10 Best Formal Shoes Reviewed

When going to a significant event or any kind of fancy affair, a regular shoe just won’t cut it. You will need formal type shoes to meet the necessary style. You’ll benefit from style features such as rhinestone strapping, blind eyelet lacing, and/or derby lacing in these options. In addition to these possible features, you’ll find footwear with classic leather looks as well.

Best Formal Shoes-man tying formal shoe

Beyond style, you’ll want to be able to find a little comfort in your formal shoes too. While these type of footwear aren’t generally known for having the most comfort, you’ll still find features in them that give you adequate comfort in your walks such as memory foam insoles and EVA heel cups. Another comfort feature you might also find in these options is the trampoline cushioning system.

Last Updated: September 12, 2017
By Daniel Gonzalez:

This page has been updated with the top 10 formal shoes of 2017. The best features and the cost and value are discussed with each of the shoes. In addition our featured recommendations are given, two of which being our editor’s choice and our best value shoe.

Featured Recommendations

Bostonian Wendell
  • Bostonian Wendell
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • superb comfort
  • Price: See Here
Rockport Essential
  • Rockport Essential
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • HydroShield waterproof
  • Price: See Here
Stacy Adams Dwight
  • Stacy Adams Dwight
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • memory foam insole
  • Price: See Here

Additional benefits you can expect to enjoy in formal footwear are traction and breathability. PVC outsoles are featured in some of these options, and you’ll also find perforated leather linings featured as well. All of these features combined in these formal shoes mean you’ll be getting a great option to keep you looking and feeling good all night when you go to your formal event.

 

10 Best Formal Shoes

 

1. Bostonian Wendell

The Bostonian Wendell is a formal shoe that has a great shoe shine to it you can get when you polish it. It also has a good looking taylor stitched detailing. The Bostonian Wendell features a textile lining and a PU foam footbed. These formal footwear also feature a nylon shank and an EVA outsole as well. It’s a light shoe weighing only 9 ounces.
Expand to see more
Textile Lining
The textile lining feature in the Bostonian Wendell helps to move away moisture from your feet.This keeps your feet dry of any sweat and cool for your long periods standing in these shoes.

Nylon Shank
The nylon shank in the Bostonian Wendell is designed to give you more stability in your shoe. This allows you to have an easier and natural walking motion in your step.

Cost and Value
The Bostonian Wendell is very cheap compared to the other formal shoes shown on this list. For all the unique features at low price, this would be a great bargain.
Pros

Textile lining

Nylon shank

PU foam footbed

EVA outsole

Cons

Leather creases a lot

Narrow arch

2. Rockport Essential

The Rockport Essential has a nice simplistic design and it’s unique in having the option of getting it in the color of cordovan. These formal footwear feature a leather upper and a cushioned footbed. The Rockport Essential also features a hydro-shield construction and a rubber sole. In addition these shoes are available in wide-widths and it has an EVA insole.
Expand to see more
Hydro-shield Construction
The Hydro-shield construction is designed to repel water not just outside of the shoe but inside of the shoe as well helping to keep your feet dry in wet conditions.

Wide-widths
A lof of formal shoes can be very tight at the sides of your feet. With these shoes being available wide-widths, you’ll be able to have a little more comfort walking in them.

Cost and Value
The Rockport Essential are more on the expensive side of shoes on this list. The waterproof ability of these formal footwear definitely make these worthy of a consideration for purchase.
Pros

Hydro-shield construction

Wide-widths

EVA insole

Rubber sole

Cons

Can squeak at times

Laces get untied easily

3. Ecco Helsinki

The ECCO Helsinki is a smooth leather shoe that has something unique if you opt for the cocoa brown option. That particular color option has a distressed finish making each particular pair slightly different from another. These shoes feature a twin goring tongue and a contoured heel cushion. The ECCO Helsinki also features bicycle toe stitching and a squared toe.
Expand to see more
Twin Goring Tongue
Formal shoes can be tight at the top of your feet at times. The twin goring tongue gives more flexibility in your shoe for a less tight fit on your feet.

