Studded Sneakers and Red Suede Slip-Ons Give Guys New Shoe Options for Prom Season

Prom season is approaching. For today’s guys, it means selecting formal attire and booking a limousine.

According to a Yahoo Style Prom Across America survey, in 2017, promgoers in the Northeast spent almost $700 on the event, nearly 14 percent more than in the Midwest at $610. Those in the South averaged $617 and the West $625.

With high price tags like these, it’s clear teens are willing to splurge on formalwear. While most tuxedos are rented for an evening, according to the International Formalwear Association, guys will often opt to buy their shoes.

As the fashion rules continue to be broken, there are lots of options when it comes to footnoting a tux. While classic patent leather shoes continue to dominate the rental shoe market, there are also acceptable alternatives that include slip-on sneakers decorated with over-the-top Swarovski crystals.

Darin Gordon, managing partner of Jack Silver Formalwear in New York, which sells and rents formalwear, suggests a sneaker with patent leather or sparkle as a fun option. “Gucci has a style with spikes on it,” said Gordon, a 30-year industry veteran. “It’s for guys who want to bring their own personal touch. There are no rules anymore.”

As the trend toward slimmer tuxedo silhouettes grows, particularly when it comes to trousers that are super-skinny, there’s more attention on the shoe, said Kellie Burch, director of the retail based International Formalwear Association and Select Independent Formalwear Association.

According to Burch, young men are more interested than ever in the styling of their tuexdo. “They really want fashion right now, something we have never seen in our industry,” she said. “They ask [stores], ‘Did anyone else rent this for our prom?'”

For formalwear stores that carry shoes, Burch said more recently, the color palette has expanded from basic black to more attention-getting looks such as slip-ons in blue and burgundy and red suede. There’s also been interest in gold or glitter suede, she added.

O'Keefee suede derby
O’Keefe suede derby
CREDIT: Courtesy of Mr. Porter

Digital influencer Marcel Floruss of Onedapperstreet.com and co-founder of men’s shoe brand Ankari Florrus, said he’s never been a fan of classic black patent leather shoes. “I’ve always opted for a sneaker or gone for a wingtip or plain-toe dress shoe in a somewhat shiny [leather],” he said.

For athletic looks, Floruss suggests guys keep it simple or make it luxurious. Patent leather sneakers are a cool way to go, he said, while Christian Louboutin does a range of embellished styles with studs. “If you’re going to get something embellished that will draw the eye, I say go for it, such as a patent leather and velvet bordeaux high-top with studs on the back,” he added.

Even the traditional sector of the men’s market finds it OK to break style rules. According to Javier Suarez, division director of men’s and women’s specialty store Paul Stuart, “a polished black calf- or black patent leather-accented sneaker is the shoe to wear with a tuxedo. Prom is perfect timing to leave behind the totally outdated notion of the tuxedo shoe. A clean cup-sole retro tennis classic style works best. The notion of mixing styles and doing away with conventional codes works best when age-appropriate.”

Saint Laurent Court classic
Saint Laurent Court Classic
CREDIT: Courtesy of Mr. Porter

Fellow luxury retailer Mr. Porter style director Olie Arnold noted: “Personally, I think there are other ways to own your prom look. I would channel a teddy boy look from the ’50s and ’60s, and opt for a black suede creeper like the styles from O’Keeffe.”

However, he added, for guys who want to break convention and step into a pair of kicks, he noted, “sneakers continue to be one of the top-selling shoe categories at Mr. Porter. We encourage individuality when it comes to style, so if you want to make a statement and have the confidence to defy tradition, opt for a sneaker with a clean, minimal design like a Saffiano leather low-top from Common Projects or leather court sneaker from Saint Laurent.”

Common Projects Achilles Saffiano
Common Projects Achilles Saffiano
CREDIT: Courtesy of Mr. Porter

At young men’s shoe resource Kenneth Cole, Greg Tarbell, president of men’s footwear, is also on board when it comes to sneakers. “By using beautiful leathers and finishes, they become extremely versatile,” he noted. “Sneakers add an unexpected cool factor to any suit or tuxedo. Kenneth Cole has loved pairing a sneaker with a formal look for a long time, so we have recently developed a capsule of footwear that we call the suit sneaker. This concept lends a style that will not only make [guys] look good but feel good as well.”

Whatever direction promgoers decide to go stylewise, Floruss said: “People are dressing up again, but I think there are less rules. Fashion is about self-expression, so [you can have] fun with even the most formal or traditional uniform like the tuxedo.”

Kenneth Cole wingtip sneaker.
Kenneth Cole wingtip sneaker.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

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