure what in this story led to a question about T-shirts and denim colors but, we’ll give you the same advice we always give, when in doubt simplify. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a large collection of white shirts (tees, dress shirts, sport shirts, polos, etc.)

      Now to the topic of this story: brown shoes are the way to go with rust colored denim. British tan can work, as can cognac colored brogues, just be sure the color is not too close to the color of your pants or your legs will look like firmly rooted tree trunks.

  22. Forgot to ask about the socks, what color options do I have there? With navy, I assume navy socks or black? With light grey? Help me out with that one.
    Again it’s Mark and those British tan color shoes.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Socks are a related, but different, ball game. We’ve got you covered there with a whole story dedicated to Stepping Up Your Sock Game where we offer guidelines that you should definitely check out.

  23. Yes , saddle or also referred to as British tan color the Cole Haan Air Madison (this one); http://www.colehaan.com/air-madison-plain-oxford-british-tan/C10244.html?dwvar_C10244_color=British%20Tan#cgid=mens_shoes_oxfords&start=1

    But as you said, doesn’t matter no way with black slacks. And match belt to shoes, got it, navy is fine, what other color slacks, I assume tan is fine as well? What about light grey?

    Thx again !

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You’ve got it, Mark. British tan shoes work well with just about any color except for black. Some say that British tan is too light for charcoal gray but we’re not ready to etch that one in stone just yet. As for pairing them with tan slacks, try not to match the colors too closely or your legs will start to look like trees growing straight up out of the ground. We think light gray and British tan, on the other hand, is a match made in heaven.

    2. Hi Mark,

      I have the same shoes, what belt did you find to match to them?

      1. Black Lapel says:

        Thought we’d give Mark an assist, here and give you a link to a Cole Haan British Tan belt that ought to work well with those shoes, Justin: http://www.zappos.com/cole-haan-carter-belt-british-tan. Happy belting.

  24. Can I wear saddle color lace up shoes with a black belt going with black or navy dress slacks? In a banking environment and slacks are also cuffed. A saddle belt just seems to extreme in this environment. I am wearing a tie without jacket. Even saddle color shoes with a navy pinned strip suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re going to assume you mean a shade of brown called “saddle” not a saddle shoe that has a color in it (like this)…actually it doesn’t matter, neither of these shoes should be worn with a black belt and black slacks. It’s not that brown shoes are too bold (they’re not). It’s that black pants and brown shoes look goofy.

      With navy slacks or a navy pinstripe suit, brown shoes are quite sharp. Don’t screw up the look with a black belt, though. The rule of thumb is to match your belt color to your shoe color.

  25. Amazing Collection of men dress shoes with a nice selective verities.

  26. I see (Stolen Riches). Thanks.

  27. I purchased a pair of black monk-strap shoes. They are best described as whole cuts since they are mainly one piece of leather except for the parts for the strap, and they have a medallion. They look great. However, they are a bit smooth for gray flannel slacks. The flannel is a bit too thick for the shoes. I probably need a brogue type shoe like a wingtip. I used to wear wingtips back in the day but I don’t need to dress as conservatively as I used to. What do you think? Maybe I should jump on those alligators I mentioned. I did find a pair with the double strap you suggested.

    Lastly, what’s your opinion regarding ox blood colored shoes? Haven’t had a pair since the 90s.

    1. You nailed it, Terence, you can’t go wrong with the timeless classic wingtips. As with all timeless classics, they can be a touch conservative. The alligator monk straps with the two straps would swing you in the other direction, but that’s cool. A happy medium, may be to get some wingtips but give them a little punch with accent color laces from Stolen Riches or Benjos.

      For another option try, ox blood wingtips. They’ve been spotted around the Black Lapel HQ lately and every time they are they get the thumbs up from the rakish gents who roam these halls.

  28. recommended dress code or place of cedar brogues ?

    1. Are you wondering what clothing goes well with a pair of light brown brogues? The real question is, “what DOESN’T go well with them?” The answer to that is “Nothing except black.” And we’ll even amend that because you can get away with black jeans and light brown shoes. Otherwise, you can basically choose anything from your closet (gray suit, blue jeans, khaki chinos, you name it) and wear it with these shoes.

  29. Benjamin Seo says:

    How do you guys feel about boat shoes? Any recommendations for someone looking to get his first pair?

    1. We feel so good about boat shoes, we’re actually considering buying a Black Lapel boat shoe like this one!

      Of course, we wouldn’t consider these part of a dress shoe wardrobe (which is why they’re not featured above), but you can’t go wrong with the Authentic Original Boat Shoe from Sperry.