Contoured Heel Cushion
Contoured basically means the design of the heel cushion is designed to mold to your feet. This helps to give you maximum shock absorption for long-term comfort wearing these shoes.

Cost and Value
The ECCO Helsinki are a little more expensive compared to the other footwear highlighted on this list. Nonetheless, the quality definitely lives up to the price, so it’s worth a consideration.
Pros
  • Twin goring tongue
  • Contoured heel cushion
  • Bicycle toe stitching
  • Squared toe
Cons
  • Leather can wrinkle easily
  • Discoloration in wrinkled spots

4. Johnson & Murphy Melton

4. Johnson & Murphy Melton
If you like a shoe that has that nice shine to it, you’ll love the Johnson & Murphy Melton. The calf uppers of these shoes are hand polished for that bright look. This formal footwear feature an optima cushion system and full leather lined insole. Additionally, the Johnson & Murphy Melton has a goodyear welt construction, curved instep, resoleable outsole, and a rubber heel.
Expand to see more
Full Leather Lined Insole
The full leather lining insole in these formal footwear benefit you by keeping your feet cool with it’s perforations. This allows for moisture reduction and also increased breathability in your shoe.

Goodyear Welt Construction
The goodyear welt construction is a unique feature in that it helps the leather to mold to the shape of your foot over time. This makes for a more customized fit to your feet.

Cost and Value
The Johnson & Murphy Melton are average priced in comparison with the other shoes. The hand polished shine on this shoe alone makes this shoe a worthy option for a potential purchase.
Pros
  • Full leather lined insole
  • Goodyear welt construction
  • Curved instep
  • Rubber heel
Cons
  • Heel wears down quick
  • Leather is stiff

5. Calvin Klein Brodie

5. Calvin Klein Brodie
If you’re desiring to have a traditional black formal shoe, the Calvin Klein Brodie would be a good option to consider. It has a leather design with a two piece tailoring. These shoes feature a lace-up closure with blind eyelets and an epi leather upper. In addition, this formal footwear also features a man-made sole and a round toe as well.
Expand to see more
EPI Leather Upper
The great thing about the EPI Leather Upper feature is that it gives more durability to the top of your shoe in order to better withstand any potential wear and tear.

Padded Footbed
The padded footbed feature in the Calvin Klein Brodie helps to give you a softer feel on your feet that will make wearing and walking in these formal shoes more comfortable.

Cost and Value
The Calvin Klein Brodie is about average priced compared to the other shoes on this list. For your more traditional formal formal footwear look, this would be a suitable option.
Pros

EPI  leather upper

Padded footbed

Man-made sole

Blind eyelets

Cons

Tight in the back

Heel wears down easily

6. Dr. Martens Saxon 3989

6. Dr. Martens Saxon 3989
The first thing that’s probably noticed with the Dr. Martens Saxon 3989 is the detailed design that looks very well crafted. In addition it has nice stitching as well. The Dr. Martens Saxon 3989 features a synthetic sole, a cushioned footbed, and goodyear welt construction. It also features a PVC outsole, five eye lacing, and a leather collar and tongue.
Expand to see more
PVC Outsole
The PVC Outsole gives these shoes an extra cushioning at the bottom for added comfort and flexibility. This will allow you to stand and walk for longer periods of time.

Leather Collar and Tongue
The leather collar and tongue is foam padded, and we all know how soft foam can be in. this feature in these formal footwear will give you good comfort on your ankle.

Cost and Value
The Dr Martens Saxon 3989 are around the average of pricing on this list. The crafty design and the broad cushioning make for a nice combination of style and comfort that’d be a good purchase.
Pros
  • PVC outsole
  • Leather collar and tongue
  • Five eye lacing
  • Synthetic sole
Cons
  • Sole splits over time
  • Little arch support

7. Dockers Edson

7. Dockers Edson
The Dockers Edson gives you the luxury of having a formal footwear that you can just slip onto your feet without having to spend any time tying them on. These shoes feature a dual side goring, a bike toe, and an antimicrobial lining. The Dockers Edson also features a man-made outsole, memory foam insole. In addition to these features, it has a leather upper as well.
Expand to see more
Dual Elastic Goring
Formal shoes can be hard and sometimes painful to push your feet into. The dual elastic goring gives more flexibility to these shoes making it easier to slip your feet in and out of them.

