Best Kids Dress Shoes Reviewed & Rated
Whether going to a wedding or a formal party, everyone wants to look good. Kids are no exception. Now days style starts early and many parents are looking for the best shoe to help their kids stand out. The biggest issue many parents have when looking for children’s shoes, is the fact that kids grow quickly. We’ve compiled a list of ten of the most stylish yet affordable shoes to help your child shine.
That’s where this guide comes in. Since children’s feet aren’t simply smaller versions of adult feet, shoe shopping for children is naturally a different undertaking as well. To make things easier, we’ve reviewed the best kids dress shoes in durability and style for you. Whether it’s a dance recital or a science fair, these shoes will do the job.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 100 hrs of research
Top 10 Picks
1. Forever Dana
Dana, from Forever, is the perfect fairytale dress shoe. These shoes feature a round toe, Mary Jane-style adjustable strap, and a textured pad on the sole for traction and resistance. The Forever Dana comes in black, gold, and hot pink, and are made of a velvety synthetic material. Sizes are available in toddler, little kid, and big kid sizes, so the Dana can be worn by a child of just about any age.
The biggest draw of the Forever Dana dress shoe is the rhinestone studding scattered across the upper and heel of the shoe. Rhinestones give the Dana instant glitz and glamour and complement any occasion. Also, should any of the stones fall off, extras are shipped alongside the shoes just in case.
If your child is interested in heels, the Forever Dana is a great introduction to them. The Dana features a 1.5” heel, excluding the platform. Adding the platform in brings the heel under the 1.5”, making it a shoe with easy walkability. These shoes also feature replaceable heel caps, and extras come with the purchase of the shoe.
For a kids shoe, the Forever Dana is more on the expensive side. Especially when considering the general lifespan of a child’s shoe. However, if you size up in the Dana so that your child can grow into it, you can easily get a year of wear.
2. Deer Stags Ace
Sizes Run Large
Deer Stags is a brand that has been in the shoemaking business since 1929 and has a reputation for quality. The Ace by Deer Stags is dressy, round-toe wingtip oxford that comes in two staple colors: black and luggage brown. The Ace is available in both little kid and big kid shoe sizes. If there were a picture to describe “looking sharp,” it would include the Deer Stags Ace.
The Deer Stags Ace puts comfort ahead of even style with a flexible, lightweight, and multidirectional sole; breathable mesh lining, and shock-absorbing EVA midsole. The Ace features padded EVA footbeds and is a roomy shoe overall; this is in addition to a classic lace-up closure that helps to achieve a secure and customized fit.
Starting with rich simulated leather, the Deer Stags Ace is the perfect classic wingtip oxford. These shoes feature broguing across the vamp, sides, and collar of the shoe for true retro styling. The toe of the Ace, in the luggage color only, also has a burnished look for added class. Lastly, these shoes have a fashionable 0.75” synthetic heel.
Somewhat cheaper than the Forever Dana, the Deer Stags Ace is a high-quality dress shoe with a discount quality price tag. As a coupling of comfort and style, the Ace is one of the best wingtip oxford dress shoes available for children; it’s built with all of the perks you would look for in an adult shoe, even.
3. Stride Rite Phibian
Slip Resistant Soles
Stride Rite wants your child to play, grow, and have a great time in the process. Their brand is made specifically to meet the needs of growing children and their large array of designs ensures something for everyone. Working specifically with children’s shoes, the brand knows what they’re doing, and they strive to not only meet but exceed each parents expectation when it comes to amazing footwear. From sandals to sneakers, let Stride Rite show you how they made a name for themselves.
Safe for Your Child
This Phibian is the ideal sneaker/sandal hybrid. It has an ultra quick-drying upper, with holes to aerate while still on the foot. Machine washable to simplify your job as a parent, you can’t really ask for much more in an outdoor shoe. This particular style has rubber pods on the outsole that provide a steady grip.
The upper is EVA, so it is flexible and soft for even the most active kids. Spider-Man’s eyes run across the shoe on the strap with adhesive closure, and mesh lining with stretchy laces is the final addition to this perfect fit.
