A Quick Guide to Men’s Formal Shoes

We all enjoy comfort, but there are times when trainers just don’t cut it. Faced with a formal event, every man should be able to bring out a shoe that rises to the occasion and sets off his dapper style. But if you think a brogue’s just a Scottish accent, can’t tell an Oxford from a Derby, or still believe loafers are just for loafing, then you might need a helping hand. Luckily, our guide to men’s formal shoes was written just for you.

Feeling Flamboyant? Try Brogues!

Brogues successfully bring off that most challenging of effects – masculine flamboyance. Brogues are formed from multiple sections, each decorated with small perforations (an effect known as ‘broguing’, appropriately enough). You can actually buy brogues in a range of styles and materials – including leather, faux leather, patent leather and even suede.

Brogues started life as country wear, and in years gone by, you’d have been more likely to see a pair being sported by a provincial squire than an urban gent. Today, things have changed, and the brogue is a common choice for men who want to add a dash of style to their workplace attire or evening wear.

Buyers’ Tip: Our Roamers range includes a variety of real-leather brogues.

Oxford vs Derby

We’ve all heard of the Oxford/Cambridge rivalry, but who would have guessed that there’s a divide in the world of cobbling that runs just as deep? Yes, we’re talking about the Oxford shoe vs the Derby!

So, what’s the difference? Actually, not all that much, but there is a key distinction in the construction of the shoe. Oxford shoes feature a closed lace – meaning that the leather section that includes the laces and eyelets is sewn closed at its base. This section then attaches underneath the vamp (the shoe’s front section). Derby shoes are constructed differently, with the lacing sections unstitched at their base, and sewn onto the top of the vamp.

Still confused? Never mind – it’s a subtle difference, and both varieties are considered perfectly acceptable in formal settings.

Quit Loafing Around!

The loafer is an enigma to many men… Is it a formal shoe? Does it belong in the board room? Can it cut the mustard among distinguished company? The answer, increasingly, is ‘yes’.

For many years, loafers were viewed as a middle-of-the-road option – a casual shoe for men who didn’t do casual (in the trainers-’n’-trackies sense). So, it seemed that the loafer was forever condemned to occupy a grey area between comfort and formality. Then loafers started appearing on the feet of affluent, suit-wearing classes in the US, and the trend quickly spread to our own side of the pond.

Sure, loafers will always have pride of place as the top choice for smart-casual occasions; the natural complement to dark jeans and an open-necked shirt, but today, the loafer is more widely accepted in formal settings too. Uniquely versatile, the loafer really can be all things to all men, and a good pair should be found in every gentleman’s shoe cupboard.

Feeling Inspired? Explore Our Formal Shoes

We’ve put together a range of formal shoes to cover all your needs – so isn’t it time you kissed your trainer-wearing days goodbye, and kitted yourself out with something masculine, stylish and refined?