TopShoesGuide is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Alternatives to Dress Shoes

If you don’t like wearing formal shoes, there are plenty of alternatives that are both stylish and comfortable. These alternatives range from denim and canvas to synthetic leather and loafers. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort to achieve the look you want – read on to find out what these options are and how to find the right one for you.

Canvas shoes instead of dress shoes
Depending on the outfit and the event, canvas can make a great alternative to dress shoes


If you’re looking for a casual and stylish alternative to dress shoes, you can try canvas shoes. These shoes are most effective with casual attire and were created with a sleek style and slim design. If you’re unsure of whether these shoes are appropriate for your workplace, try wearing them in a casual setting for a change of pace.

Canvas shoes have a number of benefits, including comfort and versatility. They’re available in many colors and can be worn with various outfits. For example, you can pair a pair of lace-up canvas shoes with jeans or chinos. You can also pair a pair of high-top canvas shoes with a pair of white sports socks to complete the look.

Alternatives to dress shoes
Dress Shoes may be lovely, but they are not always comfortable


If you’re looking for a less formal alternative to dress shoes, consider denim shoes. Similar to canvas shoes but with a distinctive appearance, denim shoes are also available in a wider range of designs, from platform shoes to boots.

Synthetic leather

Synthetic leather alternatives were first developed in the early 1900s. The most popular type was called Presstoff, and was developed in Germany to alleviate natural leather shortages. It was a highly resistant material, and only degraded when exposed to moisture or frequent flexing.

DuPont received a patent for their Fabrikoid brand of synthetic leather in 1915. Fabrikoid was used extensively for dress shoes, luggage, and car seats.

Although synthetic leather has some advantages, it is still not a good substitute for genuine leather. Synthetic leather shoes are not as breathable as leather ones, and require a longer break-in period. They also do not wear as nicely as real leather.

Since synthetic leathers are made from plastic, they are more likely to develop cracks and tears at stress points. In addition, synthetic leathers often produce harmful waste and are therefore not good for the environment.

The primary reason to select faux leather shoes instead of actual dress shoes is, of course, the price.

Alternatives to dress shoes
Ladies Loafers are a timeless classic and can easily substitute for dress shoes


Loafers are a great alternative to dress shoes. They don’t have laces, so they’re easy to slip on and off. Loafers typically feature a decorative vamp, similar to those found on moccasins. The vamp is also commonly decorated with a saddle or strap, which may add a little more formality.

Loafers were originally created for indoor use but soon gained popularity outdoors. They were first introduced in 1903 by a Norwegian shoemaker in Aurland, Norway. By the 1960s, tassel-adorned loafers were worn with suits. These tassel-topped loafers were quite popular in the United States.

Loafers are a great alternative to dress shoes for men and women. They are comfortable and versatile, straddling the formal and casual spectrum. They can increase a man’s leg line and make him look taller. Ladies loafers can be quite elegant. For men or women, loafers make a great alternative to dress shoes.


If you choose your outfit, trainers, and occasion wisely, you can get away with wearing trainers in place of dress shoes.

While trainers certainly won’t work for the most formal of occasions, they can be worn if chosen wisely.

Ultra clean, new trainers with a white dress may work very well for ladies, and similarly well maintained sneakers with a sport jacket and no tie may work for men.

How to style sneakers video

Even trainers can be used in place of dress shoes for men and ladies. Check out Kendyl Florence showing a variety of outfits with sneakers. The outfits at 2:36 and 3:33 are my favorites: