How to tell the difference between men’s dress shoe styles

Do you find it difficult to navigate in the world of men's dress shoes and not sure what shoes to choose for your outfit? Learn about your style options for dress shoes - both highly formal and less formal dress shoes. In this guide, we present you with the very best men’s dress shoe styles that will provide you with essential pieces in any wardrobe.

Our list of essential men’s dress shoe styles includes timeless favorites:

6 essential dress shoe styles for men

No matter if you want to dress in a smart-casual way or keeping it highly formal, you can find the right pair of shoes to get the job done in fashionable style. We guide you through the six popular styles and describe the unique properties and advantages of each.

Variants of many men’s dress shoes include wingtip, cap toe, whole-cut/one-piece, and plain toe, which add their own unique style to the front of the shoes.

Oxford shoes

A pair of Oxford shoes is the key style that defines men’s dress shoes. Their timeless fashion provides the foundation for all other dress shoes. You can recognize a pair of Oxfords by the closed lacing, which creates a slick and polished look. They also often come with a low heel and a short back.

If you are ever in doubt about what style to choose and want to have a highly versatile dress shoe, then Oxford shoes are a safe bet. A great choice for everyday and events, where they go perfectly with a nice suit. You can experiment with different colors for everyday wear, while formal business attires call for more conservative colors like black and brown.

Derby shoes

Derby shoes are quite like Oxford shoes, yet they are a bit more casual in their design. They are often mistaken for a pair of Oxfords, but you can tell the difference by looking at the lacing. Derby shoes have an open lacing system, in contrast to the closed lacing on Oxfords. This makes the shoe more flexible, but a bit less formal.

Many of the same style options for Oxford shoes apply to a pair of Derby shoes. Though, you might not want to pair them with a formal suit if the dress code is highly formal. You can easily achieve a cool everyday look with a pair of Derby shoes and jeans.

Brogue shoes

A pair of Brogue shoes is technically not a separate pair as it refers to the broguing technique that can be used for both Oxford and Derby shoes. Originally intended to let water flow out of the shoes, the technique is now mostly used for decorative purposes. It makes this style of dress shoes truly stand out from other designs.

You can find full brogue, semi-brogue, quarter brogue, and longwing brogue, depending on the style. You can wear this type of shoes with both suits and more casual attire like jeans and more casual shirts.

Monk strap shoes

Monk strap shoes are rather unique in their design. Most significantly, they are laceless. The laces have been replaced with a wide strap that is fastened by one or two buckles. The unique look helps add an extra flamboyant touch to your outfit.

Monk strap shoes are normally more formal than Derby shoes, but less formal than a pair of Oxford shoes. You have multiple style options with monk straps, everything from a truly neat suit to certain jeans. Often these shoes can be a key highlight and make your outfit standout.


Sometimes you want to take a more relaxed approach to your outfit. For the sunny seasons, it is a great opportunity to jump into a pair of casual and comfortable loafers. They don't have any laces but instead sometimes have a plain strap, a strap with a slit, or a metal ornament to add extra detail.

Much like moccasins, loafers are a more formal version making them a perfect choice for a casual approach to formal wear. You can pick between the more classic penny loafers as well as more modern styles. Materials such as leather and suede are popular to wear if you want to add more flavor to your outfit.

Chelsea boots

For when it gets colder, you might want a pair of shoes that can keep your feet warm, all while maintaining the slick look. A pair of Chelsea boots are a great option for you to easily slip in. You can recognize the shoe style by its ankle high cut, round tips, and elasticated sides that remove the need for any type of lacing.

Chelsea boots are popular in both leather and suede. If you want other similar styles for the cold weather, you can consider chukka/ankle boots that are ideal for business casual in the modern workplace.

If you are looking for style, comfort and quality, our selection of men’s dress shoes is a great match for your feet. We have many different styles and colors to suit your individual preferences. Find your pair of high-quality dress shoes below.