The best casual shoes for men make dressing for almost any situation – in almost any season – a total surprise. To be clear, when we say “casual shoes” we’re using the term very liberally (that is, as a general term that includes everything from suede Chelsea boots to high-end luxury sneakers). Basically, if you’re not wearing it to tear up a wedding dance floor or break your ankles on the playground, you’ll find a copy of it listed here. Grab a daytime drink in the park on sunny weekend afternoons, rock your nephew’s backyard piano party, and dress up on the IRL date you lined up months ago in an ominous wave of unbridled optimism.
You may ask, what makes all these shoes worthy of your hard-earned dollar? An unparalleled ability to elevate your spring style, for one person. A particular variety is seasonally appropriate, for another. So, forget about that time-honored debate about whether you should dress up top-down or bottom-up—once you’re wearing a pair of the best men’s casual shoes, it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing shorts, rocker shorts, or sweating. From classic sneakers to stylish loafers, consider this the definitive guide to every type of men’s casual shoe — lace-up shoes, slip-ons, and shoelaces — that should be on your radar right now. Here, without further delay, the 10 best casual shoes for men in 2021.
This is the most important factor when it comes to clothing, and the most important to footwear. Every aspect of your footwear depends on its construction, so knowing what to get your hands on will definitely help.
- Leather and suede are common in both formal and casual shoes. Both materials are made of animal skins, which makes the shoes long lasting and nice looking. Both adapt to your feet through extended wear, making them more comfortable over time (if you have a quality pair of shoes, that is). The only real downside is the heat and potential for damage to untreated skin.
- The fabric can be made of hemp, which makes the shoes light and breathable. This is a great option for warmer climates in spring and summer. These are commonly used for athletic shoes. While canvas shoes are cheaper, they are a little tricky to clean.
- Synthetics cover polyester, nylon, Kevlar and any other man-made materials used to make shoes. While many men write off synthetics as a lesser alternative, they are still worth a try. Synthetic fabrics are engineered from the ground up to be breathable, water-resistant, and lightweight, and the added durability can’t be taken for granted. In short, they will last longer than your usual shoes.
Since you will be wearing shoes for extended periods of time, comfort is key. This is particularly important when choosing casual shoes. Nobody wants shoes that make it painful after an hour of walking.
Fit is the most important aspect. It is hard to beat the feeling of walking in shoes. There may be slight differences in the size of different brands.
Another consideration for choosing the best casual shoes for men should be stability and support. A good pair of shoes won’t slip easily on wet surfaces, while still providing enough room for manoeuvrability for your feet and toes to prevent cramps. Try walking while trying on shoes to get a feel for things.
Ventilation is especially important for closed shoes. Poorly ventilated shoes make for a damp, warm and generally uncomfortable experience. The best shoes feature designs that help evaporate moisture and promote airflow, keeping your feet dry no matter the weather.
There seems to be a lot to think about, but don’t worry. Trust your feet. As long as things are okay, you are good to go.
What are the best casual shoes for men?
We’ve covered the qualities you should be looking for in casual shoes, but which casual shoes should you have?
Different shoes fit different occasions. There is no reason to wear dress shoes to the beach, and sandals are not to be worn to a romantic dinner.
In our opinion, men should always have at least a few different types of shoes, ignoring the differences in colour and design. We’ll discuss each in detail below, giving you our reasons behind each option, while also sharing our personal favorite shoes and ways to wear them.
Sneakers are probably the most popular form of casual footwear, and they tend to be a very comfortable option.
There aren’t really any set rules when it comes to sneakers. These are some of the most versatile shoes you can buy, as they work with shorts, jeans, and even shorts.
Athletic shoes are available in a wide range of styles and colors. Do you prefer classic styles? Puma, Adidas, and Converse have been around for decades, and their timeless designs might just be right for you. Would you prefer a more modern experience? Yeezys, Adidas NMDs, or just about any casual Nikes (like Roshes) fit right in. In terms of colors, you are spoiled for choice. To match your shoes with more clothes, choose more dynamic colors (white, black, blue).
If you’re looking for a new pair of sneakers that are built to last, how about a pair of white sneakers? It’s very flexible, and works well with every outfit, with the only real downside being the need for consistent brushing.
Loafers are a classic European import that has been around since 1930. The Loafers began as a favourite of Norwegian fishermen, but quickly advanced into the modern era, becoming an iconic form of slip-on shoe.
When it comes to loafers, everyone is drawn to the classic Bass & Co Penny Loafer, and for good reason. The iconic design of the loafers fuses the original lace-up design to great effect, with a subtle strap across the upper vamp and an honorary “pence” strap, a signature cut in the horizontal strap. The same design is still emulated to this day, decades after it was first introduced.
Loafers have always been popular, finding a home in many Ivy Leaguers’ wardrobes for their “preppy” look and feel in the 20th century. Loafers pair beautifully with a variety of outfits, from shorts to tuxedos, and are a foolproof way to add some variety to your ensemble. Keep in mind: loafers offer a more “delicate” and “preppy” look.
Our pick of the best loafers is the classic Penny Loafer. All styles offer the same selectable silhouette, so pick your color, pick your belt type, and you’re good to go. You don’t need a pair? Just get a pair of vintage brown leather Penny Loafers.
Boots may not seem necessary, but they are a welcome addition to any shoe collection. Looking good can easily be improved with this underappreciated form of footwear.
Shoes come in many varieties. You’ve got classic suede Chelsea boots, formal-looking toes, fancy wingtips, casual desert boots, and sinister motorcycle boots, among other things.
While shoes aren’t as versatile as the other entries in this guide, they do excel in chic fashion. There is a certain allure to pairing boots with jeans, and there’s no denying the added comfort and practicality that comes with a pair of boots.
If you’re just getting started, get yourself a pair of Chelsea boots. The timeless, clean and tidy look has persisted over the years, and is second to none when it comes to comfort. It’s elegant yet simple, and always pairs beautifully with jeans.
For people looking for something different, desert boots are a viable alternative (and a quintessential modern-day asset), thanks to their elegant look. Don’t let this discourage you from trying other styles. If anything catches your eye, go for it.
Black Dress Shoes
Formal shoes may seem like the least likely candidate for casual shoes, but that could not be further from the truth. These formal shoes are a perfect fit in casual environments.
Of course, you wouldn’t wear dress shoes with shorts, but jeans are fair game. Dark shades of formal shoes are the best choice for a calm look, and they go well with simple outfits. For best results, wear dark jeans and a casual button-down shirt.
You probably already have a pair that you wear to work or formal functions. The secret to making dress shoes look great? Clean your shoes. Nothing says style like a layer of polish. If you tend to look cool, pair things up with a blazer or sports jacket for a special mix of casual and formal attire.
Brown Dress Shoes
Although we’ve already covered black dress shoes, we think it’s important to have a brown pair for more casual but elegant attire.
Black is the most common choice for dress shoes, but a pair of brown shoes is a valuable addition to your arsenal. Brown shoes work great with many different coloured pants, especially green, tan and khaki.
Most people get their first pair of formal shoes in black. Some may then continue to purchase the same design in brown due to preference. Do not do this. The goal of expanding your shoe collection is to add variety. Try mixing it with a different style of formal shoes too, like monk straps.
The best casual shoes for men are a mixture of the above mentioned styles that we have mentioned. The best shoe collection includes a pair for every occasion, which means flexibility is king. Finding your favourite pair will definitely involve trial and error, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Remember that these are casual shoes at the end. If it looks cool, then you are on the right track.