Before you invest in a pair of dress shoes, it may be worth your while to know about the attributes that define a good dress shoe.
It is important to understand that dress shoes need not be expensive in order to be good or to possess the features that one looks for in dress shoes. Once you’ve bought a good pair of dress shoes, you can expect it to last for years.
Attributes of Good Dress Shoes
Type of Leather
More often than not, a dress shoe will be made of leather. Full-grain leather shoes are prized for their appearance. The grain on the leather is not altered by processing. These shoes acquire a character as they age; this is achieved through a shiny patina that the leather acquires with time. Full grain leather is taken from the top layer of the hide, and is very strong and durable. Shoes made with full grain leather last long, is great to look at, and because the leather is untreated the material retains its breathability. Corrected leather is more commonly used for shoes, including dress shoes because it’s cheaper. As compared to full grain leather, this leather has little character in terms of depth of color and texture. Full grain leather dress shoes are advertised as such. Corrected grain leather shoes may be presented as having genuine leather.
Good dress shoes have soles made of leather, and these are at least a quarter of an inch thick. Glued soles are a no-no. For the classy and dressy look that you want from dress shoes, select shoes with soles neatly stitched to the upper body. Soles stitched can be restitched, adding to the life of the dress shoe.
There are two types of stitches, Goodyear welting and Blake stitching. Of these, the former is considered as the superior stitch. With Goodyear welting, the stitch sits on a welt that runs across the entire edge of the shoe. This is a durable stitch with admirable waterproofing properties because the stitching is outside the shoe. The strip of leather or welt that sits between the sole and the upper provides additional support to the wearer. These shoes are easily resoled. A good pair of dress shoes with the soles worn out need not be discarded. With this stitch, there are impressive savings in money. A full grain leather shoe that you’ve grown to love will continue to adorn your wardrobe with resoling done by a cobbler.
Blake stitching is easier to execute but does not quite offer the same benefits as Goodyear welting. The stitch goes through the upper folded into the insole and then through the sole. The stitching is on the inside of the shoe. Dress shoes featuring a Blake stitch appear sleek and are more forgiving on the feet because of their enhanced flexibility. However, resoling these shoes is complicated.
Check Dress Shoes for These Design Attributes
The shoes must have a rigid heel structure; i.e., there must be no give sideways when you’re walking. This is of particular relevance for women’s shoes because these can have a very slim profile and also heels. These combine to make locomotion a trifle tricky, and if the heels do not hold firm, then there’s a risk of injury.
Dress shoes must exhibit a small degree of sideways flex or torsion, even when brand new. You can check for this by twisting the shoe. If it yields a bit, that’s a good sign.
The shoes must bend at the toes; this is the natural point of flex that occurs when we walk.
Dress shoes do not normally provide cushion or sufficient arch support. You should check the shoes for these two attributes. The way around this issue is to buy removable arch support. Ensure that you can slip in the arch supports without resulting in slippage at the heels.
The shoes must feel comfortable and give you the feeling that breaking into them won’t be a long and painful process. The toes must not feel trapped or curled. When trying out shoes, it’s a good idea to trim toenails so that you can get as accurate an idea of the fit as possible.
In order to correctly assess the compatibility of shoes with your feet, you may want to first ascertain if there are any attributes that are of particular value to you, for example, stability is an issue with people having pronated or flat feet. Similarly, people with foot pain need shoes that provide additional cushioning. These are situations where certain dress shoe requirements acquire additional significance.
Features of Dress Shoes for Women
While there are general requirements in terms of sturdiness and elegant appeal that dress shoes are expected to fulfill, it is worth knowing that shoe styles need to fulfill certain features to a greater or lesser degree depending on design, choice of material, and intended use.
Evening Wear Shoes – This is a broad category and includes dress shoes such as ankle straps, flats, and pumps. There are a few requirements that good evening wear dress shoes must fulfill. These shows are characterized by brooches, pearls, and such ornamentation while eschewing zippers and large baubles that are associated with casual footwear. Velvet, suede, satin, and leather are commonly used materials for these shoes. It is worth noting that satin and velvet are not materials that you’d normally associate with dress shoes for office wear.
Women’s Loafers – Loafers for women best fulfill their role when they sport a single solid color – brown, black, blue, pink – instead of multiple shades. Technological advances in materials mean that today you can buy loafers with insoles made of moisture-wicking materials. If you plan on wearing loafers without socks, then this is a requirement worth considering. Since loafers do not wrap around the ankles, a correct fit is important to prevent the shoes from chafing at the ankles.