Masculine Shoes in My Size?

Reader question? No, more like dozens of reader inquiries and legitimate freakouts about where to find men’s and menswear inspired women’s dress shoes that come in dapperQ sizes, be it large or small. Deep breath. dapperQ is here with a dress shoe 101 to get you started in the right direction.

  1. Make friends with fashion search engines, such as ShopStyle, which allow you to browse hundreds of thousands of products from stores and brands all over the world. Begin your dress shoe search by entering keywords such as “monk strap,” “loafers,” “oxfords,” “wingtips,” brogue,” “derby,” etc. in the search query boxes. You can then narrow your results by gender and size depending on your preference. You’ll be surprised at the range of sizes you can find, even as small as size 4!
  2. dapperQ style icon Rocco Katastrophe recommends www.tallmenshoes.com for dress shoes; they carry, as Rocco said, “shoes that can add up to 4″ in height for short dudes,” as well as “good looking wingtips.” Sizes come in men’s 6-12 (women’s 8-14).
  3. Of course, if you wear a women’s size 9 or up, you have a bit more flexibility, as many men’s sizes start at around 7, which converts to about a size 9 in women’s. Sure, you can find men’s size 7+ shoes anywhere from Macy’s to Zappos, but what oh what should you be looking for…

What is a “monk strap,” “loafer,” “oxford,” “wingtip,” brogue,” and “derby?”

This is important to answer before we give you specific brand recommendations, which will follow our dress shoe mini-lesson. We’ll simplify this as much as possible.  There are four types of closures: oxford, derby, ghillie, and monk. We’ll start with the first two.

In short, oxfords and derbys are a type of dress shoe defined by their closure type. To the untrained eye, they both look very similar, but oxfords have historically been considered the more formal of the two. Oxfords have closed laces, whereas derbys have open laces. Say wha?

The derby’s open laces allow the shoe to open wider and slip on easier. This alone gives them the distinction of being less formal than the oxford.

Now, let’s move on to monk strap. Monk shoes have no laces and are closed by a double or single strap and buckle. Monk shoes are considered moderately formal; less formal than an oxford, but more formal than a derby.

Last but not least (for the closures anyhow), is the ghillie closure. According to Mr. Wikipedia, these are “laced shoes where rings or loops that project over the tongue are attached to the upper as an alternative to the use of eyelets punctured in the upper.”

Now that you know the closure types, let’s explore some styles. First, there’s the loafer (see above), a casual slip-on shoe with no closure and a moccasin-like construction.

Brogue shoes are characterized by distinctive decorative perforations (or “broguing”) and serrations. Brogues can come in any of the four closure types previously discussed and are commonly found in one of three wingtip  (named for the signature “W” ornamental patterns) styles –  short, half, and long:

While brogues are traditionally considered to be outdoor or country footwear, some now deem them appropriate for business occasions as well. And, if this weren’t all too confusing as it is, keep in mind that you can also find wingtips without any broguing.

So far, so good? We move on to brands we love:

Brands such as Wanted, Charles David, Bass, BP, Dolce Vita, Aldo, Steve Madden, Cole Haan, Splendid, Ralph Lauren, J-Crew, and Dr. Martens have oxfords, derbys, and wingtips in dapperQ sizes. Depending on the brand and availability, many offer sizes that run from women’s 5-12.

Some of the brands listed above also carry menswear inspired monk shoes, depending on season, availability, and popularity. For example, we’re fans of Cole Hann’s Breslyn monk strap shoe. We also like the Candela N.Y.C. monk loafer (orange shoe in center above), which comes in women’s sizes 5-10. Fossil (more affordable) and Burberry (luxury) often design monk shoes in dapperQ sizes.

Again, some of the previously mentioned brands, especially Aldo and Steve Madden, regularly carry loafers in dapperQ sizes ranging from women’s 5-12. Additionally, we highly recommend the Odin Tassel Loafer by Brass Boot if you are lucky to find some remaining in your size. ASOS sometimes sells menswear inspired loafers, such as the green slip-on Ravel Heinz loafer (picture on left above). Again, the Heinz is a hot commodity being that it is both affordable and comes in women’s sizes 4-11. If you cannot get your hands on a pair in your size, keep stalking ASOS for other options.

Anita Dolce Vita

Fashion and culture blogger featured in Newsweek's Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Curve, Autostraddle, MTV/LOGO's AfterEllen, SF Weekly, Globe & Mail, DIVA, GO Mag, Beijing Review, and Bosnia's Manjine.BA. Education/Credentials: University of New Mexico (B.A., magna cum laude); New York University (MPA, top marks); SUNY Downstate Medical Center (BSN, cum laude); NYS RN.

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