A guide to men’s shoes

Sam Vander Forest

If you’ve ever needed to dress up for something and been lost on what to wear and the level you need to dress up, I assure you you’re not alone. These events can be dressing formally for a dinner or party, having interviews for different level jobs, going on dates and even class presentations. The point is, dressing up and giving the right impression is tricky, and the shoes can make or break anything you decide to wear. Here are a few ideas for shoes to own and tips on how to wear them.

1. Leather dress shoes (Brown vs. Black)

If you’re going to be taken seriously as an adult and in a professional setting, you have to look the part. You can’t wear a suit and then throw on a pair of Nike’s, you need the full composition and your shoes are a great way of tying it all together. There are generally three shades of brown you can encounter in shoes: tan, camel and oxblood. Tan is the lightest, camel in the middle and oxblood being the darkest. Most young men starting out can own either a brown pair of dress shoes or black, but it is best to have one of each. The first rule of thumb to follow if you’re not the most experienced in men’s fashion is to just make sure you match your belt with your shoes: black with black and brown with brown.

2. Suede dress shoes

Suede dress shoes (in many colors but typically tan, blue or grey) are a tough pair of kicks to wear well. If you look at a lot fashion forums and sites you’ll see this style of shoe matched with jeans a lot and sometimes grey dress pants. It’s tougher to match suede dress shoes with a suit because the materials don’t clash well, but if you can pull it off, more power to you. Just because you’re wearing jeans with suede shoes does not mean it is an informal look, you just need to know what you’re doing. The right time to wear these shoes is tricky, but they do have a bit of a fall feel to them. Pair them with your dark jeans, a button down and a tie, and a nice sweater. If you’ll feeling extra stylish you can throw a blazer over the top to give the right balance of casual yet business-ready. 

3. Nice boots

Going to school in Iowa and thinking of fall just makes me think about all of the tough winds and weather I’m going to have to endure, but that doesn’t mean I want to sacrifice functionality with style. Red Wing makes a Moc Toe Boot that is that perfect balance that many men are looking for. When you start looking for men’s nice boots you’ll usually see ones that look too fragile or nice to handle the rugged fall weather, but Red Wing and UGG make the perfect combination of durability and luxury.

4. Casual shoes

As much as people may like to dress up, the truth is you just can’t all the time. I realize that reality, so you also need to have one or two pairs of casual, everyday shoes. These can be anything such as tennis shoes, Vans skate shoes, boat shoes, and of course Moccasins for lounging. These are easy to choose and are more for you than for anyone else. 

5. Loafers and Drivers

Drivers and loafers are extremely similar shoes, and sometimes even are the same thing. Drivers were originally called “Driving Loafers,” and they serve the same purpose; they both are intended to pair functionality with style and luxury.  Depending on how much you pay for yours, they can serve different purposes. If you buy a cheaper pair, you can get the right level of style while still having perfect shoes to wear out to the bars. With their rubber tab soles, they make it easy to look sharp while still being able to tread across beer-stained bar floors.