For the most part, everyone wears shoes. We wear them when it’s raining or snowing, when the weather outside gives us its worst, when we need to protect our feet from the toughest terrain or when we’re looking to kick off our shoes and play in the sand. Shoes are a crucial part of humanity, in a sense. Every culture has developed some kind of foot covering to help protect the tender soles of their feet, and from that initial discovery shoes have grown into a worldwide fashion trend. For the purpose of this discussion, though, we’re not going to be going over every kind of shoe on the face of the planet (you can check out our other sections for that); what we will be discussing are shoes, such as dress shoes, work shoes, and day-to-day shoes.
When you say you’re going shoe shopping, you may be purchasing anything from chunky heels to a pair of slip-on sandals. But this category lends itself more to those shoes that are so iconic we just consider them shoes. Things like a pair of loafers for work or a set of stilettos all fall into the classification of “shoes,” so it’s really more about your shoe preference than one set style. Still, with all that leeway, it can be difficult to shop for the right pair of shoes for you. You may become overwhelmed by the options or be worried you’ll show up to a fancy dinner with a pair of casual flats when you should have worn at least a kitten heel. That’s where we come in.
We’ve curated countless shoe manufacturers across the market to pull together some of the best shoe options out there. Looking to attend a professional function? We’ve got an article for that. Want to know what the best pair of heels for wide feet are? Yup, we’ve got that too. No matter your shoe needs, we’ve done the research and read the reviews, so you can shop with confidence without being bogged down. But that’s enough about what we do, let’s talk about the different kinds of shoes and where they find their place in our day-to-day lives.
Types of Shoes
Narrowing down the types of shoes is as easy as diverting a river with your bare hands, but we’ve given it the good college try. The main categories to keep in mind when looking at shoes are casual and professional. In general, things like flats and boat shoes are on the more casual side, though they can definitely have their place in business casual settings, while things like dress shoes and heels fall into the professional category. Of course, there are deviations within these categories (try wearing a set of polka dot dress shoes to a funeral), but for the most part you’ll want to know what event you have in mind before settling on a pair of shoes to round out the ensemble.
- Dress shoes: This is a broad category in it of itself, but this category usually includes low to the ground or heelless shoes made of leather or other sturdy material, with a muted design and some form of subtle lacing. Dress shoes go with practically any outfit, from a suit to a pair of khakis, and either steer toward the neutral color tones or become the centerpiece of an outfit with their brilliant patterns. This category includes things like wingtip Oxfords, as well as any number of smartly patterned leather shoes.
- Heels: Anyone who has worn heels undoubtedly has a love-hate relationship with them. These shoes can range in style from a shoe body similar in shape to a flat to more elaborate strapped shoes. The size of the heel can range anywhere from 3 to 9 inches, but a pair of 9-inch heels can be frowned upon in some professional gatherings. Heels help lift the wearer to new heights, literally, and can be useful for formal events with long hems, as the added height can help keep trailing hemlines off of the ground. They are the go-to shoe for dances and weddings, though even the most avid heel-wearers will kick them off as soon as they hit grass or the dance floor.
- Boat shoes: These rubber-soled canvas or leather shoes got their name due to their added grip and their popularity on sailing vessels. They can come in a wide range of colors and styles but are usually either neutral in tone or a wide range of blue tones. These shoes can bridge the gap between casual and professional to some extent, though it’s up to the wearer (and the dress code) to decide where that line ends.
- Flats: Named because they are, in fact, flat on the base, these shoes are usually easy to slip into, and come in a wide range of styles and makes to match nearly any outfit. Flats are low to the ground, making them ideal for outdoor weddings or just walking down the street to grab a coffee. They can make the transition between work and home life in a snap, and all without throwing in the complication of heels. The mid step between flats and heels is called a kitten heel, and is a small, about 1-inch-tall heel on the base of the shoe that makes them appear slightly more professional.
Of course, this list of shoes is far from exhaustive, and there are countless other shoe styles on the market today to take both your casual and professional life to new heights. But how can you be sure you are choosing the right pair of shoes for you?
Choosing the Right Pair of Shoes
As with any investment, the first thing you want to consider is what you intend to get out of your new pair of shoes. Are you looking for a staple pair of dress shoes to carry you through your day-to-day life, or are you looking for that special pair of shoes that will complete the perfect ensemble? Do you want a pair of flats to take on the town, or a pair of refined heels to draw all eyes on you as you enter the next social event you attend? No matter what you have in mind for your new pair of shoes, it’s important to find a pair that meet your initial requirements. It’s okay if you don’t have a full idea of the kind of shoes you want yet, you can develop that as you search. Still, it can be helpful to have a general style and coloration in mind, as it can narrow down your options.
The next thing to keep in mind is the sizing chart provided by each company. We all know our shoe size (to some extent), but when it comes to individual shoe sizes on a company-by-company basis, things can get confusing. This is especially true if you find your new favorite pair of shoes is made overseas, where the sizing charts are different. The best way to solve this is to take a measurement of the length and width of your foot. If you’re looking to buy a shoe with a set clearance, such as a pair of heels without straps or a pair of boat shoes, you’ll want to measure the top of your foot as well, just to ensure you’ll have plenty of room. Remember, while you can stretch out a pair of shoes, the maximum amount you can do this comfortably is about a half a shoe size, so it’s best to get the right pair of shoes the first time, rather than become frustrated trying to make a poorly sized pair of shoes fit.
The final thing to consider when shopping for a new pair of shoes is the overall customer reviews for the shoe itself. Sure, there are plenty of people who take every excuse to complain about a pair of shoes, but customer reviews are a great way to gauge the overall quality of a pair of shoes, and can help you identity potential concerns, like loose stitching or a pair of heels that runs a size too big. Another way to ensure you’re getting the best shoes out there is to follow expert advice (that’s us) to find out what pair of shoes will work best for your needs.
No matter what you’re looking for in your new pair of shoes, we have plenty of helpful tips and tricks to help you invest in a pair of comfortable, stylish shoes that will last you for years to come. Here are some of the shoe types that we reviewed:
Step in Time
Whether you’re looking to find the perfect pair of heels for your next night on the town, or want to rock that big presentation at work, the right pair of shoes can give you a level of confidence like you’ve never had before. But with so many styles of shoes on the market, it can be difficult to choose a pair of shoes that works for you in terms of function and style, not to mention individuality. That’s why we pride ourselves in searching out the best shoes on the market and putting them together in one place, so you can spend less time sifting through the reviews and more time enjoying your new pair of shoes. So no matter where your next adventure takes you, make sure you step out on the right foot with a pair of stylish, comfortable dress shoes that make you feel out of this world.
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