It’s true that you don’t need to have a ton of clothes in order to look good.
It’s a theme that I have touched on over and over again at Well Built Style.
That’s why in this article I want to go over my picks for the only shoes you need in your wardrobe (and trust me there are not that many).
It’s all about quality over quantity, especially when it comes to shoes.
Here are my picks:
Black Cap-Toe Oxfords
If you work in a conservative business environment that requires you to routinely wear suits then a pair of classic black cap-toe oxfords are definitely a must in your shoe collection.
Black cap-toe oxfords are really the ultimate shoe for business wear and probably the safest choice for guys trying to climb the corporate ladder.
However, the great thing about black cap-toe oxfords is that not only are they perfect for the business environment but they are also a fantastic shoe for a variety of other, more formal occasions such as weddings, funerals, black-tie events etc. Suffice it to say that a simple black cap-toe oxford can do a lot of heavy lifting in your wardrobe.
My pick for a quality black cap-toe oxford is the Park Avenue by Allen Edmonds. They retail for about $385 but they are worth every penny. These are the type of shoes that will last you for years and years provided that you take good care of them.Another option that you could go with that is a little less formal is the Strand by Allen Edmonds. The Strand is still a cap-toe oxford but the additional broguing detail makes them less formal then the Park Avenue. For guys who may not need to wear a suit all the time or attend black tie events then I’d recommend going with the Strand in walnut. These cap-toes are much easier to wear casually with items like denim, chinos, cords etc.
Brown Monk Straps
There are two reasons why I think you should include a pair of monk straps in your rotation. First, very few guys wear them. Second, the look awesome.
In fact, it’s true that a quality pair of monk strap shoes will win you major style points.
The great thing about monk straps is that they can work equally well with formal items in your wardrobe (e.g. suits) as they can with more casual pieces such as denim, chinos, and cords.
A pair of brown monk straps are also the perfect compliment to a pair of black cap-toe oxfords. Of course, if you opt for a pair of brown brogued oxfords like the Strands, then I suggest going with a pair of black monk straps in order to maintain colour balance.
My favourite monk straps are the Mora 2.0 from Allen Edmonds. They are a simple, elegant double monk with a classic rounded toe. These are shoes that will get you noticed for the right reasons.
Another worthy consideration for those of you on a tighter budget but are still looking for something stylish would be the Cole Haan Cambridge Monk Oxford.
A beautiful looking single monk with a great classic design. Definitely won’t last you as long as a pair of Allen Edmonds but if you wear them lightly and take good care of them you’ll get plenty of mileage out of them.
Suede Desert Boots
Not that I have anything against sneakers, it’s just that all too often men seem to default to wearing them whenever they dress casually. Having a quality pair of desert boots in your rotation is one to combat this tendency and an easy way to bump up the style of your casual outfits.
Also, with desert boots I recommend going with something in either suede or beeswax as it’s a nice way to add a little variety to your collection.
I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of my Clark’s beeswax desert boots and can’t recommend them enough.
The crepe sole on the Clark’s are incredibly comfortable and the beeswax upper looks even better over time.
One thing I should mention is that you definitely want to size down (as much as a full size) as the Clark’s seem to run a bit larger than normal boots.
Canvas Sneaker (Plimsolls)
Every guy should have at least one pair of nice canvas sneakers or plimsolls in their wardrobe, preferably in white or a neutral shade like grey, beige, or navy.
A good canvas sneaker is perfect for the warmer months when you don’t want to stuff your feet into a pair of leather shoes. They naturally pair well with shorts but are also great to throw on with some jeans or chinos if you’re running some errands on the weekend or meeting up with some friends for a coffee.
My pick for a good all-around canvas sneaker is the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
Unlike a pair of quality leather dress shoes which should last you for years and years, canvas sneakers have a shorter lifespan. A good pair may only last you a few seasons depending on how you wear them so just be aware of that.
Last but certainly not least, a good quality winter boot is a must for most guys.
In a previous article I reviewed 5 different boot styles worthy of consideration. In short, a quality winter boot that is versatile and can protect you from the elements is what you need.
That’s why my top pick is the Red Wing Iron Ranger.The Iron Ranger is the perfect mix of form and function. These boots are rugged enough to protect you from the elements but have enough refined elements in their design that they can be worn with anything from wool trousers to denim jeans.
For those of you on a budget looking for something similar, I recommend going with the Chippewa Boot.The Chippewa is about $100 less than the Iron Ranger but has a similar aesthetic. The quality is also fairly good from what I’ve read and heard from others.
Quality shoes are definitely an investment. You end up paying more up front but what you get back in terms of value almost always justifies the extra cost.
The fact is when you buy quality shoes you simply don’t need to have as many of them. My five picks are a great place to start your shoe collection but can also be the only shoes that you ever really own. It’s really up to you. But whatever route you choose just remember: quality over quantity.
As always, here’s to looking sharp!