According to a poll taken by Time Magazine in 2006, the average American man owns twelve pairs of shoes. Many things have changed since then, the most relevant of which was the Great Recession of 2008. In the short-to-medium-term, this affected shoe buying habits profoundly, but things started to bounce back once the economy was on more solid footing.
We have to admit that this was surprising to us. Anecdotally, we’ve always figured that most men only owned about five or so pairs of shoes. Bumping that number up to twelve can easily represent over $1000 in additional shoe purchases.
With additional choices comes the additional difficulty of making those choices. How are you supposed to know what to buy?
Why Create A Men’s Shoe Guide?
Our guide outlines 33 different shoe styles individually. You can link to any of them by scrolling down or clicking here.
This guide was written with any man in mind, whether he’s just starting to build his wardrobe or if he’s already a few pairs in. Please know that no matter where you are in your shoe acquisition journey, the advice here applies to you.
All men need a stylish, functional shoe wardrobe. To be able to build one intelligently, it’s imperative that we know not just what types of shoes we need, but why we need them and how to wear them. This will enable us to make better decisions when we spend our hard-earned money. You don’t want to be caught wearing a tuxedo with black patent leather bluchers, do you?
Or do you? If you don’t know, we’re here to help you learn. That’s the whole point!
*Editor’s Note:* The answer is “no.”
Despite the fact that menswear has seen a surging increase in popularity over the past decade and a half, there is still relatively little reliable information on the Internet about it. Getting solid advice about shoes is extremely important given their expense and the effect that they have on your physical health vis-à-vis the feet, legs, and back.
Most of the Google search results you’ll find regarding building a shoe wardrobe will be either aimed at women or about how to literally build a place to put your shoes. While that latter bit isn’t useless information per se, it’s not helpful for what we’re trying to accomplish.
Our aim is to arm you with as much information about each individual men’s shoe as we can, so as to enable you to make smart purchases.
Individual Shoe Style Articles
Specific Shoe Styles
We used all of our in-house shoe knowledge as a starting point and asked ourselves, “What are the most common types of shoes that men wear?” A thirty-something strong list of shoes was created and we wrote an article on each one, diving into history, how to wear, our preferred makers, average price points, and more. In addition to using our own knowledge, we consulted references written by the likes of Alan Flusser, Bernhard Roetzel, and G. Bruce Boyer.
Our focus was wide-ranging. We didn’t want to narrow it down to shoes that work with tailored clothing or just casual shoes, because either would inevitably exclude certain readers. As such, the guide includes shoes as casual as flip-flops and as formal as opera pumps. We did, however, exclude athletic and sport-specific shoes, like cross trainers and cleats.
We also created individual infographics for each shoe. You can download them as you please and use them as quick references at your convenience.
Structural Details Versus Aesthetic Ones & Common Terminology
One thing you’ll notice is that some of our articles refer to shoes based on construction method (e.g. moccasin, closed-throat vs. open-throat, etc.), while others refer to decorative elements, such as broguing or cap-toes. We refer to these as structural details and aesthetic details, respectively.
For a primer on shoe anatomy, click here.
Our original thought was to base each article off of construction style alone: oxfords, derbies, monkstraps, and so on. After more careful consideration, we decided that certain shoe terms were so ubiquitously used that they deserved their own articles despite the fact that they didn’t refer to an entirely different shoe. A spectator is a type of brogue, for example, but it got it’s own page due to its historical and sartorial significance.
Basically, if it’s a term you see or hear any time you walk into a shoe store, we made a guide for it.
Certain brand names have, over decades, become synonymous with the style of shoe they make. The Bass Weejun and Gucci loafers are a couple of examples. We made it a point to address these brand connections in their respective articles while also giving context around what the shoe is from a shoemaking or historical standpoint, not just a marketing one.
It’s our sincere hope that you enjoy reading these guides as much as we did making them, and that you get a lot of value out of each one. To quickly access them, click here. As always, feel free to let us know your thoughts and to send any questions our way.
nice and excellent blog.thanks for sharing such kind of useful information.
Great site guys! I have recently fired my fashion consultant (wife) and I have found your site very useful in filling the knowledge gap.
One shoe type you are missing is the work boot. I love my Wolverine 1000 boots and get compliments from women nearly every time I wear them. Other brands / styles that I think fit into this category include Red Wing Shoes line of Classic Moc boot and their Ranger boot.
I look forward to your thoughts on the proper wear of these boots.
Thanks for your kind words! Lol, your poor wife….maybe shes glad we could help!?
Indeed we have some pages in the works right now re work boot buying guides, and shall add that style to this list (it’s hard to cover everything, especially sub categories!)
I have done a few reviews on Wolverine:
Thanks for your suggestions, and check back later in the year when the weather starts to change and we get this pages up.
All the best, Paul
Thank you for the quick response and I will keep an eye out for the guide.
This is a good thing, most of the guys I know do not know their butt from a can of beans when it comes to anything shoe or clothing related – your help is obviously much needed. That being said, half the things guys wear the last 10 – 15 years makes me want to cry and I would NOT be caught dead in most of it! I guess I really am from the old school – wear a tie, shine your shoes and wash your backside was what I was taught. Good luck with all of this, I came searching for methods of wearing a cravat as my neck gets cold in the western winters, I found so much more … keep up the good work!!
Thank you so much for the kind words.
I feel we’re kindred spirits, as I feel the same way.
All the best – Paul
Thanks for sharing this amazing guide about men shoe selection, Your guide is really very helpful for me because i have learned many things like which type shoes we need to buy.
You’re very welcome.
All the best,
Thanks, Written very well. I’m on cell phone old Eyes
Glad that it was still legible!
Hi Paul, IV been looking into getting a better looking dress shoe and started looking at Whole Cut Oxfords for between $200 to $300 price range. Could you help me out?
Check out our guide on wholecuts – should give you a good place to start: https://bespokeunit.com/shoes/styles/wholecut/