5 Types of Men's Shoes to Add to Your Closet
There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to reconsider his footwear. Gone are those youthful days when your feet were rarely graced by anything other than your favorite pair of battered Reeboks. Now, you need shoes that work for each occasion life throws your way.
To be clear, that doesn’t mean it’s time to max out your credit card on 100 shoes in 100 different styles. But if you’re still slipping on those creased Air Force 1’s you bought a decade ago, it’s time to switch things up.
Don’t worry: we’ve got you (and your feet!) covered, from styles that keep you moving through your day-to-day activities to the dress shoes you need for formal functions—plus everything in between—here are five types of men’s shoes every guy should own.
Espadrilles originated in France and Spain in the 13th century. They were originally worn by the peasants who lived in the area, but they’ve since grown in prominence and popularity. Now, espadrilles are available in dozens of styles for both men and women.
Espadrilles are characterized by two distinct attributes:
- Soles made of jute, rope, or rubber – Originally, espadrilles featured soles made entirely of rope, which meant they had to be repaired or replaced rather frequently. These days, you’re most likely to see a pair with a rubber sole that’s wrapped in rope or from jute, a sustainable, plant-based fiber also known as burlap.
- Canvas uppers – Usually, espadrilles feature canvas uppers, especially when they’ve been designed for men. That said, the uppers can also be made from silk, fleece, felt, and cotton.
For men, a simple pair of espadrilles is an essential footwear item. They’re a versatile shoe that pairs well with almost any outfit and occasion, from casual get-togethers to sit-down dinners. Here’s how to wear espadrilles with three common men’s clothing items:
- Shorts – A must-have shoe for the spring and summer, espadrilles are one of the best men’s shoes to wear with shorts, looking great with every pair in your collection. For warm-weathers shindigs, they’re a less casual choice than sandals or flip-flops but just as breezy.
- Pants (jeans/chinos) – Whether you’re in your dungarees or your khakis, your espadrilles are the right choice. Keep in mind that because of the low rise and lace-free design of the shoe, cuffing your pants creates an eye-pleasing distance between your shoes and your pants. Don’t be afraid to show off your ankles in espadrilles.
- A suit – Although originally a working-class shoe, don’t shy away from wearing your espadrilles with a suit, especially in summer. This is a great way to add cool, quirk, and individuality to a formal look.
#2 Casual Sneakers
If there’s one shoe style that no man should be without, it’s a pair of casual sneakers. They’re one of the most popular shoes in existence for a reason—namely because they’re a comfortable, stylish, and classic way to use your footwear to make a personal statement.
Available in a range of styles, sneakers are among the best types of casual shoes you can buy. And when it comes to wearing them, “casual” is the operative word. Here’s the squeak on sneaks—sneakers have proven themselves to be versatile enough to suit diverse settings, like:
- The basketball court
- The shopping mall
- The neighborhood garage sale
But the truth is, sneakers are primarily leisure shoes. No matter what you do to dress them up, they’re usually not going to satisfy strict dress codes. If you’re thinking of wearing them to the office, wait for the next Casual Friday.
Instead, sneakers are best for low-key environments and daily use. That said, they can still stand out. A pair of sneakers like the TOMS Fenix, paired with either jeans or chinos, is a crisp, cool casual shoe that suits any guy.
Slip-ons are about as easy and low-maintenance as it gets when it comes to shoes. They go on and off quicker than you can count your toes, which is great when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere or (even better) put your feet up at the end of the day. Who doesn’t love a shoe that’s ready to go when you are?
But just as good as their ease and simplicity are the range of styles you can find them in. Essentially, slip-ons are any shoe you can slip on and off easily. That includes an array of popular shoes, but the two types of men’s shoes your closet is incomplete without are:
- Slip-on sneakers – This style of men’s shoe combines the sporty look of your favorite sneakers with the laceless splendor of a slip-on. The best ones, like TOMS Baja Slip-Ons, feature supportive insoles and padded uppers for a shoe that’s just as comfortable as it is quick. Remember that sneakers are casual shoes, so pair your slip-ons with jeans, khakis, or your favorite shorts in the summer.
- Loafers – When sneakers aren’t appropriate but you still don’t have time for laces, you need a pair of loafers. This is especially true when the occasion calls for something slightly dressier than tennis shoes. Whether you opt for tassel loafers or a classic pair of penny loafers, you can wear them with chinos or khakis, an Oxford-style shirt, and a blazer for a clean-cut and approachable look.
