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.
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.