Utility Boots

It’s not easy for us to pick up on all the trends going on in the shoe world, beause there are so many and they are particular to certain countries, some things are in vogue in the U.S. that no one in Italy would ever be caught dead in and vice versa, but we do our best to make sure that our readers have a finger on the pulse of shoe fashion. Nevertheless, not everyone cares just about the fashion aspect of shoes, nor should they.

Don’t forget the practical side of shoes

When we talk about shoes here, we are often talking about fashion but that isn’t entirely fair to the complexity of shoes or the needs of our readership. There is also a practical side that needs to be addressed as well, for those of our readership who need to know which shoes are reliable for doing a range of different kind of work, everything from construction work to landscaping, like B & L, to utility repair. All of these professions require shoes that have different focuses than the shoes we were for going out on the town or to the office for work or to a formal event. This entry is for those people who want to know about practical shoes.

Leather boots make a great utilitarian addition to any closet

Some of our readers are hard-working men and women who do work like land clearing for cheap, and for those people we can’t recommend a pair of leather boots more highly. Leather boots are much better than fabric boots for a variety of reasons, but foremost because they will last you much longer. Leather has been proven to last for about 2 to 3 years longer than a pair of vinyl shoes – so investing in a leather boot means you’ll have to buy fewer replacement boots over a longer period of time.

Leather boots also keep your feet much better insulated than other kinds of boots. Let’s say you work for a company that does great arbor health treatments that requires you to be outside in the winter months when it’s cold and wet. Well, leather shoes are better at keeping your feet warm and way better at waterproofing than vinyl boots or boots of other materials. And since the cost over another material is essentially negligible, we don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t want to invest in a nice pair of leather boots for all those occasions you might need more protection for your feet than fashion!

Oscar Shoes

heels

Let’s talk about shoes, shall we? The 2015 Oscars weren’t that long ago, and we think the Oscars is the perfect time to start looking forward at what the big names in shoes are going to be, and what the trendy styles are projected to be for the year. Enough time has passed that we can really tell who was on the mark with their shoes when they walked down the red carpet a few months ago, and who was totally out of touch – plus we can discuss which ones we think were the best despite their not being on trend (because we all know that happens far too often, especially in Hollywood).

A night of spectacular heels

I have to say – it’s just incredible how many gorgeous pairs of heels showed up at the Oscars in 2015, it really is astounding. Let’s start with one of my favorite pairs of shoes to show up, Lupita Nyong’o’s gold six inch heels with diamond studded soles, just incredible. I don’t think I’ve seen something so glittery and high, classic fashion in years and years on the red carpet – good for you, Lupita!

But Lupita wasn’t the only one rocking heels: Stephania Germanotta, a.k.a. Lady Gaga, traipsed around in some silver Alaia stilettos, Scarlett Johansson paired her emerald green Versace dress with a pair of classic black Jimmy Choo platform stilettos, and Anna Kendrick wore silver stilettos from two different designers.

A different game entirely

Then we have our favorite sisters, Tegan and Sara, who showed up wearing Barbara Bui wingtips and Cole Haan oxfords, respectively – way to mix it up, ladies!

Broguing Patterns

Broguing

Welcome to the final installment of our ongoing Men’s Guide to the Dress Shoe, where we’re tackling the many different style of men’s dress shoe, (briefly) digging into their histories, and discussing the appropriateness of each type of shoe for casual or formal occasions. If you haven’t already be sure to check out our installments on the oxford, dress bootloaferderbychukka bootmonk strap, opera pump, and chelsea boot.

Now that we’ve covered what we think are the essential dress shoes every many should have in his closet, let’s talk about toe styles and broguing, two stylistic flourishes on every shoe that can add variety and flair to our eight different dress shoe types.

A study in perforation

Broguing is a term that refers to a pattern of perforations that follows the seams of the shoe. Broguing is a bold styling choice that can really make a statement depending on the shoe.

Wingtip broguing, also known as full brogues, follows the wingtip toe style, with decorative perforations following the seams around the shoe.

Half- or semi-brogues are the same as wingtip brogues, only the toe style is capped, rather than wingtip.

Quarter brogues features brogues that only line the toe cap, a much more subtle offering than the other broguing styles.

Longwing brogues follow a single seam all the way to the back of the shoe.

A complete collection

Now that our guide is complete you have a map of all the shoes you should own as a man with a sense of style. No more excuses for pairing those tennis with your suit!

