Just like loafers, driver shoes are an essential part of summer attire. But before you step outside in these versatile shoes, have a look at our handy guide to the history and appealing nature of the driver shoe.
They're not the most common form of footwear, but with their history, unique look and the range of brands putting their own stamp on the design, driving shoes, or driving moccasins, have become a cult classic, and a favourite for summer appropriate footwear. Although it can be difficult to know exactly how to wear these slip on beauties, if you see them as just simplified loafers then you'll be able to find a way to dress them up without too much trouble.
Whether you're going for a relaxed summer look, or a casual twist on a suit, driving shoes are easy to wear and a comfortable addition to your footwear wardrobe. Just remember, either go sockless or invest in a few pairs of invisible socks. These are not the shoes to don with a colourful pair of socks, no matter how much of a good idea it seems at the time.
What are Driving Shoes?
As you’ve probably guessed, driver shoes were originally intended for driving. They were founded and patented by the Italian company Car Shoe in 1963, and were associated with the wealthy, as very few people could afford leather shoes purely for driving. Driving shoes were a replacement for normal shoes as wealthy men weren’t so keen on wearing out the soles of their dress shoes, while the very nature of Oxfords and brogues made it a little difficult to work the pedals properly.
Car shoes quickly became famous thanks to their signature driving shoes with rubber pebbles, increasing the grip on the car pedals and ensuring a safer drive. However, another Italian brand, Tod’s, realised the selling potential and soon they created their own drivers that were available to the wider public.
Despite these two prime rivalries, these aren't the only companies making a name for themselves with their stylish driving loafers. With high end designer brands like Prada and Gucci putting their toe in the driving shoe waters, it's clear these footwear pieces have gone from being practical items to stylish accessories.
Driving shoes can be a controversial look, and it's generally agreed that you either love 'em or hate 'em. With their unique look and range of bold colours, from simple black to mustard yellow, they're for the more daring fashion explorers and need to be worn with a bit of confidence. However any difficulty in dressing them up is made up for with their comfort, clean grip and summery vibe. They make the best summer shoes and of course, you don't actually need to own a car to wear them - a bus or train journey wearing these handy kicks is just as good.
How To Style Driver Shoes
Drivers are a great summer shoe - they're light and comfortable and generally create a summery vibe. Because of this, it's best to pair them with a pair of chino's. The chino fabric will compliment the driver and keep the smart, preppy style that they give off in tact. The colour of the chino will depend on the colour of the shoe but whites, creams and tans are always popular options. If you do go for a darker chino like blue or dark brown, the driver could be worn in a contrasted lighter colour like tan.
For the top half, a simple T-shirt will work well for the days. Because you'll mainly be wearing these in the hotter months a jacket isn't necessarily required, but if you do need something to throw on, a coach or lightweight jacket in a similar tone to the shoes will work well. For evening attire, switch up the T-shirt for a light shirt. White or light blue looks good as it keeps the outfit in line with the summery aesthetic you should be going for.
If you want to look even smarter than your chino's and shirt look then driver shoes are a good alternative to loafers for when you want to wear a suit. Only really acceptable in summer, a hot wedding or in-law's summer event. You'll look smart and get the approval from the family - win win. The suit will need to be a light material and worn with a shirt. You don't actually need a tie, but if you feel better with one on, go for it.
The colours of your driver suit outfit will need to be thought about. Keep things tonal, because if you go too bright, you'll ruin the relaxed yet smart aesthetic. Browns and tans are the safest options and will look the best. Another thing to note is that your trouser legs shouldn't be dragging on the floor as this just looks scruffy. The perfect suit should fit in all the right places and shouldn't be overly long or big for you.
A Word On Colour
These fashionable shoes are especially wearable in the summer, and if you’re looking for versatility, get a pair in a classic colour such as black, brown, tan. Lighter neutral colours, such as beige or cream are ideal for those warm, sunny days. If you're feeling daring and want to experiment with your outfit go for a rich blue or bright brown. These colours bring attention, so you'll need some confidence and style knowledge to pull them off.
So if you’re looking to make a bold or daring statement, go for a pair in a vivid colour such as royal blue or cherry red. Just remember to invest in a high quality pair if you’re planning to shake things up with a bright colour. It will cost you more, but cheaper fabrics or materials will show their quality and will look cheap.
Keep Them Clean
Wherever you wear them or for whatever reason, constantly wearing your drivers will have an impact on their appearance. You might prefer the aged look, but what is important is that you keep them clean.
Using specialist cleaning products such as leather or suede cleaners, help keep your shoes looking spic and span. Protection creams or sprays can be used before you go out to minimise the amount of dirt or damage your drivers may come across. Also, remember to keep your suede drivers away from moisture as this can have a huge impact on their appearance and feel.
Top Drivers for Men
- Drivers were founded and patented by the Italian company Car Shoe in 1963 and have gone on to become everyday shoes.
- The signature driving shoes have rubber pebbles, which were designed to increase the grip on the car pedals to ensure a safer drive.
- Drivers work best when styled with chino's due to the lightness of each piece.
- Keep your drivers as clean as possible as this will keep them looking neat and of a good quality.
On That Note
There you have it - a definitive guide to all things driver shoe. Remember, just like the loafers and boat shoes they’re extremely versatile, comfortable, and go with a surprisingly high amount of outfits. Whether you're going for a casual look with shorts and a polo shirt, or a more formal look with a suit and tie, driver shoes can be brushed up and made to fit with your personal style. If they're suede, keep them nicely brushed, and if they're leather remember to give them a shine up from time to time, but apart from that, driver shoes don't require a whole lot of work, and are easy shoes to work into every man's wardrobe.