      For a modern take on the classics, try the Billfish Ultralite 3-Eye (also by Sperry) or the Triton Three-Eye boat shoe by Sebago.

  30. OK. Thanks for the heads up. I appreciate your feedback. I’ll wait on the leather before I go ahead with another alligator shoe.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re not hating the gator skin. Hey, if you’ve got a full shoe wardrobe, go ahead and indulge.

    2. Absolutely loving the site. Our first trip here. I never consider price when I’m buying shoes that I want. Of course, I have a price range but I’m looking for something that I want to add to the wardrobe. I’m a big fan of exotic skin shoes. Luckily, I know people that know people and I can get a great deal. lol Even so, quality and style is in the eye of the beholder. I still think you get what you pay for. Also a big fan of wholecuts. I’m a guy that can appreciate craftsmanship and the art of making a shoe. Gained a fan today, thanks for all your input.

      1. Black Lapel says:

        Here here. There’s just no denying a great pair of wholecuts!

  31. Very nice article like all of your posts in many areas. I have a closet full of shoes and still can’t figure out what I’m missing. I have alligator shoes, alligator boots, leather shoes, ostrich shoes, you name it (black, dark blue, brown and sport). Where do I stop? What do you think of an alligator monk-strap shoe to wear with a blazer and slacks? I’m thinking dark brown. The main outfit will be dark navy flannel jacket with dark grey flannel slacks, heading into the late Fall season. I’m awaiting a nice leather monk-strap but the alligators I’m looking at are very appealing. I just love alligator but they’re not versatile. Any thoughts on all this? Yes I have the bases covered like the black cap toe shoe and all. I surmise at this point anything I get is an addition.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’ve seen alligator monk straps and agree, they are less versatile than smoother calf-skin. That said as a second pair of monk straps, they do make a nice looking alternative. The alligator skin can be quite busy looking so counterbalance that with a darker shade and slimmer straps across the top of the shoes. That means doing two straps instead of one wide.

      And, Terence, please don’t take any vacations to Florida. You are definitely a wanted man in the alligator community!

  32. Evening Gents,

    A bit late to the party, but how are Allen Edmond’s Park Avenue Cap Toe Oxfords? http://m.allenedmonds.com/aeonline/producti_SF270_1_40000000001_-1

    I was planning on grabbing that Andrew Lock but I came across a good deal for the AE Park Ave for about $220. I could save some much needed cash and have some quality shoes that would go phenomenal with the Navy 3 piece I am getting from you guys.

    Now my get up would be mainly for travel, but I feel loafers aren’t my style. And these shoes would only be worn a few times a year with travel, weddings, formal events.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      While we can’t vouch for this exact pair, Allen Edmonds does make a fine product (that’s why we suggested the McAllister wingtip oxfords in this article). We can say, though, that with proper care (rotating them so you don’t wear them daily, conditioning and shining them often and the occasional resoling) they ought to last you, and look great, for years.

      If you’re looking to streamline the modern travel routine but don’t like loafers, you can also go with a monk strap. It’s not quite as easy as a slip-on but it’s simpler than untying/retying and they look great.

  33. Thanks for the advice. I already have black and brown dress shoes so have been looking to spice up my complement with something different.

    And your thoughts on suspenders? Are they still relevant in the modern man’s formal wardrobe?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Suspenders are definitely relevant for the modern man. They can add color to an otherwise toned-down look (like this or this) or add character to an outfit, (like this). We say, rock ’em if you got ’em.

  34. Hello Blacklapel – found your blog a few days ago and have been devouring your articles, so glad to finally have found like-minded gentlemen!

    Question – what are your thoughts on grey dress shoes? I’ve never seen anyone wearing them so would like some ideas on what to wear with.

    Also, how about an article on suspenders?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying The Compass, Wesley. Remember when we were kids and Cookie Monster reminded us that even though he loves them, cookies are a “sometimes” food. That’s the way you should think about your gray dress shoes. There’s a reason you haven’t seen anybody wearing them. Gray shoes are tough to pull off, especially if you’re trying to wear them as everyday dress shoes. First, build a wardrobe of black and brown shoes (following the advice above), then put on the gray shoes with jeans or lightweight gray pants every once in a while when you want to change it up.

  35. Hi blackLapel, I’m so glad to have stumbled on this site. I just recently purchased a pair of brown rogues, and like a proper dummy-face, I got the front (left of the toe) area scuffed. Maybe scuff isnt the right term, it wasnt scratched, the “skin” was scuffed off and the raw leather was exposed underneath. A very small area, perhaps 1cm square. In american terms, lets say a quarter of a square inch.

    What can I do to repair this? Is it repairable? Do you have a blog posting about shoe maintenance/repairs?

