A driving shoe, or “driver”, is designed to be stylish, and to help the driver of a car grip the pedals. They’re made in a slip-on style, since they’ll be taken on and off in the car. Some drivers have tassels or other decorations on the top of the shoe, but many come without.
These shoes are not just functional. They’re fashionable too. They’ve been in style ever since they were first invented in the 1960s in Italy. Men at the time complained that their normal shoes were too rigid for driving. Very few people wore sneakers in public back then, so this shoe was better for the car.
Driving shoes were meant for the wealthy originally. Only well-to-do people drove cars, at least in Europe. Few men could afford to add an additional leather shoe just for driving! But now, many men can afford to add a driving shoe to their wardrobe.
A driver is a versatile shoe to have available. They have very thin soles, not meant for long walks or concrete. When worn as intended, they add some flair to any man’s style.
Top Driving Shoes Comparison Chart
|Product||Collar Type||Material||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Sperry Men’s Hampden Venetian Slip-on Loafer||Padded||Leather||$$$||Check on Amazon|
|Cole-Haan Men’s Gunnison Driver Moccasin||Slotted||Leather||$$$||Check on Amazon|
|Go Tour Men’s Premium Genuine Leather Casual Slip on Loafers||Not Padded||Soft Leather||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Gallery Seven Driving Shoes Men – Casual Moccasin Loafers||Not Padded||Suede||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Mio Marino Men’s Loafers – Slip on Driving Shoes||Not Padded||PU Leather||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Minnetonka Men’s Original Cowhide Driving Moccasin||Slotted||Leather||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Louechy Men’s Liberva Genuine Leather Slip-on Loafer Casual Shoes Breathable Driving Shoes||Not Padded||Split Leather||$||Check on Amazon|
|Polo Ralph Lauren Men’s Wes Penny Loafer||Not Padded||Leather||$$$||Check on Amazon|
|Jions Men’s Driving Penny Loafers Suede Moccasins||Not Padded||Suede||$$||Check on Amazon|
|VanciLin Men’s Casual Leather Shoes Fur Lined Slip-on Loafers Driving Shoes||Not Padded||Stylish Leather||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Amali Men’s Smooth and Perforated Driving Moccasin Casual Loafer Driving Shoes||Not Padded||Synthetic||$$||Check on Amazon|
Driving Shoes Buying Guide
What is a driving shoe?
An Italian, Gianni Mostile, patented the driving shoe in 1963. The Car Shoe Company began manufacturing them. Tod’s produced a similar shoe, appearing a few years later. The rubber, pebbled sole you see on these shoes is to keep your foot from slipping on the pedals.
This was especially important back in the days of manual transmissions and very small cars. A driving shoe allowed drivers to move easily between the brake pedal, the gas, and the clutch. Cars made midcentury, unlike today’s vehicles, had little room for all these pedals in their tight cabins.
Thin and flexible, the soles provide feedback to the driver of the car. This allows human and machine to work together. Sports cars require nimble handling, and that can’t be achieved when wearing thick clodhopper soles.
Not many people wore sneakers in public back in the 1960s. Some of the teens in the ‘50s had started to wear them. However, not many serious men would wear them for anything except sports. Sneakers didn’t really take off in public until the 1980s (Air Jordans). Prior to that, most men wore what would be considered business shoes today, with shiny leather and hard soles, usually with laces.
Driving shoes are produced in a slip-on style, like a moccasin or loafer. Moccasins came first from Native Americans. They’re made of a sole with no separate heel, that’s stitched to the upper. Often, only one piece of leather is used. This style often features a sole that comes up the front of the toe as well, providing a little protection. Sometimes moccasins have a tie, or gathered seam, at the opening, but they’re generally made to be slipped on rather than laced up.
A loafer is a laceless shoe, with no to low heel. Typically these are made with more than one piece of leather. Many of them look similar to moccasins. You’ll find most of the driving shoes you see are pretty similar in style. Drivers often have a squarer toe as opposed to a pointy one.
