“…some kids have a hard time in high school… and they need clothes to act as a force field around them, either to set themselves apart or to join the goofballs, the Jay Z fans, the Star Wars nerds. I was never that unhappy, never an actual weird kid who needed armor. Whenever I tried joining a cohort with my clothing, it was trouble that led nowhere, neither placing me in a new peer group nor throwing me out of the village. I was missing that psychotic teenage flair and the upkeep was too much, so eventually I’d run out of steam and wear a combination of minimalist Christmas gifts, hand-me-downs from Dad (the most stylish category), and the few clothes my summer salary afforded me.
I came close to finding my cohort when hiphop was just beginning to kick in. I started wearing jeans, mesh hats, and black referee sneakers with fat red laces. That lasted for a little while. But it was only in the last five years, as an adult, that I realized that I could wear tailored clothing with good boots and look like I resembled my own thoughts. I’d basically been waiting to be a grown-up, for a moment when my clothes weren’t just a mute default position.”

Sasha Frere-Jones, Worn Stories.

-Pete

That Time I Designed a Pair of Shoes

I designed a pair of shoes. Well, boots to be exact. Two years ago, I asked Meermin if they had any plans for shell cordovan wingtip boots, as I’ve wanted a pair for a while now. They said they didn’t, but that if I were up to the task, they’d let me design one.

Who could say no to that?

As it turns out, designing shoes is incredibly difficult. Even with a straightforward style such as this one, it can take a while to get the details right. The “wings” on a wingtip, for example, have to be executed with just the right angles and curves in order to look good, and the broguing has to be done with just the right size punches in order to suit the style of the shoes. It took Meermin and me about a year and half to design these – partly because we had to coordinate our schedules, and partly because it takes a while to get prototypes from the factory, which we would then use to make design changes.

Some things did go smoothly, however. I knew that I wanted a pair of smart casual boots – something I could wear with jeans or heavy wool trousers, and pair with anything from casual outerwear to tweed sport coats. Which meant, a lot of the details for the boot came naturally. Meermin’s Rui last, for example, was an obvious choice. It’s shapelier than what you’d find from Alden (thus, a bit “dressier”), but not so sleek that it looks out of place with jeans. The eyelets have visible, untreated brass rings, which give the boots a slightly more casual look than blind eyelets, and the soles are made from two stacked pieces of leather, so that they’d have the visual heft to support the ruggedness of shell cordovan. Being a long time boot wearer, I also knew that speed hooks and pull-tabs were necessary. Boots are worthless when they sit in the back of the closet, and that’s where they end up if they take too much time and effort to put on. 

I’ve worn these for about six months now, and couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. The shell is from Japan, rather than Chicago’s Horween, but the material seems just as good as any of the other shell cordovan shoes I own. The only difference is that it has a slight mottling in its color – sort of like the antique finishes on John Lobb’s antique calf, but much more subtle. I think it gives the leather a really beautiful look.

This past week, Meermin put the design in their general catalog. Those are made from Argentine shell cordovan, which I unfortunately have no experience with. There were early reports of the color on Meermin’s Argentine shell lightening, but some people found the issue to go away once they applied leather conditioner. In any case, the price is about $430 once you deduct for VAT (European taxes). They’re not inexpensive, but they’re much more affordable than any other shell cordovan boots on the market (about half the price, depending on where you go). Like everything else I’ve seen from Meermin, these shoes hit just the right balance between price and quality, which is why I continue to think that the company offers some of the best value in footwear right now. 

(Note, although I designed these boots, I’m not getting any commission off their sale. I did receive a discount on my purchase, however).  

It’s On Sale: Wolverine 1000 Mile at Vente Privee
Vente-Privee continues to kill the flash sale game with a sale on Wolverine’s high-end 1000 Mile line. Discounts are typically excellent at the site - the sale just opened, so give it a look. As usual, if you haven’t signed up for an account, consider using our invitation so we get the kickback.

It’s On Sale: Wolverine 1000 Mile at Vente Privee

Vente-Privee continues to kill the flash sale game with a sale on Wolverine’s high-end 1000 Mile line. Discounts are typically excellent at the site - the sale just opened, so give it a look. As usual, if you haven’t signed up for an account, consider using our invitation so we get the kickback.

