Black tie events are generally considered to be ‘uniformed’ events, rather than just an occasion that warrants formal wear. There are certain circles that have strong opinions about black tie formalwear, and so to help you avoid a faux pas, we’ve put this guide together to talk about which shoes to wear with the tuxedo.
The Tuxedo Style
When thinking about the shoes to pair with a tuxedo, it’s important to think about what the tuxedo represents. As an ensemble, a tuxedo is all about simplicity and lack of accoutrements. It’s why a tuxedo jacket doesn’t have pocket flaps, and why ‘proper’ tuxedo trousers lack pleats and cuffs.
Overall, a tuxedo or black tie event is less about showing your personality and more about fitting into the accepted aesthetic of the event. That said, there are still ways of showing some personal touches when wearing a tuxedo.
Which Shoes Should you Wear with a Tuxedo?
Generally, there are four accepted shoe styles to wear to a black tie event: the court shoe or opera pump, an Oxford, a Venetian loafer, and finally a slipper (sometimes called Prince Albert Slippers). Before we go into each one, bear in mind that 99% of the time a shoe for a tuxedo is black. Occasionally, velvet slippers can deviate from black.
The Oxford; a universal sign of formality in footwear that anyone can recognise. Typically chosen in patent leather for tuxedo use, though calfskin leather is also acceptable if highly polished.
Patent leather is made permanently high-gloss by the application of acrylic or plastic layers on top of the leather to create the shine. Patent leather shoes are highly susceptible to scratches and damage, so be careful how you walk when wearing a pair.
A rule of thumb when it comes to black tie events is that less is more; avoid brogues, even quarter-brogues, and the fewer pieces to the shoe, the better.
With this in mind, the wholecut Oxford is a good alternative to patent leather, if you’re keener on calfskin leather. This means that you’re more likely to be able to wear the shoes more often, in a business setting for example.
As we mentioned before, the tuxedo is all about the lack of bulk and adornments so the wholecut Oxford is an excellent choice to pair with a tuxedo. Of course, if you’re regularly wearing your Oxfords it might be a better choice to opt for a pair of black tie-only shoes if you are attending many events; you wouldn’t want to show up with distressed shoes!
Best Shoes to Wear with a Tuxedo
As with most things, which shoes are the best to wear comes down to personal preference and foot shape. The physical reality of your feet will have a large say. On top of this, your personal style should inform your choice too.
If you’re on a budget, then polish up some black dress shoes and don’t worry about patent leather. The advantage here is that the calfskin leather shoes will work in more situations than patent leather will.
Our general advice on wearing shoes with a tuxedo is to go for patent leather, as a tuxedo is for special occasions so too should the shoes.
Can you wear trainers with a tuxedo?
A surprisingly common question. Despite how often you might find a celebrity on the red carpet sporting a pair of diamante trainers, we would advise against ever pairing a tuxedo with shoes as informal as trainers.