The materials for the upper, which is the part of the shoe that attaches to the sole, are leather or suede. Sometimes the leather is man-made, or not genuine calfskin. Faux leather may wear more poorly than real leather, but does tend to be more waterproof.
The pebbled soles are usually soft rubber to keep them lightweight and flexible. Even though the sole often comes up a bit on the back of the heel to protect the leather, they’re not designed for walking long distances. Their design is very specific to their function, which is simply to be worn while driving a car.
Because these shoes tend to be very comfortable, with the soft leather or suede material, many men like to wear them out and about. Just be aware that if you do, they will wear out more quickly. They’re also very stylish and can be paired with a number of outfits. So it’s understandable that you might want to wear them outside the car.
However, the toes will start to shred pretty fast if you do a lot of walking. Since there’s no hard sole to a driver, the toe box of a driving shoe is close to the ground. Walking on concrete and asphalt will wear the toes out very quickly.
They also may not be very comfortable for long walks or standing up for long periods of time. Drivers have very little cushioning. More cushioning means less responsiveness, so manufacturers avoid putting in too much cushioning or support. If you have foot issues, the lack of arch support might be a problem for you.
You might find your driving mocs with a split sole, rather than a single sole that runs the entire length of your shoe. Splitting the sole into two parts brings more flexibility to the shoe. Even if you have a single-soled version, you’ll probably find the driver is much more flexible than your other shoes.
Where (and how) to wear your driving moccasins
Your driving shoes can be worn with or without socks, whichever you prefer. The classic style is without socks. You might see a few raised eyebrows if you’ve got ankle socks on.
But think carefully before you decide to go entirely sockless! The shoes tend to wear a lot faster on the inside if you don’t wear socks. Since feet tend to sweat, a bare foot in your shoe can get a little… funky. If you like the no-sock look but want to protect your feet, you can buy some “no-show” socks that don’t come up over the opening of the shoe.
Drivers look good with casual bottoms like shorts, chinos, and jeans. Pair a blazer with your casual pants and the driver will really make your outfit! They can be worn with a suit as well.
You probably don’t want to wear them to a white-tie event, but they can certainly make an entrance to a cocktail party. (White tie is formal evening wear, involving a tailcoat, top hat, and waistcoat for men and a ball gown for women.)
You can wear driving shoes to a beach wedding, since those tend to be more casual. Plus, a sockless driver looks more refined than the flip-flops you might otherwise wear.
They’re very handy when you’re about to take a flight, because they slide on and off easily when you’re going through airport security. However, you’ll want to wear a pair of no-show socks to avoid having your bare feet on the floor. You don’t know what people have in or on their suitcases!
How to choose your driving shoe
Many shoes are advertised as being driver’s shoes, but for one reason or another, they’re not. Mostly these faux-drivers are moccasins or loafer style, being slip-ons with no laces. Mainly, they’re not considered true drivers because they don’t have the grippy rubber soles. A smooth sole is very specifically not for driving.
Do you like the slip-on look and aren’t as concerned with the grip of the sole? One of these shoes could work for you instead of an actual driving shoe.
Many drivers come with some kind of ornamentation on the top of the shoe that covers your instep. This can be in the shape of a tassel, a bar, a tie, or with a slot to put a penny (known as penny loafers). You can also find shoes that are plain. It’s a matter of taste, as to what you like and prefer to wear.
Driving shoes can come in many different colors. Some are more conservative, like brown, black and gray. But you can find them in brighter colors. If you’ll be going to a lot of casual events, or you’re just a guy who likes a pop of color, the other colors will be more fun for you. If you’re more of a classic dresser, the conservative colors will work better.
It’s easy to get started with a pair of black or brown drivers, or both. Once you get used to the style and know how and when to wear them, you might add some additional, brighter colors.
