Why You Should Invest in Quality Dress Shoes

At some point in your life you’ll need to buy a pair of leather dress shoes. Whether it’s a special occasion such as a wedding, an important job interview, or you have to wear them daily for work, a good pair of dress shoes is an essential part of every mans wardrobe. In this article we’re going to explore why it makes sense to spend more on your next pair of dress shoes. We see a pair of shoes as an investment, not just a piece of footwear. By making the right decisions, you can save money in the long-run and at the same time wear shoes more comfortable and stylish than the average man. Talk about having your cake and eating it too!

What do we mean by ‘Dress Shoes’?

Dress shoes are formal shoes. Typically made out of leather, they come in several styles ranging from Oxfords to Derby Shoes to Brogues. The most common colours are black or brown. Some shoes have rubber soles, others have leather soles. We’re not here to explain all the different styles and options available, there’s plenty of men’s style and fashion websites out there that can take you through all the different types. Check out this article by Robinson’s Shoes on the difference between Oxford and Derby Shoes.

How much should you spend on a pair of Dress Shoes?

‘You get what you pay for’ is a well heard phrase to justify purchasing something that is more expensive than the cheaper options available. It’s also true that just because something is more expensive doesn’t make it better. Generally, though, a good rule of thumb with shoes is that the quality will increase up to spending around £250 for a pair. After that, you reach the point of diminishing returns. Sure, you could spend twice as much for a slightly better construction or design, but the extra benefit you get from the shoes at £500 compared to £250 shoes is not as great as the increase in quality between a £80 shoes and £250 shoes.

When buying dress shoes, lot’s of guys out there will head to a department store and be confronted with a few options. They find a pair that fits and think ‘that’s good enough’, hand over their money and leave. That’s fine for the average man, but the wiser men out there will recognise this is not an optimal way to purchase shoes. Let’s look at some of the key difference between £80 shoes and £250 shoes.

  • Style – the further you move up the price spectrum the more stylish and fashionable the shoe. This helps you stand out and sends a signal that you’ve got good style.
  • Comfort – more expensive shoes tend to be more comfortable. If wearing the shoes everyday for work, this is essential.
  • Quality – it’s a simple fact that the overall quality of a £250 pair of shoes will be far greater than a cheaply made, £80 of shoes.
  • Durability – one of the biggest advantages of more expensive shoes is their durability. A well cared for pair of shoes can last more than a decade.

So how much you should spend depends on a balance of the points above. The important thing to realise is that it’s not just a case of spending more to get something more stylish or more comfortable. Some of you might be thinking that style and comfort aren’t as important as having an extra £100 in your pocket, and we used to have the same view. Why spend more when there’s a perfectly good pair available for less?

However, things get more interesting once you factor in the durability of the shoe. It’s a fact that shoes wear out. Normally with dress shoes, it’s the sole that wears through. The sole of a cheaper shoe might only last the best part of a year with daily wear, especially if you walk to work or wear the shoes in the rain; and that’s if the uppers don’t split first. Once the shoe wears out, you find yourself back in the shop again looking for another pair of cheap shoes.

Now, we’re not saying that a more expensive shoe will last any longer (although typically they do). However, the key difference between a cheaper shoe and more expensive shoe is that the more expensive shoes can be resoled. You see, better quality shoes typically have a ‘welt’ around the edge of the sole. If you look at the shoe, you will see a row of stitching that runs from the heel block all the way around the shoe to the heel block on the other side. This stitching allows the sole to be removed and another to be installed. Compare a shoe from your high street department store and a quality shoe merchant and you’ll see what we mean.

You’re looking for the row of stitching around the sole to know if the shoe can be resoled.

How much does it cost to resole shoes?

While they’re not as common as they used to be, you will have no doubt come across a cobblers on your local high street, or perhaps outside your local supermarket. This is where you take your shoes to get the soles replaced. You can also send shoes back to the shoe makers and have them fully refurbished, but this is quite expensive and only really worthwhile for shoes over £400. If you take your shoes to the cobbler, they might replace the soles while you run a few errands or grab a coffee next door, or you an leave them and pick them up later in the week.

How much you pay will depend on the location of the cobbler, the condition of your shoes and what material you want to resole your shoes with. Leather soles typically cost more than rubber soles. We’ve experimented with leather and rubber soles over the years. Some people swear that leather soles are the only way to go, others always choose rubber soles. It will be your personal preference what material you choose, but we prefer rubber soles as they’re more durable and better for the English weather.

It will typically cost £30-£40 to have a pair of shoes resoled. You could pay less, you could pay a bit more. It’s worth asking for a quote before you have the work done. If it seems expensive, go elsewhere, or negotiate.

So let’s bring it all together…

If you spend £80 on a pair of shoes, chance are they won’t have a welt, they’ll be of a lower quality and once they’re worn out you’ll be throwing them in the bin and looking for a new pair.

Now, if you spent £250 on a pair of shoes, that’s £170 more than the cheaper pair. A lot of money. However, if you know you’re going to be wearing dress shoes for work for the next five years, the financial start to look different. Let’s assume that the soles of the shoes wear out once per year. So in five years, you would have to buy five pairs of £80 shoes, so that’s £400. Or you could spend £250, and have them resoled four times at £35 a time, so you’ll spend £390 in total. It’s actually cost less in the long-run to own the more expensive shoes. Not to mention the benefits of increased comfort and better style you’ll get from the more expensive shoe.

Over time, as you wear shoes the leather of the uppers becomes more subtle and molds to the foot. By resoling your shoes you only have to do this work once, and then you have a consistently well fitting pair of shoes. Why go through the pain and possible blisters of wearing in a new pair every year when you could keep the same pair.

The prices used in the above article were only meant to act as an example. You can spend anywhere from £25 all the way through to £600 and beyond for a quality pair. However, we think the sweet spot is around the £250 mark and in the long run this offers the best balance between price, style and comfort.