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How to Choose the Right Men's Shoes

Tips for Picking the Right Pair Every Time

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Tasseled loafers

Shoes like these tasseled loafers would be a great choice for dressing up casual outfits.

Image Courtesy of Zappos.com
The last thing I want to do is stereotype by implying that men don't care about shoes, or that all women do. Those suggestions are ludicrous and insulting. I've known guys who have extensive footwear wardrobes, and who could match me pair for pair. I've also know women who couldn't care less whether or not wedges are "hot" this season.

Gender aside, some view shoes as practical necessities, while others have a shoe obsession. Most people probably land somewhere in between.

However, of all the men I have known, many of them were uncomfortable wearing a variety of styles in men's shoes.

For example, many men I've known who have had to wear work boots for their jobs also had a tendency to stick with that style of footwear after work hours. Other guys I know avoid certain clothes and events because sneakers would be considered inappropriate for the outfit or occasion.

For the most part, I don't believe this is disdain for other styles of shoes, but more of a lack of confidence when it comes to choosing styles other than the ones they're already used to wearing. If this sounds like you or someone you know, then you'll want to keep reading for some general tips on how to choose the appropriate men's shoes for a variety of outfits.

General Rules for Choosing Men's Shoes

  • Try to pick a shoe that matches, or is darker than your pants.

  • Although it is a safe bet, socks do not need to match your shoes. Instead, think of your socks as you would a tie - an item that can bring bring the whole outfit together.

  • If you're going to be wearing a belt, try to match your shoes to it, unless of course, your belt is some multi-colored striped thing.

Shoes for Jeans

You can wear almost any color or style of shoe with jeans, but avoid very shiny shoes that were obviously intended for more dressier outfits.

Boots, lug soles, sneakers, loafers and sandals all work great with jeans, so you may find it helpful to let the style of your shirt guide you.

For example, a sporty polo shirt might work with a loafer; t-shirts go well with sneakers or retro-style shoes; long, artsy button-downs work well with sandals or contemporary styles.

What to Wear with Casual Pants

Whether you call them Dockers, chinos, or khakis, there are a variety of loafers, oxfords and other men's shoes that work well with casual pants.

Let the ornamentation and style of the shoe guide you towards the look you're trying to achieve.

For example, a tassel or a buckle is a little more on the dressy side, while a woven pattern or heavy stitching is a little more on the casual side.

The Best Footwear for Dress Pants

With dress pants, shoot for the same type of shoe that you might wear with a suit. Shinier materials usually indicate a dressier shoe, as do less bulky heels and soles. Choose a shoe that is the same color or darker than your pants, and if wearing a belt, match your shoes to it.

Color-Matching for Men's Shoes

  • Black shoes work well with navy, grey or black pants.

  • Brown shoes are best suited to tan, brown, beige, greens, other darker earth tones.

  • Burgundy shoes work well with khaki, lighter browns, blue and grey.

  • Tan shoes look great with lighter earth tones, blue, beige, lighter tan or white.
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