The first thing many people look at on a man is his shoes. They say a lot about you, so don’t let your footwear let you down, especially when it comes down to business. And while you may deem anything lace up and leather suitable for your suit, do not be fooled, choosing the right shoes for the right trousers is a very important decision on the road to sartorial success.
There are some serious dos and don’ts when it comes to your footwear. Once you know your Oxfords from your Derbies and your Brogues from your Monk straps, you will be well on the road to style success.
Not just any old lace up smart shoes, Oxfords are the most formal of dress shoes and characterised by their closed lacing. They can be plain with a toecap or detailed with perforations known as Brogueing.
How to wear: Wear with a suit to the office, wedding or an after dark soiree. For a traditional and slick finish, black leather works well with dark suits (black and charcoal) while brown suede will give a contemporary finish to navy or grey suits. For a quirky skip in your step, go for a twist on the classic design.
Never... wear black Oxfords with jeans.
Related: Wardrobe basics every man should own
When slightly less formal attire is on the agenda, Derbies are ideal. They are very similar to Oxfords, a bit more rugged, and with most significantly, with an open lace. They too come in various colours and styles of leather and material, brogued or not, cap-toed and wing-tipped.
How to wear: They can be worn with fine tailoring, but are generally worn with chinos or even dark slim-cut denim, when your style calls for smart not stuffy. A pair of oxblood Derbies are ideal with most shades of chinos and for a modern take on their classic appeal, don’t be afraid of wooden or rubber soles and unique design twists.
Never... wear with black tie, only with the less formal suits.
The buckled strap that replaces the shoelaces defines Monk straps. They come with one or two straps (on occasions three) and in a variety of colours and with or without the cap-toe and wingtips.
When to wear: Wear with sharp tailoring for a striking finish. Classic black leather is a worthwhile investment, while burgundy or brown/tan leather offers a modern and refined finish especially with grey and navy.
Never... mismatch your buckles. Make sure your belt buckle and watch match the shoe buckle.
Brogues are extremely versatile. They are simply leather shoes with perforation details, and usually Oxfords or Derbies in style. The more detailed the brogueing the less formal the shoe. Wingtips (the stitched W pattern on the top of the shoe) are a common brogue detail.
How to wear: Brogues look equally at home with a dapper suit as they do denim or preppy chinos.
Never... wear with black tie.
Loafers (both penny and tassel) are the least formal of the smart shoe gang, and often feature visible stitching around the toe similar to a moccasin, and can be worn weekday to weekend.
How to wear: For a cool casual style, go for brown or navy suede loafers with jeans or cropped trousers, or for a more formal affair, opt for simple and sleek black or dark leather designs with dark chinos or denim.
Never... wear with a suit unless you go tie free.