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The Seven Types of Dress Shoes You Should Own

From oxfords to monk straps, loafers to mules, these shoes are the epitome of formal attire.

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Long a product of the highest craftsmanship and design, shoes are your connection to the ground and a sign that you care about the small details (or you don’t). If you invest in a quality pair and take good care of them — by cleaning, polishing and storing them on a cedar tree — they’ll last for years, with the occasional repair.

While there are strict guidelines in some circles as to what qualifies as formal footwear, we take a more holistic approach: if they look good and you like wearing them, well, then wear them. But it's best to start your search for your next dress shoe by type — beginning with the pillars and making your way out toward something more statement-making with time. Be practical: Try an Oxford or Brogue off the bat, but set your sights on a loafer or mule next. We've made the work of finding all of these easy, though. Find three options for every type of dress shoe — Oxfords, Brogues, Bluchers, Derbies, Loafers, Mules and Monk Straps — below.

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Oxfords
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The oxford is characterized by lace eyelets that are attached below the vamp, as opposed to open flaps as with the derby. This leads to a closed seam above the tongue, and a sharp, neat look.

Bastion Oxford
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Viberg

An all-black Oxford that works as well with jeans as it does a black suit.

Everyday Oxford
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Nisolo

Nisolo's Everyday Oxford combines tonal uppers with a tonal sole.

Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxford
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Allen Edmonds

The Park Avenue Oxford is a classic — and for good reason. Can't you tell?

Derbies
derbies
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Unlike the oxford, the derby has an open-lace construction. The eyelets are sewn on top of the vamp for a slightly bulkier, looser look.

Wedge Sole Derby
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Tezo

Tezo's Derby isn't super wild, but it does have a wedge sole, which makes it stand it in a sea of similar dress shoes.

Dunham Derbies
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Beckett Simonon

Pebbled leather has a polished appearance but also lots of texture — a two-for-one, in my opinion.

Michael Derby Shoes
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Paraboot

Not your usual derbies, Paraboot does its with a unique toe and a higher, tighter lace construction. 

Brogues
brogues
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Decorative and elaborate meets sturdy and traditional with the brogue. It’s primarily characterized by its low heel and multi-piece construction, which gives it a layered and detailed look. The perforations may not work to drain water on a stomp across the marsh as they were originally intended, but they will certainly catch the eye.

Bourton Brogue Derby
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Tricker's

When I think of Brogues, these by Tricker's come to mind: classic, simple and made from soft (yet sturdy) suede.

Archie Brogue
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Grenson

Grenson gives its Archie Brogue an elevated lug sole.

Suede Brogues
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Brunello Cucinelli

This shade of suede will match any suit: brown, blue, patterned tweed, textured cord; your call.

Loafers
loafers
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Characterized by its simple laceless design, the loafer comes in many styles, from the slitted penny to the tasseled tongued slipper.

Mason Horse Bit Loafer
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Blackstock & Weber

From Blackstock & Weber's FW21 collection, these two-tone Horse Bit Loafers are traditional luxury with contemporary flair.

New Townee Loafer
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Vinny's

Sleek and simple, these loafers from upstart brand Vinny's aren't too stiff to seem cool.

Terre Calf Slipper
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Viberg

Viberg calls this a slipper, but it counts as a loafer in my eyes. 

Bluchers
blucher
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Named after a late-18th-century Prussian field marshal general who commissioned the first boot of this style for his troops, the blucher is fit for war. Or, more appropriately, a business-casual event. Don’t confuse it with the more formal oxford, which has a closed connection between the vamp and laces.

Longwing Bluchers
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Alden

Orangish-brown Longwing Bluchers from Alden, available only at J.Crew.

Plain Toe Blucher
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Grant Stone

The Plain Toe Blucher from Grant Stone gives you the look of an Oxford without the bulk.

Unlined Bluchers
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Alden

These Alden Bluchers come unlined, meaning they'll lighter, more flexible and more breathable in warmer settings.

Monk Strap
monk
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Fear not the broken lace. The distinctive strap replaces the laces on these newly back-in-style shoes. Like the buttons on the suit jacket you’ll wear with them, the monk shoe comes in one- and two-buckle styles.

William Shoes
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John Lobb

Rich, chocolate brown double monk strap shoes by John Lobb. Say that six times fast.

Detroit Double Monk Strap Shoes
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Church's

These squeaky clean dress shoes by Church's will make a statement with a matte suit and pair super well with a tuxedo.

Double Monk Loafers
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Santoni

Santoni fuses two types of footwear here: loafers and double monk strap dress shoes. The result is an interesting, incredibly sophisticated hybrid.

Mules
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Mules are having a moment. The slipper-like style was born from the habit of crushing the heel of your shoe, whether because it made them easier to take on and off or they gave you blisters. But it's been around, and especially so since Gucci launched its fur-lined slipper in 2015. Brands nowadays are adding bigger, more durable soles to their mules, making them something you can wear all day without fear you'll burn through the outsole.

Ellis Mule
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Blackstock & Weber

The Ellis pays homage to our collective bad habit. You can wear it with the heel down or up, and I found even after a few up-downs it still held its shape. 

Gancini Slipper
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Ferragamo

These Ferragamo slippers have a significant sole, even though the shoe as a whole is rather understated.

Dublin Mule
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Viberg

Viberg gives its Dublin Mule as a boot-like tread and a sturdy, all-leather upper. 

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