Welcome to Bespoke Unit’s official Shoes Homepage!
Our team has created some of the most comprehensive resources on the internet when it comes to men’s shoes. The detailed articles that you find here cover everything you need to know about men’s shoes including the top brands, construction methods, buying guides, in-depth reviews and more.
Whether you are just starting on your journey of learning about men’s footwear, or you are a seasoned shoe fanatic, you will be sure to find something useful with Bespoke Unit’s shoe resources.
You can begin with our menu of guides listed below or by reading our primer on buying the right shoes for you:
Use the inks above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all.
- 32+ Shoe Styles & How To Wear Them
- How To Match Shoes With Trousers
- Shoe Formality: Most Formal To Least
Size & Fit
Top Men’s Shoe Brands
The Shoemaking Process
Care & Maintenance
- 5 Steps To Polish Your Shoes Like A Pro
- How To Store Your Shoes So They Last
- Basic Shoe Repairs & How Much They Costs
Most Popular Reviews
Read Our Latest Shoe Reviews & Articles
Top 5 Considerations When Buying Shoes
1. Budget: Don’t Buy Cheap But Avoid Overspending
In Short: Spend as much as you can comfortably afford within reason. $300-$500 is a sweet spot for high-quality RTW shoes.
We don’t mean “budget” in terms of what’s currently in your bank account per se. While we understand that everyone has budget constraints, it’s important to remember that, barring a crazy sale or an act of God, you are simply not going to get a good pair of shoes at full retail for less than $200.
We find that the best quality-to-dollar ratio seems to live in the $300-$500 range.
For some guys, this is a non-issue. For some guys, this is an outrageous amount of money.
We get it, but we need to draw the line here. While there are always exceptions, shoes whose full retail cost is less than ~$200 aren’t just inexpensive, they’re cheap. They might be comfortable, but they’re often constructed in a sub-par way.
They break down more easily than well-made shoes and can’t be resoled they way better shoes can. Corners get cut in the manufacturing process to get the retail price that low.
If spending $200 on a pair of shoes seems like too much, remember that you’ll have to replace shoes half the cost at least twice as often. We suggest budgeting over time to get the appropriate funds in place, and then reward your restraint with some really nice shoes!
On the other end of the spectrum, it makes no sense to spend more than $800 on shoes that aren’t custom or made-to-order. If you can spend that much on a pair of shoes (and more power to you if you can), you’re better off getting a pair made for yourself.
The fit will be superior and you’ll have the opportunity to design the shoe aesthetically in a way you can’t with ready-to-wear shoes.
2. Occasion & Current Wardrobe
Are you getting married? Going on a job interview? Getting ready for a first date? Do you already own something similar to what you’re looking at? These are all things to consider when buying a pair of shoes because you don’t want to be dressed inappropriately, nor do you want to waste money on a redundant purchase.
It’s always smart to have an idea as to what you currently have in your wardrobe. You obviously don’t want to buy something you already own, unless you’re looking to replace that pair. Even then, you should ask yourself if your old pair is repairable before replacing it.
We offer advice on how to strategically build your wardrobe with our capsule guide.
Get something special and high-quality that you can also wear in the future. Women are often forced to spend good money on dresses and shoes that they’ll only wear once, but men can keep their long-term wardrobes in mind when purchasing their wedding attire. Take advantage of this societal double standard!
Learn more about how to dress for a wedding with our dedicated guide.
Generally, it’s a good idea to err on the conservative side of things. Even if you have a flair for fancier shoes, it’s best to go with something simpler to at least get your foot in the door. Once you’ve accepted an offer and have been around for a few weeks, you can branch out. For job interviews, we suggest:
- Black oxfords
- Brown bluchers
- Dark brown or black quarter brogues
Want to learn more? We have a full guide on how to dress for a job interview.
First dates are like job interviews, but you want your first impression to be a bit more, well, sexy. Have some fun with your shoes here in terms of color and style. You’ll want to make sure the location and time of day is appropriate, but generally we suggest:
- Tan double monks
- Suede brogues
- Bit loafers
While we haven’t covered how to dress for a job interview, we do offer suggestions on the best colognes to wear for one!
