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Dress shoes on a woman (left) and a man. (right)

A dress shoe (U.S. English) is a shoe to be worn at smart casual or more formal events. A dress shoe is typically contrasted to an athletic shoe.

Dress shoes are worn by many as their standard daily shoes, and are widely used in dance, for parties, and for special occasions.

Men's dress shoes[edit]

Men's dress shoes are most commonly black or brown. Other possible colors include: burgundy, oxblood, chestnut, cordovan or white. Cordovan or oxblood shoes are worn sometimes in the United States, while the other colours are worn by men of many nationalities. They are all made of leather, usually entirely, including the outers, lining, and sole, though for more durability at the expense of elegance, many shoes are made with rubber soles.

Shoes are usually made with many pieces of leather, and the seams can be decorated in various ways; most revolve around some type of brogueing. Brogues have rows of decorative punching in patterns: full brogues, or wingtips (the standard American name), have a toe cap in a wavy shape, with punched patterns on various sections of the shoe; half brogues have a normal straight edged toe cap and less punching; finally, other terms such as quarter-brogue etc. may be used to describe progressively less brogueing. All of the standard styles below may be brogued.

Men's shoes are often categorised by their fastening, and the various possibilities are listed below in roughly descending order of formality.

Image Name Description
Oxfordskor.svg Oxford/Balmoral Oxfords (British), or Balmorals (American), lace up and tie to keep them on the wearer's foot, and have a closed lacing, where the pieces of leather joined by the laces are sewn together at the bottom. Many Oxfords have an additional piece of leather sewn over the toe section, known as a toe cap. Oxfords are the standard shoe to wear with most suits.
Double Monk Felsted (Grenson) .jpg Monk A monk shoe has no lacing, and is closed by a strap with a buckle.
Blucher (PSF).jpg Derby/Blüchers Derbies, or Blüchers in America, are similar to Oxfords, but have open lacing. They are a little less formal, and are often worn in brown, with some brogueing.
Loafer/Slip-on Loafers, or slip-ons, come in both men's and women's styles. It is not unusual for a man's loafer to have a tassel, although this can be seen in women's varieties too. Loafers were originally men's shoes, and are usually thought of as such, although women do now wear them.

Other styles[edit]

In addition to the above, there are various less common types of footwear to accompany formalwear, such as the court shoe (also called opera shoe, or patent pumps) for eveningwear and the dress boot for daywear.

Women's dress shoes[edit]

Women's dress shoes come in a variety of colors: black, silver, gold, tan or white and they may also match the color of the gown, dress or suit being worn. Almost all women's dress shoes are high-heeled.


Pumps are typically thought of as a staple in any woman's wardrobe, and come in a variety of colors and styles. They can have a rounded or pointed toe, and are usually made of leather. They have a heel of at least 5 cm (2 inches)[citation needed]. Today, pumps have evolved beyond the classic working woman's shoe. Now, there are peep toe pumps, which have a small opening at the toes. There are also pumps with ankle straps. Not only have the styles evolved, the fabrics have as well. While almost all pumps used to be made of leather, pumps now come in a variety of materials, such as suede and wool.


The slingback is similar to the pump in that it can have a rounded or pointed toe and usually has a heel, but it doesn't wrap all the way around the heel like pumps usually do. Instead, it has a narrow strap that is pulled up over the heel, leaving the rest of the heel exposed.


Loafers are usually flat and typically thought of as more masculine and comfortable than anything with a heel. The typical loafer has a square toe, and comes in darker colors, such as black or brown. One spin on the loafer is the cloak, which is a slip-on shoe, just like the loafer is, but it has a heel and is a little more feminine than the average loafer.


Mules are shoes that slide onto the foot, and do not cover the heel or the back of the foot at all. These aren't considered dress shoes unless they have a heel.

Ballet flats[edit]

The ballet flat hadn't been a popular fashion trend until some time after the first few years of the 21st century. Taken from the art of ballet, as their name implies, they are flat shoes with a rounded toe, and come in many different colors and patterns. The classic ballet flat has a small bow on the toe, but this style has evolved to include varieties without bows.


While sandals are usually more casual, there are some sandals that can be worn with dress clothes. For example, any sandal that has a heel, many straps, or a shiny finish would probably be acceptable in a more formal atmosphere. A minor controversy erupted in 2005 when some members of Northwestern University's national champion women's lacrosse team visited the White House wearing flip-flops. Following the criticism, their footwear was eventually auctioned off on eBay to raise money for a young cancer patient, Jaclyn Murphy of Hopewell Junction, New York, who was befriended by the team. Nine pairs of flip-flops raised approximately $1,653.[1] There is still a debate over whether this signaled a fundamental change in American culture — many youth feel that flip-flops are more dressy and can be worn in a variety of social contexts, while older generations feel that wearing them at formal occasions signifies laziness and comfort over style.[2] The Dalai Lama of Tibet is also a frequent wearer of flip-flop sandals and has met with several US presidents, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama, while wearing the sandals.[3][4]

High heeled shoes[edit]

High heels are often worn by women as dress shoes for special occasions.


  1. ^ Ward, Julie (September 13, 2005). "Next big step in team spirit: Flip-flops.". USA Today. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  2. ^ DeMello, Margo (2009). Feet and Footwear: A Cultural Encylopedia.. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, LLC. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-0-313-35714-5. 
  3. ^ Lister, Richard (February 19, 2010). "Flip-flop diplomacy with the Dalai Lama.". BBC News. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  4. ^ Weisman, Jonathan; Canaves, Skye (February 18, 2010). "Dalai Lama Meets With Obama.". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dress_shoe — Please support Wikipedia.
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Philly.com (blog)

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Tue, 22 Apr 2014 02:00:00 -0700

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Just nine swift strikes against the stone wall with a man's dress shoe, and voila! The cork slips right out. But does this parlor trick work with just any shoe — say, even 3-inch heels? And if so, what's the physics behind the cork-popping action? We ...

The Smoking Section

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Fri, 18 Apr 2014 11:00:06 -0700

This might be the first non-dress shoe or boot wearers would need leather conditioner for, which would be money well spent. Appropriately priced at $180, the New Balance 574M 'Tannery' will release April 21st at Cncpts and The Tannery in very limited ...

Times of India

Times of India
Fri, 28 Mar 2014 04:05:10 -0700

Instead, go for roomy floaters which give you more room to breathe. These are great for walking about too. Try slip-ons: The slip-on dress shoe is increasingly being worn both to formal and informal dos. It's easy to wear them and works best for a ...
Virtual-Strategy Magazine (press release)
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 00:12:57 -0700

This fashionable dress shoe features contrast stitching, and two elastic gores for an easy and secure fit. The padded insole will provide the support your feet need, during those long hours at work. Hundreds of other amazing styles are arriving daily ...
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Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:55:22 -0700

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