Antimicrobial Lining
The antimicrobial lining is a great feature because it provides breathability to the shoes helping to keep your feet dry. They also are able to keep your Dockers Edson’s odor free too.

Cost and Value
The Dockers Edson are very low-priced on in comparison with the other formal footwear. The easiness of being able to put on these formal shoes and be on the go makes this worth purchasing.
Pros

Dual elastic goring

Antimicrobial lining

Memory foam insole

Man-made outsole

Cons

Very loose fit

Soles wear out fast

8. Stacy Adams Dwight

8. Stacy Adams Dwight
For more of a modest formal shoe to wear for formal settings, the Stacy Adams Dwight might be the shoe for you. It has a very simple looking detailing on the outside. The Stacy Adams Dwight features a perforated trim and a blind-eyelet lacing. It also has leather uppers and linings, and a non-leather sole. In addition to these features, these shoes have a memory foam insole and a low stacked heel.
Expand to see more
Memory Foam Insole
The memory foam insole is an excellent feature in this shoe because it molds to the shape of your foot, providing you maximum softness and comfort to your feet.

Perforated Trim
Being on your feet long in formal shoes can open the door for sweaty feet. The perforated trim allows for more air to get into your shoe to keep your feet cool and dry.

Cost and Value
The Stacy Adams Dwight is a pretty Iow priced shoe in comparison to the rest of the options on this list. It’s combination of breathability and comfort make it worth option to consider.
Pros
  • Memory foam insole
  • Perforated trim
  • Blind-eyelet lacing
  • Non-leather sole
Cons
  • Heel wears down quick
  • Tight toebox

9. Calvin Klein Bram

9. Calvin Klein Bram
The Calvin Klein Bram has a good looking textured design in the middle of the shoe while the rest of the shoe has a leather look. These shoes feature a lace-up construction, a cap toe, and a leather lining. The Calvin Klein Bram also features a lightly padded footbed, a stacked heel, and a rubber sole. It’s also a very light shoe weighing only 1 pound and 5 ounces.
Expand to see more
Padded Footbed
Formal shoes can be hard and uncomfortable at times. The padded footbed feature gives you some cushioning in your Calvin Klein Bram giving you the comfort you want in your formal footwear.

Rubber Sole
The rubber sole feature in the Calvin Klein Bram gives added traction to your formal footwear. It will keep your feet from slipping or sliding much on dry or wet surfaces.

Cost and Value
The Calvin Klein Bram are averaged priced with the other footwear options on this list. With it’s unique textured design, it’d be a nice shoe to potentially purchase that would impress family and friends alike.
Pros
  • Padded footbed
  • Rubber sole
  • Lace-up construction
  • Leather lining
Cons

 

  • Soles not as durable

  • Fit might be too tight

10. Anthony Veer Clinton

10. Anthony Veer Clinton
The Anthony Veer Clinton is made with some high quality material with it’s handcrafted full-grain calfskin upper leather. You can also get these in suede as well if that’s your preference. The Anthony Veer Clinton features a goodyear welt construction and a re-craftable outsole. It also features a leather lined insole and waxed laces. In addition, it has a leather sole.
Expand to see more
Recraftable Leather Outsole
The leather outsole on these shoes have a good grip and give these shoes durability. In the event that they’re worn out or damaged they’re also recraftable, so you won’t have to buy a new pair.

Leather Lined Insole
The leather lined insole in the Anthony Veer Clinton helps to keep your feet dry by absorbing the moisture inside. This helps for their to be more breathability in your shoe.

