A Guys Guide to Buying Mens Formal Shoes

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A Guy's Guide to Buying Men's Formal Shoes

Whether dressing for work in The City in London, dining at a posh restaurant, or attending an elegant countryside wedding, there is a pair of formal shoes to suit the occasion. It is said that the clothes make the man; however, it is the shoes that draw the most attention in men's fashion. In fact, the wrong pair of formal shoes can ruin the look of a sharp suit. On the other hand, the right pair of formal shoes can make that same suit look even sharper.

Many men struggle with selecting a new pair of formal dress shoes, though. Sometimes it is a matter of not knowing what to look for, while other times it is not knowing what constitutes a good pair of formal shoes. This guide explains the different pieces, methods of assembly, and styles of men’s formal shoes. After reading this information, men should be able to identify quality formal shoes and to buy them from a retailer such as eBay.

Pieces and Assembly

This section breaks down the pieces and assembly processes separately, explaining how the different parts and constructions of men’s formal shoes affect overall quality.


Descriptions of the various pieces that comprise men’s formal shoes follows below. These pieces are: the upper, the lining, the outsole, the insole, the midsole, and the heel.


The upper is the material that covers all parts of the foot except the sole. It can be constructed from a variety of materials, including 100 per cent leather,, composition leather,, synthetic leather,, other synthetic material, rubber,, suede,, faux suede,, or other textiles.. Genuine leather uppers and suede are generally the highest-quality materials used in uppers.


The lining is the inside part of the upper. It may be the same piece of material as the upper or a different piece of material attached to the upper to provide extra insulation for the foot and protection for the upper material.


The outsole is the bottom part of the shoe. This part provides support for the foot and protection against surfaces on which the foot makes contact. The outsole and the upper are attached to one another.


The insole is the inside part of the bottom of the shoe. It cradles the foot to provide support. The insole should take the shape of the foot’s arch to provide maximum support and comfort.


Some men’s formal shoes have a midsole between the insole and the outsole. The midsole provides extra support, protection, and comfort for the sole of the foot.


Many formal shoes have a heel piece that elevates the shoe and provides shock absorption for the heel of the foot. The heel piece may be reinforced with rubber or metal.


This section explains the two main ways that men’s formal shoes are assembled, these being welting and cementing. The assembly process is an important factor in determining the quality of a pair of formal shoes.


A welted formal shoe has a piece of leather, rubber, or plastic, called a welt, stitched to the perimeters of both the upper and the insole. The space that the welt encloses is filled with a material, usually a porous one such as cork, and the outsole then attaches to the welt. The main benefits of a welted construction are easy resoling of the shoe and waterproofing along the bottom of the upper.


A cemented shoe has an outsole that is attached to the insole and the upper using a binding agent such as glue. Filler material is inserted into spaces between the insole and the outsole to even out the footbed of the shoe. This process is less expensive and labour-intensive than welting the shoe together.


Most styles of men’s formal shoes use the pieces and assembly processes described in the previous section. This section details the different formal shoe styles available and additional style considerations pertaining to each type of shoe style.

Formal Shoe Styles

Brief descriptions of the main formal shoe styles follow below. These styles include brogues, Chelsea boots, Chukka boots, derby shoes, loafers, moccasins, and oxford shoes.


A classic men’s formal shoe tracing its roots back to Scotland and Ireland, the brogue style derives its name from the ornamental perforations in its upper. This process of perforating is known as "broguing". Brogues typically feature multiple piece, leather uppers, and they are appropriate for both casual and business dress. The toe pieces may be full, semi-quarter, or longwing and the closure may be oxford, derby, ghillie, or monk.

Chelsea Boots

The defining characteristic of the Chelsea boot is an upper that comes over the ankle and that stretches open using elastic along its sides from just above the welt. The laceless Chelsea boot’s origins date back to the Victorian era, with this style having a resurgence in popularity in the past few years.

