The Most Stylish Men’s Driving Shoes For Summer 2023
A car shoe is the perfect summer footwear option, offering comfort, style & practicality in equal measure. These are the best models you can buy for 2023.
Like many of the best items in menswear, driving shoes were born out of necessity. The casual slip-on style was designed for absolute comfort when behind the wheel, with its soft construction and rubber sole designed to make driving as easy as possible.
This type of footwear was developed in the 60s, when driving for leisure was becoming a popular pastime, coinciding with the introduction of the sports car and road tripping, whether across country or the continent.
These simple, soft, unlined suede or leather shoes were intended to be the perfect accompaniment for such jaunts, with their slipper-like comfort and practical studded rubber soles offering plenty of grip on the pedals.
Today, driving shoes can, naturally, be worn for similar endeavours, but their smart-casual stylings make them ideal for wearing with chinos, shorts, polos and linen shirts for laid-back spring or summer looks.
If you’re after a pair of shoes you can wear on the weekend, on vacation and everything in between, they should be at the top of your list.
What are driving shoes?
Also known as ‘car shoes’, driving shoes are fairly simple in design. They sit somewhere between a loafer and a moccasin, with a soft, unlined construction that gives them a slipper-like appearance and feel.
Easy to slide on and off, they either come with a leather tie (which doesn’t really affect the tightness of the shoe) or a penny loafer-style upper, with a slot across the top of the vamp.
The design’s signature feature is the studded rubber sole, which extends all the way up the back of the heel. This is so the wearer has optimal grip on the pedals, with the studs designed to be flexible for maximum range of movement.
Typically made from suede or lightweight leather, driving shoes are an excellent choice for smart-casual wear, and are easy to dress up or down.
Why you need a pair of driving shoes
If you’re looking for a comfortable, smart-casual pair of shoes, these should be high up your list. Driving shoes may have originally been designed with function in mind, but they’ve well and truly transcended their automotive roots.
Today, the style is beloved for its refined look that’s neither too smart or laid back, giving off that desirable ‘old money’ vibe that’s so popular currently. They’re ideal for wearing on vacation with shorts and a tee, but work equally well in the city with tailored trousers and a button-up shirt for a summer dinner reservation.
Go for a pair of brown suede driving shoes and they can go everywhere your penny loafers do, or opt for a bolder shade of blue, green or stone and treat them as the focal point of your look.
The best men’s driving shoes brands
If you want to invest in a pair of driving shoes by a brand with a genuine automotive heritage, look no further than Connolly. The British company has been around since 1878, and has long supplied the leather interior hides for luxury marques such as Ferrari.
For its car shoes, Connolly has kept things simple with a beautifully soft suede upper, a lined leather interior and the classic rubber pebble sole.
A number of companies claim they were the first producers of driving shoes. Car Shoe’s origins are undeniable though – the brand was founded in 1963 with the sole purpose of producing the classic slip-on silhouette.
Today its range is expansive, made using a wide array of well-sourced leathers and suedes, with a number of subtle variations available, all produced to the highest standards by expert craftspeople.
One of the other original makers of driving shoes is Tod’s. The luxury Italian brand has become widely known for its Gommino model, which has been made with incredible attention to detail for decades.
The classic versions are still available in either brown leather or suede, but Tod’s has added plenty of fashion-forward options in recent years, with colourful rubber studs and exaggerated proportions abound.
Velasca is a direct-to-consumer brand that’s quickly developed a reputation for its impressive quality and even better prices.
You’ll struggle to find better shoes at better prices anywhere online, with its range spanning a wide range of styles, from tassel loafers through to Desert boots – each one able to hold its own against rival brands charging twice as much.
Its driving shoes are no exception, made using expertly-sourced leathers and suedes and meticulously hand-sewn in its homeland of Italy.
Aurelien is all about Mediterranean-inspired design, which is why driving shoes fit so seamlessly into its portfolio. A symbol of leisure and Riviera style, they have long been associated with the jet set and sunny jaunts across the continent.
For its own take on the silhouette, Aurelien has crafted them from a luxurious suede fabric, rendered in a series of bold yet tasteful colourways, from burgundy to sunshine yellow.
Luxury shoemaker Scarosso’s driving shoes are traditional in design and produced to the highest specifications.
Crafted by hand in Italy by the country’s finest artisans, each pair comes with a flexible rubber studded sole, a soft suede upper and minimal penny loafer silhouette.
Oliver Sweeney may not specialise in driving shoes, but it certainly does a great job of stocking them in its spring and summer collections every year.
Available in a range of seasonally-appropriate shades, and built to last at its factory partner in Spain, these are timeless driving shoes at their best.
