Men's formal footwear you know you need this summer

Because it’s wedding season, prom season, your boss is taking you to a gala season…

Because it’s wedding season, prom season, your boss is taking you to a gala season…

Likely, it's been on your calendar for months, lurking over the horizon of your regular workday causing just a hint of unease. The event itself, be it a wedding or fancy work event, isn't the issue — it's your shoes that are the problem. You've known this whole time that you can not wear those dog-eared day-to-day kick arounds to this thing because at some point, one of the other invited guests is bound to look down while talking to you. If you want to save face when theirs comes back up, you'll need some formal-ish footwear.  

Dressing comme il faut from head to toe doesn't have to be basic, either. Sure, if you're a purist, you can go certainly go classic. Or, you can get sneaky and smuggle a casual shoe into a more formal event without violating the norms of social etiquette. So long as it's the right shoe with the right outfit.

Here's a selection of sophisticated but fun footwear to try on this spring and keep in your closet for functions all year round.

Classic. Black. Formal.

Have tickets to the opera or a black tie gala? Unless you're a music industry icon, you'll want to lean classic (note: Jay-Z doesn't wear sneakers with his tux). The suede upper and polished leather toe cap on this shoe from Fabi, could arguably be dressed down for work, but you'll want to keep it in your line up under "lavish" for when La boheme comes to town. Fabi also does an elegant high-shine Monskstrap.

Fabi Shoes, $498, brownsshoes.com

Step out of the box and go Docs

These burgundy derbys have a near patent finish that won't clash with a sharp suit, especially if you want to roll monochrome in a burgundy one. Consider that you can always keep it two-tone too, with a navy suit and burgundy shirt combo. As an added bonus, these casual-come-classy double agents are supremely comfy.

Dr. Martens Burgundy Archie Derbys, $290, ssense.com

Slide through in a floral slipper

Now considered standard evening wear, the slipper is the loafer's classier cousin. These black-tasseled jobs have a bright splash of colour that'll punctuate any sleek black suit. Pro-tip: because the slipper transmits the more laissez-faire attitude of leisure, you'll want your suit to be crisp and clean to elevate the look.

Jerienia Floral Loafers, $110, aldoshoes.com

Bank on silver and gold

If you've been pining to shine at your next formal gathering, you could do worse than lacing up these metallic derbys from Maison Margiela. Not for for the wallflower, these are clearly statement shoes. Metallics paired with black or navy formal attire is always killer but they actually go great with softer tones like tan and cream too. Something to keep in mind for that summer wedding you want to be seen at.

Maison Margiela Silver & Gold Lace-Up Derbys, $985, ssense.com

Bold brogues

While wingtip brogues are more often than not considered decidedly daytime wear, these beacons of brightness could be worn to your next formal event. Paired expertly with the right accessories, these lace-ups will add a fury of fierceness to your look. You can also find them in softer summer shades. Caution: only to be worn if you truly wish to upstage everyone else at the event.   

Paul Smith Fuchsia Parma Calf Leather 'Cristo' Brogues, $450, paulsmith.com

Swear by some shine

Another way to get away with wearing brogues to a formal engagement is to pick ones in patent. High-shine translates to high-tone if worn right and these twice-textured shoes qualify. Perfect if you're stepping out to dinner with some bigwigs or need something appropriately upmarket to dance in at the spring social. Especially if you plan on going black on black on black everything. And you should.   

House of Hounds Basilisk Black Leather Brogues, $100, topman.com

Creep it casual (formally speaking)

Creepers are a trendy throwback that manage to project a certain elegance despite being strongly linked to '50s counter culture. These ones put a feline bent on any outfit, should you be feeling feral. Relevant aside: unlike dogs, cats seem conspicuously formal at all times. Clearly they understand it's always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Take note. If you plan on keeping it punk (but relatively well-behaved) by the punchbowl, this is your formal shoe.

Saint Laurent White & Black Charles 25 Tiger-Look Derbys, $1580, ssense.com