How to buy dress shoes
The sole sign of a quality shoe
How do you tell a good quality pair of shoes? You flip them over. For a leather sole, which is by far the best material, you are looking for the sole to be attached by thick, robust stitches. No stitches means that the sole has been glued on, which is a sure sign of a cheap shoe. Glues soles can come apart after some wear and tear.
You are also looking for a thick sole. As you walk, the bottom of your shoe wears down. For an expensive pair of shoes, you will be looking at replacing the sole down the track. A thick sole means you will get much more wear out of your shoes before they need to be replaced or repaired. If there is a stunning pair of shoes that you must have, but the sole is thin, you can take them to a shoemaker and get a thicker sole attached to prolong the life of the shoe.
Look for leather
A quality pair of a dress shoes should always be leather (or a good imitation “vegan” leather). Touch the leather; it should be soft rather than plastic-y. Glossy fake leather is to be avoided. It will never mould to your foot and is prone to cracking and creasing. Look at the materials listed for the shoe. You will sometimes encounter a label that says “leather sole, man-made upper”; these combination material shoes are poor quality. You want something that is 100% leather.
No clown shoes
Look for dress shoes with a slight elongation in the toe. Avoid anything too exaggerated. Men with large feet need to be especially careful of the clown shoe effect; if your feet are quite small you can have more freedom with different toe shapes. An almond shaped toe is unobtrusive, while square shaped toes, while common, can look truly strange on long feet.
Try them on
It is incredibly risky to buy a pair of shoes online, rationalising that they will probably fit. You need to go to a physical store to get the size right. You should be able to comfortable wedge one finger between your ankle and the back of the shoe for a perfect fit. Try on what size you think you are, as well as one size either way. Make sure you put the shoes on both feet, as each foot will be a slightly different size, and have a walk around the store to gauge comfort. If you have a noticeable discrepancy in foot size, but it is not so prominent that you need to buy two individual shoes in different sizes, try to fit the bigger foot. It is better to have a little extra room than to have a shoe that is too tight.
You should also try on different styles so you can get an idea of how the shape of the shoe affects your fit. Shoes come in regular, narrow and wide fits. You may think that your feet are perfectly average, but on the off chance that a narrow or wide style will provide a better fit, it is worth measuring. Use a size guide such as this one to determine the size and width of your feet.
About Natasha Abrahams Natasha Abrahams is a writer and journalism student from Melbourne, Australia. When she is not busy with being a principal writer on Weekendnotes or skipping lectures, she can be found emptying her wallet at the nearest shopping centre. You can read more from Natasha at: http://mensstyleandfashion.com/