- Sandals and slides – Some of the best summer shoes for men, many types of sandals are also slip-ons—and also shoes every guy should own when summer rolls around.
#4 Dress Shoes
As we said above, loafers are a good way to elevate a casual look for certain occasions. But sometimes, a man will find himself faced with a situation that calls for finer footwear than even the best pair of loafers can manage. That’s where dress shoes come into play.
If you don’t like to spend too much time thinking about dress shoes, that’s understandable. For men, it can seem like there aren’t many options for dressing up your feet for fancy gigs. But the truth is, there are several different types of dress shoes for men, some more casual than others—and you should have at least one in your closet.
When it comes to men’s dress shoes, the top styles you should consider are:
- The Oxford – Dating back to the 1800s, the Oxford shoe features closed lacing that makes for a sleek-looking dress shoe. They’re the perfect shoe when you need to go from a semi-casual environment, like work, to a relatively more festive event, like a nice dinner or gala. A pair in black or brown leather complements a business suit, while a polished patent leather pair is the perfect complement to your tuxedo. The adaptable Navi Oxford comes with a comfy OrthoLite® insole and a sneakerized sole so you can be casual, sporty and dressy—all at the same time.
- The Derby – Around the middle of the 19th century, the Derby shoe emerged as a popular hunting shoe thanks to its open lacing, which allowed for a wider fit. For decades, though, it’s been a staple of men’s dress shoes. That said, Derby shoes aren’t quite dressy enough for super formal occasions. Casual suits, slacks, or chinos are your best bet for matching a pair of Derbys. Opt for a Derby shoe in brown or navy blue suede for a truly suave look.
- The Monk Strap – If there’s a middle ground between the formality of an Oxford shoe and the slightly less dressy Derby, it’s the Monk Strap shoe. This style ditches the lacing of different types of dress shoes in favor of a swatch of leather that closes with a buckle. Again, this shoe style might not be right for your tux, but when you need to elevate a formal suit or dress up a pair of chinos, the Monk Strap is the way to go.
Finally, every man needs at least one pair of good boots. When worn correctly, the right boots can take you from the hiking trail to the downtown strip. Any style of men’s boots can easily upgrade any outfit and let people know just how fashionable you are. For men’s fall shoes, the types of boots you should consider adding to your wardrobe include:
- Chelsea boots – This style of boot reached icon status in the 1960s when they appeared on the feet of the Beatles. Now, they’re a necessary component of any man’s shoe collection, thanks to their classic appeal and versatility. You know a pair of Chelsea boots from the elastic bands that connect the leather on either side of the ankle, which promotes movement and comfort. Pair them with jeans and a t-shirt when you’re feeling a more casual outfit, or with chinos and a button-down for a more polished look.
- Chukka boots – Known for their ankle-high rise and discreet lacing, Chukka boots are another style you should add to your collection. They feature a thinner sole than most boot styles, making them a lighter-weight option that’s perfect for jeans or chinos.
Complete Your Closet with TOMS
When it comes to all the shoe styles a man needs, your collection isn’t complete without a pair of TOMS. From our classic Alpargata espadrilles to sneakers for men and even waterproof boots for the more rugged among us, there’s a pair of TOMS for every guy.
And when you buy a pair of TOMS, you aren’t just making a fashionable choice—you’re also making a sustainable one. Not only are our shoes made using post-consumer plastics and other recycled materials, but we also support grassroots organizations that advocate for a more equitable future.
At TOMS, we believe in a better tomorrow, and the shoes you need to get there. Shop our collection today.
- The Costume Society. The History of the Espadrille. https://costumesociety.org.uk/blog/post/the-history-of-the-espadrille
- Man of Many. 8 Types of Loafers for Men and How to Wear Them. https://manofmany.com/fashion/mens-fashion-advice/types-of-mens-loafers
- The Gentle Manual. Different Types of Men’s Dress Shoes. https://www.ties.com/blog/mens-dress-shoe-guide
Reviewed By Andrew David Stewart
Andrew David Stewart is the Manager of Digital Marketing at TOMS and has been working in the digital marketing and social media world for 6 years. Andrew is a lover of nature and the outdoors, and is passionate about telling stories through digital media.