Some people prefer not to wear leather, for moral or other reasons. For them, the faux leather options are a good bet. The “leatherette” options are often cheaper, but with faux leather you do get what you pay for.
You may see a material called “PU leather”. This is made by coating a fabric with polyurethane and then applying a leather-like finish. No animals are used in the making of the fabric, so it is a good alternative for vegans.
There’s also a PVC leather, which is similar to the polyurethane but uses polyvinylchloride (PVC) and some other fillers and stabilizers to coat the material.
Bi-cast leather is similar to PU leather, but the fabric used as a base is the low-quality remainder of the hides that have been used for genuine leather. This type of leather was originally designed for glossy shoes. Sometimes bi-cast is known as PU leather, and it’s the same procedure for both.
Ground up leather scraps with binding materials is known as bonded leather. Because this fabric generally doesn’t require any toxic chemicals or additional fabrics, it’s relatively environmentally friendly.
Bi-cast and bonded leathers tend to lose their laminate as they age, and start peeling. PU and PVC leathers often crack and peel over time as well. On the other hand, faux leathers usually repel water much better than actual leather.
Genuine leather can be soft and durable, and it’s breathable too. It usually does not have a chemical smell that can be apparent with some faux leathers. Suede is another breathable fabric when made with genuine hide. It’s rubbed to make a velvety nap finish.
Using leather for the lining of the driving shoe is helpful because it breathes and lets the air flow. Other lining materials don’t wick moisture as well, so you could end up with sweaty feet. Having your feet slipping and sliding around is exactly what drivers are trying to prevent!
When you have a pair of shoes in your hands, it’s a good idea to try them on with the socks you think you’d wear with them. Or if you’re not a sock man, in your bare feet.
Since you’ll be in and out of these shoes, make sure the shoe is easy to slide on and off. Any kind of lacing will make it more difficult, so a driving shoe needs to be a slip-on style.
Most driving shoes tend to fit like other shoes from the same manufacturer. If you own a pair of Cole-Haan dress shoes, for example, that size should fit pretty well. However, the shoes are subject to some sizing caveats that we note in the product descriptions below.
If you don’t already own that brand of shoe when you’re buying online, you might consider checking your size in a store. Also, many brands have shoe sizing charts. If you measure your foot at home and compare it to the chart, you’ll see what size you are in that particular manufacturer. Otherwise, plan to use the return/exchange program to make changes if you need to.
Most shoes, especially from European manufacturers, come in a standard medium width (D). Narrow for men is B, and there’s also wide (EE) and extra wide (EEEE). Not all manufacturers will go beyond a D width, but some do. We’ve noted in the description whether the shoe is available in additional widths.
When you’re viewing shoes online, use the zoom capabilities to check them out. See what the shoe looks like from different angles. Are the soles pebbled? Sometimes you can spot the lower quality materials from the pictures.
Be aware that the colors may not be true to life. It depends on how the photos were shot and under what kind of lighting. Your shoes could look a bit different once you get them home in natural light.
When you do get them home, don’t take off all the tags and throw out the boxes just yet. Put them on and walk around a bit. Some of these shoes take some breaking in, but if the shoe is way too small you can just exchange it for a larger size.
Care of your drivers
All shoes can be stuffed with tissue paper if you won’t be using them for any length of time. Newspaper works when the shoes are wet as well. Or you can use shoe trees to help them keep their shape when you’re not wearing them.
Keep your leather shoes clean by wiping off dirt with a soft cloth. If there’s a finish to the leather, you can use mild soap and a damp cloth to wash them. If they’re unfinished, use saddle soap and let them dry naturally. You can also buy leather care products and follow their instructions.
Do the shoes have water or salt stains? Wipe the stains with a mixture of two parts water to one part vinegar until they disappear.
Then polish them with leather polish. After they’re dry you can buff them, which will give the shoes a good shine. Spray conditioners are available to give them additional protection. Keep them in shoe bags when you’re not using them so they don’t get dusty or exposed to sunlight.
