Matching Dress Shoes With a Tuxedo - Tips & Guidelines

Some style guides describe the classic black tie look as a ‘uniform’ for men—and we agree! There are a lot of things that must be done (and just as many faux pas to avoid) when wearing a tuxedo, and there isn’t a lot of room to express your own personality or flair. 

Part of being an elegant and sophisticated man is knowing when it’s time to do the right thing—not just your thing. But few of us dress this way day-to-day, so when it’s time to break out the classic penguin suit, things can become a little intimidating. Luckily you have the expert tailors from Oliver Wicks to help you. 

Today, we’ll look at what shoes to wear with a tuxedo, how to choose and lace them, and everything else you need to know to make this look as elegant as your daily dress.

What is the Classic Tuxedo Look (and How did it Evolve)?

Unlike most men's fashion, we can’t look to the military or the British for the tuxedo! This type of suit originated in America in 1888 and is named after New York’s Tuxedo Park. At the time, this was a haven for the rich elite, so it was associated with the cream of society from the get-go. 

The apocryphal story is that Griswold Lorillard, the founder’s son, decided to swap the tail coat (then, the height of men’s fashion) for a shorter, more structured coat—causing a fashion sensation. Tuxedos (and double-breasted suits) were initially considered informal looks - Ironically, both are now at the highest levels of formality.

However, the enduring glamor of these high society origins saw the tux rise in prominence among the elite. It’s closely tied with the Golden Age of Hollywood, where it slowly became a status symbol in the 1950s, and so, became the go-to look for top events and classy weddings. It’s also iconically associated with James Bond. Today, the tuxedo is typically made with luxury materials that you won’t find in standard suits.

As with all suits, don’t forget the Oliver Wicks motto—the fit that suits you. A sloppy-fitting tuxedo is no more black tie than a pair of jeans, so choose the right size or invest in a made-to-measure tux for extra confidence! You can check out some of our best sellers and our ready-to-wear collection for inspiration. 

What Types of Shoes Go With the Tuxedo?

1663 black tuxedo with notch lapels by Oliver Wicks

As with all things black tie, there’s only a limited choice of shoes that you can wear with a tuxedo. In fact, you have four choices—and they’re all black! The ‘Prince Albert Slipper’ (named for being a slip-on, not something a Disney princess would wear), the court shoe/opera pump (not to be confused with ladies’ courts), the Venetian loafer, and our good old stalwart, the Oxford.

Of those, you likely only recognize the latter two. Don’t worry about that too much! Let’s take a quick look at each type. Remember that for most occasions, your only color choice will be black—but we’ll go into that in a little more depth in the next section.

The Loafer and Opera Pump

You might be surprised to see loafers on the list, as they’re usually seen as a business-casual option. There’s little difference between the loafers you’re familiar with and the court shoe/opera pump—the latter simply have a lower vamp and cover less of the foot. They’re sleek and simple but have become a little dated with time. Still, if you like to flash your ankles, they’re a solid choice.

The classic loafer is a soft, understated, and comfortable shoe to wear with a tuxedo. They’re a classic case of formality changing with the right style, too, as we already noted. Because they’re slip-ons, and you can skip thorny questions about how to lace them, they can be a great choice of shoes to wear with a tuxedo for weddings and other occasions when you’ll be on your feet all day. Today, Penny and Tassel loafers are both acceptable with a tux. 

The Velvet/Prince Albert Slipper

This is a men’s shoe style in a league of its own. Unless you're very into the sartorial fashion scene, you may not even be familiar with them. They have a low vamp and use velvet that is similar to the suede of loafers. 

They’re a flashy and edgy choice, with all the comfort of loafers but a whole lot more Italian style. Are they the best shoes to wear with a tuxedo? In the fashion sense, yes. But many men will feel a little uncomfortable in such noticeable footwear, so don’t feel confined in your choices.

The Oxford

And now it’s time for the tried-and-true classic—the Oxford. Versatile and with a goes-with-anything vibe, the Oxford is the utmost in sophisticated footwear for men, so it also has a role to play in black tie eventing. 

black cap-toe Oxford shoes by Oliver Wicks

You can’t go wrong with this classic leather shoe, but unlike the other options on our list, they are lace-ups. This can make them a little more awkward to handle during an event. However, all sophisticated men have a pair in their wardrobe already, and you will look elegant and put together wearing them. If you know you have narrow feet, lace-ups are a blessing, as they will give you the opportunity to clamp the shoes down for a closer fit. 

