When buying dress shoes, most of us have to stick to a certain budget. However, we also want to have the best shoes that offer veritable value for money. Although desirable, we can’t all afford $500 dress shoes and we may want more quality than can be found from $100 dress shoes.
After having tried and tested many shoes, we’ve established this foolproof list of the Best Men’s Dress Shoes Under $300:
- Classic Oxford: Johnston & Murphy Hyde Park II
- Monkstrap: Johnston & Murphy Cormac
- Longwing: Florsheim Kenmoor Wingtip
- Derby Shoe: Vince Camuto Brogan
- Brogue: Cole Haan Hamilton Grand Wing
- Wingtip Boot: Ecco Vitrus I
- Stylish Brogue: Carlos By Carlos Santana
- Custom Dress Shoe: Undandy Design Yours
If you’ve noticed a particular pair that suit your taste, use the link in the list above to jump ahead. If not, scroll down to learn more about each one! Furthermore, we’ll go over our thoughts on what shoe characteristics you should expect at this price point.
Quick Buyer’s Guide
If you don’t have time to learn more about each shoe, you can use the Quick Buy Guide below to jump directly to the retailers. Alternatively, you can scroll down to see each of the shoes’ details.
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When looking for dress shoes, Oxfords are a classic design and solid choice. We love the Hyde Park from Johnston & Murphy, which features a fibreglass shank and Goodyear welt construction.
How To Wear
As a classic dress shoe design, these fare well with almost any choice of suit or formal wear. Whether it’s for the office or a black tie event, these are the perfect choice.
Made from European calfskin, you can choose between either black or tan. We find that black is the best option for this shoe style as it’s conventional and traditionally stylish.
As part of their Made In Italy collection, these premium handmade shoes are absolutely stunning. Made from vegetable-tanned Italian calfskin with a unique hand-painted patina, each pair is has its own individual aspect.
How To Wear
Monk straps are wonderfully versatile and the same goes for their double-buckled variants. From business casual to professional, they’re easy to wear with most suits. Black pairs also look great with more formal evening attire too.
In this case, there’s only one colour available. However, we do love the mahogany brown, which has a deep patina and unique hues. They’re slightly more casual but still look fantastic with a business professional suit.
The Longwing is a shoe style similar to a brogue but the wing tips reach all away around the shoe instead. With a Blucher-style throat reminiscent of derbies, these longwings are quite unique. Their construction is solid and they feature a Goodyear welt.
How To Wear
With their intricate ornamentation and Blucher-style open-throat, these are somewhat more casual as dress shoes go. Nevertheless, they’ll look great with more rustic suit styles that feature a touch of tweed or plead. They’re also ideal for business casual wear too.
We prefer the smooth black calfskin option, which is a great formal choice. However, you could also potentially opt for a brown pebbled leather, which is a distinctly casual style.
A classic staple of men’s footwear and the antithesis of oxfords, derbies or bluchers are a great semi-formal shoe. We’re very fond of those made by Vince Camuto as theirs are very conventional and made in Portugal.
How To Wear
As mentioned above, Derby shoes are semi-formal and slightly more casual than Oxfords due to an open throat lacing system. Therefore, these are more ideal for less formal suits and business casual attire.
There are a number of colour options available when purchasing the Brogan Derby shoes. We’re fans of the mid-brown burnished cognac. However, you could also opt for a dark woodbury brown or even black.
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Reminiscent of Wolf & Shepherd, Cole Haan was inspired by athletic footwear to make comfortable dress shoes for daily wear. These beautiful brogues are no exception and offer foam cushioning as well as a precision-engineered anatomical footbed.
How To Wear
Brogues are a traditional shoe style that work great with either business casual or business professional dress codes. Their ornamentation and perforations look fantastic when paired with tweed or plaid wool. However, they’re very effective with cotton chinos too!
Available in British tan, dark brown, black or indeed dark grey, a number of options are available. We’d edge towards either the tan or brown options as they’re more representative of the shoe style. However, black is a fair choice if your needs are more formal.
Made from calf crust leather, these stylish wingtip boots are a stylish business casual choice. The unfinished leather is hand buffed and polished for a distressed and vintage aesthetic. There’s also a moulded insole and cork layer for a comfortable fit for daily wear.
How To Wear
Brogue boots are a very popular if expensive shoe style. In fact, it was hard to find any in the under $300 price point. These are great for business casual wear and look fantastic with jeans or chinos. However, they can also be paired with a less formal suit style.
Whilst also available in black, we’re particularly fond of the brown leather. These have some more texture to them as well as a tan welt and light brown stacked leather sole with black rubber accents.