    Much love, Keep it up this site is great!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks for the kind words Klan! For a scratch that’s too deep for an ordinary shoe polish or conditioner, you may want to try Saphir’s Renovating Repair Cream. The resin-based formula fills any cracks, rebuilds the surface, and will never come off.

  36. Alejandro says:

    What’s your opinion on dress boots? A pair that looks just like normal brown dress shoes with pants on, but when crossing your legs while sitting show the extended boot. Much like the pair below.
    http://www.johnstonmurphy.com/product.aspx?pid=83875&s_cid=googlecatalog

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re all for them! However, we tend to like them better with more casual look, like a pair of brogue dress boots paired with chinos or jeans.

  37. Would brown brogues be inappropriate for a job interview?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Brown brogues are perfectly acceptable!

  38. Excellent article. I have some shopping to do….lol.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We were thinking the same thing as we were writing it! 😉

  39. Nathaniel says:

    Also, loafers are particularly useful for business travelers. Don’t be the guy in the suit holding up the TSA line. A nice pair of dress loafers solves this problem. (And I whole-heartedly agree with the author’s position on tassels).

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Great point Nathaniel. Paired with some smart suit jacketing folding you’ll be jetsetting like a pro.

  40. Nathaniel says:

    Excellent points. Discovering proper dress shoes was a revelation to me. I always thought they would be uncomfortable and overly expensive. I could not have been more wrong. After a brief break-in period, these are my most comfortable shoes. And, with rotation (I hardly ever wear the same pair two days in a row), proper shoe trees, and the occasional heel replacement, they have lasted years (my first pair is about to go back to Allen Edmonds for recrafting after 4 years of continual use). Even at $400 a pair that’s cheaper than Rockports that need yearly replacement. In short, invest in two good pairs of shoes, you’ll not regret it.

    I’m interested in your take on saddle shoes as a wardrobe staple (my AE Shelton’s are likely my favorite pair of dress shoes). However, I find them to be a bit of a contradiction as I understand them to be traditionally a more casual shoe developed for sporting use (riding, polo – hence the name). But the style, particularly with some decorative broguing, tends to look more dressy to the eye.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      “In short, invest in two good pairs of shoes, you’ll not regret it.” Couldn’t agree with you more! A good pair of dress shoes can be one of the best investments a man can make for his wardrobe. As for our take on saddles shoes, we’d probably wouldn’t be wearing them to a client meeting or interview, but there’s no reason to dapper up in pair in a more lax or business casual environment.

  41. Can we talk about care? my shoes usually end up looking not so well. I wonder if I just walk wrongly :)

    1. Black Lapel says:

      CL, we’ve written about shoe care before in the latter half of our Winter Survival Guide to Dress Shoes. However, we’ll be doing another post on shoe polishing and care soon! So stay tuned!

  42. Hey guys, got suggestions for shoes for a business casual workplace? I’m looking for something durable, since I tend to go years between shoe shopping. I’m also looking for something versatile that I could wear on weekends when I want to be dressier than sneakers but not stepping out in a suit.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Will, we’d recommend a pair of brown brogues such as any of the ones listed in the article. As mentioned, they’re perfect to pair with your staple suits, as well as more business casual get-ups–the brogueing (the decorative punching on the toes and seams that gives these shoes their name) makes them casual enough to wear with chinos or jeans. Another option are a pair of loafers, which is dressy enough for a business casual to even business formal dress code, while casual enough to slip into on the weekends.

  43. Larry Wolf says:

    A few more no-no’s for the truly well-dressed gentleman:

    No soft-rubber soles, as you find on Rockports and other brands geared for comfort verses fashion. No one under 70 years old is allowed to get away with wearing these. Always chose a dress shoe with a hard rubber or leather sole. Your adversaries should hear you coming as you walk across hardwood floor.

    No square-toed oxfords are allowed. Kenneth Cole led the way with these in the 1990’s, a period in fashion we should not return to any time soon. At the other end of the spectrum, the elongated pointy-toe numbers that originated in Italy should in fact stay there, and have no place on this side of the pond.

    Finally, please know the difference between a dress loafer and a casual loafer. Anything that is low cut, with a low heel or that even slightly resembles a moccasin is too casual to wear with a suit.

    Thank you, and happy shoe hunting.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Haha, we may relax a few of these rules particularly when it comes to the loafers. But we love the quote about letting your adversaries hear you coming. That’s just #boss.

  44. This is great. I think a great follow-up to this article would be the different types of shoes, especially the little details (like the difference bewteen a Derby and a true Oxford, as this is commonly mislabeled.)

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Great ideas Richard. We’re taking notes.