Suede shoes need periodic brushing. They’re a bit harder to keep clean, but you can use a suede brush on dirt. The stiff metal part takes care of stains, and the rubber/plastic end of the brush is best for smudges and scuffs. If you get anything greasy on your suede shoes, you won’t be happy! But you can try putting some talcum or baking powder on the stain and then brushing the next day.
Suede shoes also react well to a spray-on protectant. Whether your drivers are leather or suede, you’ll need to recondition periodically.
If you have faux leather shoes, caring for them is similar, but not exactly the same. Use a soft brush to wash with mild soap and water for any stains. Don’t drench them with water, though. Dry them (using a circular motion) with a cloth, and then hang them to dry.
Faux leather can fall apart if put in either a washing machine or a dryer. Avoid leaving them in direct sunlight as they’re drying, because this can ruin the material too. Make sure they’re completely dry before you wear them again.
If you want to use a protectant spray, use one that’s specifically intended for artificial leather. What works on the real deal won’t protect your faux leather.
No matter how well you take care of them, your driving shoes are probably not going to last for decades! Good ones should last for a few years, as long as you’re not wearing down the pavement with them.
Given the life of these shoe, you don’t need to go all-out buying pricy drivers. Unless you have a lot of money to throw around! Many of the reasonably priced options will last for a little while when worn for their particular purpose.
As with all shoes, it’s a good idea not to wear your drivers all day every day. Give your shoes a break of at least a day before you put them on again. This helps them last longer. Buying several different colors to go with different outfits will let you extend the wear on the shoes you buy.
About the products in the guide
These driving shoes are all available for purchase on Amazon. We considered only shoes that had an average of four or more stars, and at least 50 customer reviews. Fewer reviews typically don’t give you a true idea of the positives and negatives of the shoe, and show that shoe is not especially popular.
We also ignored sponsored products, which have paid to be at the top of the listings. We only looked at driving shoes specifically, not just driver’s style shoes, of which there are many for sale. Two of our selections are “Amazon’s Choice”, which refers to popular, well-priced and highly-rated items available for immediate shipping.
We included only one shoe from each brand in order to showcase advantages and disadvantages to some of the more popular versions. However, a number of manufacturers produce more than one driving shoe in their collection.
Best Driving Shoes Reviews
1. Sperry Men’s Hampden Venetian Slip-on Loafer
This shoe was selected as “Amazon’s Choice”. It’s more expensive than some of the other shoes on the list, but not necessarily the most pricy. They’re hand-sewn and 100% leather, and come in three conservative colors. Minimalist shoe fans like these; since there’s no support or cushioning they’re close to being barefoot.
There’s no ornamentation at the top of the shoe, and they come only in medium width sizes. The shipping weight is two pounds. The collar (the top of the opening around the heel) is padded for more comfort. Buyers find them very comfortable, ordering another pair once the original is worn out.
They are lightweight with soles that come up a bit further on the toe, which means the toes don’t wear as quickly as some other brands. Some buyers found that their Sperry drivers don’t breathe as well, and their feet get hot while walking.
- The shoes are noted for being comfortable
- They tend to be more durable than some other drivers on the list
- With only a handful of colors, choices are more limited
- Some purchasers found these shoes made their feet hot
2. Cole-Haan Men’s Gunnison Driver Moccasin
Shipping at two pounds, these drivers are hand-stitched leather, with rubber soles and an outsole meant to grip. They come in the classic moccasin style, with a leather tie in the front and lacing around the opening. The only color in this particular model is brown, though Cole-Haan makes some other drivers that come in different colors.
These are more expensive than most of the other alternatives on the list. They’re almost weightless. Due to the comfort factor, many reviews compared them to slippers.
