Cheap Shoes That Age Well
Although I wouldn’t call it a “rule” for myself, when I can, I try to buy things that I think will look better with time, rather than worse. That is, after all, why most of us value full grain leather shoes over corrected grain ones. It’s not because they’re cheaper in the long run (because they’re not). It’s because high quality shoes acquire a beautiful worn in look that only good materials and years of wear can impart. Shoes made from corrected grain leather, on the other hand, look terrible new and even worse with time.
Unfortunately, shoes that age well are typically expensive. The exception to this is canvas sneakers, which always look better with a bit of dirt and grass staining. Think:
Converse Chuck Taylors and Jack Purcells
Vans Authentics and Classic Slip-Ons
Superga 1705 and 2750
Sperry Top-Sider’s striped CVOs
Tretorn Nylites
All of these retail for under $75, but can be had for less than $50 if you wait for sales.
The best thing about these shoes isn’t their price, however. It’s their designs. Most have been around for decades and their designs are hard to improve on. Take Maison Martin Margiela’s interpretation of Vans’ slip-ons, for example. The heavier look and feel of leather doesn’t evoke the airiness of summer like canvas, even if the design itself looks more luxurious. Similarly, Nigel Cabourn’s interpretation of Chuck Taylor All Stars has a nice retro feel, but truth be told, I think the standard model today is hard to beat.
You can wear these with any number of spring or summer ensembles. I often wear my Chuck Taylor high tops with a white t-shirt, leather jacket, and pair of jeans, and my Superga 1705s with chinos and a madras shirt. On a cooler spring day, the madras shirt gets swapped out for a sweatshirt and light parka. Neither of these feel like compromises over full grain leather shoes, and they’re appreciably much cheaper. It’s nice that good things don’t always have to be expensive. 

Cheap Shoes That Age Well

Although I wouldn’t call it a “rule” for myself, when I can, I try to buy things that I think will look better with time, rather than worse. That is, after all, why most of us value full grain leather shoes over corrected grain ones. It’s not because they’re cheaper in the long run (because they’re not). It’s because high quality shoes acquire a beautiful worn in look that only good materials and years of wear can impart. Shoes made from corrected grain leather, on the other hand, look terrible new and even worse with time.

Unfortunately, shoes that age well are typically expensive. The exception to this is canvas sneakers, which always look better with a bit of dirt and grass staining. Think:

All of these retail for under $75, but can be had for less than $50 if you wait for sales.

The best thing about these shoes isn’t their price, however. It’s their designs. Most have been around for decades and their designs are hard to improve on. Take Maison Martin Margiela’s interpretation of Vans’ slip-ons, for example. The heavier look and feel of leather doesn’t evoke the airiness of summer like canvas, even if the design itself looks more luxurious. Similarly, Nigel Cabourn’s interpretation of Chuck Taylor All Stars has a nice retro feel, but truth be told, I think the standard model today is hard to beat.

You can wear these with any number of spring or summer ensembles. I often wear my Chuck Taylor high tops with a white t-shirt, leather jacket, and pair of jeans, and my Superga 1705s with chinos and a madras shirt. On a cooler spring day, the madras shirt gets swapped out for a sweatshirt and light parka. Neither of these feel like compromises over full grain leather shoes, and they’re appreciably much cheaper. It’s nice that good things don’t always have to be expensive. 

It’s On Sales: Warm-Weather Shoes

Bloomingdale’s is having their Friends & Family Sale right now, where you can get 20% off almost all items with code FRIENDS. It’s worth looking over their Polo Ralph Lauren, Billy Reid, Barbour and other sections, but I thought I’d point out two somewhat cheap warm-weather casual shoe options. 

This pair of boat shoes from Sperry Top-Sider comes to $68 with the discount (down from $85). I bought a pair of these several years ago and they lasted me about two summers of constant, near-daily wear. The sole is pretty much destroyed at this point at the heel, but it has yet to come unstitched and the leather laces haven’t broken. I’ve been pretty pleased with the value I extracted from them. 

