What are they really? And is there is specific guideline to make sure that your shoes are ‘dressed up’ enough?
Well, this may differ for men and woman, or at least would traditionally, but in the traditional (and very British) sense, a dress shoe is the type of footwear that would be worn to a black-tie ball or similar formal event.
For men, this would translate as a highly polished black leather or velvet derby or patent plain-toe oxford or even a black velvet slipper (the formal slipper, not home slipper of course!). For women, there isn’t as much of a strict guide, but this would translate into an elegant shoe, high heel or flat, that would commonly depend on the type of venue.
In the increasingly more casual world (and more American sense too), dress shoes are often categorized as shoes worn with smart-casual or formal attire. This would encompass most footwear that is not a sneaker, boot or open shoe for men (like a sandal).
In today’s world, where we are more occupied by self-expression and personal taste, we are much less occupied with labeling, and more inclined to select the items we choose to style and wear based on personal preference. That’s not to say I encourage sneakers at a black-tie ball (for men or women), but rather that a certain level of respect to razzle dazzle at a formal event is something special that we should enjoy.
So, with the aim to give a concise overview on different types of dress shoes, I thought it would be a good idea to mix it up and give ideas for both classic and atypical options.
Here is what I would identify as the Top Dress Shoes for Women:
High heel strappy sandal
In my opinion, a high heeled-strappy sandal is the sexiest shoe you can go with. They elongate the leg and can be as bare or dazzled up as you want them to be. Options are limitless in terms of heel height, colour, material and style. They also look great with both long gowns or shorter dresses. The only drawback is that they would not be a year-round option.
My favorite is the exquisite Anna sandal. Fun and comfortable (thanks to the way they hold your foot and to the extra soft insole cushioning), these are definitely the dress shoe to take out on a night you expect to do a lot of late-night dancing!
High heel closed-toe pump
A high heel pump is another option that is great for those legs! This is mostly thanks to the low-vamp on the front of the shoe that creates an opening that will elongate the leg (just like the open sandal). The various options for heel height and heel thickness allows for different comfort levels.
A more formal toe shape is the pointed-toe, but round or almond shapes can also look great and can be worn year-round. A black patent pointy-pump is perhaps the most versatile shoe you can own (not be the most daring or fun though).
A classic yet more daring option is the gorgeous (and custom) 'the Practical Bride' pump that was created under the Souls by Rana Cheikha Label. These are a fun yet elegant combination take on the Mary Jane and T-strap created with a 9-inch heel and platform with a beautiful white calfskin and silver laser-cut two-tone upper.
The ever so chic ballet flat, is a classic and limitless shoe that can be worn dressy when in lux materials. The ballet flat was popularized by the iconic Brigitte Bardot (trained as a classic ballet dancer) who wanted a pair of flats that were as flexible as the ballet shoe, but softer and more comfortable for her daily wear. They are quite versatile as even when made is luxurious materials like exotics or velvets, can still can be worn throughout the day or evening as a good dress shoe.
The flat t-strap can be considered as a more atypical dress shoe, and an interesting upgrade from the ballet flat. It too shows off the legs and is a great option for a night out dancing since they hold the foot well - the reason why they became especially popular in the 1930s. Although not as commonly found as the ballet flat, they can also be made in an array of colours, materials and heel heights. The Dinieh T-strap is a great example of a fun dress shoe that can be worn throughout the seasons.
You can easily find a great deal of dress shoe options in an array of colours, materials and heel heights, the challenge is to find the right one for you. I would recommend investing in a pair that are true to your style and that will remain relevant in your closet for many years (and outfits) to come.
After all, even for women, a beautiful leather brogue in a patent black might look absolutely fabulous with a cocktail dress. At the end of the day, for you to enjoy your event or party, it is important that you are comfortable in your shoes and that your feet are kept happy – how else will you dance the night away without a care in the world?
Signing-off: Rana Cheikha for The Shoe Advisor