What Are Casual Dress Shoes?
As we highlighted in this guide’s introduction, casual dress shoes walk the fine line between two very broad dress codes. In fact, the term may sound like something of an oxymoron as dress shoes are traditionally perceived as anything but casual.
However, there are times when you might be looking for a more relaxed style of dress shoe that lets you tone things down a bit. This might be because you’re seeking to fulfil a business casual dress code or you may simply want a more stylish shoe to wear casually.
Overall, a casual dress shoe features a conventional yet relatively informal shoe design. Meanwhile, the materials used are perceived as less formal yet still very high-end.
As a general rule of thumb, a casual dress shoe is something that you’d struggle to wear with a suit but would pair nicely with jeans. For instance, black Oxford shoes look great with any sort of formal wear but would appear totally out of place with denim.
Furthermore, the colour of the shoe plays an important role in its level of formality. Whilst dark colours considered the most formal with black at the top, they become more casual as they get lighter.
Casual Dress Shoe Styles
Of course, not all dress shoe styles are strictly casual or formal and there are a lot of factors that come into play. However, here’s a non-exhaustive scale from formal to casual to give you an idea:
- Brogue Shoes: Featuring a closed-throat lacing system like Oxfords, Brogue shoes are rendered more casual thanks to various ornamentation such as toe medallions, pinking and perfing.
- Derby Shoes: Also known as Bluchers, Derby Shoes are the most formal casual dress shoe style. Often confused with Oxfords, they feature an open rather than closed-throat lacing system.
- Loafers: The largest and most inclusive group of casual dress shoe, loafers are convenient and comfortable yet quite stylish. Consider varieties such as Venetian loafers, penny loafers, tassel loafers and bit loafers.
Other potentially casual styles include monkstrap shoes or even brogue variants such as Longwings and saddle shoes. Nevertheless, a lot of this can depend on other considerations such as their materials and colour.
Furthermore, although a lot of dress boot styles are growing in popularity, they’re traditionally considered more casual than formal. This is because boots were originally a type of utilitarian footwear.
Best Casual Dress Shoe Materials
As suggested above, the type of material used to construct a shoe style can profoundly change its formality. Types of leather such as patent, calfskin and full-grain are considered the most formal. However, with the exception of patent leather, they’re still casual if made into a casual shoe style.
Meanwhile, other types of leather such as pebbled, suede or Nubuck will render an otherwise formal shoe into something that’s much more casual. Furthermore, casual dress codes can open doors to other non-leather materials.
For example, materials such as canvas aren’t viable in dressier situations but add an extra touch of flair to casual shoes. They can even be used to complement leather features with certain styles like saddle shoes.
Best Casual Dress Shoe Colours
Although very casual shoes can come in a variety of bright colours such as red, yellow, orange or purple, they will rapidly lose their dressiness. However, there are exceptions, which are slightly less unorthodox. For instance, white, dark blue and sand are conventional enough to still be a casual dress shoe.
However, the best casual dress colours are usually shades of brown. Overall, tan is the most versatile and casual dress shoe colour. Nevertheless, you could go for a traditional mid or dark brown so the shoes could be worn more formally.
Otherwise, you could instead seek out browns that come with a hint of dark red such as Oxblood, burgundy or even Cordovan. These are very versatile colours that offer a pop of colour without becoming too casual.
Now that you have read about the best casual dress shoes for men, consider checking out some of our other related guides.