And I would also check out the Tretorn Nylite, now $52 down from $65. I bought a pair last year on clearance in white and wore them this weekend during the warmer weather — sockless, of course. The cushioning is insanely comfortable and the shoe is very light to wear. They look great with casual chinos and a polo or rugby. 

Sale ends Sunday, April 7.

-Kiyoshi

Sierra Trading Post
There are some really good sales right now at Sierra Trading Post. Once you sign up for their DealFlyer newsletter, you’ll be notified of their daily coupons. Lately, they’ve been offering 35% off your whole order, as well as free shipping if you spend more than $100. That gives the following deals:
Derek Rose pajamas: Excellent pajamas available in multiple designs and colors. Starting price is $78. A bit expensive, to be sure, but Derek Rose is one of the better makers out there. 
Falke and Pantherella socks: Two top-tier hosiery manufacturers, though Pantherella’s quality has taken a dive in recent years. Still, you can get over-the-calf wool socks for about $5 right now, which makes this one of the best deals I’ve seen on socks. 
Johnstons of Elgin scarves and throws: Johnstons of Elgin is a 200+ year old manufacturer of woolen and cashmere goods. They’re not as nice as Colombo or Begg, but they’re very good and much more affordable. Johnstons’ cashmere scarves can be had right now for $39, while their lambswool scarves are $13. At those prices, these are a real steal. 
Tretorn sneakers: These aren’t the Nylites that the menswear bloggerotti have been wearing, but I could see this model still working very well for fall. For $45, it’s not bad. They also have other styles for as little as $26. 
Smartwool baselayers: Smartwool makes some of the best garments for cold weather. If you live in a cold climate, it may be wise to get a few of their baselayers and socks before winter arrives. They’re not the most stylish, but since they’re worn under your garments, they’re also not seen. I even recommend wearing them at home to save money on your heating bill. 
Trickers shoes: Trickers are a bit too rounded for my taste, but they’re quite popular among men’s style enthusiasts. Of the ones available at Sierra Trading Post right now, I like this boot the most, and the extra discount brings it down to $316. 
Bill’s Khakis M3 pants: Bill’s Khakis look a bit frumpy online, but I assure you they’re excellent. The M3 is their slimmest model, but it may need some tapering once you get them. That job should run you about $20, but when the chinos themselves cost $52, these are still a great deal.

Sierra Trading Post

There are some really good sales right now at Sierra Trading Post. Once you sign up for their DealFlyer newsletter, you’ll be notified of their daily coupons. Lately, they’ve been offering 35% off your whole order, as well as free shipping if you spend more than $100. That gives the following deals:

  • Derek Rose pajamas: Excellent pajamas available in multiple designs and colors. Starting price is $78. A bit expensive, to be sure, but Derek Rose is one of the better makers out there.
  • Falke and Pantherella socks: Two top-tier hosiery manufacturers, though Pantherella’s quality has taken a dive in recent years. Still, you can get over-the-calf wool socks for about $5 right now, which makes this one of the best deals I’ve seen on socks.
  • Johnstons of Elgin scarves and throws: Johnstons of Elgin is a 200+ year old manufacturer of woolen and cashmere goods. They’re not as nice as Colombo or Begg, but they’re very good and much more affordable. Johnstons’ cashmere scarves can be had right now for $39, while their lambswool scarves are $13. At those prices, these are a real steal.
  • Tretorn sneakers: These aren’t the Nylites that the menswear bloggerotti have been wearing, but I could see this model still working very well for fall. For $45, it’s not bad. They also have other styles for as little as $26.
  • Smartwool baselayers: Smartwool makes some of the best garments for cold weather. If you live in a cold climate, it may be wise to get a few of their baselayers and socks before winter arrives. They’re not the most stylish, but since they’re worn under your garments, they’re also not seen. I even recommend wearing them at home to save money on your heating bill.
  • Trickers shoes: Trickers are a bit too rounded for my taste, but they’re quite popular among men’s style enthusiasts. Of the ones available at Sierra Trading Post right now, I like this boot the most, and the extra discount brings it down to $316. 
  • Bill’s Khakis M3 pants: Bill’s Khakis look a bit frumpy online, but I assure you they’re excellent. The M3 is their slimmest model, but it may need some tapering once you get them. That job should run you about $20, but when the chinos themselves cost $52, these are still a great deal.