Although a quarter brogue in design, these distinctive shoes were inspired by the legendary guitarist’s eclectic Latin style. This is especially noticeable with the taller stacked heel but can be picked out in the rounder toe and curved perforations. Furthermore, they offer excellent Spanish-made quality including a Goodyear welt.
How To Wear
A little more stylish than regular brogues, these are very conventional with a quarter brogue design, which means that there is slightly less ornamentation. They look great when worn with more business casual attire for a classy flair but absolutely breath-taking with a European continental cut.
Only two options are available in the way of colours, but they certainly cover the basics. Whilst you can go for a black full-grain leather, we prefer the tan. This is a more versatile and casual colour that has deep brown hues in the leather.
Although also featured in our best shoes under $200, we’ve also included Undandy’s custom service here. After all, you’ll have a lot more flexibility on a higher budget! We love the intuitive 3D interface for constructing your own shoes as well as all the options available for a truly personalised experience.
How To Wear
Given that your limits in customisation are vast, it’s impossible to say how you’ll be able to wear the resulting shoe. Whether it’s a conservative design or outlandish style that you’re looking to get, just make sure that you have the wardrobe to match it!
As suggested earlier, there are many options available in designing your shoes. From various leathers, patinas and textures, the sky’s the limit in the hue that you choose!
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What You Get From $300 Dress Shoes
Unsurprisingly, investing $300 into dress shoes will offer you far better quality than other budgets that we’ve covered such as $100 or $200. Meanwhile, you’ll get very slightly less quality than if you bought men’s dress shoes under $500.
In fact, the $300 budget is on the high end of mid-range dress shoes, which is between $150 and $300. At this price point, you should be able reap a great number of benefits in leather quality and construction.
In this section, we’ll explore the various details you should expect from $300 dress shoes.
Whilst this is a feature that’s rarer among shoes under $200, it should be quite commonplace at this price point. In fact, you shouldn’t expect anything less unless the shoes have other features that stand out.
In short, welting is the process of attaching shoes to the soles. Particularly cheap dress shoes will have cemented soles, which use an adhesive to attach them. As the cost increases, you’ll start to see welts where the shoes are stitched to the soles.
The first ones that you’ll see are Blake stitches, which have several variants such as the McKay and the Rapid method. These perform well and you’ll be able to resole your shoes.
However, the most desirable is the Goodyear welt as mentioned above. A much more time-consuming and expensive method, it’s also considerably more durable and water resistant.
Furthermore, a Goodyear welt means that the sole can be changed as many times as you need. Therefore, you can potentially use these shoes for decades, which offers added value for money.
You can learn more about the various welts with our dedicated guide to shoe construction methods.
Premium Leather Uppers
Once you arrive at the $300 budget, the types and grades of leather used to make dress shoes will be of a much higher quality. Rather than using leathers that are closer to the hide’s below, manufacturers will start using areas closer to the spine.
These areas produce tighter leather that’s more durable and will retain its shape. Furthermore, you’ll encounter better top-grain leather, which is from the outer layer of the animal’s hide. Of this, you’ll find top-grain leather, which is the highest quality.
However, even top-grain leather consists of three grades, which each have their own subgrades too. As you edge towards a higher budget around the $300 mark, you’ll likely discover higher grades too.
Avoid anything that shows signs of blemishes or veins and make sure that both shoes look the same. If they look different, it may be because different types of leather grade were used to make them.
Shoes Made In A 1st World Country
Whilst you’ll probably not see many handmade shoes on the $300 mark, you will start to see shoes that are made in European countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal. Furthermore, you may start seeing some made in the UK, USA as well as France and Germany.
When on this price point, you won’t want to be seeing shoes that are made in developing countries anymore. Although sometimes they make shoes with a similar level of craftsmanship, the working conditions and quality control won’t be the same.
Similarly, when investing in premium shoes, it’s better to be funding skilled artisans rather than supporting poor factory working conditions. Finally, you’ll expect better quality control as well as improved communication between the brand and the manufacturer.
Shoes under $300 tend to offer great value for money and overall reliable quality. However, $400 to $500 will grant you access to exceptional quality and brands that offer some truly magnficient shoes.
Furthermore, many of these will be handmade in the USA or Europe with some truly prestigious materials and traditional techniques.
You can see some of our other budget-related shoe guides in the following list:
- Top 10 Best Dress Shoes For Men
- Best Men’s Dress Shoes Under $200
- Best Men’s Dress Shoe Under $500
- Most Comfortable Men’s Dress Shoes
- Best Men’s Shoes For Work
- Bespoke Unit Shoe Homepage
"Excellent dress shoes! I'm delighted with what I found on this list!"Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★