Suitcafe Tuxedo in CashLana Black Fabric

Stepping Out In Formal Footwear

In a few days, 2022 will arrive. If you’re celebrating at a swanky event, be sure to be prepared with a dynamite outfit. Men, don’t think you can get away with wearing your work shoes with formal attire. There’s nothing worse than a tuxedo paired with lace-ups completely scuffed from everyday travels on the bus and subway systems of a major metropolis.

What should be on your feet for a formal event? If you’re wearing a tuxedo, you have choices. Don’t think the all patent leather lace-ups are the only option. These days, there are many different designs, textures and materials that can be paired with a formal suit or a tuxedo. For purposes here, I will concentrate on footwear with tuxedo attire.

Let’s begin with the all patent leather shoe. This is a classic when wearing a tuxedo, but I know many men shy away from its shininess. The all patent leather lace-up is a given, but though it goes well with a tux and is only used for that purpose there are other alternatives.

Allen Edmonds Leatyher Shoe

Allen Edmonds Patent Leather Lace-Up

For something with a bit more fashion and style, I tend to like a combination of materials in the same shoe for formal footwear. Take, for example, this nappa leather and patent combination from Mezlan. Here you have beautiful workmanship.

Mezlan Concerto.jpg

combining two different leathers.  This lace-up shoe features the cap toe and the area around the laces in patent leather material. The rest of this work of art is soft, nappa leather in matte finish. This formal shoe looks like a two-tone shoe, but it’s all black. The contrast here is the shiny patent and the matte, nappa leathers.

Different materials add dimension to formal footwear, but different textures do as well. Silk grosgrain has always been used on tuxedos and it is also used on formal footwear. It has the characteristic of being durable and offers a unique, texturized look that is not flat. Silk grosgrain is not only coupled with patent leather, but sometimes also seen with black velvet in the same shoe design. Here are some examples of each from Salvatore Ferragamo, the most well-known name in men’s shoes.

Slavatore Ferragamo velvet shoe.jpg
Salvatore Ferragamo Silk Shoe.jpg

Notice in the photos above, the subtle use of grosgrain silk mixed with different materials and textures. If your tuxedo has grosgrain silk on the lapels and on the trouser, shoes such as these would work very well.

Lastly, it’s time to get a bit funky with formal shoes. Take a look at these:

Mezlan Glass Sueded.jpg
Velvet Crest.jpg
Animal Print shoe.jpg

Here are three very similar, but very different designs in formal footwear. Each shoe is a slip-on loafer. The first is a glass suede finish. It actually has small beads of glass on the shoe giving it a very three dimensional appearance and texture. Second, is an animal print in velvet, and the third is a classic style of velvet with a crest on the vamp.  Each one of these may be worn with a tuxedo, but since these shoes are more stylish and their materials and textures are more fashion forward, they can easily be worn with denim. I visualize all three with some washed out or dark premium denim jeans for going out with a more casual look.

Formalwear needs to stay formal. Everyday work shoes will not suffice with a tailored tuxedo for any formal event ever. I have given some recommendations and suggestions on just how to pair formal shoes with a tuxedo. Now, it’s up to you to find your inner style and choose the conservative classic route of the patent leather lace-up or the stylish and updated versions with mixed materials. If you really are the “stand out” type, then jazz up your tux with a leopard print velvet, stingray or suede finish shoe. Regardless of your footwear, always step out with ultimate confidence. 

About the author:

Philip Pravda is the Founder and CEO of His more than 30 year career in luxury menswear spans throughout the most well-known brands in Italian men’s fashion. Having worked with Canali, Ermenegildo Zegna, Brioni, Kiton, Corneliani and more.