The 10 Best Men's Dress Shoes
This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Someone smart once said, "Shoes make the man." Truer words have never been spoken, as even the most dashing outfit can be undermined by tattered, boring footwear. Luckily, the men's dress shoes on this list will ensure that you always stand out — and feel great — regardless of whether you're on a date or a job interview. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best men's dress shoe on Amazon.
Dance Like A Fool
It wasn't until I started dressing like a grown man from head to toe that the coverings for those toes became more important to me.
Early on, we live in sneakers fastened to our feet by velcro.
We go through a lot of shoe phases throughout our lives. Early on, we live in sneakers fastened to our feet by velcro. If we're lucky, they have lights inside them that flash when we walk. Then, we graduate to laces, though we usually remain in sneakers. Sandals and boots come and go with the seasons. At some point, though, even as young men, we encounter our first pair of dress shoes.
At around five years old, I got myself into my first suit, and I spent the bulk of the night dancing up and down the rooms of a fancy banquet hall, my eyes fixed on my footwear, fascinated by the way the shoes caught the light.
I became rather divorced from dress shoes in my later childhood years, my teens, and even my early 20s. It wasn't until I started dressing like a grown man from head to toe that the coverings for those toes became more important to me.
I soon realized that a good pair of dress shoes could tie together a whole outfit in ways that are mostly subtle, but that are certainly undeniable. It doesn't even matter if the rest of you is dressed up; any time you look down, you should feel that rush of completion, of accomplishment.
You'll notice that the shoes on our list are all derived from cowhide treated one way or another. They're either leather or suede, the former bearing a greater degree of reflective power, and responding better to polish. The soles, each of which bears a slight elevation for comfort and posture, are either leather, rubber, or wood with rubber gripping in the heel, providing better traction that shouldn't inhibit your ability to dance like a fool five-year-old, should you be so inspired.
Style By Style
I'm sure I'm not alone in this, but I've made some bad footwear decisions throughout my lifetime. I knew it when I made them, too. I'd get a pair of shoes I thought would be the coolest things in the world and realize very quickly that I looked ridiculous in them. Specifically, I'm haunted by a pair of bright red Vans with a large black skull and crossbones on them. I don't know what I was thinking.
The suede shoes on this list, in particular, are tailor-made for dressing up or down as you see fit.
That said, there are people out there for whom those shoes would have worked. I was young, and I was still learning who I was and how I wanted to express my sense of self. As you take in the options we've provided on our top ten list of men's dress shoes, it'd be a good idea to know a little bit about yourself, about your current wardrobe, and even about the look or looks to which you aspire.
If you're the consummate casual dresser, you aren't prohibited from enjoying the occasional dress shoe. In fact, sporting a couple of these ten styles with a nicer pair of jeans creates one of the smarter casual looks available in modern menswear. It says that you're so casual about being casual that you almost inadvertently make it look nice. The suede shoes on this list, in particular, are tailor-made for dressing up or down as you see fit.
For the businessmen among us, the boys who have themselves in suits on a daily basis, your decision will be based as much on color and shape as anything else. Shoes with a more pointed toe, though rounded, are very much more in vogue than the flat-front styles that ran the shoe show back in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Then, there's a sort of intermediary between the more causal look and the smart business attire with a hint of high fashion to it. These are the shoes on our list that fit better in a loafer category than anywhere else. Their number one priorities are comfort and convenience. You shouldn't need a shoe horn to get into them, they require no tying, or strapping, or buckling, and their appearance screams of the easy life.
A Well-Adorned Walk Through History
Until the late 16th century, footwear rarely meant more than strips of leather or cloth tied or strapped to one's feet. The sandal styles popular in Mediterranean climates like Greece and Italy didn't make a lot of sense in the colder rainy filth of early modern England, France, and Germany.
Every once in a while, a new style element makes its way onto the wheel, but rarely in the realm of dress shoes, where a more conservative bent has reigned for centuries.
In the courts of those countries, however, footwear evolved into the 17th century to include bows, buckles, and even heels. Later in the century, as war tore through Britain and the rest of Europe, military fashions began to inform the design and popularity of men's footwear.
The periods in Europe of Enlightenment, as well as the French Revolution, popularized a more agrarian aesthetic, as the power and importance of the common citizen took on a whole new meaning. This was the first wave in which the aristocracy looked to the styles of the peasantry for fashion inspiration, a trend that would last on into today.
More recently, the fashions that developed in the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment periods seem to swirl around one another, with one version of a shoe popular for about a decade or two and another one taking its place thereafter, only to be supplanted itself by a third as the wheel of footwear turns round and round. Every once in a while, a new style element makes its way onto the wheel, but rarely in the realm of dress shoes, where a more conservative bent has reigned for centuries.
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