I’ve always been skeptical about purchasing dress shoes with rubber soles for a variety of reasons; mainly because they never seemed to have the elegance that dress shoes with leather soles have. I also used to read in style forums how it’s ‘against the rules’ to wear a rubber sole dress shoe in the corporate world. For a while I followed the ‘rules’ and I wouldn’t even consider purchasing a dress shoe with a non-leather sole. However, the issues with leather sole dress shoes were amplified when I'm traveling every week for work and living in Chicago with harsh and unpredictable weather. The idea of putting on and off galoshes (rubber shoe coverings to protect your shoes in bad weather conditions) for the 10 minutes I’m outside wasn’t appealing at all.
Rubber Sole Dress Shoe Recommendation Links: Allen Edmonds Strandmok Click Here
Full Allen Edmonds Collection at Nordstrom: Click Here
Dainite Rubber Soles vs. Leather Soles Summary
Leather sole dress shoes
Pros – Look great. More traditional / ‘respected’ look. Slightly more breathable.
Cons – Rain, snow, slush or any adverse weather condition and the leather sole should be protected. There is also no traction with leather soles, which makes them very slippery.
Rubber sole dress shoes
Pros – No need to worry about any inclement weather. The shoe is more comfortable since the rubber absorbs more of the impact while walking.
Cons – If you buy the wrong style / brand the shoe is going to look like hell (just sayin’). But seriously, if you purchase a chunky sole dress shoe with a rubber sole, you might as well just wear boots (example image shown below).
TAFT: The Allen Edmonds Alternative
I will admit, every once in awhile a new brand comes along that has some serious edge. I would say that TAFT in the men's footwear industry has done just that. They are well made shoes (not as well as the Allen Edmonds) and they have a lot of rubber sole options. Again, these aren't Dainite rubber soles, but I have had good experiences so far with TAFT.
They have some style and design options that are very unique! CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT TAFT.
What is Dainite?
Dainite is provided by Harboro Rubber, which has operated since 1894. It's based out of the UK and the word Dainite is said to come from the local phrase describing the day and night mills. The company's first product were soles and heels dating back to 1894 and have since grown to be a world leader in quality soles. The quality is what Dainite continues to stand out for and why companies such as Allen Edmonds, Crockett & Jones, Church's, etc. all use their products.
The company relocated in 2006 just down the road from the original location and invested heavily in new equipment to continuing producing the best quality products.
Dainite Rubber Sole vs. V-tread / Combination Tap Sole
Allen Edmonds and many other brands will offer a Dainite rubber sole dress shoe, but they also offer what's called a v-tread or combination tap sole. This type of sole was developed to solve the issue that I mentioned above, a discreet rubber sole option that helps provide traction during wet conditions such as rain, snow, sleet, etc. The combination sole has a thin layer of rubber that is typically glued onto the leather sole. It's so streamlined that it's only really noticeable when you lift up the shoe to reveal the bottom.
Here is an example of the combination sole dress shoe:
Here is an example of the Dainite rubber sole dress shoe:
I recommend combination tap sole shoes only if you are looking for one pair of shoes to meet the conservative nature of a leather bottom shoe while also providing you with the traction needed.
The reason why I recommend Dainite rubber sole dress shoes over combination sole dress shoes is because Dainite rubber soles are a better option to meet the demands of inclement weather. They Dainite rubber sole is a thicker rubber sole with much better traction. Additionally, the thickness of the rubber provides extra levels of comfort for walking that you do not get with a combination sole.
In order to have the right variety of dress shoes in the rotation I would purchase leather bottom dress shoes for conservative office environments and executive meetings, but for daily wear the Dainite is a great alternative option.
Rubber Sole Dress Shoes I Do NOT Recommend
I want to provide a very clear picture of the rubber sole dress shoes that I'm not recommending. The idea of a chunky rubber sole on a dress shoe might be a fashion forward look for the runway, but it is NOT recommended for work environments.
I do own a wingtip pair of shoes that's similar though and I wear them casually. Not as a dress shoe, but as a fall/winter boot alternative for casual days or dinners. I do not view these as a classic dress shoe.
Here is an example of a rubber sole dress shoe that I do NOT recommend as a dress shoe:
Allen Edmonds Dainite Rubber Soles
Allen Edmonds Dainite Rubber sole is still a streamlined look that provides the dress shoe appeal with the comfort and traction of the thick Dainite sole. The majority of their dress shoes can be customized to include the Dainite rubber sole instead of the leather sole. They also produce shoes with the Dainite rubber sole as a primary sole without having to customize. In addition to the quality of Allen Edmonds dress shoes, AE has completely streamlined the look of the rubber sole construction, which counteracts the main reason why I was originally never interested in rubber sole dress shoes.
I’m not replacing every shoe in my closet with a rubber sole dress shoe, but I will say that having a pair in the rotation is necessary. These two Allen Edmonds shoes are my go-to dress shoe for weekly travel and the Chicago tundra.
This shoe is hands down the most complimented shoe in my entire wardrobe (in-person and on Instagram). I had been wanting to buy this shoe since I started purchasing Allen Edmonds years ago, but I was always concerned that the red Dainite rubber sole that comes on the shoe made it too casual for the corporate environment. I was able to fix this concern by customizing the sole to the black Dainite rubber sole. Allen Edmonds included the red laces as an alternative lace and I’ve had them in the shoes since I originally changed them! The shoe is definitely bold, but it’s subtle enough to draw the right amount of attention.
I selected this shoe because of the wingtip detailing and the beautiful walnut color. I used to only wear tan leather on nice days in the spring / summer, but I wanted a tan dress shoe I could wear all year round and this was the perfect shoe.
Be sure to check out my full dress shoe guide by clicking here.
There are other brands that make a streamlined dress shoe with a rubber sole as well, but I’ve always gravitated to Allen Edmonds.
Feel free to reach out if you have questions or want a second opinion on a shoe you have or are considering purchasing!