Chukka Boots

Like Chelsea boots, Chukka boots are also ankle-length; however, unlike Chelsea boots, Chukka boots lace up rather than slip on. Their uppers are generally either leather or suede.

Derby Shoes

The defining feature of derby shoes is shoelace eyelets that are attached to the outside of panels on single-piece uppers. This style is also called "open-lacing". Derby shoes may also feature broguing, making them both derby and brogue shoes. Originally used as a hunting shoe in the mid-19th century, the derby became more formal in the 20th century.


Loafers,, also called slip-on shoes, are low, laceless shoes. The part of the upper covering the dorsum (top part of the foot when standing) may have small pieces of elastic on the sides to make slipping into the shoes easier and to provide a more secure fit while the shoe is on. Loafers can feature a wide range of design features.


Originally an outdoor shoe for Native Americans, the moccasin has become a style of men’s formal shoes. An outsole is attached to a single piece of leather that wraps around the foot. Moccasins are usually soft and slip onto the foot, though many have panels on the side for lacing or strap that fit the shoe more securely.

Oxford Shoes

Oxford shoes are laced and can be quite similar in appearance to derby shoes, the main difference being that oxford shoes have their lacing eyelets on the inside of the panels on the uppers while derby shoes have their eyelets on the outside. Due to this design, oxford shoes are also called "closed-lacing" shoes. This style became popular around Oxford University in the 19th century and has since spread around the world.

Additional Style Considerations

The styles detailed above can all have other design features that influence the way the shoes look. Toe-shape is one feature that can vary within a certain style of men’s formal shoes. The toe can be round,, square,, or pointed..

Colour is another feature to consider. The clothing with which the shoes are matched influences which colour the shoes should be. Black shoes look best with dark grey and black suits and slacks, while brown shoes are preferable with blue suits, tan slacks, and khaki pants. Other colour options, such as white and red can draw attention to the shoes, which some men prefer.


The fit of a shoe is of paramount importance to comfort. If a buyer is unsure of his shoe size, he can measure his foot from the end of the big toe to the centre of the back of the heel. He can then compare those measurements with the sizes in the table below.

UK Size

Foot Length (centimetres)







































The measurements above are an approximation. There are variations as to how manufacturers size their models of formal shoes, so it is best to ask the seller whether or not a particular model fits true to size. Formal shoes can also offer different widths, including narrow, medium, and wide. It is therefore also advisable to measure the widest part of the foot and ask the seller which width option for a particular model will fit.

How to Buy Men’s Formal Shoes on eBay

It is possible to buy men’s formal shoes in shoe stores, department stores, and from online shoe retailers. Those that prefer to shop online can check eBay.. The site has an extensive selection of men’s formal shoes and it is easy to search the site to find the ones you are looking for. To search eBay, go to the site’s home page, enter the term "mens formal shoes&" into the search bar, and click the Search button. You will get a listing of all of the men’s formal shoes for sale on eBay. You can also perform more refined searches by adding a style name to the tail of your search, for example "men's oxford shoes&". Additionally, you can add a colour, such as black, and a toe style, such as pointed, to the search term in order to further refine the results. In this case, the term would be "men's oxford shoes pointed black&". You can then filter the results for your shoe size. Using search terms, you should be able to find the men’s formal shoes you are looking for on eBay.


There are many occasions that call for formal dress, and many men therefore have at least one pair of formal shoes in their wardrobes. Like any other shoes, formal shoes experience wear and tear and must eventually be replaced. Men may also find themselves in new formal situations for which they need new formal shoes. The process of buying new formal shoes can be challenging due to the various options that exist, so this guide has presented information about the parts, assembly processes, and styles of formal shoes in order to help men decide which shoes suit them best. There are numerous considerations that go into buying a pair of men’s formal shoes and this guide has addressed the most important of these. Among the numerous shoe retailers out there, eBay provides a very large selection of these shoes and this guide has therefore provided advice about how to navigate the site in order for a buyer to find the perfect pair of men’s dress shoes.

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