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Shoes matter: simple as they might seem, your shoes say an awful lot about you.
The best casual shoes combine comfort and style in a way few other types of shoes can, and if you can get them right, they say a whole lot of good things about you.
The problem is, there are just so many on the market – it’s just impossible to keep up.
So to solve that problem, we’ve put together this article to narrow down your options to the very finest products available.
Simply put, we’ve got something for every man’s needs.
And there’s more:
We’re also going to look in detail at which kinds of casual shoes work for different occasions and explain the important differences between casual shoes and sneakers.
Let’s start with the 9 factors you need to consider when buying casual shoes.In a hurry? Here are our top picks:
|Merrell Men’s Jungle Moc Slip-On Shoe||Check on Amazon|
|Polo Ralph Lauren Men's Faxon Low Sneaker||Check on Amazon|
|Dr. Scholl's Shoes Men's Sync Oxford||Check on Amazon|
|Sperry Top-Sider Original 2-Eye Boat Shoes||Check on Amazon|
|Skechers For Work Men’s Cottonwood Goddard Twin Gore Slip-Resistant Slip-On||Check on Amazon|
|Marino Suede Oxford Business Casual Shoes||Check on Amazon|
|Bruno Marc New York Men’s Suede Leather Lace-Up Oxfords||Check on Amazon|
|Dadawen Men’s Classic Suede Leather Business Casual Dress Shoes||Check on Amazon|
Before you buy: 9 Things to consider when purchasing casual shoes
Casual shoes come in many styles and designs and, technically, encompass everything from boat shoes to saddle shoes to sneakers.
We’ll discuss casual shoe types later in the article, but the bottom line is that your criteria for buying them may vary depending on which style you choose.
Nonetheless, there are some common casual shoe features that you should keep in mind when deciding the best style and fit for you.
Casual shoes consist of a wide range of materials, but the most preferred types – at least for your money – are leather, suede, and canvas.
- Leather, particularly pebbled leather, is a common, quality material used to make casual shoes. It’s visually appealing, durable, and porous enough to provide some breathability.
- Suede consists of the underside of a cow’s skin and is a staple of men’s casual footwear. Suede looks great with jeans, khakis, or other types of casual pants. A suede shoe’s distinctive nap – which gives it its texture and appearance – sets it apart from other types of material; the more prominent the nap, the more casual the shoe.
- Shoes made from canvas are most popular in the spring and summer, although not limited to those seasons. Sneakers, espadrilles, etc., consist of canvas and are lightweight and pliable.
- A couple of other materials to consider are calfskin leather and patent leather. Calfskin is smooth leather and looks good on many casual shoes, but it’s not a truly casual look like pebbled leather, suede, and canvas. Patent leather, meanwhile, is smooth, stiff, very shiny – and not appropriate for casual wear. It looks great on shoes worn with tuxedos, however.
Casual implies “comfort,” and among the many reasons that men choose casual shoes is their comfortability. Besides, no casual shoe manufacturer wants to be known as the company that sells uncomfortable shoes.
A shoe’s breathability means, in part, the ventilation inside the shoe and how well it keeps your foot cool and dry.
There are a variety of materials used in a casual shoe’s construction, including microfibers that help wick sweat away from your feet while providing plenty of moisture evaporation.
Mesh uppers rank high on the breathability scale, while a shoe’s perforations allow air to get into the shoe to help keep your foot dry.
4. Foot support
While comfort is king when it comes to casual shoes, foot support isn’t far behind.
The quality of a shoe’s foot derives from elements such as its heel cup (the deeper the cup, the more stable), the roominess of its toe box, and an anatomical footbed that’s a feature of many casual shoes.
“Anatomical” means the footbed conforms to the natural shape of your foot to provide better support.
5. Stability & Grip
A shoe’s stability prevents twisted ankles and other issues that may arise when walking on different types of terrain. Its grip comes from the outsole, which ideally should consist of non-marking rubber.
The more slip-proof a shoe’s grip, the better, especially if you work in an occupation (such as nursing) in which spills and wet floors are common.
6. Heel & Midsole
A well-cushioned heel also contributes to a casual shoe’s level of comfort, and shoes with air-cushioning are worth serious consideration. The midsole provides an additional layer of cushioning between your insole and outsole for enhanced comfort.
