This is a great athletic sneaker because it weighs practically nothing and the woven upper makes it very breathable. Also, these are a great lifestyle sneaker that you can wear with your casual clothes because the design is so minimal and it has a very sleek silhouette.
$150 – Nike Flyknit Racer (in Black/White or Black/Anthracite/Black)
These are classics and super easy to wear year-round. Leather or canvas options are great – and always default to low-tops because they’re easier to wear than high-tops.
$80 – Converse Jack Purcell Tumbled Leather Low Top (in white and black)
$65 – Converse Jack Purcell Canvas Low Top (in white, navy, and black)
$65 – Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Leather Low Top (in white and black)
$50 – Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Top (in white, navy, and black)
I love the minimal design of the UltraBoost. The knit upper makes it very breathable too. You can treat these as your everyday sneakers or make them your running/workout shoes because they’re super comfortable.
$180 – Adidas UltraBoost
This one will be on my list every year until something better can replace it.
These are a great lifestyle, everyday tennis shoe. Also, they’re not expensive and relatively easy to keep clean if you give them a wipe down every week or two and don’t go hiking in them. Remember, women look at your shoes for an indication of what type of man you are. Clean white shoes = this dude’s got his shit together.
$75 – Adidas Stan Smith Shoes (with either the green or navy logo)
Notably absent in my list are basketball sneakers because those are for a very specific group of men out there who either play basketball or are crazy sneakerheads. Some guys can pull them off really well, while others end up looking immature and silly in them.
Thus, my POTW are John Elliott’s grey sweatpants because they’re the only item you need to add to your closet in order to create this sharp outfit below. You should already have three out of the four items if you’ve been following my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials Series for any length of time.
Here’s why this outfit is great:
I love John Elliott’s clothes because he always does such a great job with creating high quality basics and these sweatpants are no exception. The construction and fabric choices are a cut above the rest, so if you’re able to swing it, I highly recommend these.
You already should own a navy, black, and/or white t-shirt. These colors are perfect for the gym because they won’t show your sweat prominently like a grey tee will. Also, they look great with this outfit outside of the gym as well.
Next, you should also already have a bomber jacket, whether it be navy or black, in your closet because as I’ve said before, bombers look great on every man, regardless of your age or body type. You can easily switch out the bomber for a zip-up hoodie if you want, but I wouldn’t change a single thing in this outfit.
Quick note: Wingtips are technically Brogues, so I’ll be lumping them together throughout this article. Just know when I refer to Brogues that I also mean Wingtips.
I prefer these during the cooler parts of the year because they go much better with the heavier wool and cotton items you wear in your Fall and Winter outfits. Don’t get me wrong, they also work year-round, but I think there’s better options out there for the other parts of the year. Check out my Summer Essentials Ebook and Wardrobe Essentials Series for details about those options.
Below are the things I look for in a good pair of Monk Straps or Brogues.
As I said in my Fall/Winter boots story, I love a good calf skin. Don’t get me wrong, I love a suede monk strap or brogue, as well, but if you live in an area with snow or rain, you’ll regret the day you wear them outside. So let’s wait to get into those until Spring or Summer.
I will say this about dress shoes until the day I die, but you want a nice, slim profile with a rounded toe box. Ain’t nobody got time for square or large, bulky toe boxes! – See the video near the top of the article if you’re unsure about what they look like.
As for colors, I love a nice dark chocolaty brown, or even a medium brown, like a walnut. Black is also good, but the first color I’d get is brown because it goes better with all the Fall colors in your wardrobe. All these colors are represented in my suggestions at the bottom of this article.
If you live somewhere with a bit of rain, ice or snow, then you can and should definitely have these with Dainite or rubber inset soles for added traction. If you don’t live in that kind of climate, then a regular leather bottom that you’ll find on 99% of dress shoes is perfectly acceptable, but I’d probably look for a Dainite or rubber insert sole as my default. There’s also lugged soles, which are pretty popular right now (and I included some in my selects below), but I have a feeling they won’t be around for the long haul. They’ve already come and gone with fashion a few times in my lifetime. When it comes to Fall/Winter boots, though, I love me a lugged sole.
I prefer a double buckle because a single buckle looks less refined. (Example in the video at the top).
If you get black Monk Straps, make sure the buckle is silver, because gold or brass tends to look gaudy, but is perfectly fine on brown monks (examples in the video).
Also, please make sure the buckles are on the smaller side as opposed to some big ass buckles you’ll find on a colonial gentleman.
As for medallion toes and other flourishes, I like all of them, so check out my recommendations below.
H&M Blazer Slim Fit
Burberry White Slim-Fit Poplin Dress Shirt
The Tie Bar Navy “Score Check” Tie
The Tie Bar Olive Green 1″ Tie Bar
The Tie Bar Grey Southeast Plaid Wool Pocket Square
Diesel Buster 0607A Jeans
Allen Edmonds Decatur Ave Dress Belt
Allen Edmonds Black Strand Dress Shoes
Tom Ford Snowdon Sunglasses
IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch
Topman Light Brown Wool Rich Formal Coat
Burberry Slim Fit Cotton Poplin Dress Shirt
The Tie Bar Webster Medallions Tie
J.Crew Slim Merino Wool Cardigan
John Varvatos Grand Sunglasses
J.Crew Ludlow Suit Pant in English Donegal Tweed
Johnston & Murphy Nolen Double Monkstrap Shoes
These, to me, are the quintessential Brogue. If you’ve seen my other dress shoe article then you know my love of Allen Edmonds. They make amazing products with great value – and they don’t pay me to say that. I’m just a huge fan.
