Having a versatile pair of shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits is an essential part of any man's wardrobe. The right shoes can pull an outfit together, while the wrong shoes can make an otherwise stylish outfit fall flat. When searching for shoes that go with every outfit, there are a few key factors to consider.
What to Look for in Versatile Shoes
Simple and Neutral Colors
Shoes in basic colors like black, brown, tan, gray, and navy are far easier to match with different colors and styles of clothing. Flashy prints or bold colors will limit what you can wear with them. Stick to simple, neutral shades for maximum versatility.
Materials That Work Year-Round
Leather, suede, and canvas shoes stand up well in multiple seasons and won't look out of place. Materials like mesh or fabric are less durable and often unsuitable for colder months. Prioritize leather, suede, or canvas shoes for year-round wear.
Low Profile Silhouette
A sleek, low profile shoe without a bulky sole or lots of embellishments will integrate into outfits easily. Overly chunky soles or busy designs are harder to match with different styles. A simple, low profile shoe is ideal.
Lace-Up or Slip-On Styles
Shoes with laces or slip-on loafers offer the most versatility as you can adjust them for different looks. Boots, sandals, and other styles are less adaptable. Focus your search on lace-up shoes, slip-on loafers, or lace-up boots.
The Most Versatile Shoes for Men
Oxford Dress Shoes
The classic men's dress shoe, oxford shoes feature closed lacing and a sleek profile. In basic black or brown leather, they're suitable for both formal and casual wear. Dress them up with slacks and a blazer or dress them down with dark jeans and a button-down. A leather oxford shoe is a versatile staple.
Chelsea boots offer an easy slip-on style with elastic goring on the sides, making them ideal for wearing to the office or out at night. A leather pair in tan, brown, or black looks sharp yet understated. Chelsea boots pair well with both casual looks like jeans and dressier looks like trousers.
A crisp pair of white leather sneakers is immensely versatile. With a simple, classic profile, they'll complement jeans, shorts, trousers, and more. Keep them looking fresh by cleaning regularly. White leather sneakers are a modern wardrobe essential.
As a slip-on shoe, loafers are convenient and easy to wear in a range of contexts. Opt for a sleek pair in brown leather that can be dressed up or down seamlessly. Wear them to the office, out to dinner, or running weekend errands. The simplicity of a brown leather loafer makes it universally flattering.
Hitting the sweet spot between a boot and a dress shoe, the chukka boot works well in casual to business casual settings. Typically made of soft suede or leather, chukkas come in versatile shades like tan, brown, and navy. They pair well with jeans, chinos, and dress pants.
A go-to combo is white sneakers paired with dark jeans and a t-shirt or button-down. Switch up your top for a sweater in the winter. White sneakers also look great with navy or tan chinos and a polo shirt for a smart casual outfit.
Brown Leather Loafers
For a dressier casual look, wear brown loafers with chinos, a button-down or polo, and a blazer. Loafers also look smart with gray dress pants and a tucked-in collared shirt for the office.
Black Leather Oxfords
Black oxford shoes add polish when paired with a suit and tie. But they can also dress down an outfit like dark wash jeans, white t-shirt, and charcoal blazer for a date night.
Chelsea boots complement straight leg jeans and a sweater for a weekend look. Don a slim fitting suit and Chelsea boots instead of dress shoes for a modern twist on formal wear.
Pair chukka boots with cuffed jeans or chinos and an un-tucked OCBD or t-shirt for an effortless look. For business casual, wear chukkas with a dress shirt, sweater, and trousers.
5 FAQs about Versatile Men's Shoes
1. Are loafers or oxfords more versatile?
Oxfords are more formal and loafers more casual, but both are highly versatile shoes. Oxfords dress up or down seamlessly, while loafers work for both refined and relaxed looks. It depends on your individual style needs.
2. Can white sneakers get dirty too quickly?
To keep white sneakers looking fresh, spray them with a protector to repel stains and clean regularly with soap and water. Avoid wearing them in rain or mud. With some care, white sneakers can stay versatile staples.
3. Are Chelsea boots too informal for the office?
Chelsea boots offer the perfect balance of polish and casual comfort for the office. Opt for sleek leather pairs without embellishments in neutral shades like black, brown, or tan. Avoid suede or patterns for a work setting.
4. What color chukka boot is most versatile?
For maximum versatility, go with tan, brown, or navy suede chukka boots. Tan or brown complements both warm and cool outfit colors. Navy pairs well with similar shades. Stay away from bold reds or prints.
5. Can versatile shoes wear out more quickly?
Shoes worn frequently may wear out more quickly. But investing in reputable leather or suede shoes and properly conditioning them regularly will maximize their lifespan and retain versatility. Rotate between 2-3 go-to pairs.
Finding shoes to seamlessly match dressy and casual looks doesn't require a vast, unwieldy collection. Focus on securing a few shoes in neutral hues and classic silhouettes like oxfords, loafers, Chelsea boots, and chukkas. Pay attention to material quality and care. A versatile shoe should slide effortlessly into any outfit in your wardrobe. Simplicity, comfort, and durability are key. With the right versatile shoe, you can step out in style for any occasion.