Purchasers found the shoes a bit small and had to size up. Others also thought they were narrow. Fortunately some sizes do come in the EE or wide width. Once broken in, the shoes are comfortable, but not many buyers were able to wear right out of the box without any blisters or other issues.
- These drivers are lightweight
- Those with narrower feet may find these shoes an excellent fit
- Some buyers found the leather too stiff and needs more breaking in
3. Go Tour Men’s Premium Genuine Leather Casual Slip on Loafers
Also selected as “Amazon’s Choice”, these drivers appeal to the more conservative dresser. They come in a handful of sober colors. Some of the styles have perforated leather, for a bit of a different look from the plain uppers, and more air flow. These shoes come in medium widths only.
They’re made of leather, with a leather lining to let your feet breathe, at a reasonable price. There is not a lot of cushioning in the sole, as is often found in these types of shoes. Due to their flexibility, they can easily be tucked into a carryon or crushed into a suitcase without looking too damaged when you arrive at your destination.
Many men who bought these found that a ½ size up worked well for them – though some found they needed to go ½ size down! Purchasers described their satisfaction with the Go Tour shoe and its quality leather, especially at the price. They’re comfortable enough for some to wear as slippers.
- Especially for the price, these shoes are quite agreeable
- The leather itself is soft and comfortable
- With the softer leather, these tend to wear down quickly
- Some felt the color of the delivered shoes did not match the pictures online
4. Gallery Seven Driving Shoes Men – Casual Moccasin Loafers
With more colors than some of the other brands on the list, this shoe is also less expensive than many others. Their return/exchange period is 30 days. The shoes have a strip of leather across the top, but otherwise no ornamentation. This version of a driver has a segmented sole for more flexibility.
They come in medium width only. Colors include cranberry and charcoal gray. The material is manmade polyurethane (PU) leather, and the package weight is a bit less than 1.5 pounds. Buyers found they fit well, though some had to go up or down a size. Once they found the correct size, most men were happy with the fit of the Gallery Seven shoe.
Some purchasers thought the quality wasn’t as good, but they were outnumbered by those providing 5-star reviews. Many commented on how good the shoes look, especially for the price. They also liked the lightweight quality.
- This is a comfortable shoe
- Men liked the way it looks on their feet
- It’s not sturdy enough for walking
- The sizing appears inconsistent
5. Mio Marino Men’s Loafers – Slip on Driving Shoes
These driving shoes come in different types of leather (pebbled or smooth) and only a few colors. There are various details to choose from, however, ranging from a bar ornament to penny-loafer style. They’re made from PU leather for durability and waterproofing.
The shoes are presented in a waterproof shoe bag, which is good for storage. The shipping package weighs a little less than 1.5 pounds. They’re reasonably priced, and made only in medium width. The company offers 45 days for exchange or return, and 180 day warranty.
The fit is comfortable. A number of Mio Marino purchasers found that the sizes run large, so you may need to order down. Buyers found they looked elegant enough to wear to work, but feel like they’re wearing slippers.
- The fit is comfortable
- The shoe looks stylish, especially at its price point
- Made of man-made PU leather rather than genuine calfskin
6. Minnetonka Men’s Original Cowhide Driving Moccasin
These shoes are 100% leather uppers, with the rubber pebbled sole for driving. They’re in classic moccasin style with a tie at the front. Shipping weight is three pounds, and the shoes have a padded insole.
The Minnetonka company itself is an independent, family-run business (for those who like to support such businesses). The shoes themselves are made in the US, unlike the others on this list. They are only available in medium width on Amazon, though the product description mentions wide widths as well.
The company recommends spraying your drivers with suede protectant before wearing. If you need to clean your shoes with baby shampoo or suede cleaner, stuff them with tissue paper while they dry to keep their shape.
They are reasonably priced too, with more durable material than some other drivers on the list. Buyers found them often a bit tight at first, but they stretched out. The soles come up the back of the heel a bit, which increases grip and also protects the leather. These drivers come in two colors. One looks more like suede, and the other is a glossier leather.
