Most men think- a man is at the highest level of formal dressing so long as a suit
and tie is involved! However, what determines your level of formality is based
initially on your choice of footwear. Nothing can compare to the mental and
physical satisfaction one feels as soon as they slip into a fresh pair of shoes that
completely revamp your style.
In short; no matter how amazing your trainers appear to be; they won’t cut it in
every social situation you come across on a daily basis. In this guide we will list
down the ranks of each category from the highest level to the least formal
dress shoes for men; to ensure you never make the wrong decision!
Oxfords gained their popularity as the ‘half-boot’ in around 1825 and were referred to as Oxonians. Over the time, the style upgraded and took on a different perspective from being a shoe that was designed for optimal comfort and a much higher heel- to a shoe with a cozy spot at the top of the list of formal shoes for men!
What you didn’t know is the evolution from school shoes to the utmost formal footwear a man can own - happens to be easily worn under formal suits
and outfits; alongside more casual pieces like jeans and chinos.
There is no simple way to put this; lacing. Is. everything.
The lacing of your shoes tends to define the level of formality they possess. If the shoes have a closed lace system they are Oxfords; while a Derby has an open lace system. This places them at war with the Monkstrap for the title of the second most formal shoe on the list. And, since the Oxfords carry a closed lacing system that makes it appear to be more compact and tighter in design compared to the Derby; it’s difficult to say which one takes the second spot! In the end it just comes down to preferences.
However, the Derby and the Monkstrap are practically at the same level and can be worn alternatively if you want to dress a little less formal and set the Oxfords aside for a while.
**Note: How you tie your shoes doesn’t affect the level of
formality, but so far the most neatest way to tie your shoes is
by sticking to the bar lacing system. Whether the bow is
displayed at the top or tucked underneath the tongue of
your shoes to give a neater and classier finish - is entirely up to you!
There are a certain set of loafers that can be considered as the third most formal
footwear for men. If a man is to step out wearing moccasins; he would most probably be
considered casually dressed. Whereas, any structured loafer would reflect a more refined
appearance as at adds definition to the overall look.
The softer the leather is for the loafer the more casual it is. Usually this consists of a
more slipper-like design constructed of suede - these are best for summertime as
they tend to be super comfortable and lightweight. However, as stated above;
structured loafers that are usually more on the formal side, can also come in suede
as well as calf leather but the design is a little more defined and firmer which
provides the loafer with a rather formal appearance.
Lastly, boots can also be both formal and casual at the
same time as we get into the subcategories. A chukka
can be worn in a semi-formal manner, but hiking boots
can only be paired with a casual outfit.