When it comes to leather dress shoes, I find brown to be my go-to hue 98% of the time. I feel they add an extra punch of color and warmth… something a black lace up just can’t do (in my opinion, at least.)

I’ve always reserved black shoes for a particularly dressy occasion, but maybe that’s just my excuse because I love brown so much.

Let’s assume you already have a good pair of black dress shoes. It’s time to explore your other options, because a gent needs some variety in his footwear.

There are many shades of brown to consider, from a dark burgundy-brown, to a lighter caramel, cognac, or tan. Coordinating clothing with different shades of brown may be confusing to some men, but let’s save that for later.

We’ll start with some examples of classic, affordable brown dress shoes. These are the types of silhouettes you want to look for when on the hunt for your next pair.

Florsheim Kenmoor Wingtip Oxford Price: $225 Florsheim Kenmoor Wingtip Oxford

Florsheim Castellano Wingtip Oxford Price: $99 Florsheim Castellano Wingtip Oxford

Johnston & Murphy Melton Cap Toe Price: $179 Johnston & Murphy Melton Cap Toe

Florsheim Blaze Cap Toe Oxford Price: $120 Florsheim Blaze Cap Toe Oxford

Pay attention to each pair’s low-heeled, slim-soled silhouette and natural rounded toe box. You want your selection to mimic this shape of shoe. Here’s a closer look at the details I’m talking about:

good shoe example | effortlessgent.com

And here is a contrasting example of a silhouette you want to stay away from:

Bad Shoe Example | effortlessgent.com

This plastic-like finish and thick rubber sole are marks of a tasteless shoe, and the squared-off toe makes your foot appear stumpy. Trust us, you don’t want stumpy. You want natural and rounded.

Keep these details in mind

Whether you’re spending $50 or $500, make sure you choose a leather dress shoe with these specific details I mentioned above, and you’re good!

Need more info? Check out this article for help choosing the right (instead of wrong) brown leather dress shoes.

Learn a few shortcuts to dressing well

Enter your first name and email, and I'll send you a free eGuide with quick and easy tips you can use today.

13 Responses

  1. Wrecked Stellar on

    Great post, esp. pointing out the many different shades of brown. As a woman, I actually boycotted brown at one point because having so many different shades meant I needed the matching shade of brown in terms of my shoes, handbag, and coat- and it got to be a little overwhelming to try to find matching shades of things that I liked enough to get! So I stuck with black for awhile and have slowly introduced it back into my life, but I still find that I need to have some sort of other color in addition to the brown in a print shirt so I could defer to that other color for my shoes if I needed to.

  2. Wrecked Stellar on

    Great post, esp. pointing out the many different shades of brown. As a woman, I actually boycotted brown at one point because having so many different shades meant I needed the matching shade of brown in terms of my shoes, handbag, and coat- and it got to be a little overwhelming to try to find matching shades of things that I liked enough to get! So I stuck with black for awhile and have slowly introduced it back into my life, but I still find that I need to have some sort of other color in addition to the brown in a print shirt so I could defer to that other color for my shoes if I needed to.

  3. Dan Gribbin on

    Really nice post. A word on pricing though. I have 8 pairs of brown shoes, all very good quality and varying shades and styles. They’ve all come from local thrift stores. I’ve spent perhaps 60 dollars on them all. Keep your eyes open. I rarely look anywhere in thrift stores aside from the outerwear, suiting, and shoes, and it seems that more often then not I find a great pair of shoes for like 9 dollars. Just stay away from my neck of the woods and we’ll be cool.

    • Barron on

      I whole-heartedly endorse thrifting for shoes as well. I’m not sure how patient my readers are, but if the patience is there, you can really find some great stuff. My latest find was a pair of Louis Vuitton dress boots, really slick, but in black. Since I don’t wear black I re-sold them. Bought em for $25 and sold em for $300. Not bad 🙂

    • Barron on

      I whole-heartedly endorse thrifting for shoes as well. I’m not sure how patient my readers are, but if the patience is there, you can really find some great stuff. My latest find was a pair of Louis Vuitton dress boots, really slick, but in black. Since I don’t wear black I re-sold them. Bought em for $25 and sold em for $300. Not bad 🙂

    • Raydudemanguy on

      me too! ive had some really good finds there as i cannot afford $160.00 on one pair of shoes!!!!!! and i’ll be sure to stay away from your area, but ya gotta do the same!

  4. Eric Rohner on

    I’m beginning to update my wardrobe, and this site has been fantastic in giving me the advice and confidence needed to buy nice, fashionable clothing…but I’m somewhat discouraged by a comment that Barron made to another user, turning him away from buying these shoes unless he needs to dress particularly nicely.

    I almost never need to dress “fancy,” but I’d like a pair akin to these (I’m especially fond of that pair of Florsheim Oxfords!) because I think they’d look great with nice denim, a sport coat, and a toss-up of shirts, even in a more casual setting. Do you think it would be over doing it to wear one of these to my classes and perhaps to the bar? Perhaps I should get ones with rubber soles to endure walking on the road and at college bars?

  5. Gabriel N.J. on

    Hi, I have a question. Don’t you consider the Florsheim (in pics 3 and 5) a little to squarish? I am a big fan of round toed shoes (man, don’t ask me how much I hate square toed, they are just the most hideous shoes a man could ever wear, second to sandals + socks), and I own a new pair of shoes shaped like Florsheim shown above, except that they are without broguing. I never own shoes like that before so my instinct (or conscience) just could not accept it completely. I mean, I just need reassurance that shoes like those are not consider square toed, because they are little squarish compared to a typical round toed.

    • Svenrn on

      Hey man. I found the link to part II. It’s way down below the comments section. It’s been a year but maybe you’re still wondering