What Shoes To Wear With A Tuxedo

What Shoes To Wear With A Tuxedo

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what shoes to wear with a tuxedo

This past weekend I attended a dear friend’s wedding.  The dress code was black tie, no complaints from me there.  There was a raw bar at the cocktail hour, certainly no complaints there either.

Anyway, leading up to the wedding I received numerous inquiries from friends regarding what type of shoes they should wear with their tuxedos.  They asked about everything from ‘that shiny leather’ (also known as patent leather) to velvet slippers.  So the question arises, what type of shoes should a man wear with his tuxedo?  Fortunately for us men, black tie has some flexibility in what is appropriate footwear, as long as said footwear is black.

what shoes to wear with a tuxedo black oxfords
Photo Credit: Jack Erwin.

But that black can come in three different forms; patent leather, smooth calf or cow and velvet.  Of the three, I think patent leather is the most common and also perhaps the most appropriate.  I think this is partly due to the fact that patent leather really only works with black or white tie.  In other words, it is exclusively for black and white tie.  Velvet is not as formal as patent leather, but significantly more stylish and elegant when paired with a tux.  Some would even say foppish.  It is worth noting that velvet only works in slipper form; commonly known as prince Albert Slippers and slung by brands like Stubbs & Wootton and Del Toro.  The only catch is that in the most traditional sense they are worn only by a host or a gentleman at his club.  Although I imagine few would quip if you were to wear them elsewhere, such as to a wedding.  Lastly, we have your everyday smooth cow leather.  It does not have quite the shine of patent leather, nor the matte textured look of velvet.  But it is elegant and simple.

what shoes to wear with a tuxedo velvet slippers patent leatherwhat shoes to wear with a tuxedo velvet slippers

If you choose shoes in patent or regular leather there are a few things that should be avoided.  The first is brogueing, which is a detail that is far to casual for black tie (minus the J. Fitzpatrick’s pictured below).  The second is loafers and slip ons.  Much like brogueing, penny loafers, tassel loafers and the like are too casual for black tie.  Oxfords are preferable, more formal bluchers (like the two eyelet ones above) can work as well.  And yes, there is the occasional exception I suppose.  If you are of a certain sort, you may be able to pull off bit loafers or Belgain Shoes.

what shoes to wear with a tuxedo satin shoe laces
Photo Credit: J. Fitzpatrick Footwear.

Personally, I prefer to wear a well polished black oxford, such as Jack Erwin’s Joe (pictured on my feet above and below), with my tuxedos.  Patent leather is just too fake looking for my tastes.  I do love to wear my Stubbs with a tux, however, I don’t turn to them as often as I should.  There is also a strong financial argument to be made in favor of leather shoes; they do double duty.  They need not be confined to black tie wear.  They can obviously be worn with suits and other less formal attire.  That said, I advise both my friends and readers to either pair some smooth black leather oxfords with their tuxedos.  Take the money you would spend on patent leather shoes and funnel it elsewhere.

what shoes to wear with a tuxedo black oxfords
Photo credit: Jack Erwin.

JLJ

37 COMMENTS

  1. I own Black Allen Edmonds Kenilworths, which are a 3-eyelet plain-toed derby. How do you feel about their propriety with a shawl-collared one button tuxedo?

  2. I agree that a black polished oxford, polished to an extra high shine is the best bet for most people because it is versatile. However, I ended up finding a beautiful, new pair of factory second, Allen Edmonds Kendalls in black patent leather at one of their outlet stores for a mere $99.00, I have yet to wear them but I have wedding bells in my not so distant future and I could not be happier with my purchase. I wish patent leather was more useful but I think they were a good investment and I can’t find the defect to save my life. The store clerk couldn’t pinpoint it either.

  3. I have a pair of the traditional patent (actually think they are corfam) ties as you show in the 3rd pic down. As a member of the USCG Auxiliary, they are part of our uniform. They are my go to for staid formal events. The black suede with lizard trim Bottecelli loafers (pic sent separately) though aging, are for more for less stuffy formal events. I had a cool pair of black patent penny loafers (slender design) but they are history. I would wear leather as you have, as long as they look sharp & aren’t showing much wear.

    • Michael,
      I received your photo, thank you for sending it. Obviously, if patent leather is part of your uniform I cannot knock them for that. Thank you for your service to our country.
      -Justin

  4. What about a pair of black whole-cut shoes? I was thinking of buying a pair with the idea that I could use them on formal occasions.

      • I agree, black whole cuts would be excellent, especially if shined properly. The picture of the J. Fitzpatrick shoes is an example of a proper “spit shine”. I follow Justin’s instructions on his blog and achieved very similar results.

