The devil’s in the details, so they say, and the adage is just as true as ever when it comes to dress shoes. Because after you get through the color, the style, the leather, and a whole host of other considerations, well… that’s when things get really interesting. Take, for example, the eyelet. It seems like it should be simple: Put a small hole in the shoe so you can actually lace it up, and add a grommet to stop the hole from tearing open. Although it’s not exactly rocket science, there’s a bit more to it than that. With dress shoes you’re most likely to encounter one of three types of reinforced eyelets. There’s the agatine eyelet, which is usually untreated brass (though sometimes painted a contrasting hue), and situated on the outside of the upper. Then there’s the aptly named matched agatine eyelet, which is painted to approximate the color of the shoe. And finally there’s the blind eyelet, which places the metal grommet on the inside of the upper for a cleaner exterior appearance.
Handily, we’ve listed them out in order of formality here, running the gamut from least to most formal. The out-of-synch color of the agatine eyelet makes it the most casual, the color consistency on the matched agatine eyelet lends itself to a slightly more proper shoe, and the sleek look of the blind eyelet is most appropriate for those evenings (or afternoons) when you’re really dressed to the nines. Now give the devil his due, and keep an—ahem—eye on those eyelets.