Best Men’s Casual Dress Shoes For A Smart Laid-back Look

Best Men’s Casual Dress Shoes For A Smart Laid-back Look2018-09-24T09:34:30+00:00

Sometimes we want to wear shoes that walk the fine line between dressy and casual. However, this can be quite challenging as even the business casual dress code is quite subjective and can vary between different environments. So what are our options in terms of casual yet smart footwear?

We’ve looked back through our reviews and collections to assemble the ultimate list of the Best Casual Dress Shoes For Men:

  1. Suede Derby Shoe: Allen Edmonds Nomad Buck
  2. Brogue Shoe: Allen Edmonds Strandmok
  3. Classic Derby Shoe: Vince Camuto Brogan
  4. Penny Loafer: Allen Edmonds Addison
  5. Tassel Loafer: G.H. Bass & Co. Lexington
  6. Chukka Boot: Johnston & Murphy Forrester

See anything you like? Use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read about them all. Furthermore, you can learn a little bit about dress shoes and what factors can render them casual so you don’t inadvertently overdo it.

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Quick Buyer’s Guide

If you’re in a rush and just want to head right to the retailers, use the Quick Buy Guide below. Otherwise, keep scrolling to see our full and detailed descriptions of each shoe.

Derby Shoe

Allen Edmonds Sand Suede Derby Shoe

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Brogue Shoe

Allen Edmonds Strandmok Brogues

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Derby Shoe

vince-camuto-cognac-brogan-derby-shoes

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Penny Loafer

Allen-Edmonds-Addison-Penny-Loafer

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Tassel Loafer

GH-Basse-Lexington-Tassel-Loafers

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Chukka Boot

johnston & murphy forrester chukka boot

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What Are The Best Casual Dress Shoes For Men?

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1. Allen Edmonds Nomad Buck [Suede Derby Shoe]

Allen Edmonds Sand Suede Derby Shoe
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Overview

Made in the classic casual shoe form of the classic derby shoe, the Nomads are also crafted from Nubuck. A leather that somewhat resembles suede, it’s a very laid back yet stylish material.

How To Wear

Ideal for the warmer spring months as well as summer, the Nomads would look great with lightweight cotton chinos and a dress shirt. Alternatively, they wouldn’t look out of place with stonewashed jeans either!

Best Colors

We’re fans of both colour options available in this shoe style. Whilst we have a slight preference for the sand colour that is evocative of desert boots, the white derbies are equally stylish.

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2. Allen Edmonds Strandmok [Brogue Shoes]

Allen Edmonds Strandmok Brogues
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Overview

Bespoke Unit’s Charles-Philippe adores these brogues and often comes back to them for a variety of occasions. Made with a Goodyear welt and featuring stylish red Dainite soles, they’re wonderfully outgoing and comfortable brogues.

How To Wear

These are probably the most versatile brogues that we have worn. Thanks to the stylish blend of colours, they can be worn quite formally but also as a casual shoe. Whether you’re wearing jeans or chinos, they’ll complement the overall look.

Best Colors

Although only available in a single colour, the shoe features such a level of complexity that it becomes so versatile. The uppers are a shade of brown leather with a distressed effect, which gives a vintage finish. Meanwhile, a red Dainite style offers a splash of colour whilst the tan welt provides contrast.

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3. Vince Camuto Brogan [Classic Derby Shoes]

vince-camuto-cognac-brogan-derby-shoes
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Overview

Whilst the Allen Edmonds derby shoes are very stylish, their Nubuck leather isn’t for everyone. For a more classic and conventional brogue shoe, we were impressed by Vince Camuto’s Portuguese craftsmanship.

How To Wear

Being a full-grain leather, the Brogans are a touch more formal than the Nomads. These would be great with a relatively casual suit such as a beige one that you’d wear in summer. However, they’d look great with corduroy or chinos too.

Best Colors

Although you could go for a dark woodbury brown or black, we’re fans of the mid-brown cognac with a burnished finish. The advantage of the latter is that it’ll be more versatile for casual wear as it’s not quite as dark.

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4. Allen Edmonds Addison [Penny Loafers]

Allen-Edmonds-Addison-Penny-Loafer
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Overview

Loafers are an alternative shoe variety to lace-ups that offer a combination of comfort, convenience and style. We love those made by Allen Edmonds and the Addison penny loafers in particular. Penny loafers are an understated loafer style that feature little ornamentation.

How To Wear

Being a very streamlined loafer style with Dainite soles, the Addisons skirt the more casual end of the dress shoe scale. However, these are still very effective and would look great with different attire from chinos and a Polo shirt to a beige suit and Panama hat.

Best Colors

Out of the colour options available, we’d opt for either the tan or burgundy leather. There’s also a black choice but we find this a touch too dressy given the shoe style.

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5. G.H. Bass & Co. Lexington Tassel Loafers

GH-Basse-Lexington-Tassel-Loafers
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Overview

Slightly more ornamental than Pennies, Tassel Loafers are named after their leather laces hanging off the vamp. Thanks to this, they have an extra touch of flair about them. GH Bass have made these affordable yet stunning loafers with eye-catching moc toe stitching.

How To Wear

As we mentioned above, tassel loafers spruce up your wardrobe and add a unique element of style. We think these are great with no-show socks and a pair or freshly-ironed chinos. Alternatively, wear them with corduroy or even jeans. If you want a more formal look, a beige or dark brown suit would look great.

Best Colors

We have a preference for the burgundy finish, which is casual yet visually interesting. Meanwhile, there’s a black version too but we find this a little too dressy given the shoe style.

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6. Johnston & Murphy Forrester [Chukka Boots]

johnston & murphy forrester chukka boot
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Overview

At Bespoke Unit, we’re very fond of Chukka boots in general. However, the Forresters from Johnston & Murphy’s 1850 collection are our current favourites. With just a few eyelets and crepe rubber soles, they’re a versatile and comfortable boot.

How To Wear

Not too dressy for jeans, they’re also great with a more casual suit. These boots are great as all-year footwear that can be worn for just about any dress code or occasion.

Best Colors

We find that the black boot is a little too dressy given the style. However, the brown is fantastic and ages nicely. With a little polish, they’d also look great with a suit.

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What Are Casual Dress Shoes?

Trevor Guilday On Railroad With Leather Chukka BootsAs 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

Allen Edmonds Strandmok Brogues With Jeans & ChinosOf 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

Green Pants With Grey Suede BroguesAs 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 the 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

red white and blue saddle shoeAlthough 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.

What Next?

Now that you have read about the best casual dress shoes for men, consider checking out some of our other related guides.

Best Casual Dress Shoes Guide
Reviewed by Nathan P., on .
"Some very nice styles here! Always great to find a pair of laid-back dress shoes!"
Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★

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