Casual shoes come in every color imaginable – colors that aren’t necessarily appropriate for dress shoes. Bright colors help express a flair for color, but you should take care to wear them in an environment (especially work) in which they don’t look too out of place.
White is a great color for warm-weather wear and provides a classic casual look even when worn in a more dressy manner. Tan is another acceptable casual shoe color, as is brown.
You need to find the right fit before spending your money on a pair of casual shoes, which isn’t saying anything new.
But too many men buy a pair of shoes without first having their feet measured, or online while hoping that the size they order isn’t too snug, too loose, too whatever. Size may, and often does, also vary from brand to brand.
A shoe’s price isn’t always an indication of its overall quality. For example, a high-priced shoe doesn’t guarantee a better shoe than, say, one in a middle price range.
Value is what matters most, but don’t be afraid of spending extra money for a shoe made of the best materials that feel like magic on your feet.
Next, here’s a look at our choices for the best casual shoes for men.
The 8 best casual shoes for men
From hiking boots to cowboy boots to casual shoes, the Merrell brand name has a reputation for producing highly-rated footwear. There’s also something to be said for the versatility of Merrell’s boots and shoes, including their Jungle Moc Slip-On shoe.
While the Jungle Moc represents the quintessential casual shoe look and feel, it can stand up to most kinds of terrain – concrete, hiking trails, you name it – while keeping your feet comfortable, dry, and from becoming overly tired.
- The Jungle Moc slip-on consists of 100% suede leather that looks good.
- It comes with Merrell’s unique M Select Fresh feature that controls sweat and moisture that affects the freshness of your shoes thanks to antimicrobial agents that prevent the reproduction of odor-causing bacteria.
- The Jungle Moc has an EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) footbed that offers excellent cushioning. EVA is a foam-like material found in many of today’s top shoes, casual or otherwise.
- The midsole features a breathable mesh lining that helps keep your foot cool, while the shoe’s air cushion heel absorbs the shock of each stride while adding to the Jungle Moc’s excellent stability.
- The rubber outsole provides traction on every kind of terrain. Even if you wear your Jungle Moc’s for an outdoor adventure, you can expect the outsole to hold steady while providing excellent all-around traction.
This video also provides a quick rundown of the Jungle Moc and its features:
- M Select Fresh feature fights odor-causing bacteria
- Good traction on all types of terrain
- EVA footbed provides excellent cushioning
- Sizing may run small
There’s a lot to like about the Jungle Moc – from how it keeps your foot fresh to its excellent support and traction. Plenty of satisfied customers bear witness to Merrell’s superb craftsmanship and innovation.
Casual is cool. And why not combine casual with a distinctive Polo Ralph Lauren design?
That’s the case with the Ralph Lauren Faxon Low Sneaker, which features a decidedly casual design that not only looks great but will last you a long time.
The Faxons feature a classic retro shape but come with rawhide laces and an embroidered logo that helps set them apart from the rest.
Another thing we like about these shoes their breathability. Your feet won’t sweat excessively, and you’ll stay cool and comfortable even when temperatures soar.
Many wearers and reviewers mention how durable the Faxon sneakers are, while you’ll also appreciate that you have 36 colors from which to choose. Rest assured, there’s a color to fit your wardrobe and style.
- Classic Ralph Lauren look.
- Very durable and should last you a long time.
- Lace-up design stays secure on your feet.
- The sizing runs a little large.
If you prefer an iconic preppy look, one that’s sufficiently casual, that is, then you’ll love the Faxon sneakers by Ralph Lauren.
We’ve looked at some pretty great casual shoes so far, but there’s a special category of casual shoes we’ve not touched too much on: the smart-casual shoe.
Sometimes when you’re buying a shoe, what you really want is to cover as many bases as possible – to get more from your money and to get true versatility.
Dr. Scholl’s Sync Oxfords are a great example of the art of smart-casual footwear, with their great looking design and 3 different colors to pick from, they look stylish and cool whilst also being relaxed enough to just wear around.
Part of that is the BE FREE Energy Technology Insole, which gives you an extra level of comfort – far more cushioned than the average smart shoe. It gives you extra support under the toe, high-recovery foam at the ball of the foot, and a dense foam around the heel; combined, it completely hugs your feet.
The upper is made of faux leather, which is both durable and good looking, and the wax laces are tough without being needlessly taut. The shoes are surprisingly light, making them great to just chill in, and unlike most shoes that look as good, they don’t tire the feet out, even after a long day.