Cost and Value
Due to the high quality of the material used to make these shoes, these are more expensive than the other shoes on this list. It’s a good shoe to consider if you’re in the mood to indulge yourself.
Pros
  • Recraftable leather outsole
  • Leather lined insole
  • Goodyear welt construction
  • Waxed laces
Cons
  • Narrow fit
  • Difficult finding right size

You have to be ready to dress to impress when it comes time for you to attend formal events such as weddings or business gatherings. Formal shoes will give you just the right amount of style you need to blend in the environment perfectly. There are a variety of style features you can go for handmade calfskin leather to shoes that’ll sparkle the night away with rhinestone straps. In addition to style, you can still have the added benefit of comfort in your formal footwear as well.

We’ve seen these options come with comfort features such as padded footbeds, EVA heel cups and leather on the collar and tongue. The cushioning apart of these features will help ensure that you won’t have to be dealing with discomfort throughout the time you’re wearing formal footwear. You can also have the luxury of having breathability features like perforated trims and traction features like PVC outsoles. All of these features together give you plenty of reasons to potentially add one of these formal shoes to your footwear collection.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Formal Shoes

 

Comfort/EVA Heel Cup/Memory Foam Insole

Formal shoes can be tight and hard on the feet a lot of times as they’re more designed to look good than necessarily feel good. Finding comfort features in your formal footwear is a must so you can be able to fully enjoy your formal evening affair or your business gathering. One good feature to see if you can have in your formal footwear is a memory foam insole. You’re probably aware of how soft foam is to know how great that would feel on your feet, but also the memory foam is designed to mold to your feet to give you a customized cushioning for maximum comfort. In addition to the memory foam insole, any footwear that you see stated to have cushioned insole will surely give you a soft feeling on your feet too

The N5 Comfort feature is another type of feature you’d be lucky to find in a formal shoe that you’re considering. It places cushioning at the strike area of where your foot makes contact with the ground in your steps and cushioning at the ball of your feet as well. This helps to give you more shock absorption and also distributes pressure evenly. A padded footbed can be a great feature to find to accomplish getting that softness on your feet as it also does the same molding to your feet as memory foam insoles do. Additionally, contoured heel cushions can accomplish this effect too. If you find a formal shoe that features PVC outsole in your formal footwear, you’re in for a lot of comfort. PVC outsoles are thicker than other outsoles, which gives a more cushioning to your feet as you take your steps.

Certain types of formal footwear can have specially designed leather that over time consistently wearing them fit more to your specific foot shape that creates a more customized comfort. EVA heel cup is another excellent feature to find as it provides good shock absorption for less strain and more comfort walking. Having a good soft feeling on your feet shouldn’t stop at just looking for shoes that benefit the bottom of your feet. Padded tongues and collars are also an important find for comfort as it provides softness to your ankles and to the top of your feet. Similarly if you find a collar and tongue that’s noted to be leather it’ll provide that same ankle and upper foot comfort as well. A twin goring tongue can provide that comfort on the top of your feet too because it’s less tight and allows for your feet to move more freely.

Durability/Goodyear Welt Construction/Synthetic Lining

Formal shoes can be very expensive at times, which makes it that much more important to find durability features in them so they don’t wear down fast and you won’t have to purchase a new pair anytime soon. A great feature that ’ll provide you with some of that durability is the goodyear welt construction. The goodyear welt construction has a specific stitching that keeps the soles of the shoes strongly attached so the shoes can stay together longer. This particular feature also makes your formal shoes more water resistant. Synthetic lining is also a great option to consider for the durability of your formal footwear. These types of lining are designed to withstand more stress that gets put on them than other types of lining, and as a sidenote, it also tends to dry faster.

Secure Fit/Rust Resistant Eyelets/Adjustable Buckle

It’s tricky to walk in certain types of formal shoes, so it’s very beneficial when you can have features that give your feet a more secure fit. Rust resistant eyelets is one of those features that can give you more security. Rust resistant eyelets have a stronger hold on the laces placed in them, so you can be able to have a tighter more secure fit on your feet. Another option is the adjustable buckle. An adjustable buckle gives you some freedom to loosen and tighten the shoes as your feet may desire during the day. In addition to these features the zipper back  is a good feature to have in a formal shoe. As indicate in the name, the zipper back zips on the back of your feet to give you a more simple means of having shoe security on your feet.