Cost and Value
Non-marking rubber outsoles on the Phibian make for an easier time of cleaning as well. The lining is antimicrobial, so it gives the foot a healthy environment. In addition to podiatric health, the lining is also kid-stink resistant. If you struggle with a child who has a problem with smelly shoes, these are the solution. The slip-resistant sole ensures any surface is one to be played on, and when you’re done, you can easily hose them off! These are at a medium price point, and totally prepared to take on the job of a child’s new play shoe.
4. Sweet Pea and Lilli Mia
Though the Mia from Sweet Pea and Lilli is branded as a casual shoe, it’s much dressier than that. The Mia dress shoe is available in three colors, white, black, and a creamy ivory. Unlike the black and white pairs that are made of a patent leather-like synthetic material, the ivory version of the Mia is made of fabric for softness and character. Sweet Pea and Lilli makes the Mia available in toddler sizes, as well as big and little kid sizes.
The only adornment the Mia has is three rows of shiny silver rhinestones across a single strap. Against faux patent leather, the rhinestones pop and give the shoe an extra shininess. The less-than-an-inch heel on the Sweet Pea and Lilli Mia is perfect for children who want to feel special or “grown up,” and adds another layer of dressiness to boot.
Like many adult shoes, the Mia dress shoe features a cushioned insole for comfort and a rubber sole for shock absorption. The single strap on the Mia has a simple velcro closure for easy wearing and a snug fit. Also, despite having uppers made of a somewhat stiff synthetic material, these shoes don’t dig into or pinch young feet painfully.
Comparable in price to the Deer Stags Ace Oxford, the Sweet Pea and Lilli Mia is an affordable children’s dress shoe. Since it is one of many kids shoes that run larger, you can plan for the future by buying a size that is a little roomier.
5. DADAWEN Oxford
Why mess with what works? The DADAWEN Oxford dress shoe doesn’t. Perfectly retro, the DADAWEN Oxford takes a page from British fashion of yore. These shoes are made of shiny, simulated patent leather and are available in two colorways: solid black and two-toned black and white. The Oxford comes in a range of sizes, so toddlers, little and big kids alike are able to wear these shoes.
Similarly to the Deer Stags Ace, the DADAWEN Oxford features broguing across the vamp, sides, and heel counter. A fashionably rounded moc toe, plus classic three-hole lacing, ensures a roomy toe box and custom fit. Also, the lining of these shoes is a soft, lightweight fabric with a complementary plaid pattern.
Part of the appeal of the DADAWEN Oxford is its tonal handsewn stitching. Pronounced stitching connects the upper to the sole, as well as decorates the shoe alongside the broguing. The outsole, made of rubber, has thick grooves for grip, stability, and prevention of excessive slipping. The insole, on the other hand, is made of comfy, cushiony EVA foam.
The DADAWEN Oxford rivals the SKOEX Penny in price, making it a great budget-friendly option. Where the Oxford excels is in its formality; it is the ideal shoe for any formal occasion and is sure to garner compliments from all angles. Furthermore, a non-skid sole adds a measure of peace of mind.
6. Nova Utopia
Round Toe Box
Sizes Run Small
The Utopia from Nova Footwear is a demure and dainty Mary Jane-style dress shoe. Comfortable and lightweight, the Utopia is ideal for spring and summer events. The Nova Utopia comes in six colors ranging from gold to a peachy pastel pink. Unfortunately, though, your eldest is out of luck on this adorable shoe — the Utopia is only available in toddler and little kid sizes.
The Nova Utopia is a beautiful shoe despite its basic silhouette. The uppers are made of a synthetic material that is semi-shiny or pearl-like, depending on the shoe’s hue. A gauzy, same-color organza flower is the only decoration the Nova Utopia has, lending to the Utopia the above-mentioned dainty feel.
Easy to Wear
A single velcro strap allows for a more unique fit to your child’s foot. The Velcro strip along the strap is noticeably long, providing a greater range of adjustability and security. Additionally, the vamp of the shoe stops right after the toes, allowing plenty of toe room for growing feet.
With the Nova Utopia being cheaper than even the DADAWEN Oxford, you may suspect there’s been a compromise somewhere in the quality. This isn’t the case at all, especially with easy-to-clean faux patent leather uppers. The Utopia straddles the line between dressy and casual well enough that your child would want to (and can!) wear them just about anywhere.