The Five Days of Summer Series, Part II: Plimsolls

Let’s be honest - nothing beats the comfort of sneakers. That comfort comes in handy when you’re taking long strolls during those warm summer days. Thus, for the second installment of this summer series, let’s talk about plimsolls. 

"Plimsoll" is a British term for shoes with a canvas upper and rubber sole. The first was invented in the 1830s by Liverpool Rubber Company and designed for beachwear. As such, its original name was "sand shoe." It wasn’t until the 1870s actually that the name plimsoll took hold. The new name derived from the horizontal colored stripe that ran along the upper part of the sole, which resembled the Plimsoll line on a ship’s hull. Like the line on ships, the stripe on the shoe was a kind of waterline (though it was clearly for just aesthetic purposes). 

These days, the plimsoll isn’t necessarily just for beachwear. People wear them everywhere, and they make for great summer shoes. So let’s review a few. 

To me, there are three classics - Superga, Spring Court, and Converse. Superga is an Italian label, and if you’ve been reading me for a while, you already know about my predilection for Italian menswear. It’s not just that they’re Italian that makes them my favorite, however. I think they’re the simplest of the plimsolls, and thus are much easier to wear. 

Spring Court is another classic; they’re made in France and the most comfortable of the plimsolls I’ve worn. I would recommend them if you’re comfortable with the bumps and bumpers on the sole.

Finally, of the classics, there is also Converse, which make the iconic American plimsoll that we’re all familiar with. The two most popular models are the Chuck Taylor All Stars, which come in both low and high tops, and Jack Purcell. Chuck Taylors are great because they’ll still look good when they’re beat to hell. Jack Purcells are basically plimsolls with a smile, which we know makes everything look better. Also, in an interesting team-up, Converse recently collaborated with Mackintosh to make a Jack Purcell model out of Mackintosh’s famed rubberized cotton. It’s more of a novelty shoe for menswear geeks, but I really like it. 

There are also great models outside of the classics. Feiyue are the monk shoes of plimsolls - meaning they were first worn by Shaolin monks and other martial artists. They were originally a Chinese company but have been since bought by a French sneakerhead who has made the shoe popular among footwear fanatics. They come in both low and high tops, and are most distinguishable by the red and blue stripes on the side. There are also Tretorns, which are Swedish plimsolls, and a new collaboration piece between Billy Reid and K Swiss. The Billy Reid x K Swiss may not be a classic, but I think it’s a pretty damn nice looking shoe that would look great with any casual summer wardrobe. 

Finally, there are CVOs - canvas vulcanized oxfords. For these, you can get Vans Authentics and Converse. Sperry Topsider also released a slightly vintage looking model for their 75th anniversary. 

If you get a pair of plimsolls, I recommend white, as nothing looks better in the summer. Some may worry that white canvas shoes are hard to keep clean. Personally, I think they look best with a little dirt on them. However, if you do want to keep them a bit brighter, try spraying a 50/50 mix of water and lemon juice, gently scrubbing for a bit, and letting them sit for a full day. For more serious stains, mix a tablespoon of baking soda and touch of water, and then rub the sticky paste onto the stain. Don’t worry too much about them though. They’re casual shoes and meant to be treated as such. 

(thanks to Edwin and LAS for help with this article)

It’s On Sale
Tretorn T-56 in Maize
Happy Easter, everyone!
$27.50 from $55 on 6PM.com

It’s On Sale

Tretorn T-56 in Maize

Happy Easter, everyone!

$27.50 from $55 on 6PM.com