Are you thinking about buying a pair of driving shoes but aren’t sure when to wear them? Are driving shoes good for walking or can you even wear them outside?
Here’s my guide to driving footwear and what you need to know if you are thinking about investing in a pair to wear in your car.
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What are Driving Shoes?
Driving shoes are usually slip-on shoes that come in either a moccasin or a loafer style. What differentiates them from ordinary shoes is they have rubber-style nodules on the bottoms of the sole which are supposed to give you additional grip on the car pedals. The sole is usually also flexible to help you get a better grip and also for extra comfort.
Driving shoes are primarily casual shoes so most people would wear them with jeans or casual wear. Generally, they are worn without socks or tights but this isn’t essential for them to work and is more a style or fashion rule.
Driving shoes are usually associated with affluence and preppy style even though they are casual footwear and some of the biggest designers on the planet have them in their shoe collections. I remember drooling over Tod’s versions many years ago before they became more mainstream.
Whilst of course the style has gone mass market meaning you can buy them at reasonable prices there are also some very expensive swoon-worthy designer versions in the shops.
Whilst suede shoes were initially the most popular form of driving shoes you will now find plenty of leather versions which are obviously easier to maintain.
What is The Purpose of Driving Shoes?
So why wear driving shoes instead of regular shoes or sneakers? Well, there are plenty of good reasons why people love this type of footwear for driving.
Firstly the rubber thin sole and nodules on driving shoes are there to help you get a better grip on the pedals and for your driving to be more responsive because of this. Whilst you might not notice much of a difference on a short trip they come into their own when you are driving long distances.
Having better control of your vehicle is also important if you are driving a higher-end performance car. So whilst you might not need a pair driving your old banger to the shops the investment in a pair is far more important if you are driving a Porsche or Ferrari.
The rubber sole and nodules aren’t rigid because of the need for better grip and the shoes are usually lightweight as well. This flexibility and ease of wear make driving shoes good for people looking for comfort.
They are also more suitable shoes to wear in a car because the nodules usually extend up the back and outside of the heel of the shoe. This has the simple purpose of stopping your normal expensive shoes from wearing down when you are driving regularly.
Driving loafers aren’t of course a necessity and many people will wear sneakers to save their formal shoes but they are a style statement on their own. In fact, car shoes are now more often seen outside of the car instead of just inside it.
Can You Wear Driving Shoes Outside?
So what happens if you invest in an expensive pair of driving shoes? Are driving shoes good for walking outside or do you only wear them in the car?
Well, the fact is that driving shoes are not really designed for you to walk any significant distance in them. By all means, wear them for a short walk say from your car to a bar but not for longer walks.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly driving moccasins aren’t hugely supportive and don’t come with masses of cushioning and arch support that you would get in a great pair of sneakers or walking shoes.
Whilst they may appear comfortable they can cause you foot problems if you wear them for longer periods of time without you even being aware it is happening.
Secondly for some people walking with noduled soles isn’t that comfortable. The nodules on some of the cheaper versions can also begin to wear out quickly and you are not going to be able to get them repaired like a normal shoe.
There are many better shoes or sneakers you can wear for walking so leave the driving shoes primarily for car use or short-distance jaunts.
Best Driving Shoes For Men
The Best Luxury Car Shoes
POLO RALPH LAUREN Men’s Roberts Driving Style Loafer
Whilst most of the driving shoes on the market tend to be suede and have a plain design these are more like boat shoes because of the laces.
These are the ultimate classic preppy style statement so will never look cheap or out of place. If you buy these you are paying for quality driving shoes that should last significantly longer than some of the cheaper versions on the market.
Best Mid-Range Driving Moccasins
Lacoste Men’s Concours Driving Style Loafer
If you are looking for a pair of mid-priced car loafers then these Lacoste leather loafers are perfect for making a style statement without the hefty price tag.
These actually have a cushioned insole which means that they should be extra comfortable if you need to walk short distances in them.
Best Budget Driving Loafers
JIONS Mens Driving Penny Loafers
The great thing about shoe fashion is that you don’t always need to spend the earth to get a designer look. These sporty-looking penny loafers are a great example of how there are some great budget-driving shoes available on the market that you could buy instead of sneakers.
These loafers come in an array of colors so you can choose to wear something understated or buy a pair with a little more color.
Note that these loafers are not dissimilar to Tod’s which retails and a much higher price point. Ok so they might not last as long but at their current price you can’t go far wrong.
Best Car Shoes for Women
Best Luxury Car Shoes
Tod’s Driving Loafers
Clearly, no list could be complete without the definitive driving shoes appearing on it. Tod’s luxury car shoes are legendary, suitably exclusive and of course, beautifully made.
These are the perfect driving shoes if you are looking for high-end understated luxury and a brand you can trust.
Best Mid-Range Style
Cole Haan Women’s Driving Style Loafer
Cole Haan has created a slightly different style with their footwear which is great if you want something a little more unusual when you are buying a new pair of shoes.
Note that these do not have nodules on the bottom or back but smoother rubber sections to help with grip on the car pedals.
These are also built for extra breathability which is great if you have sweaty feet or plan to be wearing them in the summer months.
Budget Car Shoes
Artisure Women’s Classic Genuine Leather Penny Loafers
Are driving shoes good for walking? Well, the manufacturers of these cushioned leather mocassins believe they are and suggest that you could wear them all day if you wanted to.
These are cushioned and breathable so they have definitely thought of comfort when creating them. They also have a money-back guarantee if you don’t like them so you can’t go wrong.
What Makes a Good Driving Shoe?
The best driving shoes are stylish, flexible, and have a good grip so that you can feel the pedals of the car.
This means that instead of buying thick leather shoes you should be looking for shoes made with thinner and softer leather or suede that have enough flex in them so that they don’t feel clunky or heavy on your feet.
Good driving shoes tend to have very obvious nodules on them to ensure your feet have a good grip. Try and buy a pair that have the nodules up the exterior of the back heel as well to protect them as your foot moves when driving.
As they are often worn it the summer months rather than winter finding shoes that are breathable is also a plus especially if you don’t plan to wear them with socks.
Do You Wear Socks With Driving Shoes?
Wearing socks with driving shoes is perfectly ok from a practical standpoint. If you want to wear socks with this kind of car shoe then it isn’t going to cause a problem with driving your vehicle.
However, plenty of people would say that the best driving shoes are worn without socks for that cooler more casual look. In fact in some fashion circles wearing driving shoes with socks is going to make you stand out. This is especially the case if you are choosing to wear your driving shoes as everyday wear that you are using outside of the car.
The fact is that certain people wear their driving shoes for driving cars and another wear them as a sort of fashion statement, particularly in the summer months.
Wearing driving shoes in the summer months is particularly popular and plenty of people choose to wear them in bards or even at the beach.
If you are not bothered by fashion and only want to wear driving shoes in the car then nobody will notice anyway. Or alternatively, you could wear no-show socks with them so nobody would be any the wiser.
Can I Drive Barefoot Or In Flip-Flops?
Finally don’t be tempted to drive barefoot or in flip-flops even if your country allows it under their laws.
Driving shoes were created because there was a need to have shoes that were capable of gripping the pedals sufficiently so that feet didn’t slip and cause accidents.
Driving in flip-flops or in your bare feet doesn’t give you the control that you need so it makes no sense to do this as you are potentially endangering yourself and your passengers.
Instead, keep a pair of driving shoes in the car and change into them when you are using your vehicle to keep yourself safe.
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