Mastering Formal Wear: A Comprehensive Guide to Men’s Dress Shoes

There’s just something so mesmerising and captivating about a man who knows how to dress well, with proper attention to detail. Whether it’s a carefully tailored suit or a well-fitted shirt, having a sense of style that’s sharp and put-together can leave a lasting impression. One aspect of men’s fashion that often gets overlooked but is crucial in completing any polished look is the choice of formal shoes.

These small yet essential details can transform an outfit from good to great, elevating your fashion game to new heights. It doesn’t matter if urban fashion or traditional formal wear is your go-to, knowing how to use a stylish pair of leather dress shoes for men’s fashion is a major stepping stone to looking sharp and sophisticated.

Which Type of Leather Shoes Are Best?


The kind of men’s dress shoes you opt for depends greatly on your personal style, the occasion you’re dressing up for, and your comfort level. But a handful of options have become staples in every sense of the word, thanks to their far-reaching versatility and timeless appeal.

Oxford Shoes

Starting off with what is perhaps the most popular formal shoe in men’s fashion, oxfords are characterized by a closed lacing system and a sleek silhouette. These shoes have been around since the 1800s and were initially worn as casual or sporting shoes. Their popularity soared in the early 20th century when they were made available in finer materials such as calf leather and became a favourite amongst the upper class for formal occasions.

They’re characterised by a low heel, cap toe, and a closed lacing system where the shoelace eyelets are stitched under the vamp. This lends them a neat and sophisticated appearance that can be dressed up or down with ease. When you need to make a good impression, oxfords can undoubtedly raise the bar.

Derby Shoes

Dune a sleek lace-up dress shoe

Oxfords’ close cousin, derby shoes, have a similar look and construction but with an open lacing system. Derby shoes are less formal than oxfords and are characterized by shoelace eyelets stitched onto the vamp, making them more versatile for different foot shapes and sizes. They’re often considered more comfortable because of this particular detail, and their slightly chunkier look gives them a more rugged and casual appeal.

Back in the day, derby shoes were seen as the country cousins to oxfords and were worn for sporting activities or outdoor pursuits. However, today they’re considered a staple in every man’s wardrobe and are just as appropriate paired with chinos as they are with a suit.

Wholecut Shoes

When it comes to pure elegance and sophistication, wholecut shoes have no competition. These formal dress shoes are made from a single piece of leather, with minimal stitching and no seams, creating a sleek and streamlined appearance. They’re the epitome of refined luxury and are often seen on red carpets or at black-tie events.

Because of their seamless construction, wholecut shoes require expert craftsmanship and high-quality materials, making them quite expensive. They’re also notoriously difficult to maintain, so they’re not the most practical option for everyday wear. However, if you’re looking to make a statement at a formal event, nothing beats a pair of wholecuts.



For those who prefer a more traditional and slightly less formal look, brogues can bring just the right amount of character to an outfit. These shoes, which have been around since the 16th century, are characterized by their decorative perforations and wingtip design. At first, they were commonly used as outdoor shoes in Scotland and Ireland but eventually evolved into a popular option for formal wear.

Today, these leather dress shoes for men’s fashion are available in multiple variations, from the classic full brogue to the semi-brogue and quarter brogue. They’re a versatile option that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, making them an excellent addition to any wardrobe.


If you want a more laid-back option that still exudes sophistication, loafers are a great choice. These slip-on shoes have no laces and often feature decorative elements like tassels or metal buckles. They originated in Norway and were first worn as casual house shoes but gained popularity in the 1960s when they became associated with preppy fashion.

Today, they’re much more than just house shoes and are seen as a trendy yet timeless option that can be worn with or without socks, depending on the look you’re going for. They come in many variations, including penny loafers, horse-bit loafers, and tassel loafers, making them a versatile choice for any occasion.

Monk Shoes


For those who want to stand out from the crowd, monk shoes are an excellent option. These dress shoes feature a unique buckle closure instead of traditional laces, giving them a distinctive and sophisticated look. They were initially worn by monks in Europe in the 15th century but have since slithered their way into mainstream fashion.

Monk shoes come in single and double-buckle versions, with the latter being a more formal choice. They’re a great option for those who want something different from oxfords and derby shoes but still need to maintain a certain level of formality.

Chelsea Boots

If you want something that’s equal parts stylish, comfortable, and practical, Chelsea boots can certainly deliver. These ankle-high boots have elasticated side panels, making them easy to slip on and off while providing a snug fit. Their origins can be traced back to the Victorian era, when they were worn by both men and women as riding boots.

Today, Chelsea boots have become a staple in every man’s wardrobe, thanks to their versatility and timeless appeal. They’re a great option for any casual or semi-formal occasion and can be paired with jeans or chinos for a trendy yet classic look. They bring a touch of edge to any outfit and are perfect for those who prefer something more rugged yet polished.