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The Ultimate Mens Dress Shoe Guide

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Mar 27th, 2014  |  by Jacob Sigala

Ultimate Dress Shoe Guide

A great pair of go-to dress shoes is a necessary staple for any man’s closet. Even the most casual of men will need to suit up at one point or another, and before you lump all “dress shoes” into one category,  find the right pair that suits you with our dress shoe guide. If you take the time to find a classic pair that is worth investing in, with the right care, they will truly last you a lifetime. Whether you’re a seasoned shoe aficionado, or just trying to cover your bases, we’ll break it down to the basics and make choosing the right pair simpler than you initially thought.


In order to understand a style, one must first understand the components that make up a men’s dress shoe. From front to back a dress shoe is divided into four parts: toe, vamp, facing and quarter. It is the placement or construction of these pieces that give the following dress shoes their unique style.

vamp, upper, sole, quarters, facing, toe, heel


The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shoes: Oxford Balmoral

The oxford is the most basic and timeless of the dress shoes, and a great starting point if you’re looking for a classic staple. They are very versatile option that can be dressed up with formal wear or down for a more casual arena. Gaining its name from its history at Oxford University, oxfords were a newer version of the popular Oxonians that were popular at the university in 1800. This half-boot style became outdated and students looked for an alternative style that was more current, thus the oxford shoe was born.

The shoe is characterized by its facing being stitched on under the vamp, or “closed lacing.” The facing’s placement provides a slim silhouette that hugs the foot’s contour. The oxford is one of the most popular styles due to its minimalist appeal and ability to go with just about everything. For general everyday wear, stick to a dark brown or black standard leather pair, while if you’ll be pairing them with a tux, a patent leather pair will fit the best.

The One Piece Oxford Shoe

This shoe is a variation on the classic oxford that is constructed of a single piece of leather rather than various pieces sewn together. This style has only one seam connecting the piece of leather together in the back of the shoe while maintaining the original Oxford shape and signature “closed lacing.” The sparse stitching gives a sleek and sophisticated look that adds to the shoe’s unique and minimalist style. Though this style is unassuming, it is a uncommon variation on the typical oxford shoe and is seen quite rarely. It can be dressed up or down depending on the type of leather and material of the sole. For example, a patent leather, leather soled version would definitely up the ante when paired with a formal suit or tux, however a full-grain leather, rubber soled version pairs nicely with chinos or dark-wash jeans. The One Piece Oxford is for the detail-oriented man that wants to make a minimalist statement.

The Derby Shoe

The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shoes: Derby, Blucher

The derby shoe, also known as the Gibson or the Blucher, were originally intended as a sporting and hunting boot in the 1850’s. At the turn of the 20th century, derbies began to be appropriate footwear to wear into town. Derbies are often miscategorized as oxfords, as their shape is very similar and their differences are very slight. Though not obvious upon first glance, the difference lies in the facing placement. The derby shoe has the facing stitched on top of the vamp as opposed to an oxford with its tabs sewn on under the vamp. This construction, called “open lacing,” allows for a wider fit than an oxford, making it a more comfortable option. This simple detail, has kept the derby reminiscent of its sporting roots and acts as a less formal version of the oxford.

The Monk Strap

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