Which boots are best for snow?
With most of the United States seeing some early flakeage this year, it’s time to break out the sleet-kickers. Some things to consider if you’re considering new winter boots, whether you need dress boots or something less sleek:
Traction
For minimum slippage on snow and ice, you want an outsole that is relatively soft with maximum tread. Ralph Fabricius of Russell Moccasin told me that you don’t want “a real hard sole for ice—that’s two hard surfaces up against one another. Some Vibram [brand] soles have more forgiveness to them.” So a dress leather sole is right out—adding a Topy rubber sole probably helps a little. The title of grippiest, according to Ralph, goes to Vibram’s Fire and Ice or Olympia soles. My Danner boots (pictured above) use a light but deeply lugged Vibram Kletterlift outsole that suited me well on a trip to Quebec last January. The white Christy wedge sole that looks so darn good with so many boots is not a great choice for snow—too flat and too hard.
For dress boots you’ll find Dainite studded rubber or Ridgeway (also a Dainite product) soles are handy and widely available on better British shoes, especially country boots like those from Crockett and Jones. Likewise Commando lugged soles. On icy sidewalks, though, there’s not much you can do but be cautious.
Water resistance
In cold temperatures, you can often get away with outerwear that’s not 100% waterproof—it will take a lot longer for snow to soak through the shoulders of a heavy wool coat than steady rain. Water from melting snow can start getting into shoes rather quickly, though. Leather is hide, and by definition porous, so you have two options: treat your leather boots with a waterproofing compound like mink oil or Obenauf’s LP, which can darken leather and will need re-proofing over time, or add a layer of synthetic material, like Gore-Tex. Hiking boots—I’m partial to classically styled models like Danners or Merrells—are the most likely to feature a synthetic liner; I don’t know of any true dress boots that do so. Of note is that the highest-end hiking boots, like Limmers, do not use synthetic midlayers, but rather recommend waterproofing treatments.
For dress boots, you’re best off avoiding serious snow and slush if you can, and treating your leather boots well, both before and after you go out in winter conditions. So, rub them down with a quality, natural leather protectant regularly, and once you get out of the snow, wipe them clean, use shoe trees, and let them dry away from heat to avoid cracking or overdrying the leather. Crockett and Jones’s Snowdon model is one of the few dress boots that claim to be waterproof, with a waxy leather upper and Norwegian/Veldtshoen construction that is less likely to let water seep in between the sole and the upper than most shoes. If I had a pair of Snowdons, though, I’d still shovel the walk in something I wouldn’t feel I had to fuss over.
Warmth
Few boots are significantly insulated by themselves. Viberg hikers use a layer of Thinsulate, and you can always wear down booties, I guess. Bean Boots, a classic choice for long New England winters, are really quite cold, although L.L. does offer shearling/Thinsulate lined models. For dress boots, Paul at Leffot recommends Edward Green Galway boots, which can be made to order with a shearling lined shaft. Woah. Let’s see those again. Nice. Like Eddie Green Uggs.
Of course, warm socks provide insulation when boots don’t. Cotton socks are poor insulators when dry and miserable to wear when wet. I’m a big believer in SmartWool’s widely available wool-blend socks. Are they dress socks? No; but if you’re wearing a boot with a high shaft anyway, the dress-appropriateness of your sock becomes less of an issue. If you’re desperate for a little more warmth without resorting to all-out ultra-thick hiking socks, you can add a sock liner, which you wear as sort of a baselayer for your feet. Sock liners (also called liner socks) are usually made from synthetics or silk—quite comfortable and not too thick. One last tip for warm feet: add a layer to your legs. Long underwear under your trousers is too warm for most offices, but if you know you’ll be out in the elements a while, they’re worth it: warmer legs will make your feet feel warmer, too.
-Pete

Which boots are best for snow?

With most of the United States seeing some early flakeage this year, it’s time to break out the sleet-kickers. Some things to consider if you’re considering new winter boots, whether you need dress boots or something less sleek:

Traction

For minimum slippage on snow and ice, you want an outsole that is relatively soft with maximum tread. Ralph Fabricius of Russell Moccasin told me that you don’t want “a real hard sole for ice—that’s two hard surfaces up against one another. Some Vibram [brand] soles have more forgiveness to them.” So a dress leather sole is right out—adding a Topy rubber sole probably helps a little. The title of grippiest, according to Ralph, goes to Vibram’s Fire and Ice or Olympia soles. My Danner boots (pictured above) use a light but deeply lugged Vibram Kletterlift outsole that suited me well on a trip to Quebec last January. The white Christy wedge sole that looks so darn good with so many boots is not a great choice for snow—too flat and too hard.

