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Formal shoe styles for men

Styles of formal shoes for men vary almost as much as the gents that wear them. Some can be worn with almost anything, whilst others need to be matched with the right clothing. Here are some of the most common formal shoe styles available today.

Oxford shoes

The great all-rounder; Oxfords are a style of leather shoe with enclosed lacing. Traditionally constructed of leather, these men's shoes originated in Scotland and Ireland where they were known as Balmorals.

The shoe design is often plain but some include small perforations or ornamentation. Classic black Oxford shoes, polished to perfection, are ideal for formal occasions. For the office and semi-formal events, black or brown Oxfords are suitable.


Brogues are low-heeled shoes notable for their patterned perforations. Traditionally they are made from leather, though today suede brogues are very popular. Brogues are considered traditional country shoes for gentlemen and look great with casual or semi-formal outfits.

Deck shoes

Deck shoes are a smart casual style, originally designed for wear on a boat. They often feature rubber soles and leather uppers. Deck shoes are known for their comfort and timeless summer style.


Loafers are laceless, slip-on shoes. The most common style has a moccasin-like construction, but variations are common, such as the penny loafer. Increasingly, loafers are becoming acceptable when worn with suits in the office and semi-formal occasions.

Monk shoes

Monk shoes are laceless and closed by a buckle and strap. This is a moderately formal shoe, less so than an Oxford but more than a loafer, and as such is more suitable for formal occasions.

Chukka boots

Ankle length boots, chukka boots have two or three eyelets for lacing. First popular in the 1940s and 1950s, they are usually made from suede. Chukka boots look classy and make great office shoes.

Chelsea boots

Ankle-high and tight fitting, Chelsea boots first came to prominence during the Victorian era when they were worn for horse riding. Once fashionable amongst the mods of the 1960s, today Chelsea boots are as popular and stylish as ever. Both leather and suede Chelsea boots are common and suitable for semi-formal occasions.

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