First of all, if you're buying dress shoes, you'll want them in one of two colors - brown or black. Brown goes with nearly every color of suit (except black), but most men only own one suit - a black one. So, know what suits you most often wear before choosing a shoe color. Once you know what color to get, you start to browse for shoes themselves. There are a ton of different styles and options, but I always advise to go with the most traditional and modest option because you want to get the most use out of your purchase (and weird styles are hard to match.)
When looking at shoes, look the following things (thanks to http://www.kinowear.com/a-simple-guide-on-dress-shoes/ for these tips.) -
- Your shoes should be made of real leather and have leather soles as well. (If you buy quality leather shoes, they can be refurbished a number of times and will last forever, which is ultimately going to be less expensive than having to replace poorly made shoes every few months.)
- The soles of well-made shoes will be stitched, not glued, to the bottom of the shoes.
- The lining in better shoes is made of high-quality calfskin or natural leather, not synthetic materials.
- Finally, check out the stitching. It should be neat and should be barely noticeable.
- Shop after you have been out and about a bit, since feet do swell. This way you will get the most realistic measurement.
- Shop only at a store that uses a Brannock foot measuring device for determining your exact foot size.
- Almost everyone has one foot larger than the other, usually it is the right foot; fit the shoes to the larger right foot. Do not rely solely on the size you have always worn. Different makes can vary significantly from each other, even though the numeric size is the same. Always try them both on, walk around in them, and buy them by how they feel on your feet – not just by the size.
- Allow a half-inch between the tips of your toes and your shoes. If the toes of the shoes are pointed, be certain there is enough room for your toes to move comfortably. Shoes should never be tight over the instep of ball of the foot. You should be able to stick your index finger in the back for wiggle room.
- When considering an oxford-style shoe, you should not be able to tie the laces so tightly that the two edges of the shoe meet. If you can, then a narrower size is probably better for you.
- Buy leather shoes. Though more expensive, because it is porous, leather is the best for the health and comfort of your feet. In leather shoes the foot can breathe, discouraging the build-up of bacteria.
- Shoes should fit from the moment you try them on. Do not accept the salesperson’s, “Once you break them in they will be fine.” The man-made materials used today do not stretch significantly, but leather adapts to your foot shape quite well.
- When shopping, wear the same type of sock you will use with the dress or sports shoes. Too heavy or too thin socks will distort the fit.
As an aside, getting your shoes repaired is a great way to keep your favorite shoes going longer. Remember, leather forms to your foot, so a good pair of well-fitting leather shoes is worth way more to you once repaired than a new set of kicks. Check out this neat video which shoes how shoes are repaired.
While a good pair of shoes may be more expensive in the short run, in the long run you'll be happier, as they will last longer, fit better, and be more cost effective.
Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony