The formality and style of shoes are often determined by the material of the soles. A traditional dress shoe features a leather sole. Rubber-soled shoes tend to be less formal, usually designed for comfort or specific needs.
Traditionally, dress shoes feature leather soles. The leather that forms soles are tanned for better wear and to eliminate marks found on untanned skins. Better quality leather soles are stitched and not glued. Leather soles provide a more formal, elegant look, according to menswear authority Alan Flusser.
Leather Soles for Professional Attire
Leather soles provide a more formal and traditional look for footwear. According to the Career Services Department at Virginia Tech University, men should invest in leather lace-up or slip-on shoes for an interview and other more formal occasions and women should also opt for leather.
Cost Benefit of Leather Soles
While quality leather soles may present a more costly investment, stitched leather soles may be replaced by a shoemaker when worn out. Many companies manufacture less costly leather-soled shoes with some rubber components. This keeps the profile slim and professional while keeping the cost down.
Rubber-soled shoes give a less formal appearance. Many rubber-soled shoes are performance-oriented, for specific sports or casual occasions. Rubber-soled shoes were first designed for mountain climbing. In 1936, Italian mountain climber Vitale Bramani developed the rubber sole, influenced by the Pirelli automotive tire. The rubber sole was designed for traction. The Vibram Company continues to be a leading manufacturer of rubber soles today.
Benefits of Rubber-soled Shoes
While less formal and traditional, rubber soles have comfort considerations. Podiatrist Arnold Ravick of the American Podiatric Medical Association states a typical men's leather sole weighs about five pounds compared to the 2-1/2 pound rubber sole. Running shoe soles weigh weigh only 10 ounces, on average. Rubber soles absorb a greater amount of shock due to their flexibility.