- These are some very comfy moccasins
- The hide is tougher, so they tend to be more durable
- Some buyers found the toe box too narrow
- The shoes will likely need some breaking in
7. Louechy Men’s Liberva Genuine Leather Slip-on Loafer Casual Shoes Breathable Driving Shoes
Would you like a number of different styles in your reasonably-priced shoe wardrobe? Louechy has a handful of colors and a handful of styles available. (Beware that some of the options are lace-ups, and therefore don’t meet the slip on/off standard of a driving shoe.) Bend down the heel caps if you want to wear them as slippers. You can choose from both punch detailing and penny loafer-style, in addition to a plain upper.
The rubber sole is flexible and soft, so you can ball these up as well. They’re only available in medium widths. The upper is split leather, and the lining is pigskin leather, for increased breathability. The insole is removable, if you have inserts you need (or want) to put in. Even with all these options, they’re listed for a reasonable price.
Some buyers found the fit a bit snug, so you may want to order up a size. Most were pleased with the quality of the shoe. Those whose feet tend to run hot found these shoes worked well for them. These drivers don’t wear well out of the box, as they seem to require a break-in period.
- Good for those with hot feet
- They need some time to be broken in.
8. Polo Ralph Lauren Men’s Wes Penny Loafer
Although the name doesn’t include the word driving or driver, this loafer has the lugs on the sole that you need for pedal grip when driving. The sole comes up the back of the heel a bit as well. These leather loafers have a proper “penny keep” and come in several colors. They’re more expensive than most of the other brands on the list. For the price, you do get noticeable quality in the leather.
Polo Ralph Lauren driving shoes are available in two colors, at least through Amazon, and medium width only. The shipping weight is two pounds. Some buyers did find that they needed to break them in a bit before they were comfortable enough. Others, however, found they could be worn right out of the box. They tend to be on the narrow side, though opinion is split on whether or not they run true to size.
- Very stylish, especially for penny loafer lovers
- Comfortable leather, once it’s broken in
- Tend to be narrower than many prefer
9. Jions Men’s Driving Penny Loafers Suede Moccasins
With suede fabric in several different colors, these penny loafer-style shoes can be very fashionable. There’s even a fur-lined version. (Not recommended for driving, of course!) Other than the fur version, the others are lined with pigskin leather for a breathable experience. They’re at a reasonable price point.
The soles are rubber, soft and comfortable, so the shoes can be rolled up with doing much damage to them. Jion drivers are only available in medium width. There’s a 100% satisfaction guarantee with these shoes.
Buyers found them pretty true to size. Some had issues with the insoles slipping out of the shoe. Those who are not used to wearing a driver might find the rubber nubs on the sole distracting.
- Most found this a comfortable shoe
- Some buyers found that the insole tends to pull out along with the foot when taking this driver off
- The rubber nubs on the sole for traction can be felt clearly through the sole
10. VanciLin Men’s Casual Leather Shoes Fur Lined Slip-on Loafers Driving Shoes
These less-expensive leather shoes come in a wider variety of colors than some of the others on the list. Although they have the nubbly, flat soles of a driver, these shoes are probably more fashionable than functional for performance driving.
Despite the name, not all VanciLin versions come with the fur lining. You don’t have to avoid the brand if you have feet that get hot easily. There are a couple of colors that come in perforated uppers, but otherwise there’s no ornamentation at the instep. They are available only in medium width.
The leather is soft and the insoles well cushioned, though with a tendency to slide out. They are flexible and comfortable. The fit seems relatively true to size. Some thought the quality was cheap, even for the price.
- They are comfortable, soft shoes
- These have a cheaper appearance to them than some of the others on the list
11. Amali Men’s Smooth and Perforated Driving Moccasin Casual Loafer Driving Shoes
Want to wear the rainbow of colors? You can get plain black or white, or you can try bright green, pink, and red, among others. These shoes come with a reasonable price tag too. To add a little style, there’s a metal double bar design too.