For dress boots you’ll find Dainite studded rubber or Ridgeway (also a Dainite product) soles are handy and widely available on better British shoes, especially country boots like those from Crockett and Jones. Likewise Commando lugged soles. On icy sidewalks, though, there’s not much you can do but be cautious.

Water resistance

In cold temperatures, you can often get away with outerwear that’s not 100% waterproof—it will take a lot longer for snow to soak through the shoulders of a heavy wool coat than steady rain. Water from melting snow can start getting into shoes rather quickly, though. Leather is hide, and by definition porous, so you have two options: treat your leather boots with a waterproofing compound like mink oil or Obenauf’s LP, which can darken leather and will need re-proofing over time, or add a layer of synthetic material, like Gore-Tex. Hiking boots—I’m partial to classically styled models like Danners or Merrells—are the most likely to feature a synthetic liner; I don’t know of any true dress boots that do so. Of note is that the highest-end hiking boots, like Limmers, do not use synthetic midlayers, but rather recommend waterproofing treatments.

For dress boots, you’re best off avoiding serious snow and slush if you can, and treating your leather boots well, both before and after you go out in winter conditions. So, rub them down with a quality, natural leather protectant regularly, and once you get out of the snow, wipe them clean, use shoe trees, and let them dry away from heat to avoid cracking or overdrying the leather. Crockett and Jones’s Snowdon model is one of the few dress boots that claim to be waterproof, with a waxy leather upper and Norwegian/Veldtshoen construction that is less likely to let water seep in between the sole and the upper than most shoes. If I had a pair of Snowdons, though, I’d still shovel the walk in something I wouldn’t feel I had to fuss over.

Warmth

Few boots are significantly insulated by themselves. Viberg hikers use a layer of Thinsulate, and you can always wear down booties, I guess. Bean Boots, a classic choice for long New England winters, are really quite cold, although L.L. does offer shearling/Thinsulate lined models. For dress boots, Paul at Leffot recommends Edward Green Galway boots, which can be made to order with a shearling lined shaft. Woah. Let’s see those again. Nice. Like Eddie Green Uggs.

Of course, warm socks provide insulation when boots don’t. Cotton socks are poor insulators when dry and miserable to wear when wet. I’m a big believer in SmartWool’s widely available wool-blend socks. Are they dress socks? No; but if you’re wearing a boot with a high shaft anyway, the dress-appropriateness of your sock becomes less of an issue. If you’re desperate for a little more warmth without resorting to all-out ultra-thick hiking socks, you can add a sock liner, which you wear as sort of a baselayer for your feet. Sock liners (also called liner socks) are usually made from synthetics or silk—quite comfortable and not too thick. One last tip for warm feet: add a layer to your legs. Long underwear under your trousers is too warm for most offices, but if you know you’ll be out in the elements a while, they’re worth it: warmer legs will make your feet feel warmer, too.

