A helpful tuxedo shoe guide: What shoes go with a tuxedo?
Black tie events are more than just an occasion that warrants formal wear. They require a specific “uniformed” dress code, meaning there is a wrong and a right way to dress at a black tie event.
To help you avoid a fashion faux pas, we’ve put this guide together to help you know exactly how to dress for a black tie event, what shoes you can wear with a tuxedo and what shoes to avoid at all costs.
Table of contents
What is the tuxedo style?
Black tie is one of the most formal event dress codes in society and manifests ultimate sophistication and formality. There are very specific boundaries in what you can and can’t wear, so we’ve laid out the dress code here so you don’t wear the wrong thing.
Firstly, the tuxedo, or dinner suit as it’s referred to in the UK, embodies simplicity and lack of accoutrements. You’ll find that tuxedo jackets don’t have pocket flaps and why “proper” tuxedo trousers lack pleats and cuffs.
Although being simplistic, there are definitive dos and don’ts to follow when dressing for black tie. Typically, the tuxedo-style dress code includes
- A tuxedo or dinner jacket in traditional barathea wool with satin or silk peaked lapels. The jacket can be single or double-breasted with covered buttons and pockets without flaps.
- The white dress shirt needs a Marcella front, a stiff geometric cotton weave, and a turned-down collar (instead of a winged one) to fit a bow tie and double cuffs, requiring cufflinks.
- A black bow tie is traditional and preferred. However, you can experiment with colours, patterns and materials in some contexts, but it can never be white as this is exclusively reserved for a white tie dress code.
- Tuxedo trousers, which you need to press, are fitted and naturally taper. They also feature a single row of braid or satin piping down the outside of each leg.
- Your shoes for tuxedo dress codes must be formal black shoes, preferably patent leather, although you can get away with calf leather or velvet slippers in some contexts.
- Optional extras: You can wear a waistcoat, but it must match the tuxedo, or you can wear a cumberbund, but never both together.
The tuxedo style is less about showing your personality and more about fitting into the accepted aesthetic of the event, and your shoes should also reflect this, meaning the more simplistic, the better. That said, there are still ways of showing some personal touches when wearing a tuxedo, for example, quirky cufflinks.
Types of tuxedo shoes
Generally, there are three accepted shoe styles to wear to a black tie event: an Oxford, a Venetian loafer, and velvet slippers (sometimes called Prince Albert Slippers).
Before we go into each one, remember that tuxedo shoes should be black 99% of the time. However, if you’re wearing velvet slippers, they can occasionally deviate from black.
The Oxford is a universal sign of formality in footwear that anyone can recognise and is the go-to shoe for the tuxedo dress code.
Oxford shoes in patent leather are the most accepted shoe for the tux dress code because of their high formal shine. However, you can opt for calfskin leather oxford shoes if thoroughly polished.
The patent leather of our Kelly Black Patent Leather Oxford Dress shoes is permanently glossy from the added acrylic or plastic layers on top of the leather to create the shine.
Be aware that patent leather shoes are highly susceptible to scratches and damage, so be careful how you walk when wearing a pair.
Do you have to wear shiny shoes with a tuxedo, and can you wear regular dress shoes with a tuxedo?
If you haven’t got patent leather Oxford shoes, the whole-cut Oxford is an acceptable alternative to patent leather.
As we mentioned earlier, the tuxedo dress is all about the lack of bulk and adornments, so the whole-cut Oxford is an excellent choice to pair with a tuxedo due to its sleek, seamless form.
With the correct polishing technique, you can make calf leather shine like a patent shoe. For polishing tips, read our shoe polishing guide.
Are tuxedo shoes different from suit shoes?
As a rule of thumb, with black tie events, less is more; avoid brogues, even quarter-brogues, and derby shoes and the fewer pieces to the shoe, the better. Even cap-toe Oxford calf leather shoes you typically wear with your best black suit are too informal. Try to avoid decoration where possible.
Can you wear loafers with a tuxedo?
Loafers are viable shoes for your tux dress code, often favoured in a more relaxed environment and context. However, not all loafers are equal; tassel loafers are generally considered too casual for tuxedos.
To maintain the sleek silhouette and minimal accoutrements style of black tie. Venetian loafers are the gold standard of tuxedo loafer shoes. As with Oxford shoes, patent leather is best, but you can shine black calf leather Venetian loafers to maintain the formal look. Why not try our Wilbur Apron Loafer in Black Calf Leather for your next black tie event?
What shoes not to wear with a tuxedo?
Can you wear trainers with a tuxedo?
Here is 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.
Can you wear brown shoes with a tuxedo?
Typically, we would advise you not to wear brown shoes with a tuxedo as they are not formal enough for the dress code.
The best shoes to wear with a tuxedo at Cheaney Shoes
As with most things, which shoes are the best to wear comes down to personal preference and foot shape. The physical form of your feet will have a significant say on which shoes you choose. For example, Oxford shoes can be restrictive compared to loafers and slippers due to the closed lacing system. On top of this, your unique style should inform your choice.
Our general advice on wearing shoes with a tuxedo is to go for patent leather, as a tuxedo is for special occasions, so your shoes should reflect that. But, if you’re on a budget, polish up some black dress shoes and don’t worry about patent leather. Opting for calf-leather Oxford shoes allows you to get more wear out of them in multiple contexts than with patent leather shoes.
Now you should know precisely how to dress and what shoes to wear when you receive an invitation with a “Black Tie” dress code. For a wider variety of tuxedo shoes at Cheaney, browse our black Oxford and black loafer collections and choose the perfect shoes for you.