Driving shoes, like driving gloves, border the useful-useless divide with one difference: shoes of any kind are a necessity. Do you need specific driving shoes though? This depends on a few things like how seriously you take your driving, what car you are driving, how far you are driving, and type of driving.
There are plenty of shoes created for racing through the likes of Alpinestars, OMP and others but what if you weren’t about to hit the circuit and didn’t want to look like a Ricciardo wannabe?
This is where you need a driving shoe that doesn’t look like a driving shoe, where you could hop out of your car and not be greeted with an eye-roll or quizzical look.
Casual driving shoes range from the boutique to casual sneaker style to the more sporting. Depending on your need, there’s a shoe for every occasion. If you’re going on a long drive the sneaker style might be the most comfortable however they would look out of place if you’re in a classic rally event like the Mille Miglia where brands like Chapal have you covered. Want to channel your inner Ayrton Senna? Loafers are a-plenty but be sure to get quality items, not cheap knock offs.
So what advantages do driving shoes have over regular sneakers? The biggest advantage is the rounded heel which provides a more comfortable roll of the ankle when resting and alternating between brake and accelerator. The soles are typically grippy too yet should allow for maximum feel. Some even have an extra rubber lip around the outside toe edge to keep the shoe in contact with the pedal when heel and toeing.
Check out the list below for some of the best casual driving shoes of 2018:
Puma do a lot of collaborative work with motoring brands as well as serious FIA approved race boots and of course, their own brand of casual driving shoes. At the more budget end of the range are these Drift Cat 5 Ultra Puma’s. Looking very much like a regular sneaker they offer a rounded heel but lack some features seen on other shoes. Go for the blue/white as shown.
Piloti do some amazing drivers’ shoes with everything from racing to sport to casual. These Pistone style shoes are probably some of the most casual looking driving shoes you could probably get, styled more like a pair of Onitsuka Tigers but retaining functional elements like the rounded heel.
Grand Prix Originals
GPO have a wide range of classic inspired clothing including shoes. These GPO Torino sneakers border comfort and function with a distinct style. Rounded heel, heel and toe support and quality materials all around.
Want to roll up at that oceanfront restaurant with your partner after a drive in your Mercedes Benz 190 SL and not look out of place? You need a pair of Tod’s Gommino driving shoes. A rounded and grippy heel provides driving comfort and the rest is just style. Sweater to tie around your shoulders is not included.
Despite the name, Negroni is a Japanese brand producing arguably some of the most stylish driving shoes in the world. Japanese craftsmanship is evident the closer you look then you start to understand why they cost as much as they do. Take these Idea Corsa’s for example. Coated Carbon Pre-Preg, leather, suede and made in Japan. I’d happily pay more for something made in Japan. The rest of their range is amazing too.
Driving the Mille Miglia or taking a classic through its paces at the Goodwood Revival? You need a pair of these, Chapal Pilot 60’s. As Chapal put it, “This shoe was the absolute reference of all the drivers during the 1960’s, from Graham Hill to Jackie Stewart, or Jack Brabham to Steve McQueen in the movie Le Mans.”