6 different types of men’s formal dress shoes with names and pictures.

Published by Chuck Boylan on

different types of men's formal dress shoes with names and pictures.

There’s a special spot reserved in every guy’s wardrobe for dress shoes, you just can’t dress smart without them. Men’s formal shoes come in a number of styles, and if you wanna know about different types of dress shoes this article is for you. We’ll cover them in detail in this post, but let’s first have a look at what formal or smart shoes actually are. 

What kind of shoes are formal shoes?

The low-top shoes that you wear with formal attire in a formal setting are called formal or dress shoes. Dress shoes can be lace-up or slip-on and have a sleek design.  You wear them to the office and to formal events like weddings, interviews, meetings, etc. Formal boots or shoes are almost always made of leather in black, brown, burgundy, or oxblood colors. 

Types of men’s formal dress.

Before jumping on to our list of 6 different types of men’s formal shoes, let’s first have a look at 3 broad categories of shoes. 

A. Slip-on and lace-up shoes: 

Slip-ons are low-cut shoes without laces. Loafers are an example of slip-on shoes.

Lace-up shoes on the other hand are shoes that have laces as a fastening mechanism. So this much is clear, any shoe type will fall into one of these two categories, what we mean by that is every pair of formal shoes will either be slip-on or button-up.

B. Cap toe and plain toe shoes:

The second entry on our list juxtaposes cap-toe shoes and plain two shoes. Cap-toe shoes feature an additional layer sewn on the toe area. This additional layer is not just for decorative purposes but it also provides extra protection to your toes. A line of stitching, that runs from the welt on one side to the other and separates the toe from the vamp of the shoe.

Plain-toe shoes, as the name suggests, feature nothing of the sort, no cap stitching separating the toe from the rest of the shoe (vamp). Plain-toe shoes, also called whole-cut shoes, are more formal as compared to cap-toe ones. 

Image courtesy: topworkboots.com

C. Closed-lacing vs open-lacing shoes: 

Closed-laced shoes are the ones in which lace flaps are joined together at the bottom. Whereas in open lacing shoes lace flaps remain separate till the bottom edge. In open lacing lace flaps are only partially attached to the shoe, they can be easily spread apart and you can easily slip your foot into the shoe. On the other hand, in closed-laced shoes, lace flaps/facings are built in the shoe upper, they only open slightly forming a v shape. Oxfords are closed-laced shoes while derbies are open-laced formal shoes.

Image courtesy: Italianfootwearsolution.com

6 types of men’s formal shoes.

1. Oxfords:

Closed-laced formal shoes with lacing seamlessly integrated into the vamp are called Oxford shoes. These shoes are more formal, they have historically been a part of school and college uniforms, formal office wear, and official dress codes. Oxfords have lace flaps that are attached to the vamp and are joined at the bottom edge usually forming a v shape. Image source

2. Derby or Blucher:

Derby and Blucher’s shoes are both formal shoes, they differ in very subtle ways. The difference between them is quite unnoticeable, therefore we’ll treat them similarly, without sweating the small stuff. The common feature between them is their open-lacing feature, which has already been explained earlier in the article. Derby shoes are easy to wear as compared to Oxfords thanks to this open lacing feature. These shoes can either be whole-cut or cap toed. 

3. Monk straps:

types of formal shoes for men

Monk straps or monks are laceless shoes with a fastening mechanism comprising side straps and metal buckles. These shoes can have a single strap or a couple of straps, the latter type is called double monks. Monks are often made from leather or faux leather and they are formal in usage but men use them as a smart casual footwear option too. Monks are somewhat akin to formal loafers in use, you can wear loafer socks (no-show socks) in them for a laid-back look.

4. Brogues or wingtips:

Different types of men's formal dress shoes with names and pictures.

Wingtips or brogues (in fact full brogues) are cap-toe shoes with w-shaped stitching separating the toe box from the rest of the shoe, with additional decorative perforations and serrations. When viewed from above, the w-shaped cap toe looks like the spread-out wings of a bird, hence the name wing tip. This pattern is called brogueing, and there are many variations that exist among these patterns. These formal shoes are more of a party wear or business type than office wear for men.

5. Formal loafers:

Different types of men's formal dress shoes with names and pictures.

The term loafer is a broad term, any pair of slip-on shoes are technically loafers. But by formal loafers we mean those dressy leather or suede slip-ons you wear with your formal outfits. Loafers come in multiple styles and types, formal loafers can likewise be very diverse when it comes to design and style. It can be a crisp pair of penny loafers, tassel loafers, or horse-bit loafers, you can wear them with your formal office-ready outfits without a second thought. The loafer is rightly called the Swiss army knife of men’s footwear for all the right reasons. They are so easy to rock!

6. Dress boots:

Different types of men's formal dress shoes with names and pictures.

With the mention of dress boots, Chelsea boots spring to our minds, but guys they are not the only game in town. There are other boots equally dressy, elegant, and stylish you can rock with our formal outfits. Ankle boots with cap toe design or even better, Chelsea boots with brogueing, suede chukka boots are some of the options that you can consider to elevate your formal attire. Leather chukka boots or Chelsea boots are a perfect alternative to formal shoes on colder days or on days when you don’t want your socks to be visible under your pants. 


What kind of shoes are formal shoes?

Any pair of shoes you can wear with your formal outfits are formal shoes. Formal shoes are sleek, structured, and almost always of leather or suede. Oxfords, bluchers, derbies, formal penny loafers or tassel loafers, brogues, and monks straps are all different types of formal or dress shoes. There are certain boots you can wear with your formal outfits, they include formal ankle boots, Chelsea boots, and chukka boots. 

What are the dress shoes called?

Dress shoes are also called formal shoes. Formal shoes are the ones you wear on formal occasions with your suits, and other formal blazer and dress pants outfits.

What shoes go best with formal suits?

Oxfords are your best bet for formal suits. Oxfords and suits are in fact made for each other, these closed-laced shoes are super structured and a black or brown pair of Oxfords will work with any suit.

Can I wear loafers with a suit?

Yes, formal loafers can be worn with suits. Formal leather loafers are very versatile and comfortable to wear, which makes them one of the most popular formal footwear options for men.


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