I love this color and the Dainite soles. They’re just perfection.
$395 – Allen Edmonds McAllister Wingtip with Dainite Rubber Sole
$395 – Allen Edmonds Strand Cap-Toe Black Oxfords with Dainite Rubber Sole
$650 – Church’s Toronto Cap-Toe Oxford Brogues
$780 – Prada Runway Hybrid Wing-Tip Oxford
$1,990 – Tom Ford Austin Cap Toe Oxford Shoe
These hit all the points I look for in a double monk – the beautiful chocolaty brown with the matching soles, the silver hardware and the rubber tread inset for added traction. On top of that, they’re a GREAT price and my clients always comment about how comfortable they are. My other favorites are the Allen Edmonds Monks below, if you’re looking for something higher quality.
So here it is: These are the quintessential shoes that every man should have in his closet for year-round wear. Anything outside of these are specialty items, like snow boots, so they’re not included in this article.
Have questions? Curious what others think?
Join us in the comments section of the video above.
Buy the Nike Roshe FlyKnit in gray
There’s nothing better than a sleek pair of athletic shoes. Not only can they function as your gym shoes, but they can be worn with your casual outfits, as well.
I recommend sticking with a black/white, black/grey/white (like above), or navy/white color to ensure that your sneakers compliment all your outfits. Other crazy colors like neon green or a bright red will only draw attention away from your outfit which is why I’m not recommending those colors. You probably wouldn’t know it, but these shoes are one of my clients and almost a year old.
Since all of the shoes I’m recommending have white soles, I highly recommend Jason Markk’s Essential Shoe Cleaner Kit. Just give the soles a quick scrub with the included brush and soap every few weeks and they’ll look good-as-new for a long time.
Buy the Adidas Stan Smith Sneakers
The second pair of shoes you should own, is what I’d consider an absolute essential to any well-dressed man’s wardrobe, which is why they were also included in my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.
They’re clean, classy and look great with a lot of your casual, even up to a little more dressy, outfits. Throw on a nice fitted blazer and some dark wash jeans with them and they’ll look amazing. See here for outfit inspiration images.
Under no circumstance should you wear these with a suit, though. That’s a trend that’s been floating around for a few years and I just think you’re not doing a suit justice by dumbing it down with sneakers.
A quick note, because it’s been brought up in the comments of my White Sneaker Video – Jordan’s and Air Force Ones are not the same as these – even if they’re white – because the shape and profile of those shoes are completely different. Notice how sleek and simple the profile of the above shoe is – THAT’S what makes all the difference. Jordan’s and Air Force Ones are chunky looking and have a very specific look that a lot of men can’t pull off.
The third pair of shoes you should own are suede driving moccasins. I’ve already covered these in my Summer Essentials Ebook, but they’re also great shoes during the other parts of the year, depending on your climate.
If you’ve never worn a pair, then you really should try them because they’re the most comfortable middle ground between a dress shoe and a sneaker and after they’ve been broken in a little bit, they’ll feel like you’re wearing a pair of socks.
I have these ones here by Tod’s that I really love. Stick with dark brown first, then you can add a tan color and then navy which will cover you for any outfit you can wear outside of a suit – which you should never wear driving mocs with. The construction is fantastic and they hug your feet nicely –
which is important because a lot of cheaply made driving mocs tend to look loose around your feet which is to be avoided.
There’s three things to remember about driving moccasins:
Only wear no-show socks with them. I did a whole video about socks so check out the link in the video description.
Before you wear them for the first time, make sure you Scotchguard them in order to protect the suede from dirt & liquids as much as possible.
They’re going to get dirty, it’s inevitable with suede. So buy them knowing they’re going to have a shorter shelf life than the rest of your shoes, but trust me, you won’t care because they’re so damn comfortable.
The fourth pair of shoes you should own are Oxford or Derby dress shoe with a sleek profile and round toe. I’ve covered these extensively before, but every man needs at least a black and possibly brown pair of dress shoes in his wardrobe. They go well with all outfits outside of a super casual outfit (think: t-shirt and jeans). And since you should at least own one suit, these are necessary because you can’t get away with wearing any other shoes with your suit. Remember: the goal is to have you looking amazing, no matter the scenario or outfit.
I prefer plain toe, but you can also get cap toes, but I will grab a pair of plain toed Oxfords or Derbys over any other kind of dress shoe 99% of the time.
As for brogueing, burnished toes, oxblood or other unique colors, don’t get me wrong, I love them, but that’s like two levels down the road if you’re new to dressing better. They’re very specific and won’t go with a lot of your outfits, so grab them after you’ve invested in a classic black and dark brown oxford.
The final pair of shoes – in this case – boots you should own are a pair of brown leather boots.
They’re utilitarian in that you can wear them in a lot of adverse weather situations as well as in more elevated casual outfits. I prefer brown because boots are usually more geared toward the cooler months, and brown is a great fall/winter color and it goes AMAZINGLY well with the dark wash jeans and wool trousers you should already own. But don’t be mistaken, you can also wear these year-round.
It’s been asked this a few times by viewers, so unless you’re going for the lumberjack or American/Japanese worker-style look, don’t wear these boots with a suit because these ARE NOT DRESS BOOTS.
I love the pebbled brown leather and goodyear welting of the Purdey boots above, which is why they’re my top choice. Trust me, I spent a lot of time finding the best boots out there and these are hands down my favorite.
If you want to know how to tie your boots properly like this so don’t have a bunch of excess laces flopping around, check out my video about how to properly tie men’s shoelaces.