This guide is designed to explain what each style looks like; provide you with your European, US and Japanese shoe sizes; and give you some tips on care and what to wear with your new footwear.
Parts and construction
Sections of a shoe
Upper Material that comes over the foot to ensure shoe stays attached to foot.
Lining Is the inside part of the upper. It can be made of same or material as uppers, but not necessarily.
Welt A strip of material that's stitched between the sole and upper.
Outsole The bottom part of a shoes.
Insole The part that comes in contact with the bottom of your foot.
Midsole The section between the between the outsole and insole.
Types of construction
Goodyear Welt This traditional method of construction involves stitching an extra strip of leather, known as a welt, between the upper and the insole. A cavity is formed, which is then filled with cork for breathability. Besides making the shoes more comfortable and durable, this process also means that they can easily be resoled. So although the initial cost of the shoes will be higher, Goodyear-welted shoes will last longer and provide insulation against the cold and heat.
Cemented An easier and less expensive way of making shoes. The outsole is glued to the insole and under flaps of the upper by an adhesive agent. The space between the outsole and insole is packed with filler material to create a flat footbed.
The under flaps (bottom edge) of the upper is folded outward and stitched to the sole.
The upper is wrapped around the last and is sewn together at the seam created under the last.
Choosing a style
Even if smart shoes have a fashion-forward design, most of them can be categorised into the following types.
A low-profile laced shoe with eyelet tabs that are stitched underneath the upper and over the instep. This method of construction is also known as "closed lacing". Originating from Scotland and Ireland, they're traditionally made of leather, come below the ankle and have a small piece of leather sewn over the toes to create a type of cap.
Characterised by the perforated pattern on the uppers, brogues can come in any shape of shoe or boot. Like Oxfords, this type of footwear was first created in Scotland and Ireland and was considered to be an outdoor shoe as the perforations weren't there for decoration, but to drain out water. Nowadays, they're worn more in the city than countryside, and although designers can create their own pattern, the four classic styles - full brogue (or wingtip), semi brogues, quarter brogues and longing brogues - never go out of fashion.
Sometimes referred to as a variety of Oxford, Derby shoes have open lacing rather than closed lacing, and the eyelet tabs are sewn on top of the uppers. Most are double stitched and double soled, and can have a plain, semi-brogue or full-brogue design.
Dating back to Victorian times, this ankle-high boot can be identified by the elasticated side panels that run from above the welt to the opening. First used as a type of riding boot and then elevated to fashion statement by the mod crowd in the 1960s, the Chelsea boot has retained to cool kudos. Must only be worn with a skinny suit or jeans.
The clue is in the title, slip-ons are designed without a fastening and can easily be put on and off. Known in America as loafers, they have a moccasin-style construction without the laces of course.
Usually built with canvas uppers, but that's not a must, espadrilles can be identified by their trademark rope soles. Again, not all espadrilles are fitted with rope soles, however, the soles should look like rope.
Traditionally made of deerskin, but are also available in other types of soft leather, the soles and sides of moccasin are made of one piece of leather.
Similar looking to moccasins, boat shoes are made for walking on the deck of a boat. They have leather uppers with water-repellent finish and rubber soles with siping pattern cut into them for added grip on wet surfaces. Like most functional footwear, this form of shoes has moved into the fashion arena.
Ankle length and featuring 2 or 3 pairs of eyelets. They similar to desert boots, but the openings are less loose on the ankles.
Fashion and care advice
When wearing a suit or formal trousers, you need to make sure your belt matches the colour of your shoes.
Try to avoid wearing trainers with a suit, but if you must, then do so with lots of attitude and copious amounts of confidence; otherwise you'll look immature - not very attractive.
A general rule for teaming footwear with a suit is to find a pair that's as dark, if not darker than the suit. This means you can get away with wearing brown shoes with a navy suit if the shoes are as dark as the suit. Brown shoes of any shade should not be worn with a black suit.
Socks don't have to match your shoes, so don't be afraid to experiment. Just make sure they work with the rest of the outfit. Pick your socks, like you would pick your tie.
Although jeans go with any style or colour footwear, it's best to avoid wearing patent dress shoes with them.
And finally, never, ever wear socks with sandals! Even if they're Birkenstocks.
Suede shoes really need to be treated with a protective spray. Invest in a suede brush to keep the nap raised and the suede looking new.
Make sure new shoes with leather soles are well scuffed before you wear them in the rain or on a well-waxed floor. Don't stick rubber soles onto them!
Prop up wet shoes with old newspaper and let them dry naturally, as this will prevent the uppers from cracking and the leather layers of the soles from separating.
Shoe trees are a necessity when it comes to high-end shoes.
Regularly check your shoes for any scuffs or worn soles and seek professional help to fix the problem. A good repair shop can dramatically prolong the life of your shoes.