On this page, we’ll be discussing shoes that are appropriate and stylish to wear with a tuxedo.
While you can read through this page in its entirety, you can always jump right to the section that interests you most by clicking any of the following links:
- What Shoes To Wear With A Tuxedo
- Best Materials For Tux Shoes
- How & Where To Buy Tuxedo Shoes
- Can You Wear Tux Shoes With A Suit?
- How To Clean Tuxedo Shoes
You can also visit our main tuxedo homepage where we cover other components of tuxedo attire including tuxedo shirts, jackets, cummerbunds and more.
Shoes To Wear With A Tuxedo
Tuxedos are all about simplicity and a lack of bulk. This is why proper tux jackets don’t have pocket flaps and “correct” tuxedo trousers lack pleats and cuffs. It therefore stands to reason that tuxedo footwear should follow suit, and it does.
There are four commonly accepted shoes that are considered appropriate for black tie ensembles: opera pumps, oxford, Venetian loafers, and slippers (sometimes called Prince Albert slippers). Ninety-nine percent of the time, these shoes should be black, with the remaining one percent being reserved for odd-colored Prince Albert slippers in velvet.
While the most stylish amongst us can sometimes deviate from this, it’s generally inadvisable to do so.
Why Black Patent Leather Shoes?
Black patent leather is shiny and incredibly smooth (as an aside, it also has a tendency to scratch easily, so walk with care when wearing them). Its visual presentation is perfect with the dressiness of a tuxedo, and the shine they impart will certainly put a pep in your step.
With that said, black calfskin is sometimes acceptable, it just depends on the shoe style. We’ve broken down each appropriate shoe style by the material (patent, calf, or velvet) that’s acceptable for that style below:
- Oxfords: Black patent leather oxfords are the standard footwear for tuxedos nowadays. It’s common to use silk ribbon as laces for added formality. Note that a blucher is not appropriate for a tuxedo due to the added bulk of the open throat lacing system. This holds true even though black patent leather bluchers are sold ubiquitously.
- Venetians: A black patent leather Venetian loafer is a slim, smart way to dress the feet when wearing a tux. The lack of laces allows the trousers to break gently, and the easy on, easy off nature of a loafer is always a bonus.
- Opera Pumps: An evening dress slipper with a silk or grosgrain bow at the vamp, opera pumps are known in England as “court shoes.” The last vestige of 19th century dress that gets worn with any frequency in modern times, opera pumps are very traditional while being simultaneously stylish and daring.
Calfskin is smooth, soft cow’s hide. When polished to a high shine, the below shoe styles are acceptable to wear with a tuxedo:
- Oxfords: If you happen to own black oxford shoes, it’s acceptable to wear them with a tux if you have shined the living daylights out of them. If you need a primer on how to shine shoes, check out our guide to polishing your shoes.
- Opera Pumps: Opera pumps also work in black calfskin. As with oxfords, ensure that they have a high shine to them.
- Slippers: Black slippers are an elegant, laid back way to dress the feet when wearing a tuxedo.
Velvet Tuxedo Shoes
Some classic colors for formal velvet slippers are below:
- Slippers: In velvet, slippers are technically correct with a tuxedo. They look best, however, when worn with a smoking jacket, which is also made of velvet and therefore has some design continuity.
One fun thing about slippers is that you can start having fun with some non-standard shoe colors, getting into burgundy velvet, plum, bottle green, and similarly dark, rich tones. Of course, you’ll want to use your best judgement as to when you wear such shoes.
For example, if you’re headed to a black tie wedding where you know the couple and their guests will be fun, funky people, throw on some gold slippers (so long as one of the wedding colors isn’t gold, of course). On the other hand, if the event is more staid, like a gala or similar event, you’ll want to opt for more conservative footwear.
What Are The Best Tuxedo Shoes?
Notwithstanding the aesthetic advice given above, what are the best shoes to wear with a tux?
It’s best to defer to your personal preference and / or the physical realities of your feet, which is to say that some shoe styles will fit you better than others. If you’re not sure about how shoes should feel, check out our guide to shoe fit.
If you’re more of a traditionalist, your best bet would be black patent oxfords. If you’re more eccentric, opera pumps will do. If you have a high instep, you should avoid Venetian loafers as they can’t be adjusted. If you’re on a budget, shine up your black dress shoes and have yourself a night on the town.
Tuxedo With Sneakers?
Below: N’Sync’s Joey Fatone (trust us) misguidedly sporting trainers with a tuxedo
A few hundred people a month do a Google search for “can I wear a tuxedo with sneakers?”
You can, but you shouldn’t. It’s arguably the biggest sartorial oxymoron in existence. If you decide to wear sneakers with a tux, at least go all the way throw on some opera pumps with your jeans.
How & Where To Buy Tuxedo Shoes
Buying tuxedo shoes will look and feel just like buying regular shoes. You can get cheap ones at low-end department stores for as little as $50, or you can get well-made expensive ones from luxury brands for hundreds of dollars. You can even get bespoke tuxedo shoes that will fit you perfectly and be meticulously handcrafted, but you’ll pay a premium in the thousands of dollars for these.
This is a decision that can largely be made by your budget. Your feet will follow suit.
Tuxedo Shoe Rental
We are unaware of any instances in which tuxedo shoes can be rented á la carte. Typically, they’re included in a tuxedo rental along with a shirt, studs, and other accessories. If you’re curious about whether to buy or rent a tux, check out our page on buying versus renting.
Can You Wear Tuxedo Shoes With A Suit?
Well-shined black shoes with a business suit is one thing, but patent leather shoes with a regular suit is overkill. You can read more about this in our page on the difference between a suit and a tuxedo, but we’ll tell you here that tuxedo shoes aren’t going to make sense with a suit. Velvet shoes especially with a suit would look affected, but surely there’s someone somewhere who’s pulling that look off.
Still, we don’t advise you doing so.
How To Clean Tuxedo Shoes
The beauty of patent leather is that it’s exceptionally easy to clean. You literally just take a damp cloth and wipe the leather down to remove any dirt or stains. Be careful about scratching patent leather though. You can fill in scratches and scuffs on calfskin with shoe cream, but this won’t work on patent. A visible scratch is the aesthetic equivalent of totaling your car.
If your shoes are calfskin, you can read about caring for them (and other types of shoes) in our shoe care guide.
Our advice as it relates to tuxedo shoes is to go with patent leather. It’s appropriate for every black tie occasion, and it lends a feeling of specialness to the ensemble that’s missing when wearing regular calfskin shoes. Tuxedos are for special occasions, so the shoes should be, too.
For more on tuxedos, see our other tux pages: