Best formal shoes for men 2022

·8-min read
 (Press images)
(Press images)

The dutiful formal shoe has had a tough couple of years, being rendered useless by the pandemic and replaced with the likes of Crocs and slippers. But now it’s time has come to find its place back in your wardrobe once more, and the options are as good as ever.

Some of you may be in the height of the seemingly endless wedding season of 2022, or others may have an interview on the horizon, and whilst you can get away with wearing trainers nearly everywhere, these are occasions that often call for a smarter shoe.

Even better, when paired with a more casual outfit, a great pair of chunky Derbies or loafers can add a certain je ne sais quoi (not to mention the extra height if you’re on the shorter side like yours truly). Think wearing them with work pants and a printed T-shirt, or straight leg jeans and an Oxford shirt, and your outfit will be elevated in more ways than one.

When choosing the best style for you, it’s worth investing in a quality pair that will last you years, not months. We’d suggest starting with a premium black leather pair that will go with almost everything, and then branching out to invest in a brown pair when you have a chance.

So we’ve taken the liberty of rounding up the best shoes of the four main categories - the Oxford, the Derby, the brogue, and the loafer - so keep scrolling and we’re sure you’ll be strutting into your new job or the dancefloor in no time.

Oxfords

On the smarter end of the dress code scale, Oxfords can be worn for more formal occasions and even with a tux. The main defining feature is the ‘closed throat’ construction, where the leather around the laces is sewn into the ‘vamp’, the front of the shoe that covers your toes, creating a sleeker more streamlined silhouette.

When on the hunt for an Oxford, look at the top of the laces - if the shape of the leather creates a ‘V’, then you’ve got yourself an Oxford, if they’re parallel lines, it’s a Derby you’re dealing with (more on that below).

Hawes & Curtis Men's Black Leather Oxford Shoe

These classic black Oxfords by heritage brand Hawes & Curtis have a minimalist toe-cap design which will work well for any formal occasion. Made using leather from a premium tannery, at £149 they’re a great value for money.

Buy now £149.00, Hawes & Curtis

Russell & Bromley Cumulus Toe-Cap Oxford

Russell & Bromley’s Cumulus are crafted using brown calf leather. They also feature a toe-cap and a full leather flexible sole meaning they’ll take you from wedding ceremony to after-party with ease. Comfortable from dawn till dusk.

Buy now £295.00, Russell & Bromley

Jimmy Choo Finnion Black Brush-Off Leather Oxford Shoes with Star Studs

With a star studded welt and matching eyelets, Jimmy Choo’s Oxfords have a streak of rebelliousness that says you’re ready to party. Crafted in Italy in brush-off leather with a subtle matte finish, they’ll make you feel like a star.

Buy now £595.00, Jimmy Choo

Church's Consul Oxford shoes

Church’s may now be part of the Prada group, but the brand’s history can be traced back to 1617, so they’re experts in the classic luxury shoe market. Made using 100 per cent calf leather, this timeless burgundy Oxford with a polished finish would look great with navy, tan, a neutral check, and brown, and they’ll last you a lifetime.

Buy now £720.00, Farfetch

Derbies

Slightly less formal than Oxfords, Derbies feature an open-throat construction, meaning the leather around the laces runs parallel and over the vamp, creating a sturdier silhouette.

They can be worn with just about any suit, excluding the tux, and are better suited with jeans and casual trousers. If you’re looking for a shoe for weddings, date nights, and everything in between, Derbies won’t let you down.

Dr. Martens 1461 Bex Smooth Leather Shoes

Famously stiff to start, Dr. Martens shoes always need breaking in. After a few wears though, you’ll be good to go for any casual or smart-casual event. This silhouette is the same as the classic 1461s, just with an extra chunky sole, and they’ll inject attitude to any outfit, whether you keep them polished for a high-shine formal look or let them look rough and ready with some scuffs for added character.

Buy now £149.00, Dr. Martens

Loake By Jones Bootmaker Apache Goodyear Welted Leather Derby Shoes

Loake is a heritage shoemaker dating back to 1880, and these Derbies are a premium product at half the price. With a cushioned leather heel bed and simple lace-up Derby design, these would work well with a suit or to smarten up a casual outfit, and they’ll be comfy from start to finish.