Much like loafers, driving shoes have cemented their place in the summer preppy aesthetic, so it should come as no surprise that preppy stalwart Hackett does a fine line in the style.
The British brand sticks predominantly to a clean neutral colour palette, making its versions incredibly wearable and able to slot seamlessly into any modern wardrobe.
Coming with a slender profile and its own take on the studded rubber sole, they’re built to last and will get plenty of use for years to come.
Russell & Bromley
Russell & Bromley has long been a staple of the British high street, offering elevated footwear at a quality far above many of its neighbouring stores.
For its driving shoes the brand has kept things relatively classic, with the option of a clean penny style or tassel upper in a wealth of classic colourways.
The only exception is its Soft Wear model, which has been given a contemporary twist in the form of a grosgrain band, which adds a pop of colour and detailing that can sometimes be missing.
Loake is widely known for its dress shoes, which are among some of the best Northamptonshire has to offer at prices that won’t break the bank.
Its driving shoes continue this ethos, with simple, classic designs that are available for a relatively accessible sum.
Look out for its Donnington pair, named after the UK race circuit, which are available in lightweight suede and feature a solid rubber sole, rather than the studded version used by other brands.
Crockett & Jones
British shoemaker Crockett & Jones has long been known for its exceptional craftsmanship and classic designs. The brand’s Derbies have been worn by Daniel Craig’s Bond, while its loafers and Oxfords have been loved by style aficionados and industry insiders for decades. With each pair made by hand in its own factory, it’s easy to see why.
For its range of driving shoes, the C&J produces a number of variations, from penny-style silhouettes through to more elaborate interlaced models.
Keep an eye out for the Napoli, which comes with a cleated rubber sole as well as a beautifully-soft grain leather that promises to age with grace.
If you’re looking for robust country boots, Cheaney is among the best out there. Its Goodyear-welted Derby boots come with durable rubber soles and tough grained leathers that only get better with wear.
But the British brand is no slouch when it comes to summer shoes either, as its ranger of car shoes prove. These drivers are as classic as they come, with a vintage-inspired, penny loafer upper and traditional studded rubber soles.
Polo Ralph Lauren
Polo Ralph Lauren has always offered some of the very best preppy menswear out there. For its driving shoes the iconic American designer has channelled some of that energy, giving them a penny loafer-style upper with exposed stitching and ‘beef roll’ vamp, for added character.
Slightly smarter than other drivers on the market, they come with a solid rubber sole and the Polo logo embossed on the rear of the heel.
The US label’s driving shoes are sharp and sophisticated, with a clean, minimal upper that eschews both penny vamp and tassel.
With subtle branding and a flexible rubber sole, they promise to deliver both comfort and style.
Hugs & Co
Sometimes classic is best. Hugs & Co hasn’t reinvented the wheel with its driving shoes, which it’s kept as traditional as possible. There’s the soft suede upper, available in a range of shades; the studded rubber sole; and the attractive contrast stitching hinting at the hand-finished construction.
Simple, elegant and all the driving shoe you’d ever need.
Slip-on shoes are Gucci’s quintessential footwear style, its horsebit loafers a genuine icon of 20th-century design. So it should be no surprise that its most famous models have been adapted with driving shoe soles with the characteristic rubber studs.
As well as horsebit drivers, you’ll find penny silhouettes and others emblazoned with the brand’s signature repeating monogram pattern. Gucci rarely does subtlety but shoes for showboating don’t come any better than those from the Italian luxury gods.
High-end Swiss outfitters Bally have been producing luxury footwear for the well-heeled since 1851. Its modern driving shoes are made with ridiculously soft and supple leather, maintaining the comfort and quality that the label has always insisted on.
Silhouettes borrow boat shoes and loafers alike, with the majority of styles come in ever-wearable brown and black grain leather.
If you’re looking for a statement piece, however, check out the versions with a distinctive stripe across the front or those with snakeskin-style prints.
How to wear driving shoes
The beauty of driving shoes is their effortless nature. They can be thrown on and worn in the same manner as your favourite pair of loafers – indeed, you can think of them as a slightly more Riviera-inspired version of penny loafers.
You can wear them with everything, from denim jeans and lightweight jackets through to shorts and knitted polos. A smart-casual shoe through and through, drivers are at their best when combined with similarly relaxed yet put together clothes.
While a little too laid back for the sharpest of suits, you can team driving shoes with pleated trousers and tucked in shirts if you want to make an impression. Try a brown leather pair with navy pants and a white Oxford shirt.
Alternatively, you could pull them on for weekend strolls in the summer, combining them with shorts and a well-fitting T-shirt.