Put away the flip flops and Crocs, boys.
You’re a man, and you shouldn’t settle for anything but the best.
We put together a list of the essential shoes that every man should own.
From high quality sneakers to a killer pair of boots, come see how many of these shoes you can check off the list.
Must-Own Men’s Shoe Styles
1. The Chelsea Boot
The Chelsea boot is the perfect representation of casual meets corporate. Falling somewhere between boots and dress shoes, they’re an awesome way to modernize your style.
Choose leather Chelsea boots for smart occasions, pointed for Friday Night drinks, and suede for casual (most popular and highly versatile).
The editorial team here at TAM waxes poetic on Chelseas so we really struggled to limit ourselves to just two picks. Forgive our enthusiasm.
I always figured a whole-cut leather goodyear welted Chelsea under $300 would never exist. That was until I found the Myrqvist Granhult. Handcrafted in Portugal, this sleek dressy Chelsea is finished with a studded rubber sole and offers a heck of a lot of value for its modest price point.
Blake stitched for a sleek profile, the tobacco color of these suede Chelseas pairs incredibly with denim and adds texture to your outfit. The best part? You can choose between a leather (more dressy) or dockers rubber sole (more versatile).
2. The Dress Sneaker
Everyone needs a pair of kicks with a casual vibe that still uphold a clean sense of style.
A simple pair of sneakers goes well with just about any outfit. Pick up one of our top picks and have fun wearing them with jeans, shorts, chinos, or even parachute pants. OK, maybe not parachute pants. But everything else is game.
The Low 1 is Oliver Cabell's most popular shoe, and once you have it in your hands you'll know why. Made in Italy from full grain calfskin Italian leather, it boasts a handsome low-profile silhouette and punches well above its weight for its price point.
3. The Trainer
Sometimes you need a shoe that’s easy to slip on and jet out the door. This is the kind of shoe you use to power through the tough days.
Of course, you don’t need to keep these sneaks relegated to the world of errands—paired with some joggers, trainers can be the base of an amazing laid-back casual Saturday outfit, too.
While the category “trainers” can also technically refer to any running or exercise shoes, we’re going to stick to the fashion side of things. Specialized footwear for sports is a whole different game, and not something we’re going to cover here.
These are inspired by 80s-era basketball sneakers, but the full grain Italian leather and Margom soles are a bit refined for the court. These are the kind of sneaks you want to keep clean.
The Everyday Sneaker is the flagship Vessi shoe. They launched this sneaker with their patented Dyna-Tex fabric, which has pores so small that water isn’t able to enter, though heat and moisture are able to escape.
4. The Chukka Boot
Chukka boots are simply designed and can range anywhere from supremely casual to dressy and formal.
When deciding which chukka you’re going to get, take a quick assessment of what your wardrobe needs.
If you work in a business-casual setting, then a more formal, sleek chukka is your best bet.
But if you want comfort over all else, and formality and structure isn’t as important, a desert-campaign-style WWII-era boot like the Clarks Desert Boot or the Crown Northampton Desert Boot is more in order.
The Scandinavians are known for producing hard to pronounce words, but did you know they can make a mean chukka? This boot features a Goodyear welt, with pebbled calf-skin leather from the Du Puy tannery in France. It's an elegant dress boot that also fits in with an upscale business casual outfit.
5. The Loafer
Loafers are the signature slip-on shoes of adulthood.
They’re a solid mix of high-end style, with that low-key desire to have a fun time.
Once the kingpin shoe of the 1950’s, and now, the newest addition to your walk-in.
This suede slip on is constructed in Marche, Italy with Italian suede and lined with calfskin leather. The Arneflex foam insole makes for a supremely comfortable loafer.
Ever tried a pair of suede loafers in the winter? There's something so sophisticated about a richly textured, glove-leather lined shoe when the temperature drops.
And if the penny loafer is a little too simple for you, you can always add a touch of flair with the classic horse bit loafer.
Idrese handmakes their shoes in Spain, and it's hard to find better quality than this. Made with a 360-degree Goodyear welt, these loafers shine with an Italian wide-lapel suit.
Based on Aldo Gucci’s famous design, horse bit loafers add a touch of sophistication and Italian gusto to an otherwise simple design.
6. The Service Boot
Want to look like a tough guy? Of course you do. Service boots are a little old-fashioned looking because they’re based on military boots used by service members (hence the name, service boots).
But just because they’re old-fashioned looking doesn’t mean they’re out of style. Far from it: these types of boots are all the rage right now, and here are the best of the best.
The Thursday Boots Captain is an excellent deal. The leather is similar to Horween's Chromexcel, so it has a subtle shine and plenty of rugged durability. When (if?) these ever wear out, I’ll be picking them up again.
The Red Wing Iron Ranger is built with the heart of America. Not literally, though. These are based on a design from iron miners and they're beefy, tough, rugged and handsome.
7. The Oxford
Oxfords are characterized by their low heel and closed lacing system. And it’s the latter this that gives them that oh-so-peculiar yet classy look.
They come in multiple variations and they’re perfect for office wear, black tie (the less detailed versions), and smart-casual events. The Oxford should be your go-to whenever you need to look respectable.
And their versatility makes them a no-brainer inclusion on this list.
The full leather and cork Goodyear welted construction ensures these will last a long time, and the Chocolate Suede from CF Stead tannery in England ensures they'll look good while doing it.
8. The Dress Boot
Dress boots are a little less common, but when you’ve got a pair in your closet, they can easily help you look like the best-dressed guy in the room at the next wedding you go to. Not that you want to outshine the groom, but you definitely will.
Dress boots add a little more height, keep you in comfort by wrapping your ankles, and often provide more insulation than standard dress shoes.
A Balmoral boot is essentially the boot version of an Oxford. With closed eyelets, this boot is a sleek stunner, and Beckett Simonon is one of the best values you can find on the market today.
Thursday Boot Co's Lace-Up Presidents make a prominent statement about who you are and what you're about. Leather build, rubber sole, they're made from all the right stuff. But they also offer some of the best arch support going. This one snagged our editor’s choice.
Further Reading: How to Lace Boots Like a Pro: 6 Expert Ways
What Did We Learn?
Wearing proper kicks to an occasion slip you into an ironclad sense of confidence. It paints you as a prophet of sensible male style.
If your walk-in doesn’t have at least half-a-dozen pairs of shoes on the rack, it’s probably time to slowly invest in building it out.
Your overall style and ability to be versatile with your wardrobe will dramatically increase with each style of shoes you introduce to your collection.
But the right shoes are just the start.
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Do you think we blanked out on a whole category of shoes? Let us know in the comments. And be sure to follow us on Pinterest to keep track of all of our ideas.