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Selecting The Right Dress Shoe

You recently purchased a new suit with a dress shirt and tie to match. Now you need to find the right shoes to complete the look. This is often easier said than done. The right footwear depends on the outfit and the occasion. Most gentlemen in a business environment will choose either oxfords or loafers for their professional attire. Here are a few tips on how and when to wear oxfords and loafers.


Gentlemen on the search for new dress shoes should first consider oxfords. They are one of the most popular options due to their versatility and can be worn to most functions. Oxfords are traditionally made with leather and feature laces. This staple of menswear comes in a variety of styles which are most notably distinguished by the toe type. The four main toe types are:

Plain Toe – These feature no design on the front of the shoe and are often worn during formal events. However, the lack of decorations makes them great for everyday use. You can even go casual and pair them with jeans.

Cap Toe – Another popular option for formal occasions. An additional layer of leather over the top creates a stylish "cap" at the front. Cap toes are a great choice for all formal occasions except perhaps a "Black Tie Event". Pair them with your Sunday suits and your professional attire.

Apron – The impression of a crease is formed by a separate piece of leather extending from the bottom of the shoe. This type is most commonly found on loafers, but even on oxfords they easily upgrade your business casual look.

Wing Tip – A "wing" is formed from the cap that extends to the sides of the shoe. This is perhaps the most casual of all the dress shoes. They go great with denim and casual pants.

Once you have an idea of what type of oxford you will need it is time to decide which color works best for your suit. Black is the most traditional option that goes with nearly every business suit. This versatility makes black a great choice for first time buyers or young professionals. Darker shades of brown have become popular in recent years and are often paired with suits and sportcoats of a lighter shade for a less formal appearance.


Loafers, also known as "Slip-Ons", are designed for casual and/or semiformal events. Despite their origins, loafers have made their way into the modern man's business attire. Some men will even wear loafers with business suits. Gentleman with a more traditional style would mostly likely avoid the combination and reserve loafers for less formal occasions and summer events. However, it is safe to wear loafers with a cotton or linen suit, especially in the summer.

Like oxfords, loafers are made primarily from leather and suede with brown and black being the most popular colors. Instead of different tips they feature tassels and straps. Tassels are more common and a dark leather pair can be worn with suits in less formal business environments. Casually, they can be worn sockless with shorts during the summer or with jeans and casual pants in the fall and spring. The penny loafer features a strap across the front and was once a very popular option. Today, you'll find fewer men wearing them, but they can be a very charming addition to a casual outfit. Just be sure to keep the penny in your pocket and not on the shoe.

Finding ideal shoes isn't easy, but it is definitely worth the effort. Matching the right shoes for the outfit shows your attention to detail. The wrong shoes can drastically bring down an otherwise terrific look. We hope this guide helps you select the right shoe and be sure to see the Jos. A. Bank shoe collection and our selection from Johnston & Murphy, Cole Haan and Allen Edmonds. Finally, see our collection of shoe care products to keep your footwear looking great.

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