The classic fashion adage states that you can always judge a man by his shoes, and the wisdom of that axiom remains as relevant now as ever.
The latest smart shoe fashions for men emphasize the sleek over the clunky. They focus on rounded tips over blocky or squared toes and the elegant and refined over the cheap and coarse. Think streamlined and smoothly contoured, complementing the rest of your ensemble rather than distracting from it.
Not every pair of shoes goes with every outfit, of course. There is no single pair of shoes, no matter how versatile, that can be worn with every set of clothes in your wardrobe. As a result, a fashion-conscious man will want to own a wide variety of stylish shoes to fit every occasion, ranging from the workplace to the weekend.
One type of footwear that commands an essential place in any man’s closet is the classic black lace-up. A time-honored style in men’s shoes, black lace-ups go just as well with dark chinos or jeans as they do with a suit fit for the office. Basic is better in selecting a smart pair of black lace-ups. Avoid ornamental, ostentatious details in favor of a simple, well-contoured design. Look for tips that are rounded instead of square, but not downright pointed.
Another type of versatile men’s shoe is the loafer, the low-cut slip-on style of shoe that can accompany a slim-cut suit, nice jeans or resort casual wear. The smartest, most modern look for loafers features a narrower contour than in years past. Black leather, brown leather and suede are all appropriate materials for loafers. Fashionable men can wear their loafers without socks, especially during the summer months, or with socks during cooler weather. Glossy black leather loafers can be worn with the most elegant suits and in the most formal office settings.
Dress boots, frequently made from black or brown leather but available in more exotic materials as well, also have a well-deserved place in a man’s shoe collection. When wearing boots of ankle length or higher, keep in mind that black leather is considered dressier than brown leather. Always keep dress boots extremely well-polished. Chukka boots, also known as turf boots, typically have only two or three eyelets for their laces. Wildly popular as casual wear in the post-World War II era of the late 1940s and 1950s, chukka boots have come back in a big way and can accentuate fashionable casual or semi-formal attire. They are often made from suede or calfskin, but snakeskin or crocodile boots can be appropriate as well if you are feeling more adventurous.
For your downtime, weekends and more casual outings, consider traditional canvas tennis shoes or basketball-style high-tops sneakers. The most important consideration when wearing these casual shoes is that they are in pristine condition and flawlessly clean. For a more rugged casual look, try hiking boots, which can be made from a variety of materials including nylon, suede, leather or hardy synthetic materials.
The type of soles on their shoes is another consideration for men concerned with smart shoe fashion. Any pair of dress shoes should have a leather sole. If the shoes are extremely dressy and meant to be worn with an expensive custom suit, then the leather sole should have a thin, narrow look. If the shoes are meant for everyday wear, a more casual office environment or to be worn with stylish denim, then a chunkier, more rugged leather sole is perfectly fine. If you insist on extra padding for your dress shoes, consider rubber inlays rather than a full rubber sole. For extremely casual footwear, full rubber soles are acceptable.