7. OshKosh Giselle
Full Sizes Only
Founded in 1895, OshKosh B’Gosh is one of the most well-known children’s apparel brands. As such, OshKosh can be counted on for quality children’s shoe and the Giselle is an exceptional example. Though it’s another dainty round-toe dress shoe, it’s unique in style. Only available in a sparkly rose pink, the OshKosh Giselle isn’t a varied shoe either — but it is beautiful and sturdy. Also, these shoes are easy to wear and comes in toddler to little kid sizes. Sorry, big kids! (Again.)
The OshKosh Giselle is the result when a shoe style mashup is done well. Though billed as a ballet flat, the Giselle features both a D’orsay-like cutout on the sides and a hook-and-loop closure like a Mary Jane. And for extra embellishment, there is a matching 3D floral fabric applique applied to the vamp of the shoe.
Giselle by OshKosh is a fully synthetic shoe, featuring comfortable non-toxic fabric uppers that bend and move with your child’s feet. The lining of the Giselle is soft fabric too and extends to cover the lightly padded footbed. The outsole material is rubber-like and textured for traction.
The difference in price between the OshKosh Giselle and the DADAWEN Oxford, but the Giselle is still the more expensive of the two. Alongside a soft and comfortable shoe, with the OshKosh Giselle, you get the peace of mind that comes with a quality, beloved brand.
8. Stacy Adams Demill
Lightly Padded Footbed
Dual Seam Construction
Sizes Run Narrow
The Demill by Stacy Adams is an uniquely styled kids dress shoe. It is a shoe that doesn’t cross over well into casual but will take any formal outfit to the next level. The Stacy Adams Demill has a sharp, square silhouette that would be mistaken for an adult shoe were it not for its size. Available solely in black, the Demill is a dress shoe with little and big kid sizing only.
In true Oxford style, the Stacy Adams Demill features decorative broguing across its sides. But the uniqueness of the Demill is in the square toe and pronounced bicycle stitching. These shoes also feature a 1” heel, though a 0.25” platform brings it closer to a 0.75” heel. Even the sole of the shoe has a bit of decoration, including the Stacy Adams logo and emblem.
Like all of the comfiest shoes, the Stacy Adams Demill has a lightly padded footbed, a padded collar, and a rubbery, shock absorbing outsole. Four-eyelet lacing provides flexibility in shoe fit and security while simultaneously lending these shoes a traditional look.
The Stacy Adams Demill is the priciest shoe in this guide. Part of the reason why is because Stacy Adams is a premier shoe brand that’s even been referenced in pop culture. The other part is because the Demill is a sturdy oxford dress shoe with timeless style. The Stacy Adams Demill is worth stretching the budget a bit, especially if your child frequently attends formal events.
9. SmartFit Grant
The SmartFit Grant scales back on embellishments for a low-key yet sophisticated dress shoe. Modeled after modern adult dress shoes, the Grant from SmartFit is the perfect solution to a dress shoe dilemma. Available in black or white, these shoes come in toddler and little kids sizes.
With especially soft faux leather uppers and a chic square toe, the Grant is a kids dress shoe with a dash of maturity. Adding to the classic feel of these shoes is a complimentary 0.5” stacked heel and simple yet pronounced stitching. Billed as being “just like Dad’s”, these shoes match up well with similar adult styles.
Designed for simple on-and-off wearing, the SmartFit Grant features a thick velcro band with a hook-and-loop closure. Built with SmartFit’s ‘Tried and True technology’, these shoes are meant to withstand play and provide comfort and wiggle room for growing toes. In addition, the Grant has a soft, jersey fabric lining, padded collar, and padded insole.
Reasonably priced, these dress shoes cost the same as a pair of Nova Utopia shoes. What makes the Grant an excellent option is its focus on providing a stable and comfortable shoe experience. Created and sized with the roominess children need in mind and combined with classic style; that’s the SmartFit Grant.
10. Little Angel Britt
Sizes Run Large
The Britt from Little Angel is a darling, studded kids shoe that easily transfers between casual and dressy situations. Britt is a classically designed flat dress shoe and has six vibrant colors to choose from, ranging from red to black. Moreover, these shoes are available in toddler, little kid, and (limited) big kid sizes.
