As a student, you’ve probably been in sneakers all your life – and perhaps the occasional loafer. Then, Prom comes around the corner and suddenly you’re expected to show up – for the first time in your life – in an immaculate suit, tie, and a spiffing pair of shoes. Quality formalwear doesn’t come cheap, however, and many seniors are confounded by the decision between keeping costs low for apparel they’re hardly going to wear for at least a few years more in college, and showing up smart for the flurry of phototaking that’s sure to take place at prom.
What many students don’t know is that with the right sartorial knowledge, you can find the perfect pair of shoes that can look smart with a suit and tie (save for black tie occasions), as well as a polo shirt and jeans! Here are a few tips to finding the right pair of shoes.
1. Get shoes in a shade of dark brown
Dark brown is one of the most versatile colours in men’s footwear. A pair of dark brown shoes will look right at home with a navy suit or a pair of casual jeans. Black is usually more reserved for strictly formal occasions (think job interviews, weddings, funerals), whereas lighter vibrant colours bring with them a more casual touch.
2. Choose the right shoe cut
The style of the shoe also dictates its formality. Here are a few features to look out for.
- Generally, shoes using a closed-lacing system (oxfords) are more formal than those using an open-lacing system (derbies), which are in turn more formal than those using no lacing at all (loafers, monkstraps).
- Brouguing, which are intricate patterns punched into the leather upper of the shoe, makes it less formal.
- The amount of shine in the shoe’s finish also affects its formality. Formal occasions usually demand high-shined shoes, or even one made of patent leather.
You can choose a pair of shoes with a combination of these 3 factors in various formalities to find the most versatile pair. For example, a pair of oxfords with broguing or a pair of derbies with a plain captoe would both be equally versatile. For any pair of shoes, you can choose to give it a mirror shine just for the formality of prom night, and wear them matte for most of the year. For a good mirror shine, we recommend Saphir’s Mirror Gloss, which contains a high concentration of hard waxes making it easy for amateurs to add a quick glossy coat to their shoes!
3. Play around with lacing
Lacing your shoes is one of the quickest and cheapest ways to drastically alter the look of a shoe. A straight-bar lacing pattern is usually used for formal occasions, and a criss-cross pattern for less formal and casual ones. Here is a good visual guide on how to lace your shoes in both ways.
You could also change the colour of your shoelaces to make a formal shoe look casual. Formal shoes usually demand uniformity between the lace and shoe colour, and these are the default laces that usually come with the shoes. However, you could pair dark brown shoes with light brown laces to give it an energetic accent! You can easily find shoelaces online in multiple colours, but we prefer pairing shoes and shoelaces in different shades of the same colour, rather than completely different colours.
Using these 3 tips, you should be able to dress smartly for prom without worrying that you aren’t getting enough utility from the money spent on your outfit. With the proper care, a good pair of leather shoes should last decades and even a lifetime. ShoeTree Project, whose expert opinion we’ve consulted in writing this article, has a really cool Kit Designer Tool, which tells you which shoe care products you need based on your shoe type, environment, and desired finish. Not only that, they also carry a huge range of quality shoe care products, including the world-renowned Saphir Medaille d’Or shoe care line in Singapore, as well as other shoe care accessories made of extraordinary materials such as ox horn and horsetail hair.