Styling With Black Dress Shoes

There was a time when all work shoes seemed to be black.  Black dress shoes were the dominant style in the office. Just think Don Draper and 'Mad Men'. Times have changed and most workplaces now showcase a variety of shoe styles and colours. But what if your workplace still requires a traditional formal look?  Or, like many people, you think black is still the most stylish colour.

Black wholecut oxford dress shoes
Photo: Thomas Bird Black wholecuts with navy blue suit and jacket and trousers by @m_hoye

Thomas Bird currently offers a choice of eight different black mens formal shoes, and they are all still very much in demand.   In fact we added a couple of new options only recently.

So which is right for you?  So let's look at and compare the different options.

Black wholecut, oxford and monk strap
Photo: Black wholecut, cap toe oxford and double buckle monk strap.

The first on our list, shown on the left in the photo above is the black wholecut.   This is an oxford and is therefore normally seen as a formal, dress shoe.   But being a wholecut oxford, made from a single piece of leather, gives it an edge of quality and class.   Its sleek lines and the absence of stitched seams gives the black wholecut a special quality that other shoe lovers will appreciate.  The wholecut can even crossover to very dressy events such as black tie.

Next up is the black cap toe oxford, seen in the centre of the photo. This oxford is a true style classic, gracing board rooms for years.   This style, named Harrow, fits right into any formal situation.  However the design is slightly European, with discrete punching and classic Italian lines set it apart from some other traditional oxfords.

Next is the black monk strap.  This double buckle shoe is perfect if you want a black shoe, but also want to show off a little gleam and buckle.  The monk strap is a little more daring and shows the wearer as an individual, standing out a little even in formal environments.  Black monk straps can bring a touch of fun and adventure into the workplace. 

Black monkstraps
Photo: Thomas Bird black monkstraps with navy blue suit worn by @the_classy_lad

Next on our list is the black punch toe wholecut.  This is seen on the left in the photo below.  We've already looked at the black wholecut above.  It's sleek, class and minimalist.  With the Ellington style we added a little decoration, some punched medallion detailing on the toe.  It's subtle but just adds that touch of interest like you may find on a brogue.

Talking of brogues, the next shoe is a black wingtip derby brogue.  We're getting more informal here. The derby open lacings make it more informal and less dressy than the oxfords on our list.  Wingtips and brogue detailing add to this.  However being black, they will still fit right into most traditional work environments.   And they can double up as a less formal shoe after hours.  If you find oxfords a little tight across the lacing/instep, you should find the derby more comfortable.

Photo: Black punch toe wholecut, wingtip derby brogue and penny loafer.

The last style, on the right in the photo above, is the black penny loafer.   These are a staple in many boardrooms, specially in the US where the penny loafer was born.  Our version is again more sleek and Italian in look, less rounded.  We think this makes them more dressy too.  Being black they fit right in.  Many people love the slip on loafer design and more relaxed attitude associated with the loafer.  You can dress them down too with chinos and a sweater, so they are a very versatile shoe.

We have one other wingtip derby brogue called Ashbourne.  This is similar to Madison shown in the photo above, but the detailing is slightly different.

One final style worth a mention is the black derby/blucher.  It has the look and shape of the wholecut, but with open lacing has a slightly more relaxed look.  And like with the wingtip derby, it may suit you better if you have a slightly higher instep and you find oxfords a little tight across the laces.

So if you are looking for black dress shoes, you actually have quite a choice.  We have eight options depending on your preference and how formal you want to go.  As a reminder, the styles we looked at, with links, are:

Benson Black - wholecut oxford

Harrow Black - cap toe oxford

Bourne Black - monk strap

Ellington Black - medallion punch toe wholecut

Madison Black - wingtip derby brogue

Hampton Black - penny loafer

Ashbourne Black - wingtip derby brogue

Buckingham Black - derby/blucher

Or you can browse our whole black dress shoe collection.

Thanks for reading. We hope you enjoyed it.

If you have any comments please let us know below.

All the best till next time,

Thomas Bird

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And you can see lots more photos of our shoes and boots being worn on: