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Which shoes should I get?

Which shoes should I get?

Your shoes are probably the most important thing in your wardrobe. And not just because, as you’ve doubtless heard, they’re the first thing everyone notices. There’s also the small matter of the wear they get, in both senses; you’ll spend more time in them than anything else and they’ve got to withstand thousands of steps, through all kinds of weather and all the muck that litters the pavements.

“They get beaten up more than anything else so they should be robust,” says Thread stylist Toby Standing. “Of everything in your wardrobe, shoes are where you should invest the most. If you buy a cheap pair, you get a cheap amount of wear out of them. Spend a bit more and you get better materials and better construction.” Both are synonyms for something that looks better and lasts longer. That’s a plus for your style, your comfort and your cost-per-wear.

It helps that certain shoes have stayed consistent for more than a century – and will likely last at least another. That means you can invest in the knowledge that, so long as you care for them properly, they’ll never date. Although to maximise the amount of wear you get from your investment, they need to work with as much of your wardrobe as possible. “The more classic the design – the less trend-led they are – the more versatile they are,” says Toby. “Think fewer colours, fewer details.”

The final thing to bear in mind is your lifestyle. Pick shoes that don’t work for you and they’ll barely leave the box. Below, we explore four key styles, to help you decide which you should invest in. Well, invest in next, at least. If you own all four, you’ll never put a foot wrong.

1. Do you always wear a suit to work?

Yes – get black lace-ups

No – go to 2

Black Derbies

If your default mode is dressed up, you need a pair of smart black shoes. “Go for Derbies, rather than Oxfords,” says Toby. The former have open laces, whereas the latter have the lace panel stitched closed at the bottom. “That makes Derbies more versatile as they have a more casual feel to them, even though they’re still smart. Whereas Oxfords can only dress up.”

2. Are you ever unsure which shoes are right?

Yes – get brogues

No – go to 3

Brown brogues

There is arguably no shoe more versatile than the brogue. Defined by holes punched in the leather around the toe, they’re smart enough for any suit that's not black, but can even work with tailored shorts. When you’re not sure what style to reach for, brogues are almost always the answer. “Go for a simple design, with a low heel,” says Toby. “The simpler they are, the more clothes they’ll work with.” A good pair could last more than a decade, so look for leather soles that are Goodyear-welted. “Then you can have the sole replaced, which only costs around £20 but will make your shoes as good as new.”

3. Are you worried your style is a bit stale?

Yes – get minimal trainers

No – go to 4

Minimal trainers

Trainers have come a long way since PE. These days, they’re often acceptable office-wear, so long as you forswear neon ticks. “Go for something very pared back,” says Toby. “There shouldn’t be much colour or contrast, and avoid logos or design details.” Minimalism means versatility, but because they’re still trainers at heart, you get a subtle injection of sportiness that can make even tired outfits feel more fresh. “White goes with everything; black goes with most. Both also go all the way up and down the smart-casual spectrum, which makes them really easy to wear, whether you’re heading to the shops or wearing tailored trousers for a night out.”

4. Get desert boots

Desert boots

If you’re largely happy with your footwear choices, but fancy something a bit different, desert boots could be the ideal addition. “They’re really versatile but you don’t see them as often as other styles,” says Toby. “Which makes them perfect for adding something a bit new.” They’re also an ideal way to add texture, which is often tricky with footwear. “Suede is most classic – and most interesting – but go for a leather rather than crepe sole, as it will dress up as well as down.”