Buy now £165.00, Jones Bootmaker

Tricker’s Matlock Pebble-Grain Leather Derby Shoes

Handcrafted in England using black pebble-grain leather, Tricker’s Derbies have an interesting texture that can be paired with anything from jeans to tailored trousers. Featuring classic cap toes, storm welts, and Commando soles, they’ll stand the test of time.

Buy now £525.00, Mr. Porter

John Lobb Leather Hardington Derby Shoes

John Lobb’s experience dates back 150 years, so they have an extensive archive of formal shoes that span many generations. Acquired by Hermes in 1976, their expert craftsmanship and 190-step manufacturing process is reflected in the price tag. Made with a lightweight lug rubber sole, these fashion-forward shoes will take you from indoor meetings to outdoor adventures in no time.

Buy now £1015.00, Harrods

Brogues

Also known as ‘wingtips’, the brogues defining feature is in the detailing, not the silhouette. Marked by their distinctive perforations, they’ll add personality to the most soulless of work suits or, honestly, to pretty much anything else in your wardrobe. Now decorative, the perforations originated as holes that allowed water to drain through shoes worn in Irish bogs, but, trust me, you won’t find anything but waterproof shoes in this edit.

Clarks Batcombe Wing Black Leather

You can’t go wrong with a trusty pair of Clarks. The traditional brogue detailing and contrast welting on a Derby gives their Batcombe Wing a vintage, more casual look, so they’d look great with a pair of jeans.

Buy now £90.00, Clarks

Ted Baker Amaiss Formal Leather Brogue Shoes

Erring on the formal side of brogues, these Oxfords by Ted Baker would look best worn at a wedding or work event and with a suit or tailored trousers. A timeless style, these will never go out of fashion.

Buy now £110.00, Ted Baker

Cheaney Avon R Wingcap Derby Brogue in Dark Leaf Calf Leather - Dainite Rubber Sole

Cheaney’s Wingcap Derby Brogue is a go-to casual option that would look great with check trousers for a country look. Easily wearable and extremely durable, these will literally last you a lifetime thanks to the brand’s refurbishment service which allows you to take them back for reparations - but thanks to the high quality we’re sure that won’t be an issue.

Buy now £395.00, Cheaney

Tod’s Lace-Ups In Leather - Black

Designed in hammered leather and featuring rubber details on the sole and heel, Tod’s lace ups are for the more fashion forward gent for an understated yet elevated addition to their shoe collection. A versatile design and colour, they’ll go with almost anything.

Buy now £540.00, Tod’s

Loafers

Once deemed too casual to wear with a suit, now you’ll find sleek styles that look great paired with tailoring. The most common designs are ‘penny loafers’, which have a strap across the shoe with a cut-out, and ‘bit loafers’ which feature metal hardware across the shoe. Look to Prada and Grenson for a bulky design that can elevate a casual outfit (literally and figuratively) with a bit of attitude.

G.H.Bass Easy Weejun Penny Loafers Wine

G.H.Bass is a master of the penny loafer. Coming in a rich wine high-shine leather with a handsewn construction and leather outsole, these would look best worn with indigo or cream denim - and you could amp-up the preppy vibe with an argyle sock. If the burgundy isn’t to your taste, they have endless colourways available too so you can find the shade to suit.

Buy now £130.00, Office

Duke + Dexter Forext X White Penny Loafer

These two-tone loafers are the perfect summer smart shoe. Worn with shorts and socks, they’d look at home anywhere from the Italian Riviera to punting in Cambridge. Handmade in England from Italian leather, they come decked out on a thick rubberised sole with a leather lining to make sure your feet stay happy from AM to PM.

Buy now £220.00, Duke + Dexter

Grenson Jefferson

Although Grenson’s Jefferson looks like a hefty number, the bulky Commando sole is lighter-than-air, creating a featherweight shoe which still packs a preppy punch. Pair them with wide leg work pants or straight leg jeans for a sophisticated yet cool date night look.

Buy now £305.00, Grenson

Prada Triangle-plaque leather loafers

The holy grail of all loafers, Prada’s iconic design is sought after by fashion editors and street stylers alike. Adorned with the Italian fashion house’s signature triangle logo plaque and featuring a chunky sole, this shoe exudes luxury and will add a touch of class to any outfit.

Buy now £720.00, MatchesFashion

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting