Among dressier yet not formal styles out there, you’ll run into moc-toe shoes. Sometimes called a “driver shoe” or “driver moc,” this is essentially a hybrid style: The comfort and space of a classic moccasin combined with a treaded or textured outsole for going about the world.
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Table of Contents
- What are Moc-Toe Shoes?
- Types of Moc-Toe Shoes & Some Recommendations
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Collectively, these aspects speak toward the aspirational – leisurely but refined and pointed toward adventure. Between your oxfords and loafers, moc-toe shoes hold their place, so understand what they are and when and how to wear them.
What are Moc-Toe Shoes?
Typically made of leather, although textile isn’t uncommon, moc-toe shoes add European dress shoe construction to what’s considered an American staple. The result delivers a rounded, visibly stitched toe that dresses down more formal underpinnings, providing more space and room for the wearer’s toes.
In turn, moc toes end up deployed across a range of shoe types. They’re a quintessential feature of boat shoes, outfitted for wet-to-dry wear with more of a siped outsole.
You’ll also spot them on work and medium-height boots: Classic Red Wings sport them for the same reasons described above, and Wallabees paint them as elevated casual fare with more coverage.
Types of Moc-Toe Shoes & Some Recommendations
Moc-toe shoes are divided into two basic types: lower-height styles, often called driver mocs, and boots:
Driver mocs started out of a desire to bring more comfort to a traditional driving shoe. Rather than the single-piece, more pointed, and narrow silhouette, these shoes provide a rounded toe, prominent stitching, a fold of fabric by the vamp, and just a bit more grip than a moccasin, often designed without any outsole.
Driver mocs rose with the popularity of auto racing, seeing their emergence in the ‘60s. Today, we take a lightly textured outsole for granted, even with more formal styles, but 50-plus years ago, drivers frequently found their feet slipped on the pedals.
Driver mocs presented a solution – more traction and more space without compromising the wearer’s style. Today, this design remains, perhaps retooled with a more economical, less conspicuous yet nonetheless functional outsole.
What seems simple at a glance borrows from the smoothness and effortlessness of a Venetian loafer and is built for long-term use with heavyweight leather. Brogue-like trim elevates these closer to dress shoe territory.
We typically associate the Minnetonka brand with traditional moccasins. This pair pays tribute to the original design – and the brand’s founder Phillip W. Miller – with sturdier construction, textured leather, visible stitching, and a nubbed outsole for the right amount of texture.
Boat shoes are a New England preppy staple, giving off summers on Martha’s Vineyard (or at least Cape Cod) vibes.
When it’s too cold to traverse rocky coasts, this Italian-made suede version from Brooks Brothers covers you through the other three seasons with an inspired, hybrid design adding 360-degree laces and a nubbed outsole.
We get loafers dressed down slightly, taken in a more minimalist direction.
Matte calf leather makes them less of a statement shoe, while an injected outsole places grip in just the right places. Details bring out their character through pops of polished metal and orange.
Advance your style with this penny loafer-inspired driver moc. Hugo Boss reinterprets preppy and retro racing style by adding a tonal camouflage print to calfskin leather.
When & How to Wear Driver Mocs
Because they’re an elevated casual shoe, driver mocs are a cornerstone of smart-casual wardrobes. Yet, unlike loafers, wearing socks with them isn’t recommended, thus making them more of a warm-weather choice.
The benefits of the moc toe have translated to work boots, offering an alternative to the typical rounded plain or cap toe. As well, between these extremes, a mid-height style has emerged – embodied by but not exclusive to Clarks’ Wallabees.
Although steel toes tend to feature a plain toe for practical reasons, the moc-toe boot proves to be an asset for workers wanting more space in the toe box and for whom waterproof construction isn’t always a priority.
Whether with a mid or taller height, these boots tend to feature U-configured stitching in front and a paneled appearance.
Ralph Lauren continues to reinterpret preppy fashion and revive elements from its archives with this work boot-inspired style using tumbled leather. A moc toe adds comfort while feeling reminiscent of a boat shoe, while leather straps and a thicker outsole indicate its adventure-minded design.
Generally, the moc toe gives away an Irish Setter shoe. While inspired by hunting, Irish Setter boots tend to lean more classic within the spectrum of workwear.
The Wingshooter isn’t only comfortable and nice to look at, however. More for on-the-job wear, Red Wing outfits this pair with heat-resistant material, a non-metallic safety toe, and a waterproof lining.
Comfort and versatility are at the heart of these moc-toe work boots.
Wolverine built them for less-strenuous tasks with lightweight leather but still considers the individual standing on their feet all day with a fatigue-reducing shank and footbed and Goodyear™ welt construction.
When we think of Florsheim, we associate the brand with dress shoes.
Yet, the Flair presents itself as a true hybrid style. Smooth, polished leather gives off more luxury vibes, which are then toned down with the moc-toe front and sneaker-like Comfortech footbed and EVA outsole. Wool lining makes this a cold weather-friendly style.
A work-dress boot hybrid hits all the right notes with a smooth waxed and tumbled leather upper designed to naturally age with time, durable welted construction, and a slip-resistant polyurethane outsole with just enough traction for everyday wear.
This signature Clarks style adds height to a traditional driver moc, using a mix of nubuck leather and textured suede for contrast, comfort, and durability.
When & How to Wear Moc-Toe Boots
Beyond safety considerations on the job, moc-toe boots fall right into the work wear-influenced streetwear aesthetic. You know what we mean: cargo and carpenter pants alongside flannel and a heavily pocketed jacket, like a chore coat.
A key feature of Red Wing’s Irish Setter line, the moc-toe silhouette delivers a classic, timeless touch in contrast to today’s techier and work-to-casual offerings. At the same time, the more angular, paneled toe adds some structure to what could come off as a somewhat shapeless ensemble.