Breathability/Full Leather Lined Insole/Perforated Trim

While breathability may not be the top thing you need in formal shoes, it would definitely be nice for you to take off your shoes after your formal event and not having really sweaty feet. Full leather lined insoles can assist you in that effort. Full leather lined insoles have perforations on them that allow for more moisture reduction and increased breathability in your shoe. Similar in accomplishing breathability is the perforated trim. This feature has perforations on the outside of the shoe that allows for more air to get inside to help dry the moisture built up and keep your feet feeling cool.

Traction/Non-slip Synthetic Outsole/Non-skid Sole

Some formal shoes can be a little slippery on the floor sometimes. While you’re probably never going to go running in your formal shoes, it’s still nice to know when you have to move a little quickly you won’t fall. The non-slip synthetic outsole will help you stay on your feet in your steps. As the name of the feature hints being non-slip, synthetic outsoles are very water resistant, so if you have to walk slick on or slippery surfaces you’ll be able to stay sturdy on your steps. If you see a shoe state it states it features a non-skid or non-marking sole, it’ll provide the same effect as the synthetic outsole, and also not leave marks on the floor. Rubber soles are great to find in formal footwear as they’re the same kind of soles used climbing and wrestling shoes, which are both activities that require a lot of traction. Leather soles tend to glide on the floor more, so you may want to avoid those type of soles in your formal footwear if you’re desiring more traction unless the shoe states it features rubber heels as a part of the outsole.

 

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I polish a leather formal shoe?

A: Polishing a leather formal shoe is relatively simple. There’s a step by step process that you can follow to keep your shoes looking clean and shiny for a long time. All you need is a cloth that’s soft, a shoe polish, and a brush. The first step that’s recommended one should do is to brush whatever debris is on the shoe with either the brush or a wet soft cloth. Whether it’s dirt, sand, mud, or anything that you see that has gotten on the shoe, brush that off gently. After you’ve gotten all that you can get off with the brush, give your shoes a chance to dry for awhile.

The next thing recommended to do is with a dry cloth apply the shoe polish you have on to the shoe. You can rub it on with a small circular motion. Shoe experts caution using only a little bit of polish. After you’ve applied the polish, you can take your brush again, and rub off any leftover polish on the shoe. Then the last step to do is buff the shoe with a dry cloth and you’ll be getting a nice shiny look to your formal footwear. See more about polishing and cleaning here.

Q: How long should formal shoes last?

A: They can last for a couple of years if you take good proper care of them. One thing you can do is regularly polish your formal footwear, particularly if it’s leather. You can also put in shoe trees in your formal shoe to help have a longer lifespan. They’re designed to soak up the foot sweat that might be left behind in the shoe and maintain the shape of the shoe. With all kinds of footwear it’s generally recommended not to wear them every single day. You should rotate between shoes instead so there’s time given for drying of any moisture in them and maintaining of the shape.

Q: How should my formal shoes fit?

A: Formal shoes have the reputation of being tight on the feet, but they actually should fit differently on you than that. The way that your formal footwear should fit is that it should give your toes room to stretch and move around inside of the shoe. The sides and the heel of the shoe should be a snug fit, but they shouldn’t feel too tight on you, and if they do, then you should try another pair. Formal shoe experts recommend trying on the shoes in the evening when your feet are more swelled up from day of walking, then you can get a true sense of the whether shoes will be too tight on you or not.

Q: How long does it take to break in my formal shoes?

A:.It can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks depending on the type of material and the construction of the formal footwear. It’s suggested in order to avoid too much pain on your feet in the beginning that you should wear them a little at a time frequently throughout the day, and increasing the amount of time you wear them until you can wear them comfortably for up to an hour.