It is important to note that these are not the most durable shoes you’ll come across – their sole is singled out as a weak point by several reviewers.
But if you’re after a truly versatile pair of casual shoes, you won’t find much better.
- Can be worn casually or formally
- BE FREE Energy Technology insole provides extra comfort
- Good looking design
- The sole isn’t the most durable
A great smart-casual pair of shoes: great looking and hugely comfortable.
The Sperry Top-Sider is something that’s stood the test of time. It’s the quintessential summer shoe – one that’s been around since 1935 – and remains a top-seller. Simply put, it’s an extremely popular casual shoe.
The Top-Sider’s original use was to help protect sailboat decks from scuffing thanks to their non-marking outsole. But they also provide slip-resistant traction that’s necessary when maneuvering around a potentially slippery boat deck.
The original design remains much the same as it was over 80 years ago but includes various innovations that have helped keep it relevant (and among the best-selling casual shoes).
Plus, many, many men who never set foot on a boat – or rarely set foot on one – choose the Sperry Top-Sider as their go-to casual shoe.
And what’s not to like?
- The Sperry Top-Sider consists of 100% imported leather that’s hand-sewn for durability and comfort.
- The 360 lacing system features a functional design that delivers a secure fit and includes rustproof eyelets and rawhide laces.
- Comfort comes from, in part, an Ortholite underfoot cushioning system that enhances the shoe’s overall shock absorption. It also comes from a shock-absorbing EVA heel cup.
- The Top-Sider’s beveled heel provides stability, whether you’re on the deck of a boat or uneven terrain.
The Top-Sider’s versatility is, among other reasons, why we like this shoe and include it on our list of the best casual shoes for men.
They look good in most business casual situations, including when worn with polo shirts, khakis, and chinos, but also pair beautifully with jeans and a T-shirt.
The original Top-Sider color (brown) remains a popular choice among men, but you have plenty of colors from which to choose, including navy blue. You can also wear them with or without socks.
- Still relevant (and stylish) after all these years
- Slip-proof sole
- Look good with many styles of clothing
- The heel design isn’t to some users’ liking
It’s hard to go wrong with something that’s been around as long as the Sperry Top-Sider yet continues to be an essential casual and summer wear shoe.
The average workplace can take a toll on a person’s feet and ankles, especially if the job entails hours of standing and walking.
Or, depending on the workplace, things can get downright hazardous because of spills and other mishaps that demand a shoe with plenty of traction.
If any of the above is common to your line of work, then you fully understand the necessity of owning a pair of shoes that can withstand the rigors of your daily grind – a shoe such as the Skechers For Work Cottonwood Goddard Twin Gore Slip-On.
It’s a slip-on that’s slip-resistant, and we think it ranks among the very best casual work shoes.
That it comes from Skechers, one of the best men’s shoe brands, comes as no surprise, but performance must always rate higher than the brand name when push comes to shove (or, in this case, when the foot meets the floor).
With its slip-resistant outsole and reliable traction, this shoe provides the peace of mind of knowing that you can move safely about the workplace on wet or oily surfaces. The outsole consists of a flexible nitrile rubber routinely tested for its effectiveness in preventing slips.
Not every workplace presents such hazards, mind you, but can challenge your feet and shoes because of the time you spend on your feet all day.
That’s one reason why comfort is so important, and the Skechers Cottonwood Goddard Twin Gore Slip-Resistant Slip-On help give your feet a reprieve.
It has a smooth leather upper that fits comfortably around the foot, while a padded collar provides further comfort. The insole includes Memory Foam cushioning and a removable comfort insole. Its fit qualifies as “relaxed” in that it’s roomier than many other casual shoes.
Additional comfort comes from a shock-absorbing midsole that supplies extra support, while the shoe’s breathable fabric lining helps keep the foot cool and dry.
The Cottonwood model comes in black leather that’s dressier than many other casual work shoes in the Skechers line. Check out this video for a quick look at the Cottonwood Goddard:
- Slip-resistant sole
- Relaxed but secure fit
- Dressier look than many other casual work shoes
- Potentially longer break-in period
The Skechers Cottonwood slip-on looks good, feels good, and offers the security of a sole that won’t let you down – literally – if your workplace sometimes has slippery surfaces. It’s a quality shoe by a quality brand.