The Art of Matching Shoes With a Tuxedo 

So, now you know what shoes to wear with a tuxedo. But how do you choose between them? What color should they be? Let’s explore a little more in-depth.

For black tie events, the generic answer is black shoes. When in doubt, fall back to this classic look. Do you have to wear shiny shoes with a tuxedo? Traditionally, yes. Patent leather (think ultra-shiny) shoes are classically worn with a tux. However, wearing classic natural-finish leather that’s well cared for and perfectly polished is just as acceptable, so don’t feel the need to rush off and buy patent leather or high-shine shoes just for one event.

A deep burgundy or navy velvet slipper can be acceptable for certain tuxedos, but usually, this would be for events where the tuxedo itself is not black—and most of us will not come across that sort of novel black tie dress code. If you do have a reason to venture away from the strictest black tie interpretation, keep the color choice muted and sophisticated, and well matched to the tux itself. 

black wingtip Oxford shoes by Oliver Wicks

Remember that Oliver Wicks can custom make a tuxedo in any color and fabric to the same high quality and stylish European lines as our custom suits, so no matter what your event, we have you covered.

As a rule of thumb

  • Oxfords: A great go-to shoe for tuxedos as every man already has a pair. 
  • Loafers: The other favorite choice, perfect for slipping on for a long day on your feet, so extra fantastic for black tie weddings. Not ideal for very narrow feet (try the Oxfords instead).
  • Slippers: A high society reinvention of the loafer, with dazzling style, but very attention-catching. Best left for the groom at a wedding, but acceptable for black tie balls, dances, etc.
  • Pumps: A stylish loafer alternate, but with a lower vamp (easy to slip out of without practice) and a little dated, so again, use where a little personal style is acceptable.

How to Lace Shoes That Go With a Tuxedo

There’s no special style of lacing that goes with a tuxedo. In fact, as you’ve likely noticed, most of the typical shoes for a tuxedo don’t even have laces! Because the tuxedo itself is a very fussy, and often unfamiliar, style of suit, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a slip-on option for comfort that maintains practical style. That way, you don’t have to worry about laces coming undone during the event, either—so it’s particularly good for weddings and other long events.

However, if you are going to wear black Oxfords with your tuxedo, it pays to make sure that you’ve laced them correctly as a dress shoe. What works on your trainers or sneakers won’t work here! This helpful video will show you how to lace your Oxfords correctly.

What Type of Socks do you Wear With a Tuxedo?

There’s a surprisingly common misconception that there are tuxedo-specific socks. There aren’t! However, for a black tie worthy look, it pays to choose high-quality, breathable, and comfortable black dress socks that you’re confident won’t rub or hurt. Black cotton or black merino wool are your best options. Nylon may pass at a glance but will leave you sweaty and stinky by the end of the day.

The only thing you need to do with socks for your tuxedo is to ensure that you’re not flashing bare legs at anyone—especially when you sit. So, check their length carefully. While it has become more common for men to skip socks altogether, it’s not on for a black tie look. As long as they are plain, discreet, and cover all visible skin, any pair of black dress socks will do.

Of course, white socks with a tuxedo (or any suit), may well be the biggest fashion sin in menswear - Save ‘em for the gym!


While your shoes aren’t the first thing you may think of when creating a tuxedo ensemble, they’re a critical foundation of your overall look. Luckily, most men who are used to wearing a suit will already have appropriate shoes for a tuxedo in their cupboard. 

Remember that a black tie event isn’t an opportunity to show personality, but rather to demonstrate your sophistication and elegance by meeting social expectations, so sticking to the tried-and-true is always a good idea.

Getting measured for a tuxedo can be intimidating, especially if this is your first, but we have you covered. Our simple measurement videos will break it all down for you—and you can access these (and other great content) free simply by making a no-obligation account on our website. No purchase is needed either! You’re also welcome to contact the Oliver Wicks team with any other black tie questions you have at