Like many kids dress shoes, the Little Angel Britt features rhinestone studding across the vamp and sides. The difference with the Britt, however, is the playful mix of large diamond rhinestones and small round rhinestones. The outsole of the shoe is a contrasting yet complementary nude hue that matches the sock lining — save for the black-on-black style variant, that is. Not to mention the subtle cut-outs in the heel counter, a tiny but trendy detail.
Crafted for Comfort
Soft and sturdy fabric and a synthetic rubber sole aren’t the only comfy perks the Little Angel Britt has. Add a roomy rounded toe box, lightly padded footbed, and soft fabric lining. Then include an adjustable Mary Jane-style buckle strap for security and the Britt becomes an ideal kids dress shoe.
In short, the Little Angel Britt is an inexpensive shoe. The difference in price between the Britt and the SmartFit Grant is small enough to be negligible. As one of the few versatile dressy casual shoes, you can expect your child to get a lot of wear out of these.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
In a way, choosing dress shoes (and shoes in general) for children is simpler than choosing them for yourself or another adult. Once you have measured your child’s foot, you have tackled the issue of general sizing. You simply need to compare the length of your child’s foot to a size chart and voila! However, there’s still more to the equation than just foot length.
The most important consideration in children’s shoes is fit, even more so than for adults. Since children’s feet are still growing, improperly fitted shoes can introduce your child to foot problems and pose a risk for deformities. Shoes should fit well from the beginning, as well, especially for children. “Breaking in” a shoe shouldn’t be necessary, and means the shoes are not designed or fitted for your child’s feet.
One method of ensuring proper fit is to take the measurements of your child’s feet in the afternoon or evening. Feet of all ages tend to swell as the day goes on, and you want your child in shoes that will accommodate that natural swelling.
Ingrown toenails, calluses, ‘hammer toes’, and bunions are all foot problems that can occur from shoes not fitting properly around the toe box. Round-toe shoes are the best for achieving a roomy fit that allows your child’s toes to spread naturally as they walk; pointy-toed shoes are guaranteed to cramp growing toes.
Furthermore, you should regularly check your child’s shoes for the fit around the toe to make sure the shoe is still a comfortable size. While your child is wearing shoes, press around the top of the shoe — where the toe box is — for the tip of your child’s big toe (or longest toe, if it isn’t the big toe). If where you find their toe is less than a half-inch away from the tip of the shoe, the shoe is too small.
The way a shoe stays on your child’s feet is yet another essential facet of finding the best fitting dress shoes. Lace-up style shoes are the best for getting a custom and secure fit. Velcro fastening is a close runner-up. Overall, some kind of closure is recommended for children’s shoes; backless and slip-on shoes can change a child’s gait when they struggle to keep the shoe on. Plus, there’s nothing worse than losing a single shoe and ruining the pair, right?
When it comes to the heel of a shoe, there are considerations needed on both the heel bottom (beneath the shoe) and the heel quarter (at the ankle). For the ankle portion of the heel, the shoe should fit snugly against the ankle but should not rub or chafe. However, be wary: too loose of a heel quarter can cause a child’s foot to slide inside of the shoe and contribute to a fall.
On the topic of the heel beneath the shoe, know that it is crucial to avoid too-tall heels for children. High heels can cause problems even in adult feet, so they are absolutely terrible for adequate development. Nevertheless, we know that some children feel special, like a grownup or a princess, when wearing heels so the recommendation isn’t to outright avoid them.
Instead, stick to a small heel and limit the amount of time your child spends walking in them. This way your child can feel special while you can feel confident that they are safe and secure in their new shoes!
The midsole is designed to provide cushioning and shock absorption to the shoe, nestling the foot in comfort. Whereas running shoes tend to have thick midsoles, flats and thinner shoes not designed for high-impact activities often have thinner midsoles.
The reason for this is simple: you need more shock absorption and vibration dampening during high-intensity movements or activities to maintain comfort and prevent foot injury than you otherwise would with a regular shoe, flat or sandal. Midsoles are often made from EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate), a synthetic plastic also used to make insertable orthotics. A firmer type of EVA for the midsole will make the shoe heavier, but more durable; whereas a softer type of EVA, like those found in running shoes, improve shock absorption, but wear much quickly.
This is one of the trade-offs you will have to consider when buying your child's next pair of shoes. You want them to be comfortable, but also be aware that comfort tends to mean the shoe will wear much more quickly. Fortunately, kids are growing so fast around this age, so you should opt for comfort over durability, as you will most likely need to buy new shoes in the short term.
A shoe that breathes is critical to providing the wearer a comfortable and healthy experience when sporting a pair of shoes, sandals or boots. A lack of breathability will create a wet and humid foot, leading to discomfort and possible fungal or bacterial infections that are painful and difficult to cure.
How does a manufacturer ensure their product will allow maximum airflow? There are several ways to achieve this, including using special fabrics in the upper of the product, lining the midsole with moisture-wicking technologies and finally, the good old use of perforations of holes throughout the product.
If a product scores high on this metric, the buyer can rest assured that the manufacturer has used some or all of the above techniques to ensure the wearer a comfortable and dry wearing experience.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Many times purchasing shoes for our children can make you realize how quickly they go through them! However, it's still important to have at least one pair of dress shoes available for your child, for formal gatherings or occasions where they're needed. Weddings, funerals, even holidays or birthdays can let your child show off their dressier side!
Your child's shoes may see quite a bit of wear and tear, even their dress shoes. Running around in the grass at a summertime wedding is fun, and they may not really care that their dress shoes are going to get stained!
To care for your little one's shoes, you can usually wipe stains off with soap and water, or if the shoe is textile, it can most likely go in the washer on the gentle cycle. Check the manufacturer's instruction before you do so! Allow any mud on the soles to dry before removing it, and if they get wet, let them air dry instead of exposing the shoes to extreme heat sources like a dryer or heat vent.
Other Factors to Consider
There you have it, the best kids' dress shoes available right now. We know that shopping can be one of the more involved parts of life, especially when you’re not doing it for yourself. Here’s hoping we’ve made your search for your child’s next dress shoes that much easier.
To ensure that you are making the best choice for your child, we highly recommend you also check out our criteria section, to ascertain how we arrived at our top 10 recommendations. There is also a handy FAQ that will answer some of the most common questions our readers ask us. Happy shopping!
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How do I measure my child’s feet?
The most common way to measure a child’s foot is to simply print out a copy of a children’s shoe chart and have your child stand upright on the chart, feet fully flattened. Many shoe brands have charts specific to themselves but there are general charts available on the web.
However, if printing out a shoe chart is inconvenient, measurements can also be done manually. You’ll need paper, pen, and a ruler. Start by, again, having your child stand upright on the sheet of paper with their feet fully flattened. Draw a line at the largest toe, then at the heel. Once your child steps away, measure the distance between the lines with a ruler. Add a quarter inch for appropriate wiggle room, and that is your child’s shoe size.
q: How often does my child need new shoes?
Since it is recommended to measure your child’s shoe size every six months after two years old, at a minimum you may be changing your child’s shoes twice a year. Frequently check the toe box of your child’s shoe to determine if their current shoe has enough room for their foot to expand and listen out for any complaints of foot pain.
q: What sizes do children’s shoes come in?
Children’s sizes first come in age groupings: infant, toddler, little kid, and big kid. Little kid and big kid are also called ‘kids’ and ‘youth’ sizes, respectively. Little kid sizing encompasses ages 3-5.5 years old, approximately, while big kid sizing includes the ages of 6-10 years old.
However, the measurements for children’s shoe sizes are variable and heavily dependent on inches or centimeters as a (loose) standard. Therefore it’s important to know the length of your child’s foot when purchasing shoes, more so than adhering to an age range.
q: Can children wear adult shoe sizes?
While the more common question is “can adults wear children’s shoe sizes?”, the answer to both is yes. If your child has particularly long or wide feet, it may be necessary to move out of children’s sizes and into the lower end of adult sizes. As children’s feet are still under development, having a properly sized shoe is crucial to growth.
q: Are flat shoes good for kids?
In general, flat shoes are fine for kids. For younger children, flat shoes are actually recommended, as flat soles make it easier to start walking. Older children should have shoes with heels no higher than 1” since tall heels can force feet forward and compress a child’s toes against the inside of the shoe.