Men’s Brown Dress Shoes – Read This Before Buying

Last updated: February 13, 2022

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

Versatility of Brown Shoes in a Preppy Outfit

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

Color

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.

Leather

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

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.

Soles

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.

Style

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.

Top Pick
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxford

You want a shoe that can go from work to dinner with no problem. A shoe that's versatile, comfortable and goes with everything. A shoe that is built to last and will never let you down? You need Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxfords. From formal to everyday, this lace up oxford dress shoe has it all.

Velasca Classic Brown Leather Oxfords

A clean, crisp brown shoe with a quarter-brogue design. A timeless shoe, with natural hand-dyed leather and a leather sole. A shoe for the man who's free to choose the colors he wears in the office.

Meermin Cap-Toed Oxford

The Copper Antique Calf Oxford is a must have in every wardrobe, It's a classic combination that is not too round, but not too elongated either. Wear it all year round!

Alden For J.Crew Bluchers

The Alden name has been one of the most sought-after in the world of menswear and shoemaking for over a century. These handsome bluchers, made with Alden's signature Barrie last and water-lock outsole, are crafted from Chromexcel leather - as good as it gets when it comes to American tanned leather.

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.