The manmade upper is perforated for some colors to help keep your feet cool, even in the summer. They’re available in medium width only, and shipping weight is four pounds.
Some buyers found they run small. These drivers are comfortable, without having to be broken in. Those who bought brighter colors were happy with the hues and didn’t find that the colors ran at all. Some buyers thought the quality wasn’t great.
- These come in a wide variety of colors
- They’re comfortable to wear
- Lower quality material and stitching show proof of a lower price point
Conclusion and Final Driving Shoes Recommendations
Whichever brand you choose, they should be reserved mostly for driving. Or for wearing inside the house. Many of the online reviews complaining about the wear on these shoes had buyers who wore them for walking, or hiking, or at work, etc.
You can certainly wear your stylish drivers for some of these other functions, but just be aware that they will wear out faster. If you have a more expensive pair but take care of them, they’ll last longer.
To that end, don’t expect arch support either. Many reviewers complained about the lack of support, but again, these shoes are not for walking or standing in all day. They’re designed for a very specific purpose, which requires that there be less support and more flexibility. These two requirements demand a thin sole without much cushioning or support.
Some buyers have been using the less-expensive brands as slippers. The fur-lined options, from VanciLin and Jions, are good possibilities if that’s what you’re looking for. In addition, the Louechy version is designed with a heel cup that folds down easily, to give you another slipper option.
If you like to dress more colorfully, your best bet is the Amali brand. They carry more and brighter colors than the other manufacturers on the list. True penny loafer aficionados will prefer the Ralph Lauren brand.
Do you have hot feet? Opt for the Louechy shoe, which got positive reviews from men with this tendency. Or, take a look at the drivers with perforated uppers, found in the Go Tour, VanciLin, and Amali brands.
There are some faux-leather options, for vegans or others who don’t care to wear leather. You can find them in the Gallery Seven, Mio Marino and Amali brands. Those looking for quality, genuine leather will be better off with the Sperry, Cole-Haan, Go Tour, Minnetonka, and Polo Ralph Lauren drivers.
Men with wide feet are better off avoiding the Minnetonka and Polo Ralph Lauren shoes. Unfortunately only one of the brands on the list carries a wide width option, and that’s the Cole-Haan. Their medium width tends to be a little narrow, so men with wider feet will definitely want to consider the wide sizes available.
Go forth in style in your new driving shoes, gents.
Frequently Asked Questions About Driving Shoes
Are all shoes advertised as driver’s shoes OK for driving?
Many shoes called driving shoes don’t have the pebbled rubber sole that is good for driving, particularly on cars with manual transmissions. Similarly, sports cars sometimes require that you be able to grip the pedals and not have your feet slip off while turning sharply or making some other maneuver.
However, if you like the moccasin/loafer style of a driver and you don’t have manual transmission or a sports car, you don’t need the grippier soles on an actual driving shoe. You can wear a regular slip-on shoe, like a loafer, that has a bit more support and can stand up to walking longer distances.
Why do driving shoes have those weird nubbins on the sole?
When the shoes were originally developed, they were mainly designed for sports cars. At the time there were no automatic transmissions, so drivers had to work the clutch as well as the brake and gas pedals. Drivers going fast, especially around sharp turns, found their rigid shoes slipping just when they needed to be right on the pedal. Thus, grippy shoes.
They were intended only and specifically designed for driving. They were also meant for the wealthy. Who else could afford to buy a pair of shoes worn only behind the wheel of your car? Men didn’t really wear sneakers at that time either, at least not outside the sports arena. So for these tricky small-sports-car manual-transmission maneuvers, a driving shoe with grippy rubber soles was really the only option available.
How much cushioning can I expect from my driver?
