men wearing dress shoes

4 Types of Dress Shoes for Different Occasions

Sarkis Bedikian

Dress shoes are a quintessential part of a man's footwear collection, as they have the power to amp up any outfit, any time of the day. These shoes come in an array of classic styles, each serving different purposes and fitting into various social settings. From the sleek lines of oxfords to the decorative flair of brogues and the versatility of loafers — different types of dress shoes are available, allowing men to choose their footwear according to their lifestyle needs or style and comfort preferences. Let's learn more about dress shoe styles to understand their distinctions and functionalities better.

What are Dress Shoes?

Dress shoes fall in the category of men's refined footwear and are primarily designed for formal or smart-casual occasions. These shoes are constructed from premium materials such as fine leather, which lend a superior and polished look. Characteristically, they feature minimal embellishments, focusing on clean lines and a sophisticated appearance that complements formal attire.

Dress shoes are indispensable in various social and professional gatherings, whether for anchoring a business suit at a crucial meeting or complementing a tuxedo at a wedding — dress shoes simply elevate your attire. Their ability to harmonize with upscale outfits makes them a staple in any wardrobe, ensuring that your entire look resonates with the masculine charm.

Exploring Types of Dress Shoes

 Men's dress shoes styles are an eclectic showcase of elegance and heritage, where each design narrates its own story. These shoes come with their own history and are footwear must-haves that will forever be in fashion. Let's check out the major dress shoe types: Oxfords, Brogues, Wingtips, and Derbies. 



Oxford shoe's origins trace back to 19th-century Scotland and Ireland, where they were a more simplistic iteration of the Oxonian, a half-boot with side slits. Today's oxfords have a closed lacing system, allowing for a snug fit and a slim silhouette, making them perfect for formal wear. They are best paired with business suits and give a polished finish that complements tailored looks.  



Derby Shoes

Originally designed as sporting and hunting boots in the 1850s, derby shoes have evolved into versatile footwear options. They are distinguished by their open lacing system, which offers a more relaxed fit and adds a slightly laid-back look compared to oxfords. DerbIes are suitable for a wide range of occasions. Their adaptability makes them ideal for both semi-formal office environments and casual weekend outings, pairing well with everything from suit pants to denim.


Brogues started as practical footwear for Irish farmers to drain bog water through holes in the shoes. These perforations have since become decorative, defining the brogue's exclusive stylized appearance. Brogues are no longer just functional; they have become a fashion statement. Their ornate detailing allows them to transition from formal to casual contexts, making them suitable for business attire or to smarten up a pair of jeans for a smooth yet relaxed look.


Wingtips are a flamboyant relative of the brogue, characterized by the extension of the toe cap into a point that descends along the sides of the shoe, resembling wings, hence the name. The extensive perforations and elaborate detailing on wingtips inject personality into outfits. They can be styled up with suits for an extraordinary touch or dressed down with jeans for a smart-casual aesthetic with a bold twist.

Deconstructing Dress Shoes

Dress shoes are a fusion of artistry and engineering, made from the finest materials, each chosen for their distinct qualities. Leather remains the most popular material choice for its breathability, durability, and ability to mold to the wearer's foot. Varieties like full-grain, top-grain, and patent leather each offer distinct benefits in terms of aesthetics and longevity. For those seeking ethical alternatives, modern advancements have introduced high-quality vegan materials that closely mimic leather's texture and resilience.

The robustness and comfort of dress shoes are significantly influenced by their construction techniques. The Goodyear Welt, a hallmark of premium footwear, involves stitching the upper leather, lining, and sole together, creating a durable bond that also allows for easy resoling. This method increases the shoe's longevity and waterproof capabilities. On the other hand, Blake stitching offers a sleeker profile with stitches directly on the outsole, providing superior flexibility and a closer sole cut, which enhances comfort from the first wear.

