Best foot forward: Essential shoe styles for men

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Lee Holmes picks the six essential shoe styles no well-dressed man should be without

Men's shoes might not be analysed, idolised and fetishised in the way that women's are, but that doesn't mean they should be an afterthought.

Given that men's clothes tend to be plainer, accessories are often all the more important.

Shoes say a lot about the wearer, which is probably why bad ones are cited so frequently as a serious turn-off. A pair of functional clod-hoppers – the kind ordered from the back of a Sunday newspaper – warn any potential suitors that the wearer's idea of a good time is heading to an out-of-town PC World to compare games console prices. Garish limited-edition trainers, meanwhile, indicate latter-day Nathan Barleys. Long pointy shoes are pure X Factor reject: avoid the approach taken by a groom at a recent wedding, where one wag in the congregation noted his shoes were so pointy that they entered the church five minutes before he did.

A streamlined pair of brogues or loafers says cocktails, power and fun. Hello, Don Draper. At least they do on a date or at the office, but on holiday, not so much. Shoe success is about matching the style to the occasion as well as picking a good pair, as David Cameron showed last summer when he posed on a cliff path with Sam Cam wearing slip-on loafers with jeans. Note to Dave, smart-casual does not mean wearing something smart and something casual at the same time. Fortunately such footwear faux pas can be avoided by having a minimum of six carefully curated pairs to cover all occasions. Exercise restraint, look for modern classics, and don't just think in terms of smart and off-duty. There is a whole spectrum in-between – which is where styles such as desert boots and punched brogues come in.

Maintenance is also key. Sir Hardy Amies, in his classic ABC of Men's Fashion, made an elegant case for keeping shoes well-polished: "It should be noted that the surfaces of the materials in a man's costume ... are predominantly matt. The silk of his tie, and the leather of his shoe or boot, are welcome light-reflecting contrasts. This is just one reason why well-polished shoes are essential."

Six essential shoe styles

Loafers

Popular since the 1950s, the loafer is synonymous with preppy Americana. Wear with chinos or shorts, and team with the obligatory striped sock for a timeless style. The ultimate loafer comes from Gucci. Launched in 1966, it conveys both casual elegance and smartness.

Gucci loafer, £1,240, www.gucci.com

Desert boots

Beloved of film stars such as Steve McQueen and more recent rock royalty Liam Gallagher, the desert boot is probably the most versatile footwear known to man. Perfect with both jeans and shorts, it's at its best when worn with a rolled chino. Feeling bold? Then wear with a casual suit to the office.

Office desert boot, £56.99 www.office.com

Tennis shoes

White tennis shoes are timeless, and owning a pair should be actively encouraged, if only to suppress the ever-increasing ubiquity of the fanciful, try-hard sportswear trainer. Not all tennis shoes are created equal; spend less than a tenner and they'll fall apart in under a week.

Superga tennis shoe, £40, www.my-wardrobe.com

Brogues

Brogues earn maximum style points because of their versatility – they can be suave and sophisticated, or add a twist of eccentricity. Brogues suit jeans or a suit, and even brown brogues can work with black trousers – although perhaps co-ordinate with a knitted brown tie to bring the whole look together.

Oliver Sweeney brogue, £220, www.oliversweeney.com

Smart lace-ups

Choice is varied when it comes to the smart lace-up, so keep it simple by selecting a good black pair. Team them with jeans or a suit and they'll even be useful for the occasional black-tie dinner. Invest wisely and they could last you a lifetime.

Ndc shoe, £306, www.ndcmadebyhand.com

Deck shoes

As the name suggests, deck shoes were originally worn on boats, but they are no longer just for Sloanes and extras from 'Howard's Way'. More of a summer shoe, they can be worn comfortably with and without socks. Draw the line at wearing them with a suit – they're at their best when worn with skinny rolled jeans or chinos.

Asos "Quoddy" boat shoe, £159, www.asos.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Environment
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth