Men's Best Affordable and Stylish Dress Shoes
Here on the Mensch, we’re all about chasing value - getting the best product at the most reasonable price. When it comes to dress shoes, new brands are constantly emerging, and most of them preaching quality and value. So I’ve collected a few of my favorite value brands for dress shoes that i think hold up to their end of the bargain. These are just the shoes that I have had personal experiences and feel that I can give an honest recommendation for.
The point of going for these affordable shoes is being able to build a more eclectic collection rather than buying just a couple of higher quality shoes. While I absolutely understand and identify with the minimalist lifestyle, and getting the most use possible out of products, I also see the value in being able to experiment with different shoes and learn more about your own personal unique style. Plus, if you don’t like your shoes, you can simply donate them or throw them away without taking too much of a loss. It’s not worth buying expensive shoes if you realize you don’t like them and never wear them!
1. Mercanti Fiorentini
My choice for the number one value brand for dress shoes is DSW’s Mercanti Fiorentini - they’re made in Italy and cost around $130-$140 retail price. But what I love about DSW is that they have some awesome rewards features and great sales! I have two pairs currently in the collection, the tan wingtips oxfords, and the black derby.
The tan wingtips ended up costing me $90 after the sale and the black derby $80 after the discounts. Believe it or not, the wingtips are almost five years old and the leather still looks absolutely beautiful, if not better than when i first got them! There is almost no creasing on the upper where the shoes typically crease when you walk, and they have developed a nice patina.
The derbys are more of a textured, matte leather and i actually wore them to a few wedding where they got really destroyed after being stomped on multiple times during the intense Jewish dancing (OUCH!). Still they look great and are easy to polish. The creasing is much more prominent on this pair due to the nature of this leather type (im not sure exactly which leather they’re made from) so I would opt for the calfskin offerings.
The only downside is the soles, which are glued on rather than welted, and won’t be as durable as other options. Still, they can be easily repairs at a local cobbler and i think the whole welted thing has become a bit overblown in the past few years. You can still have a shoe last you a long time without being goodyear welted.
2. Arden Teal
My second choice for a value brand is a more obscure brand based out of Singapore called Arden Teal. They actually sent me a pair to style for them on Instagram but was really impressed with the design and quality for the price point. Coming in at $92 USD these are really affordable for almost any budget and look a lot more expensive than they are.
They’re made from high quality Argentinian calfskin which isn’t necessarily the densest or heartiest leather out there, but is still supple, soft, and should hold up fairly well. The soles are “cemented” on which means like Mercanti, they won’t be super resilient, but feature a really neat, leather-rubber sole that I think is a great fit for travelers. A downside of Arden Teal is that they are based in Singapore and currently charge a fair amount for shipping to the USA, and it does take a while for them to arrive. Nevertheless I think Arden Teal is a really great value brand and their biggest strength is their super sleek, European design at a really affordable price. I recommend these wingtips.
3. Johnston and Murphy
I have mixed feelings about Johnston and Murphy because they have some shoes that are great for the price and others that seem unjustly expensive. But let’s focus on a few pairs that caught my eye.
I own these Bryson tassel loafers that are made in Italy and come in at $180. Their calfskin is listed as “premium” but it has a vintage and rather wrinkly look too it. Not necessarily a bad thing but definitely gives them interesting character. They describe them on the website as “Dip-dyed, hand-stained and washed for uniquely shaded color, soft feel and vintage patina.” These, along with all of Johnston and Murphy’s “J&M 1850” line of shoes, are geared more towards younger more stylish customers and i think the shoes are generally stylish, well made, and priced reasonably. They don’t inform the sole construction but there is a welt visible on the bottom of the sole. I think they are some combination of a blake stitch and glued on.
I also want to mention their strongest value shoe, the Melton cap toe oxfords. They’re a simple, timeless design and are goodyear welted while coming in at a very reasonable $180. I think these shoes are seriously in competition for the very best value for a goodyear welted dress shoe. The only downside is that they are made in India. The leather seems to be really good quality, and although i don’t own this shoe, I have a friend who swears by them.
4. Beckett Simonon
Beckett Simonon has hit the social media marketing scene hard in the past few years and have established themselves as one of the leading DTC (direct to consumer) brands in the dress shoe market. I did an in depth review on the dress shoes I own from them, the Valencia wholecut oxford and the Dean cap toe oxford.
Apart from their modern and sleek styling, and their high quality calf leather, my absolute favorite part of Beckett Simonon is the fit. The last they use is just a tad fuller but still looks sleek and hugs my foot perfectly. Most other brands buckle on my feet but these don’t. The leather insole molds to your foot and does require a break in period but the blake stitch construction means these can last a lifetime if cared for properly.
You can use various discount codes to get 20% their $200 retail mark bringing the price down to $160, but use this link if you want to support this page. As a disclaimer, there were other brands i could have included if i wanted to make some commissions, but chose to include Beckett Simonon because I genuinely love them - so trust me on this one!
The big catch with Beckett Simonon is that you need to wait a few weeks from when you place your order until you receive the shoes. In order to cut costs, they backorder their inventory so they can cut out the middle-man and not waste money on excess production. They also have outstanding customer service and communication - just see some of their testimonials on their site.
5. Warfield & Grand
Warfield and Grand is another brand that makes very stylish shoes at really great prices. Their strength is definitely in their designs as almost everything they offer looks really sharp and modern. I have a pair of double monkstraps with a contrasting brown sole and a decorative welt that I have received tons of compliments on and bought for $80 on Gilt back when they were still a good place to shop. I think monkstraps are wildly trending so this could be a great place to start if you have yet to try out the look. These also have a noticeably heavy weight to them which does give them a higher quality feel. I think for the price Warfield & Grand brings a great balance of style, quality, feel, and value.
Honorable Mention: Cole Haan
The only reason Cole Haan is not one of my favorite affordable dress shoes is because there is a heavy markup on a lot of these shoes for the brand name. Shoes can run upwards of $200, even ones that are made in china and don’t seem to bring anything new in terms of design elements compared to other brands on this list.
I’m especially torn over their “Grand” collection of sneaker bottom leather shoes. Not only do they clash in formality, but they retail for $190, which is absurd for a bonafide sneaker in my opinion. Then again, they do share a lot of marketing tactics with their collaborators, Nike, who have mastered the “hype” model of selling shoes. Basically I think Cole Haan is mostly bringing you trendy items at a premium price point. Nevertheless, you can actually find some sweet deals at DSW and Nordstrom Rack where I snagged these for $30 on clearance, and in those cases I think they could be worth a look if you dig em.
There you have it! Those are my top affordable dress shoes that I own and recommend on a consistent basis. They each bring value in their own way, falling somewhere along the style-quality spectrum. I know there are a few brands worth taking a look at that i have yet to experience and among them are: To Boot, Mezlan, Magnani, Thursday, and Meermin. Definitely let me know if you have experience with these or any of the brands I listed above. Please DM me on Instagram (@the.mensch) or send me an email to let me in on the knowledge!