Difference between Dress Shoes and Casual Shoes

Have you ever seen a man attending a serious meeting at his office wearing his sandals? Or have you ever seen a person man take his dog out for a walk or pay a visit to the grocery store in his high quality leather business shoes?

Casual shoes are different from business shoes as they are both used for different purposes. They belong to two different categories of shoes that serve completely different purposes. If you are one of those who is confused between casual shoes & dress shoes, then stay tuned with us, we will be discussing about it in detail.

Occasions where to wear dress shoes and casual footwear

In case you do not know, formal business shoes are commonly known as dress shoes. The name ‘dress shoes’ mean you pair these shoes while dress up. A complete tailor made suit, shirts, tie – with this outfit a formal shoe would be the perfect match.

Dress shoes help people get the complete elegant look and give the impression that they are best fit for conducting a meeting, taking or attending an interview and for other purposes. Dress shoes can also be worn at funerals, work places, or while you are going to meet with an important client.

On the other hand, casual shoes are for informal occasions where you would prefer to be dressed casually, find comfort in your clothing and have a relaxed time. For instance, while you are at your friend’s place, went to the convenient store, while on your way to the college, went to watch a movie or any place that is not related to your work or is professional.  

How can dress shoes and casual shoes be categorized?

You must know the important of wearing the right type of shoe in the correct place. After all you shoes define and say a lot of things about you. In this section we have briefed how you can categorize dress shoes from casual shoes. 

Also Read: What are Business Casual Shoes?

Oxford, Derby, Monk Strap, Leather loafers, Chelsea boots, chukka boots are some examples of dress shoes. Sneakers, loafer not made of loafers, slip on; espadrilles etc. are same examples of casual shoes.


One of the prime differences between dress shoes and casual shoes are their structure. Structure refers to how the shoes are build, how their shape is and the overall appearance. Oxford shoes are compact, sleek and has the perfect well cut shape.

Most dress shoes have sharp lines and clean edges to make your overall outfit look cohesive and harmonious. Dress shoes are designed and constructed over wooden lasts in order to fully mimic a person’s foot. So that dress shoes would have all the streamlined structures present.

In contrast, most casual shoes like sneakers and espadrilles are fancier, bulkier in shape, with a lot more designs but with less structure in them. Boat shoes have extra spacing for people with wide feet and have a good toe space at the front. Casual shoes are designed to have a soft structure and give a relaxed vibe. makes its wearers comfortable and flexible. 

Lacing and Number of Eyelets

Another way to categorize dress shoes from casual shoes is by counting the number of eyelets and laces. Most dress shoes have think, round and waxed cotton shoe laces to keep up with the sophisticated outlook.

On the other hand, casual shoes have thicker laces that are either round or flat. Some shoe companies do not put flat laces on dress shoes, but not all. Besides the laces the soles of dress shoes are thinner than all casual shoes, this is because they have smaller number of eyelets.


While buying shoes you should always remember to check the material it is made of. Most formal shoes are made out of only leather. That includes Faux leather or vegan leather as well. You will also find many formal shoes made of suede or PU material. Leather is expensive so in that case of you have a budget; you can choose formal shoes that are made of PU or suede. 

Moreover, casual shoes are made of a lot of materials, starting from cotton to polyester, nylon, rubber, foam and much more. Some casual shoes are also made of leather. Casual shoes like sneakers are also made of multiple materials. While its exterior body may be made of synthetic materials, but its inner & mid soles are made of PU or PVC and with foam underneath it.


Many of you may know all dress shoes come in dark colors, such a black, different shades of brown, grey and dark olive. Wherelese, casual shoes come in all vibrant bright colors. Dress shoes need to have a subtle presentable color. They cannot standout too much in the crowd. Casual shoes can come in any colors, there are oranges, yellow, white, neon and any color you can imagine. 

The controversy between loafers

A lot of people are confused whether to consider loafers as dress shoes or casual shoes. The truth is loafer can fall into both the categories. The difference comes from the different type of materials it is made of.

Loafers made of leather or Suede fall into the category of dress shoes. While loafer than are of any bright colors, made of other materials such nylon, polyester or cotton, with designs and patterns fall in the casual category. 

Bottom Line

Now that you have read our article you should know the difference between dress shoes and casual shoes. Shoes have been with us since the early 19th century. Even though a lot of variations have come along the way, but they all serve the same purpose. Next time while stepping into a shop, don’t get confused between dress or casual shoes anymore. 

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