Toe Styles

toes

Welcome to part nine of our ongoing Men’s Guide to the Dress Shoe, where we’re tackling the many different style of men’s dress shoe, (briefly) digging into their histories, and discussing the appropriateness of each type of shoe for casual or formal occasions. If you haven’t already be sure to check out our installments on the oxford, dress bootloaferderbychukka bootmonk strap, opera pump, and chelsea boot.

Now that we’ve covered what we think are the essential dress shoes every many should have in his closet, let’s talk about toe styles and broguing, two stylistic flourishes on every shoe that can add variety and flair to our eight different dress shoe types.

What to do with the vamp

The vamp is the part of the shoe that starts behind the toe and extends around the eyelets and tongue to the very back of the shoe. When we talk about toe styles, we’re talking about how the front of the vamp has been designed.

A plain toe means that the vamp has been left completely unaltered. This is a clean, minimalist look. A medallion toe is a plain toe with decorative broguing on the toe.

An apron toe, perhaps the most common toe style, especially for casual shoes, begins in the middle of the shoe, goes around the toe, and ends at the middle of the shoe on the opposite side. A split toe is an apron with a seam that “splits” the toe in two halves as well as wrapping around.

The wingtip is similar to the apron, except that it usually starts closer to the eyelets than the apron, and features a point or “tip” in the seam that reaches toward the throat of the shoe.

A cap toe features a horizontal line that splits the vamp at the toe.

The Chelsea Boot

chelsea

Welcome to part eight of our ongoing Men’s Guide to the Dress Shoe, where we’re tackling the many different style of men’s dress shoe, (briefly) digging into their histories, and discussing the appropriateness of each type of shoe for casual or formal occasions. If you haven’t already be sure to check out our installments on the oxford, dress bootloaferderbychukka bootmonk strap, and opera pump.

Victorian England strikes again

If you’re into popular fashion and formalwear, there’s just no getting around the influence of Queen Victoria. The shoes and clothing designed for the famous English queen have inarguably influence the course of the history of Western fashion, and those influences are still being played out today. The chelsea boot was originally designed for the queen as an easier-to-get-into alternative to the laced boot popular at the time. The sides of the Chelsea boot are elastic, allowing for a faster and easier ingress and egress, while keeping the same outline as the laced boot. They were popular amongst the equestrian crowd, and eventually came to don the feet of England’s most popular band, the Beatles.

A highly adaptable ankle boot

The Chelsea boot is a versatile shoe. It can always be worn casually, as with jeans, to elevate the whole outfit, or, if found in leather, can add a bit of alternative flair to a suit. These boots are typically found in suede, are ankle length, and feature rounded toes and low heels – not to mention the elastic siding allowing for that easy-on, easy-off the queen so loved.

The Opera Pump

opera pump

Welcome to part seven of our ongoing Men’s Guide to the Dress Shoe, where we’re tackling the many different style of men’s dress shoe, (briefly) digging into their histories, and discussing the appropriateness of each type of shoe for casual or formal occasions. If you haven’t already be sure to check out our installments on the oxford, dress bootloaferderbychukka boot, and monk strap.

The court shoe

You might think that the English Victorian period concluded so long ago that its influence must be miniscule today, but you’d be wrong: lots of influences from the Victorian period remain in today’s fashion – especially in formalwear. Case in point: the court shoe, also known in American English as the opera pump.

During the day, men in upper class Victorian England would wear dress boots, and at night, pumps, which they wore with silk, knee-high socks and breeches. Today, opera pumps are adorned with a decorative grosgrain bow, but originally the bow was a silver buckle. Grograin is a type of heavy, ribbed fabric, commonly elasticized and used in hems in modern clothing.

A less common but good to have option

Opera pumps have largely been replaced in formal settings by oxfords, but it isn’t totally uncommon for opera pumps to be seen at full-dress events. It can’t hurt to be prepared for those occasions when full dress is required at an event you may be attending – and besides, we can’t get away with not having the most formal dress shoe on a listicle of formal dress shoes!

The Monk Strap

monk strap

Welcome to part six of our ongoing Men’s Guide to the Dress Shoe, where we’re tackling the many different style of men’s dress shoe, (briefly) digging into their histories, and discussing the appropriateness of each type of shoe for casual or formal occasions. If you haven’t already be sure to check out our installments on the oxford, dress bootloaferderby, and chukka boot.