  45. Great post guys. Shoes are just as important as the suit and all the other good stuff. Mantorii.com is a nice website for custom shoes. About the same price as the ones you’ve linked (maybe cheaper) and they’re custom just like black lapel does. Not advertising, I’m just a happy customer

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad you found it helpful! And thanks for sharing the link Pascal!

  46. I don’t own any black shoes. I find a good Cordovan or burgundy fits the bill nicely, and separates you from the black shoe/black belt crowd. If you have 4 pairs of work shoes (as I do, all Allen Edmonds), you definitely need to care for them. Here is what I suggest:
    -Buy cedar shoe trees for each pair. While they add about $30 to the cost of the shoes, they extend the life of the shoe nicely. Let the shoes air out for about 3 hours after wearing them, then insert the shoe trees. If the leather soles get wet, like rainy day wet, insert the shoe trees immediately to prevent them from losing shape.
    -Buy some rubber overshoes. If you live in an area with snow and salt in the winter, or even massive rain in the summer, you will need these. I keep a pair in my laptop bag for bad weather.
    -Buy some heel/edge dressing in brown and black. Nothing brings a pair of shoes back to like like simply getting the scuffs off the sides of the soles.
    -Never wear the same pair 2 days in a row. They need time to air out, so give them time off in their shoe trees after every time you wear them.

    -Different shades of brown can compliment different outfits. I have a pair of walnut brogues that are beautiful, as well as a pair of cordovan. They together cover almost any outfit I can throw together.
    -Two-tone shoes with white in them are awesome for summer. The Allen Edmonds Broadstreets or even the linen and leather Strawfuts are awesome with seersucker, which is a perennially stylish look but fashion forward at the moment, thanks to the Gatsby look. I currently have a walnut/brown pair of AE Sheltons that are incredibly versatile.
    -Nothing differentiates you from the those around you like an expensive pair of shoes. I travel every week, and while the other business travelers I see think they are gaming TSA by wearing loafers and slip-ons, I refuse to stop wearing brogues to reclaim the 3-5 minutes it takes me to relace each week. I carry 2 pair with me and switch off each day, and I will never go back to rubber-soled Tom McCanns for work ever again.

    1. Jim Graham says:

      Amen Justin
      Fantastic post with great tips.
      Rotating is key to longevity. I resole my shoes every year like clock work.
      My two staple “go to” black (sorry just the way I role) are each over 15 years old. Polish, cedar tree’s and rotation. Than the 600 dollar shoes are not that much over 15 years 😉

      1. Black Lapel says:

        We couldn’t agree more. If you do the math, it turns out to be a lot less than what people end up spending on a daily cup of coffee!

  47. Nice shout out to Kent Wang! I like the other shoes he has on offer, too.

    The other thing about quality shoes is that they are made to be refurbished when they get tired. Besides resoling, a quality cobbler will scrape out and redo the cork cushioning, re-last the shoe so its original shape is restored, and completely refinish the uppers by stripping away all the built up layers of polish. Allen Edmonds is well known for offering this service (which they call Recrafting), though I think most every shoe company in its price range or higher does now. The advantage of using the manufacturer’s service is that they have all of the original lasts and you’ll get the same materials. On the other hand, B. Nelson is still a very competent mail-order cobbler who specializes in both men’s and women’s shoes. I plan to send a couple of vintage shoes their way.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The Kent Wangs penny loafers are beautiful, aren’t they? And great point on the refurbishing–another reason why a fine pair of dress shoes are worth the investment!

  48. I like the discussion on the shoes. Would it be possible to do a post on shoe care, such as when and what to use to take share of shoes, how often, etc.?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      John, glad you enjoyed the article! We’ve written about shoe care tips briefly before in our Winter Survival Guide to Dress Shoes, but we plan to do another in-depth article on shining and care in the very near future! So stay tuned!

      1. Jim Graham says:

        Funny – one of the advantages of growing up with a father in the Canadian Forces (British like) is that my old man polished his shoes and boots everyday. I joined, and after five years was taught correctly.
        I polish EVERY DAY. Never miss. I clean them first with a cloth, put HIGH QUALITY shoe polish from Kiwi or the like, let it sit, rub it in – small circular motions, then finish with a strong buff. Everyday during the week. I get the exact match for my shoe colour – black, brown, light brown etc. Every pair of my shoes look like I am getting ready for the parade square. Everyday I get a compliment. Love this post this week. It is all about the shoes.
        My Grandfather always quipped that if a man will take care of his feet, he will take care of you!
        Cheers
        Jim

        1. Black Lapel says:

          We’re lovin’ the discipline! Sounds like you took your grandfather’s wisdom to heart!

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