Balenciaga black sneakers.
Photo by Tony Tran on Unsplash

When we are talking about essential shoes or shoes in general, we are talking of a whole entire world inside the world of fashion.

Depending on budget and most importantly style, a closet of essential shoes can be a total different thing for everybody. Today I will share with you the most common list, according to me. This is a list of shoes that will work for almost everyone, depending on how flexible your personal style is.

Also, we have to keep in mind that when building a closet or better, when we are trying to find our personal style, building an essentials closet for either clothes, shoes, or accessories, is always a great way to start. So especially if you are looking for your personal style and you don’t know which shoes to start with, pay attention to this article.

Btw, if you need a guide how to build a general menswear essentials closet, click here.

In this article I will also add a link to my favorite option to purchase today per category. But if at the time you check them they are not available, remember this:

Essential shoes should be anything but trendy

When we are talking about essential shoes, we are talking about shoes that will work for much more than only one or two outfits. We should maybe start to be at least a bit responsible with the things we buy and thinking of essentials is a great first step.

Let’s start with the ultimate list of essential shoes.


White Adidas Sneakers flying.
Photo by Daniel Storek on Unsplash

I have already said this. In my opinion, a white sneaker is the one shoe that will never fail. This is a shoe that you can wear anywhere, in any season and at any time of the day. You can style this shoe with a bermuda short and a polo, with a suit, with chinos and a shirt, and basically with any outfit you can think of.

However, we need to make clear that when we we talk about white sneakers, we mean the ones with the least or better yet, with no lines or any logos in any color different that white. What we need to check this category is not at all a white pair of training shoes. Leave your training shoes in your gym bag and don’t ever take them out of there if it is not to clean them. High tops won’t work here either. You need a totally white pair of shoes and even better if it is a white leather one.

Keeping these shoes always clean is the key to always succeeding with them. Also, forget any type of distress effect in the pair of shoes you are getting for this category. The best brand to find this type of shoes is possibly Adidas. However, brands like Converse and even Levi’s can have some perfect options too -if you know how to find them.

If you want to read more about white sneakers, click here.

In my opinion, a perfect option (because of budget, quality and design) if you are starting a closet of essential shoes are these ones by TOMS. They are delightfully simple.


Brown dress shoes, blue pants.
Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

Every man needs dress shoes. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about Oxford shoes, leather loafers or even Chelsea boots. These are shoes you need to own specifically in a black or an earthy color like camel or a dark brown. You can wear these shoes to your wedding, but also to work and even to hang out with friends at a cafĂ© wearing some shorts and no socks.

Yes, I have to say it. Dress shoes tend to be considered too elegant or classic for the closet of any young man. However, that is not the case.

In terms of styling, dress shoes are probably as flexible as a pair of white sneakers.

Of course, I would not recomend to wear a black pair of dress shoes with shorts. So, maybe brown ones are even a better option to purchase and to check this category.

Brown shoes, denim pants. Model is on a skateboard.
Image by JayMantri from Pixabay

I have to say that lately, brands like Gucci for example, are coming with some incredibly dreamy platform dress shoes for men. However, take care. And don’t get me wrong, if you have the budget, go for them. But when you are building a closet of essentials, such trendy shoes are not a great invest at all. Because getting shoes that you will wear a lot one, two or three seasons and then abandon them in the closet is not what we are looking for in here.

Keep them clean, however, don’t get too crazy about it. Dress shoes look better after one, two or three wears when you have break them and inject some of your personality into them.

I found these ones by Alfani at Macy’s and I think they are the perfect color and style. And most importantly, they won’t make you break your bank account.


Yellow nike training shoes, yellow background.
Photo by USAMA AKRAM on Unsplash

This is a shoe we should all need. Yes, most of us should be doing something for our health and we should do it in style. I have to say that this is a shoe we all need to have, but we should only wear it for our sport activities. I know that back in the nineties wearing trainers even for night events was a thing, today, that is a total no.

Definitely the best ones will come from brands like Nike and Reebok. However, don’t forget to get the right ones for you. When you are running or for the gym, you need one type of shoes; if you play basketball, soccer or baseball, you will need specific shoes too, so pick the right ones.

When we are talking about colors, training shoes come in as many colors as you can imagine. You could basically match every gym ootd with training shoes in the exact color. However, if your budget is not there yet, you need to get a color that will go better with any outfit, like white or black. Or even better, pick a color that matches your personal style. Because when you have a well defined personal aesthetic, it will come with you wherever you go.

I think that these Nike ones are a great option for a pair of training shoes.


A guy showing converse/off-white shoes. He is on a crowd.
Photo by Glodi Miessi on Unsplash

This fourth category is definitely the one where you can get the trendiest pair of shoes. However, don’t get too far, we are still building a closet of essential shoes and we want only one. When we are talking about casual shoes we are looking for a pair of shoes which is not elegant enough for a suit, but that will always look good.

However, you need to keep this in mind: the perfect one for me, is maybe not the perfect one for you.

When you are picking this shoe you need to take a look at your closet, your outfits and your style in general.

If you are a guy who likes and wears converses a lot, well a special pair of high tops in a color like beige, or some special edition may be the best option for you. If in a different case you are guy who wears a lot of black and listens to metal rock, maybe Doc Martens are the best option for you. In my case for example, I like leather sandals and in my opinion that is the best option for me. So it depends on you, if your style is closer to Birkenstocks and socks, well, go for that.

A guy wearing black leather sandals, black pants and a white t-shirt. Also a beret and glasses.
Photo by Vlad Braga on Unsplash

There are two keys here:

  1. You need a shoe that you like so much that you may want to wear it everyday.
  2. And, you need the shoe that goes with the most of your outfits.

Think of this shoe as a pair that will work for almost every event (except the formal ones) and that you will enjoy wearing.

In this category you can also think of shoes that you find extremely fashionable, but that haven’t go viral. In my case that will be these classic leather tabi shoes from the Reebok x Maison Margiela collaboration. This shoes are a conversation piece enough to survive the test of time no matter how trendy they could get. And they are perfect to check this category if your budget lets you go there.

In conclusion, when we are building a closet of essential shoes, we should consider budget.

And when we consider budget, we need to find the perfect pair of shoes that will work for the most occasions. With only four pair of shoes that you can get for about $200 dollars the cheapest you will be set for any occasion -if you pick well. And always remember that essentials are meant to be worn the most, so without breaking your budget, put quality over design and invest in good pieces.

And now, what is the pair of shoes that you would add to your essentials shoe closet?

Related links:

Check this Pinterest board for menswear essentials in general.

And this Pinterest board dedicated only to shoes for men.

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