Slim to none. The thin sole of the driving shoe helps the driver feel around the pedals, and provides feedback from the car. The more cushioning a shoe has, the farther off the ground and the less feedback the shoe will have. If you look at cushioned running shoes, for example, you’ll see that the soles are pretty thick with all the cushioning.
Do these kinds of shoes have a lot of support?
No, drivers tend to be very thin-soled. This makes the shoe more flexible and responsive. Support in a shoe tends to deaden the feedback, which you would want when walking on a trail full of pebbles, but not when you’re doing some heel-and-toe work on the car’s clutch at speed.
However, if you do need some support for your feet, you can always buy a pair of inserts designed for your specific foot issue. The Louechy brand has removable insoles specifically for this purpose.
What clothing can I wear these shoes with?
Driving shoes are extremely adaptable! They look especially sharp with slim-cut pants, but work with dressy shorts as well. They’re more elegant than a sneaker or flip-flop, but not as fancy as a formal shoe.
You can go preppy with these, or even wear with a blazer and jeans. If you like some color on your feet or to add a pop to your wardrobe, check out one of our alternatives on the list with a wider range of colors.
Beach wedding? Meeting the parents? Preppy style? Business casual? First (or subsequent) date? Check, check, check, check and check.
Do I have to wear preppy clothes with these?
Preppy is definitely a good look with drivers, but you can wear other casual clothes too. Business casual often pairs well with driving shoes. They work best with a sharp silhouette or slim cut, as opposed to a baggier look.
Formal outfits are really the only ones you don’t want to wear with your driving shoes.
Should I wear socks with driving shoes?
Drivers look best with no sock showing, let’s put it that way.
Having said that, there are reasons not to go sockless. If you plan to wear them to the security line at the airport, you don’t want your bare feet on the floor. No telling what’s down there! Bare feet in a shoe tend to wear them out more quickly. The more your feet sweat, the faster the inside of the shoe degrades.
You can find a pair of socks that don’t show, which will help your shoes last longer and protect your feet from the ground. But yeah, you should probably avoid the ankle (or higher) socks.
Are these shoes what racecar drivers wear?
No, racecar drivers wear different performance shoes. Their pedals are different too. Though they also need thin, flexible soles for response, their shoes have to meet fire safety standards, as with all racecar clothing.
What materials do driving shoes come in?
Generally you’ll find these mocs in leather, fake leather, or suede. It’s a classic design, so other more modern fabrics aren’t typically used. Actual leather does tend to wear better than the fake leather/faux leather/leatherette/pleather, all of which tend to peel and crack. However, the faux leather is more watertight, if you live in a wet climate.
For various reasons, some men prefer not to wear genuine skin. However, leather linings can often help with sweaty or hot feet.
Why can’t I buy a pair of lace-up shoes to drive in?
Technically, you can, and it’s fine as long as you don’t have a sports car or drive a stick shift (manual transmission) that works best with driving shoes.
However, if you do intend to do some serious driving with your drivers, the shoes must be easy to slip on and off. You’ll only be using them for driving (and gas station stops and the like.) Slip them on when you get in the car and do your fancy pedal work. Then change to your other shoes, that can stand up to walking distances, when you get out of the car.
Because lace-ups take too long to do and undo, most men prefer a true slip-on for driving.
What type of decoration should I choose?
Whether you go for a plain upper or something with a little more pizazz is up to you. The original Car Shoe drivers didn’t have any ornamentation. So if you really want to rock the old-school look, stick with the plain style.
Some people genuinely like the look of a penny loafer. Others prefer the moccasin style with the lace around the opening and tie in front. Go for it! Whether you do tassel, bar, or other isn’t so much a matter of fashion as personal taste.
Another decoration that can actually be functional are the shoes with perforated (or punched) uppers. They allow for more ventilation. In addition to a slightly peppier design compared to a plain driver, these can help keep your feet cool. Anyone who lives in a hot climate might like this style during the summer.