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Types of Men’s Dress Shoes - A Guide

Whether you're heading into the boardroom or walking down the aisle, a well-crafted pair of dress shoes is an investment that should last for years. There are many styles of men’s dress shoes, each with their own sense of tradition and elegance, making it easy for you to find the perfect pair to suit your personal style.

Our guide will take you through the types of men’s dress shoes, their history, and styling and maintenance tips to help ensure you always put your best foot forward.

Types of Men’s Dress Shoes

Lace-Up Dress Shoes

Mens brown Lace-up dress shoes

Lace-up dress shoes are perfect to wear to the office or dinner, and they come in a range of designs and colors. Brogues, Oxfords and Derby shoes are some of the most common lace-up dress shoes. They all have a similar style, but with key differences to set them apart.


Originating from Scotland and Ireland, brogues are characterized by their decorative perforations or "broguing" along the seams and toe caps. These classic shoes add a touch of refinement to any outfit, making them a versatile choice for both formal and casual occasions.

Oxford Shoes

Known for their elegant simplicity and closed lacing system, Oxford shoes epitomize sartorial sophistication. Originally associated with Oxford University, these shoes have a sleek silhouette and are ideal for formal events and professional settings.

Derby Shoes

Mens brown Derby shoes

With their open lacing system, Derby shoes offer a more relaxed and versatile alternative to Oxfords. These shoes seamlessly transition from the office to after-hours events, making them a wardrobe essential for the modern man.

How to Wear Lace-Up Dress Shoes

Lace-up dress shoes look great with formal outfits like a suit, but they can also be styled to wear casually. Pair lace-up shoes with trousers and a button-down shirt, or chino shorts in the warmer weather and you have an effortlessly fashionable, casual outfit.


Mens light brown loafers

Originating from Norway, these slip-on shoes are characterized by their moccasin-style construction and lack of laces, making them the perfect choice for smart-casual occasions.

How to Wear Loafers

Loafers are comfortable, but that doesn’t mean they lack in the style department. These shoes make the perfect pairing for a suit or with a pair of chinos, and they’re versatile enough to work with casual outfits too.

There is debate over whether you should wear socks with loafers, but there is no wrong answer and the choice is up to you.

Ankle Boots

Ankle boots are a great choice, especially during the colder months. They keep your feet warm without compromising on style.

Chelsea boots

Chelsea boots are known for their elasticated side panel and are available in leather and suede

Chukka boots

Chukka boots come in shades of sand, brown, black and gray, and have a small rubber heel or platform.

Clarks Originals Desert Boots

A type of chukka boot, Desert Boots were inspired by a rough boot from Cairo’s Old Bazaar featuring a minimal, progressive style. The authentic, sustainably sourced crepe sole completes its distinctive silhouette. Desert Boots feature a thinner leather than standard boots, and they sit lower on the ankle.

How to Wear Ankle Boots

Ankle boots are a versatile shoe and can be worn with black jeans or nice trousers. Depending on the event, you can even wear them with a suit. Just make sure the color of your boots doesn’t clash with your suit, and keep your socks hidden for a more professional look.

How Should Dress Shoes Fit?

Ensuring that your dress shoes are the right fit is important for both comfort and style when it comes to dress shoes.

Follow these guidelines to find your perfect fit:

  • Determine your shoe size by measuring both feet and opting for the larger size if they differ.
  • Try on shoes in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest.
  • Ensure a proper fit by allowing enough room to fit one adult finger behind your heel.
  • Gradually break in your new shoes by wearing them around the house with thick socks before venturing outdoors.

Caring For Your Dress Shoes

Clarks Shoe care accessories

If you want your dress shoes to last you as long as possible while still looking like new, proper care and maintenance are essential. Here are some tips to keep your shoes looking their best:

  • Use a protective spray, such as our Rain and Stain repellent, to shield your shoes from the elements.
  • Clean your shoes regularly with premium shoe wipes to remove dirt and debris.
  • Invest in aromatic cedar shoe trees to maintain the shape and prevent creasing.
  • Keep your leather shoes looking polished with a shine sponge.
  • Freshen up your shoes with a quick spritz of our Shoe Refresh to eliminate odors.

With the right amount of care and attention, your dress shoes will remain a wardrobe staple for years to come.

Dress Shoes for Men: A Timeless Classic

With an array of options available, from timeless brogues to versatile loafers and rugged ankle boots, there's a perfect pair of men’s dress shoes for every occasion and personal style. And if you’re looking for more styles, shop our collection of men’s dress shoes today.