Dress shoes come in a wide range of prices, depending on the quality and complexity of the shoe. They can be as low as $50 dollars or as high as thousands. Most people need dress shoes, but how often they are needed and what they need them for is very different.
Maybe you’re just going to a wedding and you don’t dress up very often. In this case, those inexpensive $50 shoes that will fall apart in a few months are acceptable.
Some people still prefer to look professional during work hours (often it’s a mandatory dress code), so they’ll need dress shoes that are going to be apart of their everyday attire. High-quality, durable pairs are typically your best bet in this situation.
If you are reading this guide, you are probably in the pursuit of looking respectable in everyday life, which will mean that you will actually wear your dress shoes more than once. This is why I tailored my recommendations to suit your needs.
Brown vs Black Dress Shoes
Black shoes are only appropriate in certain scenarios, but they can be a great addition to your wardrobe. They are best paired with black and charcoal suits, as well as navy ones in very conservative settings.
Brown shoes are much more versatile. A brown dress shoe can often be dressed down with dark jeans, chinos or a casual knit, which can provide an elegant touch to any outfit. Or it can be worn to a wedding, a job interview or be apart of your everyday business attire.
The challenge of brown is that there isn’t a single shade – most shades of brown vary across a wide spectrum, with the lighter shades being associated with a more casual look.
Breaking Down The Brown Dress Shoe
Brown dress shoes come in many different shades, from light tan to dark chocolate brown. The shade of brown you go with is entirely dependent on what occasions you plan to wear your shoes.
If you’re buying a pair of brown shoes for a wedding, you should opt towards a darker shade as that presents a more formal look. If you want shoes for the office and the dress code leans towards business casual, a tan or walnut color will work great.
One of the reasons to avoid bargain bin dress shoes is because they are made with cheap, low-quality leather that will quickly wear down and become tough.
Those below $100 dress shoes at the mall are made of corrected-grain leather and lacquered with a plastic-coating to hide their lack of quality. They’re going to look terrible in no time!
On the other hand, full-grain leather will age beautifully and develop a signature look as it is used. As such, you can expect to enjoy your shoes for years to come.
Toe design is the one of the most important choices you’ll make when looking to pick out what style of dress shoe to buy.
As of 2022, most dress shoes come in four different designs, including longwing, wingtip, captoe and plain toe designs. The most casual of these is the longwing design while the most formal is the plain toe.
It is important to know that wingtips and longwings will almost always have those little holes on the toe (brogues) which is why they’re known to be more casual.
We recommend your forgo any dress shoe with brogues as this relegates them to the realm of business casual.
To make sure you get the perfect professional look, solid leather soles are essential to any dress shoe. Rubber soles may be cheaper, but they often give off a clunky & cheap impression.
There exists a ton of different dress shoe styles, but in our case we’ll look at the two most common and popular ones for brown dress shoes – Derbies and Oxford.
Derbies are characterized by a low, rounded toe and a low vamp (the part that covers the top of your foot). The Oxford is characterized by a longer middle section and a high vamp.
It’s important to note that Oxfords are considered more on the formal side and Derbies casual.
For the average person, here is a simple solution. Pick up two pairs of shoes with one being lighter walnut brown and the other being dark brown. I personally prefer plain toe shoes in an Oxford style.
Our Recommended Brown Dress Shoes
What To Wear With Brown Dress Shoes
What color suit works best with brown dress shoes?
The good news is that brown shoes are pretty versatile in that you can wear them with a ton of different colors. The only hard and fast rule is to avoid wearing brown dress shoes with any type of black.
Charcoal grey and navy are two of the most versatile suit colors that work for just about any event, with the exception of black tie events, a funereal or pretty much any event where black is mandatory.
Brown shoes can work amazingly with most shades of navy and grey. Some members of the older generation are still partial to wearing anything but black or dark brown dress shoes for formal occasions, while many younger folk are happy to wear browns, burgundies and tans with navy or greys. It’s all up to your personal preference in that regard.
Another thing to consider is whether your shoes are a shade of brown on the lighter or darker side, making them more appropriate for certain color suits. Tan and lighter browns may be bolder but will still work with charcoal or navy suits, while darker browns can go well with with most colors.
Do brown dress shoes work in a business casual outfit?
Yes. In fact, brown dress shoes is our preferred shoes for a business casual dress code.
Pair your brown shoes with navy chinos and a dress shirt for a perfect business casual look.
How To Care For Your Dress Shoes
Your shoes are only going to last if you look after them. Similarly, they’ll also look great if you take time to treat them well.
– Apply shoe polish every two weeks.
– Use shoe trees when you’re not wearing them.
– Apply leather conditioner twice a year.
– Make sure they are properly fitted and the heel is in the right position.