Is it a casual shoe? A dress shoe? The line between the two categories can get a bit fuzzy when describing the Marino Suede Oxford Business Casual Shoes, but we think they exist comfortably in the casual category.
One thing is clear; however: Marino’s business casual shoes have a classy appearance that’s more fashionable than a lot of other casual shoes, although fashion is in the eye of the beholder.
But Marino is all about combining fashion with everyday wear for a distinct appearance.
Made from suede leather, the Marino Oxford Business Casual Shoe comes in a variety of colors and includes a caramel-color TPR sole that’s durable and looks good.
The high-quality suede won’t tear or scuff and should give you years of use before it’s time to shop for your next pair of shoes.
Marino describes the shoe’s fit as “sleek,” and it’s one that’s not too loose in the back or too wide on the sides. The shoes come in half-sizes that help make for a more precise fit.
Another thing we think you’ll like about Marino’s Suede Oxford Business Casual Shoes is that they come with a 45-day free exchange and return policy plus a 180-day warranty.
- Very stylish casual shoe
- Made from high-quality suede leather
- Generous return and exchange policy
- Some customers say the sole is a bit thin
Marino’s line of casual shoes is classy and fashionable. Their Oxford Men’s Business Casual Shoes are no exception and will serve you well for a variety of occasions and workplaces.
The Bruno Marc Men’s Suede Leather Lace-Up Oxford is a classy-yet-versatile casual shoe that’s suitable for work, events, and just about any everyday use you so choose.
Made from 100% suede leather, the Bruno Marc includes a midsole stripe and a lace-up front closure. Its 1-inch heel height enables you to wear it for light or business casual while adding a bit of sleekness to its already professional look.
You’ll also like this shoe’s breathability and its handmade outsole that offers further comfort and durability. It also comes in a variety of colors and has a budget-friendly price tag that makes for excellent overall value.
- Breathable suede leather upper
- Stylish enough for most occasions
- Classy look
- The toe area may form a crease
Bruno Marc makes trendy men’s casual shoes that have a professional look suitable for many occasions. The Bruno Marc Urban is comfortable, classy, and a great value for the price.
There are plenty of shoes available that qualify among the best affordable casual dress shoes available, but it’s hard to beat the Dadawen Men’s Classic Suede Leather Business Casual shoes.
Dadawen’s multifunctional oxfords are suitable for a variety of uses, including in an office setting where business casual is the norm, or at least allowed during certain days of the week or month.
The Men’s Classic Suede Leather shoe has an excellent design and consists of fine suede leather that’s ideal for everyday casual wear.
You also have plenty of colors to choose from throughout the Dadawen line, including the blue suede version that would make Elvis proud.
But good-looking, business casual-appropriate shoes aren’t very useful if they aren’t comfortable and Dadawen has you covered there, as well.
The TPR (thermoplastic rubber) soles provide comfort and stability, while the backs and sides fit nicely without being too loose or too tight.
Dadawen’s shoes will hold up under the strain of any office environment – where scratches, scuffs, and tears may accumulate – and should provide you with years of use with the proper care.
They’re also very affordable compared to many other business casual shoes, and we think you’ll like that.
- Modern style in a classic casual shoe look
- Excellent for business-casual settings
- Good return and exchange policy
- Sizing may run a little big
Dadawen may or may not be a brand that you’ve heard of, but they make excellent casual shoes and have been for a long time. Their Men’s Classic Suede Leather Oxford won’t break the bank but will serve you well in many office environments.
Why we included these shoes on our list
The very broad category of casual shoes includes numerous styles and designs. Your choices are many. We hoped to provide a decent cross-sampling of casual shoes (we left sneakers off of our list for the reasons explained above) that work for a variety of occasions.
Comfort, of course, was essential no matter what type of casual shoe we reviewed, as were a variety of other features, such as durability, overall design, and fit.
We also considered each shoe’s price and, perhaps surprisingly, many of the best casual shoes for men are very affordable.
The various types of casual shoes for every occasion (A simple, illustrated guide)
There’s no such thing as one casual shoe. Indeed, casual shoes come in a wide variety of styles, and you’ll find a pair for just about any occasion, even semi-formal occasions. The following are some of the more popular casual shoe types:
Loafers are on the edge of the boundary that separates casual and formal shoes and sometimes crosses over into formal territory.
