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When putting together the ideal wedding attire—whether it be as a guest or for your nuptials—your dress shoes should never be an afterthought. Shoes are a way to bring personality to any outfit and formalwear is no different. Whether you’re looking to make a statement with a colorful pair of oxford shoes or want something more sophisticated and classy to tie your look together, dress shoes offer up a lot more versatility than you might think.
Selecting the right dress shoe comes down to two factors: Style and fit. Choosing a dress shoe that fits both your fashion and your sole is the secret sauce to finding your perfect pair. From the classics to the style show stoppers, we hunted down the best dress shoes to help you on your search for the right pair.
Ahead, the best dress shoes, expert advice from shoe designer Enrico Cuini, and some frequently asked questions.
Best Patent Leather: Charles Tyrwhitt Patent Oxford Shoes
For the groom or wedding guest who is looking to add a touch of elegance to their wedding look, these patent leather oxford shoes are the ultimate dressy design. Made of 100 percent leather with a glossy patent finish, these dress shoes pair beautifully with a timeless tuxedo yet are versatile enough to wear dressed down with a dinner jacket.
Best Brown Leather: Ted Baker London Walster Cap Toe Oxford
Ted Baker dress shoes are timeless for any occasion and these brown leather oxfords boast those classic clean lines for a more minimalistic approach. These made our best list because not only are they a great design, but the shade of brown is versatile enough to wear with a range of ensembles and colors such as navy or gray.
Best Loafers: Gucci Jordaan Horsebit Loafer
It’s hard not to think of Gucci when we think of loafers. For the groom looking to invest in an iconic piece of fashion, these Horsebit Loafers are it for us. The design itself first debuted in the 1950s, proving just how timeless this style is. Plus, with just the right amount of shine and comfort, these loafers can be dressed up for the ceremony and celebration, then worn time and time again with more casual ensembles after the big day.
Best Wingtip: Bruno Magli Gigilo Wingtip Oxfords
With a beautiful medallion toe and brogue design, these handsome wingtip oxfords made a statement of luxury. For the groom or wedding guest who wants a touch of detail without overpowering the whole ensemble, the modified wingtip style adds a nice touch to any wedding day look.
Best Cap Toe: Beckett Simonon Dean Oxfords
When shopping for the best cap toe dress shoe, you can’t go wrong with a selection that is as sleek as it is timeless. These oxfords from Beckett Simonon are designed to get better with age and made with genuine leather conditioned with shea butter and carnauba wax for a gorgeous, buttery, natural-looking shine.
Best Casual: Ted Baker Dennton Leather Brogue Trainers
Keeping it casual? Dress sneakers are the way to go. Dressy enough to wear on your wedding day, these brogue sneakers from Ted Baker are made from genuine leather with a chunky sole and designed to resemble a classic oxford dress shoe.
Best Penny Loafers: Hermès Bob Loafer
With their Hermès H sprawled across the top, these loafers put a high fashion spin on the classic penny loafer. Made from natural calfskin leather with a gray rubber sole for added comfort, these wedding day dress shoes are a great selection for the groom who prefers casual with a dash of sophistication.
Best Boat Shoes: Sperry Authentic Original Boat Shoe
You can’t say boat shoes without thinking of Sperry and we love their Original Boat Shoe for a casual wedding ensemble. Available in seven colors, including a rich all-black hue that would pair well with a dinner jacket and trousers, these boat shoes made our list for their iconic design and maximum comfort.
For an Outdoor Event: Timberland Stormbucks Waterproof Oxford Shoes
They say rain on your wedding day is good luck. For an outdoor wedding, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for a shift in weather patterns, and these waterproof oxfords can ensure your feet stay dry all evening long. Designed in a classic oxford silhouette and specifically with stormy weather in mind, no one would ever know these waterproof dress shoes are like the rain boots of wedding attire. Plus, they’re made with eco-conscious materials, which we love.
Best for Flat Feet: Allen Edmonds Strandmok Weatherproof Cap-Toe Oxford with Dainite Rubber Sole
For the groom with flat feet, these are the shoes to slip into. Designed with CustomCork™ insole forms for added sole support, these dress shoes keep feet feeling comfortable without sacrificing style. As a bonus, these dress shoes are also weatherproof and designed with special German waterproof leather and waterproof membrane lining to keep soles from getting soaked on a rainy wedding day.
For The Eco-Conscious Guest: Nisolo Everyday Oxford
For the eco-friendly groom or wedding guest, these responsibly made dress shoes are carbon neutral certified to maintain zero-percent net carbon emissions.
Best Sneaker Dress Shoes: Hush Puppies Bennet Plain Toe Derby
For a groom with a serious sneaker obsession, these dress shoe-inspired sneakers are a way to elevate your style and add a touch of that obsession to wedding day attire. Designed with PerfectFit knit lining for extra flexibility and comfort and enough cushioning to break it down on the dance floor, these dress shoe sneakers keep it classy.
Best Cowboy Boots for Weddings: Ariat 'Heritage' Leather Cowboy R-Toe Boot
With so many designs and styles to choose from, selecting a pair of cowboy boots for a wedding can be a challenge. The key is to go for an original design that is sleek and sophisticated, like these Heritage Boots from Ariat. Made with genuine leather and stylized with six stitch embroidery, these cowboy boots bring the yeehaw to the altar.
What to Look for in a Pair of Dress Shoes
While there aren't a ton of different dress shoe designs out there, there are plenty of style options to choose from. And, you want to find a dress shoe that feels like you—not just you in a pair of dress shoes. We want our shoes to feel like an extension of us and if traditional cap toes and wingtips aren’t for you, Cuini says that’s okay. “Loafers can be considered dress shoes if they are made with high-quality leather and properly polished."
Fit is a necessary thing to consider when purchasing shoes, especially dress shoes. After all, you are going to wear (read: dance in) them all night, and possibly all season, too. With a higher-priced purchase like dress shoes, it's best to measure your feet and compare your measurements against the brand's size guide. Keep in mind size guides across brands can differ—just because you're a size 11 in Cole Haan shoes doesn't necessarily mean you'll be the same size in Nordstrom dress shoes. Plus, take into account that some brands don't carry half sizes, for example, or that they may produce in EU, IT, or UK sizing, rather than US.
Unlike sneakers, Cuini says “dress shoes will feel much snugger” and that it is important that they “fit without any slipping or sliding inside the shoes.” Wearing properly fitted dress shoes “will allow you to wear them throughout the entire evening or event,” explains Cuini.
How Do You Polish Dress Shoes?
You want your wedding day shoes to be in tip-top shape for your big day. To polish dress shoes, Cuini recommends using a “soft cloth and a lot of elbow grease” along with some shoe polish. Since not all shoes and brands are alike, it’s important to be aware of the care instructions to ensure proper cleaning and polishing of dress shoes.
Do You Match Your Socks to Your Dress Shoes?
While we encourage you to wear whatever you feel most "you" in, it's traditionally recommended you should in fact match your socks to your pants, not to your dress shoes. When your socks match your shoes rather than your pants, it may make your dress shoes look disproportionate to the rest of your attire. However, in formal occasions, you should match your dress shoes with your belt.
Why Trust Byrdie
Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Journalism and a thing for shoes. She believes that shoes are an extension of personality and self-expression. Why should that not also apply to your wedding day look? When it comes to her wedding shoe taste, Jessie loves a classic cap toe oxford or something that leans into the whole personal style component—like Ariat cowboy boots or Dr. Martens Oxfords. They might not be the more obvious choices for a wedding day ensemble but you’ll never regret dressing like yourself on your big day.