Men’s Footwear Buying Guide

The right pair of shoes can make a man’s outfit and his day. This men’s footwear buying guide describes all the comfortable and stylish options for work, rest and play.

Men’s Footwear 101

They may be the last thing he puts on, but shoes are one of the most important elements of any man’s wardrobe. His choice of footwear reflects his livelihood, personal style and attention to detail. Shoes also serve a practical duty to cushion and support the feet and provide protection from the elements and hazards. A man might change his footwear several times a day, with a different pair for work, the gym, socializing and lounging. In each case it’s important to strike the right balance between comfort and style. 

Types of Men’s Footwear


Men’s Athletic Shoes

Whether it’s for serious running or just to play pickup hoops with the kids, a man needs the kind of athletic shoe best suited to the activity. Most men’s athletic shoes have breathable fabric and mesh uppers for good ventilation, and textured, synthetic rubber soles for traction, cushioning and support. When shopping for athletic shoes, consider any sports involved and whether extra support in the arch or forefoot is required. Trainers are a good choice for general exercise or walking. They also add sporty style worn when with jeans, casual pants or shorts. Running shoes are lightweight to provide grip without bulk. Sports shoes may have studs or cleats with padded uppers to withstand impact and prevent slippage on turf or grass. Basketball shoes and hiking shoes have a high top for ankle support and thicker soles to absorb shock.

Men’s Boots

Boots are waterproof, lined and have traction soles to protect against wet and icy weather or slippery terrain. Rubber boots keep feet dry on rainy days but lack the support and ventilation for everyday wear. Winter boots are made of waterproof materials including treated leather, synthetic fabrics and rubber with thermal lining for warmth and durability during the long winter months. Outdoor boots or hiking shoes are good for camping trips, or long days outdoors since they adapt to changing weather, and have thick, rugged soles to handle the roughest surface.

Men’s Casual Shoes

Casual shoes provide a comfy fit and feel that can be worn all day, but in more stylish designs to complement an outfit and show off a man’s personal style. Some casual footwear, like canvas shoes or deck shoes, offer relaxed wear for afternoon events or casual days at the office. Lightweight hikers and fashion athletic shoes in muted colours or leather trim are other casual options suitable for everyday activities, year round. 

Men’s Sandals

Men’s sandals allow a man’s foot to stay cool in hot weather, and still provide support and protection to the sole and arch of his foot. Like casual shoes, men’s sandals can be slipped on or off quickly, but since they partially expose the foot, are more suited to the beach or the cottage than city streets. Beach shoes are cool and lightweight like men’s sandals, but have a full upper to protect the foot from hot sand and sunburn.

Men’s Slippers

Men’s slippers are lightweight, slip-on shoes to keep feet cozy and comfortable while he’s lounging around the house. Most have a rubber sole for traction on indoor wood, tile and carpeted floors, superior to socks or bare feet. Slippers often have fleece or other synthetic lining, and cushioned insoles for warmth and comfort. 

Men’s Work Shoes

A man needs work shoes for cutting the grass and doing odd jobs around the house, but he’ll need approved work boots if he’s a professional tradesman. The difference is that a work shoe doesn’t have to meet workplace standards for sturdy construction: steel toes and shanks and oil-resistant, puncture-proof soles. Safety shoes combine elements of both work shoes and workboots, look dressier and may have steel-capped toes for moving between the office and job site.  Certified workboots carry the CUL (Canadian Underwriters Laboratories) label and CSA Greenpatch, indicating they meet federal standards for electrical shock and impact resistance. Work boots also have thick soles, reinforced and often waterproof uppers and padded ankle collars for all day comfort and protection. 

Footwear Buying Tips:

• Measure and use a size guide to find the right shoe size
• Always buy the right size to ensure a comfortable and secure fit
• Shop for different types of shoes and styles to suit different outfits and occasions
• Match sports shoes to the specific activity for proper support and to prevent injuries
• Buy work shoes or workboots when necessary to meet dress code and safety standards

Men’s Footwear Features

Heel +

The heel provides lift, balance and support, and can be made from reinforced rubber or wood to be durable and long-lasting. Men’s dress shoes and some casual shoes have a lifted heel to add height, and for a bit of style. The rubber heel on athletic shoes, work boots and men’s boots are made for foot support and comfort, not to add height or style to the shoe.

Insole +

Insoles help hold the shape of the shoe, and add padding for comfort and arch support. Insoles can be purchased separately to get a more secure or comfortable fit. Some insoles are made from antibacterial material to control moisture and odour and to inhibit wear on the inside of the shoe.

Outsole +

Outsoles, or soles, are made from leather or rubber to give men’s shoes flexibility, stability and traction. Outsoles for casual shoes and athletic shoes are thinner and more adaptable, so that the foot has a greater range of motion for walking and exercising. Heavy duty shoes like work boots and winter boots have a thick outsole for extra support in harsh conditions and to keep a man’s foot dry and safe.

Upper +

Since they’re worn for long periods of time, casual shoes and athletic shoes have fabric or mesh uppers to increase air flow and keep feet cool and dry. Men’s dress shoes, work shoes and some casual shoes can be made from leather or suede for a professional and stylish look that’s comfortable and durable. Work boots and winter boots are made from waterproof material to repel or block moisture and keep the foot dry. Most shoes have a full upper that covers the entire foot for protection, but sandals have a few straps to hold the shoe in place and keep the foot cool in hot weather.

Vamp +

A vamp holds the tongue and eyelets for lace-up shoes like trainers, athletic shoes and some casual shoes. The vamp can also be a smooth one-piece with no eyelets or laces for slip-on shoes that make for quick access and easy wear. The vamp can also be made from different materials, patterns or colours to add a stylish twist to men’s footwear.

Quarters +

The sides and back of the shoe are called quarters, and help retain the shape and structure of men’s shoes. In athletic shoes and work boots, the quarter is padded to add extra support, and for a close, secure fit that’s comfortable and doesn’t pinch or slip. Like shoe vamps, quarters can be made from different colours and patterns to give men’s footwear some fashion appeal.

Toe Box +

The toe or toe box at the tip of the shoe ensures that a man has enough room in his shoe so he can walk, stand or work out with ease. The right shoe size leaves up to a half inch of space between a man’s big toe and the toe of the shoe to allow for his feet to expand when warm. In men’s work shoes the toe is often lined with steel or other hard material to prevent toe injuries.

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Footwear Care Tips:

• Polish shoes to protect leather from moisture, stains and scuffs
• Replace laces when they start to fray
• Allow wet or damp leather shoes to air-dry away from direct heat
• Replace shoes when they’re no longer comfortable or worn out
• Clean shoes thoroughly and remove insoles before storing between seasons
• Rotate different pairs of shoes to prevent excessive wear and restore shoes to their original shape
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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