3. Turnaround Time, Or Ready-To-Wear Versus Custom
How urgent is your shoe purchase? If you’re pressed for time, you need to buy off-the-rack. You can walk into a store and walk out with a pair of shoes in a snap.
If you have more time and / or have fit issues that require it, buying made-to-order shoes is a great option. You’ll likely have to wait 6-8 weeks to get your shoes, and perhaps longer if you’re a first-time customer.
But with that said, MTO shoes such as those by Gaziano Girling will fit and feel better. Furthermore, you can select your materials, the style of shoe you’d like, and all manner of aesthetic details.
If your American shoe size is anywhere between 8-13 (7-12 for our British readers), then you can pretty much go into any shoe store and have your pick of whatever you want.
Good for you. Please enjoy that luxury.
Some of us, though, have feet that are small, large, narrow, or wide. It can be a real pain to find shoes if you don’t do your homework. Here are some useful tips:
- Your best bet is to shop with shoe-making companies, not brands that focus on clothing but also make shoes as a way to round out their collections
- Many “non-standard” sizes are unavailable in stores but are available online. Be cognizant of companies’ return policies and order a couple of different sizes to try, returning whatever doesn’t work.
- Brands that have been in business for many years and / or higher-end shops – think Allen Edmonds, Cole Haan, and others- often train their salespeople to measure feet the old-fashioned way, using a Brannock Device. If you can get measured in a store, remember your size and width. Note it somewhere in your phone, email it to yourself, do whatever you need to do to keep the information accessible. This is valuable stuff that will enable you to shop more confidently.
5. Climate & Geography
It may seem obvious, but it’s important to consider the weather where you live when making shoe purchase decisions. This applies not just to which styles to invest in, but also how they should be constructed, and using which materials. Below, we offer some suggestions based on climate and region:
Mild Climates (Southwestern & Southern US, Mediterranean, various African nations, etc.)
Guys who live in mild climates don’t have to worry about weatherproofing their shoes, nor do they need to be concerned with cold-weather styles like many boots or overshoes. These lucky gents can pretty much wear whatever they please, but particularly good styles for these men are:
Rainy Climates (Central Europe, Pacific Northwestern US, Southeast Asia, etc.)
Men who live in regions that experience frequent rain need to keep this in mind when buying shoes. Some specific styles and products to consider are:
- Rain shoes or boots
- Shoe trees (good for any climate, but particularly helpful for rained-on shoes)
- Shoes or boots pre-treated to be waterproof
- Waterproofing spray
This is a good time to discuss the terms “waterproof” and “water-resistant.” You’ll undoubtedly see both used in the footwear industry, and indeed in the clothing industry as well.
Words have meaning. These are not interchangeable terms.
Water-resistant means that while you’ll be fine if you get caught in a light rain, there’s no guarantee that you’ll stay dry. This is fine if you live in a dry place where it rains every once in a while, but it won’t cut it if it rains frequently or heavily.
Waterproof, on the other hand, is your best friend if you live in a wet climate. This term means that the shoes are meant for serious rain. These shoes often have rubber soles as opposed to leather ones, and the uppers are pre-treated to deal with the rain.
Snowy Climates (Midwestern & Northern US, Northern Europe)
You might not think it needs mentioning, but you’re going to need snow boots. These will be similar to rain boots, but hopefully with Thinsulate or shearling lining for additional warmth.
While they’re not shoes, you’d be smart to invest in wool socks. They tend to not last as long as cotton, but they’re warmer and naturally water-resistant.
It’s important to go into a footwear purchase with a long-term, strategic frame of mind.
We buy food. We purchase movie tickets. But we should invest in our wardrobes, and shoes are an integral part of our wardrobes. Using this guide, you should be able to evaluate a pair of shoes critically and determine whether it meets the criteria you need to be a good investment.
Head to our menu above to peruse some of our favourite detailed guides to begin your search for the right shoes for you. Alternatively, check out some of our recommended reading now that you have read the above primer:
- Best Dress Shoes For Men
- Most Comfortable Dress Shoes For Men
- Best Business Casual Shoes For Men
- Detailed Shoe Brand Guides & Overviews
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