Regardless of the occasion or style, a great shoe is characterized by its comfort, high quality, and looks. An elegant leather shoe is very suitable for a business outfit, but a wedding or a party might ask for a bolder or more extravagant shoe. A shoe is more than a fashionable accessory. Nowadays, it defines your outfit’s style and shows the wearer’s personality. Your perfect outfit isn’t complete without a stylish, well-fitting pair of shoes to match it. Needless to say, a fine pair of shoes can’t make up entirely for a mediocre outfit, but the wrong pair of shoes can spoil an otherwise perfect outfit. Luckily, dress shoes are available to your personal preference, whether you like classic lace-up shoes or something more unique, like monk straps or loafers. Or you can, of course, go for something less formal with a sturdy pair of boots or a trendy sneaker. Whatever your style may be, Suitable offers the right shoe. Read on to learn about the different types of men’s footwear, history, and how to maintain your quality pair of shoes.
These days, innumerable options are readily available when purchasing the right men’s shoes. Whether you buy shoes online, in your local shoe store, or have them tailor-made by a cobbler, there is an extensive choice. Shoemaking is an ancient craft passed down through generations. Like with other crafts, in the Middle Ages, shoemakers were connected in guilds. One of the oldest guilds was founded in England, The Guild of Cordwainers. The name was derived from the Spanish city Cordoba, in those days the source of the best quality leather. Today, cobblers who create tailor-made shoes are only located in the most prominent fashion cities. A famous name in this context is John Lobb Ltd, London. This family business has supplied the British aristocracy and European nobility for centuries. As of the 1920s, the American market started to become more significant. Luckily for those who don’t want to spend a fortune on hand-crafted shoes, you can still buy high-quality ready-to-wear shoes in a local store or online. Which is a great alternative, now that mass production has achieved such a high level of perfection.
Suede or Leather?
Dress shoes need to meet specific requirements. On the one hand, they should follow the latest fashion trends. On the other hand, they should be comfortable enough to wear during a long day at work. That is why shoe manufacturers work with extremely supple leather and flexible soles. As upper material for men’s shoes, shoe manufacturers prefer to use goat- or patent leather, buckskin, or pig suede. Suede is the inside of leather treated differently from regular leather, making it feel much softer. Suede men’s shoes are mainly worn in combination with a smart-casual outfit. Suede is a little less sustainable than leather, and it is best to avoid wearing suede shoes when it’s raining. To complete your outfit, combine your suede men’s shoes with a matching suede men’s belt.
Types of men’s shoes
In short, there are three basic types: boots, loafers, and lace-up shoes. In the case of lace-up shoes, there are ankle-high and low versions. Classic shoes can then be broken down into four toe shapes: shoes with pointed toes, round toes, square toes, and almond toes. Additionally, the toes can be unadorned, feature a cap toe, split-toe, wingtip, or broguing. With so many different types of shoes available every season, you might get lost in the sheer amount of options. But basically, most of the conventional men’s shoes are based on just a few different shapes. Anyone not so sure about the right choice of shoes combined with a business suit: wears classic black or brown lace-up shoes, such as the Oxford or the Derby. These models are an excellent match with a suit, and you can’t go wrong with either. Nevertheless, you should pay attention to the leather and the sole. A sporty suede shoe doesn’t match a formal suit, neither does a brogue with a thick Commando sole. However, men’s shoes with buckles, known as Monk Straps, can be a good alternative to lace-up shoes. Below we will go into the most popular models of men’s shoes and the differences between them.
Often seen as the most elegant type of dress shoe, the Oxford is the perfect shoe to wear under a suit. The Oxford shoe is characterized by being low-heeled, having an exposed ankle, and featuring a closed lacing system. A pair of either plain or cap-toe black Oxfords are the perfect basic dress shoe; You can wear it to the office, funerals, and weddings. Another advantage of black dress shoes is that they only come in one shade, so unlike brown shoes, they are easy to match with a belt, and you will only need one pair. More casual options are brown Wingtip or Brogue Oxfords. These are often made from suede and feature more decoration, and look great with a blazer, chinos, or jeans.
Black patent leather shoes
The black patent leather shoe is a dress shoe, often an Oxford, that is known for its shiny polished finish and is meant for formal occasions. Suitable offers amazing black patent leather Oxfords. Combine your tuxedo or tailcoat with these black patent leather shoes to complete your formal day dress look for a wedding or your evening wear, such as a formal Black Tie dinner or White Tie event.
Derby or Blucher
Like the Oxford, the Derby is a classic men’s dress shoe that features an open lacing system and exposed ankle. The difference is the lacing system, which is open and made from two quarters that are sewn onto the vamp of the shoe. This means that the lace flaps are not conjoined at the bottom, instead of being joined by the laces. While this makes the Derby more casual than the Oxford, it is still considered a formal shoe. Most dress shoes from our Suitable line are Derbys. Again, it can feature a plain toe, cap toe, wingtips, and broguing.
The brogue shoe originally comes from Ireland, where workers in the countryside needed sturdy shoes for wet conditions and muddy terrain. The signature perforations were made to allow water to drain from the shoes. Contrary to popular belief, brogues are not a particular type of shoe. Instead, a brogue can be any shoe that features ornamentation in the form of decorative perforations. Most brogues, however, are Oxford or Derby type shoes. They feature toe and heel caps, lace panels, and of course “broguing”, or decorative perforations. This ornamentation can be found along with the lace panels, the heel cap, or the toe cap. Ornamentation on the center of the toe is called a “medallion”. When a shoe features a wingtip, broguing along its edges and a medallion, it is known as a Full Brogue. Brogues that do feature a wingtip toe with broguing along the edges, but lack a medallion, are called Blind Brogues. If they feature a cap toe instead of wingtips, they are Half or Semi Brogues. The least decorative Brogues, which additionally lack broguing along the edges, are called Quarter Brogues. At Suitable, we offer our own Suede Full Brogue Boots in navy, green and brown.
Monk Straps and Double Monk Straps
The buckled shoes as we know them today were introduced in the 15th century. At the time, monks walked on (double) buckled shoes, carrying out their day-to-day tasks. However, the open shoes weren’t suited for harsh winter conditions and obstructed daily work. Eventually, they created a closed-toe version to make it suitable for winter periods. This is how the modern buckled shoe came into existence as we know them today. Although nowadays, these (double) monk straps are slightly more sophisticated than they were in the 15th century, such as the stylish Scandicci Monk Straps by Giorgio. Monk Straps are available with a single buckle or with two buckles, in which case we call them Double Monk Straps. Both types are available in multiple colors on SuitableShop, both in leather and suede.
Loafers or slip-on’s are low shoes without laces. They are the perfect easy-to-wear shoes combined with a smart-casual suit, an elegant pair of trousers, jeans, or chinos. Loafers have a slightly casual appearance, in particular when made from suede. Therefore they create a more relaxed look. Popular models include moccasins or penny-loafers. A more casual option is the boat shoe, like Tommy Hilfiger’s ones in brown and navy.
Nowadays, many men choose to wear boots instead of the conventional low shoe models. The most popular models are lace-up shoes, but boots fastened with a zipper or elastic are on the rise as well. And for a good reason: a sporty boot can be a comfortable and sturdy shoe for a walk in your spare time or during a city trip. Chelsea boots are stylish shoes made from two parts of leather and feature elastic fastening and are thus very easy and quick to put on. Nevertheless, their clean design makes them very elegant and classy. Popularized by The Beatles in the 1960’s, they have since become a timeless classic. Shop our collection to find some fantastic Chelsea boots from Timberland. Another popular option is the Chukka or Desert Boots. Often made from suede, like Giorgio’s Amalfi shoes, this is a relatively low lace-up boot. Thanks to its versatile design, you can easily combine them with almost anything, whether you like wearing jeans, chinos, or corduroys. If you need something more sturdily made for colder conditions, go for a winter boot such as Levi’s Jax Lite Boots. These feature a warm insulating lining and a rubber sole for extra grip on slippery surfaces.
Although designed as athletic shoes, sneakers are now widely accepted as footwear for other occasions than just sports. In the 1980’s, the sneaker became essential in everyone’s wardrobe, whether it’s a sturdy, casual sneaker to combine with jeans or shorts or a neat and clean sneaker that you can wear under a pair of chinos or a trendy suit. You can even find suits made to be worn with this kind of shoe, known as Sneaker Suits. We offer stylish sneakers in almost every color, from our line or one of our high-quality brands such as Napapijri, Tommy Hilfiger, or Timberland.
One of the most critical parts of the dress shoes, often overlooked, is the sole. Although you seldom see it, the bottom of your shoe is the part you walk on, and it determines to a great extent how comfortable and durable your footwear is. Read about the pros and cons of the different types of soles below.
The leather sole is usually considered the most dressy of all sole-types and dates back the furthest. Its low profile and slim design makes the leather sole very subtle and suited for an elegant dress shoe. As leather is a natural material, it is breathable, soft, and flexible. Meaning that shoes with leather soles will mold to your foot and break in very easily. They are thus considered by many to be very comfortable. The downside is that the material is sensitive, so it’s not very durable and not suited to be worn in wet weather conditions. Additionally, when they’re brand new out of the box, they tend to be slippery, obtaining more grip after you’ve worn them in.
Originally worn by hikers and soldiers, the rubber commando sole is durable and weather resistant. This means that shoes with commando soles are suited for all kinds of surfaces and conditions. Although they have become fashionable and can be worn with a smart casual outfit, they are too thick and chunky to mix a classic suit. However, the rugged style is very suited for boots and goes great with a pair of jeans. Apart from its outdoorsy look, a downside is the weight of the heavy rubber.
Composite rubber sole
Many modern dress shoes make use of a mix of natural products and rubber. This combines the elegant look, comfort, and lightweight of the leather sole with the rubber sole’s durability, grip, and weather resistance. This is the perfect option for shoes that you will often wear but still need to make a well-groomed appearance. Fortunately, most dress shoes that you will find on SuitableShop feature this type of sole.
Maintaining your footwear
Every man knows it is a waste to neglect his brand new shoes. However, not everyone takes the time actually to maintain them. Luckily, nowadays, it is easy to care for your shoes. Maintain your shoes and keep them as shiny as new with the Collonil shoe trees and care products. At SuitableShop, we offer everything you need to keep your shoes looking great, including Collonil shoe sprays, leather cream, insoles, wax polish, and shoe brushes.