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If you can have just 5 pairs of shoes, what will they be?

woman standing near man on beige tiled floor

Here is a great resource for guys who are just beginning out and trying to decide if they want to buy a pair of versatile brown loafers or a more interesting navy wholecut. It’s interesting that men who have been purchasing clothes for many years are finding it fascinating – as they may not have filled all the useful gaps in their wardrobe. Most likely, they’ve been attracted to the same wholecuts or a snuff suede polo boot at one time.

This post will focus on shoes and smart shoes.

These capsule collections are applicable to most men. However, you won’t need the exact same clothes if your job is casual. This is why we split our casual-suits and business-suits collections.

These are some suggestions for someone who works in an intelligent environment. You can adjust the number of shoes you need depending on your needs. You’ll probably need two pairs of black Oxfords if you wear a suit three or four days out of five.

1. The black cap-toe oxford

A black shoe is necessary if you want to appear smart. A cap-toe oxford will cover the most bases. An oxford is the most elegant type of lacing (see the sliding scale for formality on shoes here), and black is the best colour.

The cap-toe makeup is halfway between a full cut, with nothing interfering with the leather expanse, and something more elaborate like a wingtip or brogue. The cap toe looks great with any black tie and is not too flashy.

2. The dark-brown oxford

Even though everyone in a professional office should have a black shoe to go with their work, some people might prefer a dark-brown shoe. I have always had this kind of shoe. It is dark-brown, not black, so it can be worn with almost any suit.

The shoe is also half-brogue (so there’s still some broguing/holes but not as much than a wingtip shoe), which makes it more casual and distinguishes it from the black one in another way.

3. Loafer in brown suede

This shoe is considered to be the most versatile on the entire list. Brown-suede loafers are too casual for most business suits. However, they look great with casual suits. You can wear it with any combination of separate jackets and trousers. It can be worn with chinos, a shirt or even dark denim.

It’s not appropriate to wear with a navy two-piece with a tie and white shirt. They are not smart enough. They’re a good shoe to have in your desk drawer, because they’ll be useful for all other things.

4. The black loafer

Two loafers should be in the top five. A loafer is casual, but not as casual as an oxford or slim derby. Most colleagues won’t think that a black loafer looks bad with a smart suit. Style is secondary to colour and texture.

If you have a lot of suits to wear, then loafers would be your second choice of black shoes. These shoes will look better with smart trousers and a white shirt.

You don’t need to wear smart suits as often, so you can opt for a pair dark-brown leather loafers.

5. The brown suede chukka boot

Except for those who still have a Friday dress-down or an equivalent, this is not a shoe that you would wear in a smart office. This shoe is not suitable for wearing with suits. It’s also perfect paired with a pair flannels or a tweed jacket. It can also be worn with almost any outfit on the weekends. It looks great with jeans and an Oxford shirt.

Brown suede is the best color, even if you’re wearing brown-suede jackets or blousons. Brown is very useful. The second pair can either be tan, or dark olive.

Once you’ve found the right style and colour for your lifestyle, then I recommend looking into more adventurous styles and colours, such as monk straps or tan leather.

Although unusual shoes can be very appealing, it’s easier to wear the exact same shoes every day than the same jacket every single day. It’s also more fun to experiment with different colours of tailoring than I do with shoes.

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