The middle child

You think of the oxford, derby, and monk strap as three brothers. If Oxfords are the classic, formal oldest brother, and derbies are the more accomodating, more flexible youngest, the monk strap is the middle child begging for attention. While all three shoes share a general shape and design aesthetic, the derby shoe will always be the flashiest of the three.

Scene stealer

The monk strap was originally worn by monks, who needed something that offered a little more protection than the sandals that they typically donned, but the appeal of this shoe has certainly broadened since then. The monk strap replaces the laces of the oxford and derby with the eponymous strap, which can actually be one or two straps, depending on your style. They are typically made out of leather, though you may also find them in seude. They can also feature broguing.

Pair these shoes casual or formal attire to create an ensemble that focuses on these stylish shoes. For something dressed down, try them with jeans. To dress them up, wear them with your most dapper suit.

The Chukka Boot

chukka

Welcome to part five of our ongoing Men’s Guide to the Dress Shoe, where we’re tackling the many different style of men’s dress shoe, (briefly) digging into their histories, and discussing the appropriateness of each type of shoe for casual or formal occasions. If you haven’t already be sure to check out our installments on the oxford, dress bootloafer, and derby.

A sporting option

Anyone who’s played polo will be familiar with the name of the shoes that we’re discussing today: the name of polo is played for roughly two hours, the time being divided into periods known as “chukkers” or “chukkas.” Chukka boots are thought to have been designed as more comfortable versions of polo boots that players could wear after the game. Indeed, chukka boots look quite similar to polo boots, only the former aren’t as tall, typically ankle length.

The most casual dress boot

Of all the boots in our guide, the chukka boot is the most casual. That’s not to say it isn’t a dress boot: it’s perfectly suitable for a business casual outing, or for semi-formal occasions. Although this boot is typically made from suede, you can even get away with wearing these for a formal occasion if you can find them in polished leather instead.

One mistake people often make is confusing the chukka boot with the desert boot. While both are similar in design, the desert boot is a much more casual footwear option, and usually has a rubber sole instead of a leather one.

The Derby Shoe

derby

Welcome to part four of our ongoing Men’s Guide to the Dress Shoe, where we’re tackling the many different style of men’s dress shoe, (briefly) digging into their histories, and discussing the appropriateness of each type of shoe for casual or formal occasions. If you haven’t already be sure to check out our installments on the oxford, dress boot, and loafer.

From the shooting range to the dance floor

The derby shoe is another classic style, dating back to the 1850s – just a little bit younger than the Oxford, a shoe with which the derby often gets mixed up because of their similar designs. The derby was originally a hunting shoe, intended to be worn during specifically for sporting. Today, however, the shoe is perfectly acceptable as a casual and formal shoe.

Distinguishing from the Oxford

As we already mentioned, the derby shoe is often mistaken for an Oxford because of their many similarities. While the derby does share almost all of its design elements with the Oxford, making it easy to mistake the former for the latter, there is one very important and tell-tale difference between the two, which has to do with the lacing.

While the Oxford shoe has it’s facing stitched underneath the vamp, the derby shoe does the opposite: the vamp goes underneath the stitching. This is called “open lacing,” and is a kind of shoe construction that allows for a wider fit than an Oxford. This difference is a hallmark of the sporting shoe that the derby used to be, and therefore distinguishes the derby as less formal version of its close cousin.

The Loafer

loafer

Part three of our Men’s Guide to the Dress Shoe is going to take on the loafer, a once-casual shoe that now qualifies as a dress shoe. If you haven’t already be sure to check out our two previous entries in the guide, on Oxford shoes and dress boots.

A Casual Past

Like the dress boots and Oxford shoes we covered before them, the loafer has its origins in the English royal court. The loafer was originally conceived as a casual house slipper for King George the VI. It wasn’t until the shoe crossed the Atlantic and began to be produced by American manufacturers in the 1930s that the loafer became a popularized casual shoe, which it remained for nearly 3 decades. It wasn’t until American businessman and lawyers began pairing the loafer with suits in the 1960s that the loafer became acceptable as a dress shoe. That status was cemented in 1966, when Gucci began producing what it called the bit loafer, which featured a metal strap shaped like a horse’s bit across the front.

An alternative to the Oxford

The loafer features several differences from the Oxford shoe. In contrast to the minimalism of the Oxford, the loafer usually has some kind of decoration, called a saddle. The saddle is usually a strap with a slit, a metal bit, or tassels, though a minimalist version of the loafer, called the Venetian, has an exposed vamp with no decoration. Another common feature of the loafer is a raised seam along the toe.