Men’s Formal Shoes Types

Most men need a suit and tie. But all men definitely need formal shoes at least once in their life. But choosing your formal shoes or dress shoes is not as simple as it sounds either. A pair of dress shoes should do these two things: enhance your wardrobe and fit the occasion well. 

But before we go over to the types of formal shoes, let’s talk about what things to consider first before adding that important piece in your wardrobe. 


The presence of shoelaces can basically sort out between formal and casual. Going back to history, we could estimate the invention of shoelaces to go back around 3000 BC which is a pretty long time. 


There’s a general rule that goes by the saying ‘Simple is elegant.’ True enough, consider the amount of detail in whatever formal choose you opt to wear because formal dress shoes aren’t supposed to be too busy with so many details. 

Well aside from the shoelace, take a look at the toe carefully. The toe should be:

– Plain – the vamps are non-decorated with a distinctly clean look

– Cap – a horizontal stitched line goes across each vamp to ‘cap’ the toe

Some formal dress shoes slightly stir from that rule with the number of decorative perforations they have. However, this too much perforation is now mostly for display or fashion only since it is not deemed conservative or appropriate enough for business meetings.


Black surely outranks the rest. It does not only bring class and sophistication, but a level of mystery is added to your wardrobe because of its association with power and authority. 

If black outranks all colors, there’s definitely a runner up, and that is brown! Darker shades of brown such as red like oxblood or burgundy are very much ideal for that formal look. 

The color of your shoes should also be considered accordingly to the ff:

– Formality of event

– Time of the event

– Weather conditions

Sole Material – Leather vs. Rubber


– Generally more formal than rubber

– Better quality and strength

– The downfall is if it’s not properly done might cause discomfort to the foot


– Naturally chunky in appearance which causes a lack of formality

– More flexible and shock absorbent

Five Types of Formal Shoes

1. Oxfords

Closed-laced dress shoes with vamps sewn on top of the quarters. Both parts are stitched together, providing a sleek and smooth-looking silhouette. 

A patent leather has a distinctive gloss finish that has a reflective shine that makes it at the top of the list. 

Black Tie Formal Pumps or Court Shoes are designed with a silk/grosgrain bow that’s either flat or pinched. This type of shoes is commonly part of a dancers’ attire that is often quilted for extra comfort. 

2. Derby

Derbys are open-laced with the quartes sewn on top of the vamps. The lacing flaps are not joined at the bottom which means a shoelace is needed to join them but also creates a small gap in between. The open lacing makes the shoes look slightly less sleek and formal. 

3. Bluchers

Pretty much like Derbys but Bluchers have eyelet tabs where the shoelaces pass through. Bluchers are also slightly more unique than Derbys again because of the few patches of leather on top. 

4. Loafers

Loafers are slip-on shoes without shoelaces or fastening. Loafers have low heels, separate soles, and moccasin-like vamps. 

There are four main subtypes of loafers that differ in its decorative element:

– Gucci Loafers: Each shoe has a metal ‘horsebit’ decoration

– Penny Loafers: The straps have a diamond cut-out originally used for keeping pennies

– Belgian Loafers: Slipper-like with a small bow on each shoe

– Tassel loafers: Each shoe has a leather tassel ornament

5. Monk

Monks are distinct for its twist on fastening, replacing shoelaces with straps. 

Two main subtypes of monks are Single and Double Monk Straps, only different in the number of strap on each shoe. The single strap is the more formal kind because of fewer details. 

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