They’re slip-on, which makes it easy to take them on and off, and have a distinct appearance that’s classy enough for almost any work environment (and definitely for any social occasion).
You can also wear them with or without socks, although style experts suggest never wearing them with black socks.
Like loafers, boat shoes are of the slip-on variety of shoes, and among the best-looking casual shoes, you can find.
They’re comfortable thanks to their leather upper that fits easily around the foot without pinching or tightness.
They’re non-marking rubber soles, and a unique tread pattern makes them slip-proof, which is always important if you’re on a boat.
You can wear them with or without socks, and they look great when paired with a pair of shorts and a simple T-shirt.
The espadrille is a loafer-style (some would argue slipper-style) shoe designed for summer use. They’re fashionable enough to look fantastic at every casual occasion and come in a variety of colors and designs.
A moccasin isn’t a loafer, but it’s close. Very close.
After all, the moccasin has the same slip-on functionality as loafers but is more eccentric because they’re often adorned with decorative items – tassels, beads, etc. Moccasins consist of a leather upper stitched together with a soft sole.
Calling sandals “shoes” is something of a stretch, but there’s no question whether they’re casual or not. They’re ideal for summer use, such as days spent at the beach, and can be quite fashionable.
Sneakers are, yes, casual footwear. But sneakers are also athletic shoes, which leads us to our next question, and point.
What’s the difference between casual shoes and sneakers?
The confusion that sometimes inspires the above question comes from the fact that, in essence, sneakers are “casual” shoes.
You don’t wear sneakers for formal settings – at least most formal settings – or other places where, at the least, you should wear business casual.
But for our purposes, sneakers are synonymous with what some still refer to as gym shoes. They can also mean running shoes, of which there’s an endless variety available, as well as cross-trainers, etc.
What’s known as a sneaker in America is referred to as a “jogger” in Britain.
So, rather than lump casual shoes into one category, which would include sneakers, it’s better to divide the categories while making a clear distinction between what’s a casual shoe and what’s, say, a basketball or running shoe.
Casual shoes provide warmth, comfort, and protection, for starters, but also much more, but you shouldn’t use them for athletic training or competition.
They may have laces or maybe of the slip-on variety, while most of them have an upper covering the encloses most of the foot.
Loafers are a popular choice within the slip-on category.
Soft soles are most comfortable on casual shoes because they’re not intended for use while jogging or hitting the more rugged terrain of trails (which is where hiking shoes, their own category, come in handy).
You can break down shoes into additional subsets, such as casual, business casual, and formal.
If you work in a casual environment, you can get away with shoes such as loafers and, depending on your workplace, even sneakers or other shoes that provide support if you’re on your feet all day.
Business casual, in which you typically wear slacks and khakis, usually means wearing loafers, oxfords, or any other type of comfortable, yet still dressy choice.
Finally, casual shoes typically don’t have a place in formal settings, where closed-toe oxfords – usually in brown or black – get the nod over loafers.
The sneaker comes in many forms, including shoes such as slip-on sneakers or Converse All-Stars (once a popular basketball shoe), and is sometimes suitable for casual occasions.
But sneakers that complete a “casual” look are different from sneakers used for athletic activities such as running, walking, sprinting, weight-lifting, and more.
That’s not to say that athletic shoes are bland and don’t look great – there are thousands of cool and sporty designs available in the world of athletic shoes – but they do offer specialized cushioning and protection designed to stand up to physical activity.
While you may wear running shoes to the company picnic, or even to a movie or night out with friends, their primary purpose is to keep your feet, ankles, and legs protected from the high-impact nature of jogging.
Most sneakers come with hard rubber soles that offer superior shock absorption, traction, and stability.
But a running shoe is different from a training shoe or a workout shoe in that the latter has a design equipped to handle the lateral and jumping movements of cross-training workouts and exercises.
In many ways, defining casual shoes and sneakers is a matter of semantics. Sneakers, for the sake of categorization, are technically “casual” because you don’t wear them for most business casual or formal occasions, but perhaps best defined as athletic shoes.
Do know this: if you do a search of Amazon’s “best casual shoes for men,” plenty of sneakers will pop up on your screen. But those types of casual shoes are different from a Brooks or Nike (or, insert another brand here) running shoe.
We’d also love to hear from you. What kind of casual shoes do you wear? Why do you like them? Have you worn any of the shoes on our list? We encourage your feedback and comments.