These skillful construction methods ensure that each pair of dress shoes supports the wearer's feet and also withstands the rigors of time, bringing you the best of your footwear investments.

How Should Dress Shoes Fit?

  • Dress shoes should fit snugly around your heel without slipping, but should not be tight enough to pinch or restrict the toes or sides of your feet.
  • Ensure there is about a half-inch of space from the tip of your longest toe to the end of the shoe, allowing your toes to move comfortably.
  • The widest part of the shoe should comfortably accommodate the widest part of your foot. Consider both the width and length of the shoe for a true fit, as feet are three-dimensional.
  • Ideally, new dress shoes should feel comfortable right out of the box without a significant break-in period. They should naturally support your foot’s arch and not cause any discomfort.
  • Feet tend to swell slightly throughout the day, so for the best fit, measure your feet in the afternoon or evening when they are at their largest.
  • Look for about a half-inch of space between the tip of your longest toe and the end of the shoe to ensure there's enough room for your toes to move.
  • Remember to pay attention to the width of the shoe and not just the length—feet are three-dimensional, after all.

When fitted correctly, dress shoes will feel comfortable from the start without a long break-in period. They should complement your foot’s natural shape, support your arch, and enhance your overall attire without causing discomfort.

How to Care for Your Dress Shoes

  • Routine Cleaning: Regularly remove dirt and dust with a soft brush or cloth. For deeper cleans, use a leather cleaner appropriate for the type of leather of your shoes.
  • Conditioning: Leather shoes need moisture to stay supple and prevent cracking. Apply a quality leather conditioner every few months, or more frequently if you wear your shoes often.
  • Polishing: To maintain the shine and protect the leather, polish your shoes regularly. Choose a polish that matches the color of your shoes and apply it in circular motions.
  • Weather Protection: Use a water-repellent spray for leather shoes to protect them from moisture and stains. This is particularly important if you live in a rainy climate.
  • Proper Storage: Store your dress shoes with cedar shoe trees inserted. This helps maintain their shape, absorb moisture, and reduce odor.
  • Rest Periods: Avoid wearing the same pair of dress shoes two days in a row. Allowing them to rest with shoe trees in between wears helps to extend their lifespan.
  • Tools and Products: Invest in a good shoe care kit that includes a horsehair brush, soft cloths, leather conditioner, shoe polish, and a water-repellent spray. Cedar shoe trees are also a wise investment.

Find Your Ideal Dress Shoes and Order Now! 

Selecting the perfect dress shoes is essential to curating a distinguished and polished wardrobe. It’s more than just about aesthetics — because investing in superior quality footwear can redefine your comfort levels and boost your confidence in every stride.

At Volo Alte, we believe in the nuances of modern style and functionality. Dive into our exclusive range that includes everything from sleek sneakers to sturdy boots and casual shoes to pair with your favorite outfits. Each pair features our innovative height-increasing technology, discreetly integrated to lift up your stature subtly but effectively. Shop today and experience the fusion of trendsetting designs and transformative comfort with Volo Alte’s latest collection.

FAQs on Types of Dress Shoes

What are dress shoes?
Dress shoes are formal or semi-formal footwear primarily designed to complement business and evening attire. These shoes are generally made from premium leather or suede and are distinguished by their refined, clean stitching.

Are loafers dress shoes?
Yes, loafers can be considered dress shoes, though they often straddle the line between casual and formal wear. Known for their slip-on design without laces, loafers offer a clean and versatile look that pairs well with various outfits.

What are men’s dress shoes called?
Men's dress shoes are typically categorized into several distinct types based on their design and styling. Common types of dress shoes include oxfords, derbies, brogues, and wingtips.


Can I wear my dress shoes with informals?
Yes, you can wear dress shoes with informal attire, particularly if it leans towards the semi-formal category. For men, pairing dress shoes with a nice shirt and trousers can smarten up an otherwise casual look. The key is to ensure that the shoes complement the overall style and formality level of the outfit.


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