  5. Job well done on the article. I think for most occasions the shoes mentioned above are an excellent go for casual men. In addition to what you mentioned, I’ve seen trendsetting/ bold confident international men wear coloured shoes to black tie formal events. I love a coloured shoe with black tie. It feels modern and reflects the time we live in which is the most casual it’s ever been! I admire women at black tie formal events who can be visions in tone on tone, and or a coordinating color shoe with accessories to tote.

    • Michael Arguello,
      I have seen it done as well (colored shoes w tux). However, I have yet to see it done well. I could see some dark navy shoes going well with a midnight blue tux.
      -Justin

  6. My wedding is coming up in 2 weeks and I purchased a mtm by Mysuit and it’s the best looking thing I now own. Its navy, peak, 1 button and I’m wearing it with a black bow for my wedding. Now I’ve got 2 more weddings coming up within a month after. Can I rock it with a blue paisley strait tie to the other weddings if its not a black tie party? Or does showing up in a sick tux make me a dick?

  7. Somewhat related…I was just told at SuitSupply that I shouldn’t wear a waistcoat with suspenders because “you can’t see the suspenders that way”.

    I was confused. Shouldn’t you want to hide the suspenders?

    That being said…if I went cumberbund, that would allow the suspender to be seen.

    What do you prefer, waiscoat or cumberbund? Why?

    Thanks!

    • Jason,
      Sounds like whoever told you that at Suitsupply drank a little too much of the punch… A proper waistcoat is never improper to wear with a tux. Now mind you, a regular suit vest would not work – the cut of a suit vest and a tux waistcoat are different. Historically, suspenders were viewed as undergarments, so yes they would be hidden, but that is not so much the case these days. It is up to you if you want them hidden or not. I don’t really have a preference for either a cummerbund or waistcoat – they are both correct and when worn well look great. So it is really a matter of personal taste. I should note that in warm weather a cummerbund may be ideal since it is a little less fabric.
      -Justin

  8. Hi, maybe odd to add a comment to a post this old but here goes, do you think the Church Bucked would work for a Black Tie event?

    Thanks for a truly great site.
    Simon.

  9. Hello. One question and one comment. Question: what is your opinion on full grain leather shoes and a tux (done deliberately, not out of ignorance)? Comment: totally disagree with wearing suit/tux shoes with anything other than a tux/suit, this includes what you call ‘other less formal attire’. For example, suit shoes with a sport coat and slacks throw off the casualness of the whole look, in my opinion.

  10. What a great website! I have 13 year old son and his youth organization, DeMolay, have a number of events throughout the year and some struggle with appropriate attire. Often it is the cost of items but knowing what works well together and is appropriate can help us parents dress them well even if it is from a secondhand shop. Totally saving your site and sharing!

  11. For my marriage will weer midnight blue tuxedo and I wonder if patent metallic dark blue shoes would be nice with it? Or better go with standard patent black?

  12. Where did you get the laces for the J.Fitzpatrick Tony II? Just ordered a pair for my wedding and think they absolutely need the silk/satin laces to be worn with a tux.

    Do you often wear the Fitzpatrick with Tux? Any pictures would be appreciated (feel free to email)

    Please advise.

  13. Bates Thorlos. They have a patent leather shine and are incredibly light. They are made for law enforcement and other blue collar trades and so need to be purchased at such shops. But they cost a fraction of what others cost, and look good with a tux.

  14. Justin, first of all great article! Unlike someone commented above, i do like the way your hair works with the tux. I myself had had long hair and wore a suit whilst. My rule was: if i wear a jacket, no matter how informal, the hair went in the hairband 180 degrees opposite to my forehead. I think it works. Not to low – not old lady – and not too high – though i could see it working for younger fellows.
    To my dilemma now: I own a very nice – at least i love them – pair of balmoral oxfords – not wholecut, just the next best thing (toe tip, no brogueing). They are are black-black and are made of suede (pam-pam!). I have trouble deciding whether they are appropriate for a tuxedo or not. I should mention that i am european and we tend to be a bit more relaxed over here when it comes to formal attire than our UK or US friends. What is your input?
    Thanks and keep up the good work with these articles!

    • Hey Vlad,
      Thanks for the good words, well done on the hair. Obviously in the most traditional sense, suede is not appropriate with a tuxedo. However, if it is a less formal event or you want to dress down a little, suede works. I’d be lying if I said I have not worn suede shoes with a tux at some point.
      -Justin

  15. Thoughts on best style of walnut brown shoes for a navy blue tuxedo? Plain cap toe? Any thoughts are appreciated.

  16. I am having a custom tuxedo tailored for my wedding. I own a pair of black Ferragamo Flori. Can these be worn with a tux?

  17. I have Bates High gloss Black Duty Oxfords which is a little thicker in the sole but extremely comfortable. I have a tux for the Marine Ball. Is it okay to wear these oxfords without looking crazy? These are new and unworn but awesome!

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