-Pete

Chelsea Boots
For as long as I’ve been interested in shoes, I’ve always favored boots, and one of the first kinds of boots I fell in love with were Chelseas. Chelseas are a kind of ankle-length, pull-on boot with elastic side gussets. They were invented in the mid-19th century as an alternative to the button boot, but they didn’t really gain popularity until the 1960s, when they were picked up by young men in Chelsea, London (hence the name) and then famously worn by The Beatles (though technically speaking, the Beatles wore a modified version of the Chelsea).
Various English shoe companies make Chelseas in their most classic form (the kind that we associate with the Mod movement of the 1960s). On the uppermost end, there’s Edward Green’s Newmarket, which are fantastically beautiful, but also fantastically expensive. A bit more affordable (but still quite expensive) is Crockett & Jones. They have three versions, simply named models 3, 5, and 8. Their Chelsea 3, being the sleekest and featuring a single-layer leather sole, is the dressiest. Models 5 and 8, on the other hand, are built on studded Dainite soles, with number 8 being a nice, almond-toe compromise between the sleekness of number 3 and the roundness of 5. You can buy these from Crockett & Jones or Barneys New York, though Pediwear, Robert Old, and P. Lal will likely have better prices (note, P. Lal’s prices are denoted in Malaysian ringgit, so you have to convert them).
Slightly more affordable options can be had through Grenson, Shipton & Heneage, and Carmina. Our friends at The Armoury stock the Carmina version in the very sleek Simpson last, while Skoaktiebolaget sells them in the slightly less tapered Rain (a last, as many readers know, is the form that the shoe’s leather is pulled over, and is what determines the shoe’s shape). Carmina can also custom make Chelseas for you, where you choose the last and material, but this comes at a 50% upcharge.
For something more affordable still, there’s Loake and Herring, Charles Tyrwhitt (don’t be fooled by the sale, as they’re always on sale), Markowski, and RM Williams. You can also check eBay, although you’ll want to be careful to avoid the frumpy versions (I’m not a fan of Blundstones, though my friend Jake over at Wax Wane likes them).
If you’re considering getting a pair, try them in black. Those are arguably the easiest and most versatile to wear. If shaped right, and built on a leather sole, they could span everything from suits to jeans. Brown leather would also work well, although on the suit end, they might need to be paired with more casual options (Mark over at The Armoury can be seen here looking great in his tan suit, blue gingham shirt, and Gaziano & Girling Chelseas). Brown suede could also be nice, especially under a pair of tan cavalry twill trousers or some light, washed blue jeans. Whatever you choose, I recommend wearing them with a slim trouser leg, just to keep with the Mod tradition.

Chelsea Boots

For as long as I’ve been interested in shoes, I’ve always favored boots, and one of the first kinds of boots I fell in love with were Chelseas. Chelseas are a kind of ankle-length, pull-on boot with elastic side gussets. They were invented in the mid-19th century as an alternative to the button boot, but they didn’t really gain popularity until the 1960s, when they were picked up by young men in Chelsea, London (hence the name) and then famously worn by The Beatles (though technically speaking, the Beatles wore a modified version of the Chelsea).

Various English shoe companies make Chelseas in their most classic form (the kind that we associate with the Mod movement of the 1960s). On the uppermost end, there’s Edward Green’s Newmarket, which are fantastically beautiful, but also fantastically expensive. A bit more affordable (but still quite expensive) is Crockett & Jones. They have three versions, simply named models 3, 5, and 8. Their Chelsea 3, being the sleekest and featuring a single-layer leather sole, is the dressiest. Models 5 and 8, on the other hand, are built on studded Dainite soles, with number 8 being a nice, almond-toe compromise between the sleekness of number 3 and the roundness of 5. You can buy these from Crockett & Jones or Barneys New York, though Pediwear, Robert Old, and P. Lal will likely have better prices (note, P. Lal’s prices are denoted in Malaysian ringgit, so you have to convert them).

Slightly more affordable options can be had through Grenson, Shipton & Heneage, and Carmina. Our friends at The Armoury stock the Carmina version in the very sleek Simpson last, while Skoaktiebolaget sells them in the slightly less tapered Rain (a last, as many readers know, is the form that the shoe’s leather is pulled over, and is what determines the shoe’s shape). Carmina can also custom make Chelseas for you, where you choose the last and material, but this comes at a 50% upcharge.

For something more affordable still, there’s Loake and Herring, Charles Tyrwhitt (don’t be fooled by the sale, as they’re always on sale), Markowski, and RM Williams. You can also check eBay, although you’ll want to be careful to avoid the frumpy versions (I’m not a fan of Blundstones, though my friend Jake over at Wax Wane likes them).

If you’re considering getting a pair, try them in black. Those are arguably the easiest and most versatile to wear. If shaped right, and built on a leather sole, they could span everything from suits to jeans. Brown leather would also work well, although on the suit end, they might need to be paired with more casual options (Mark over at The Armoury can be seen here looking great in his tan suit, blue gingham shirt, and Gaziano & Girling Chelseas). Brown suede could also be nice, especially under a pair of tan cavalry twill trousers or some light, washed blue jeans. Whatever you choose, I recommend wearing them with a slim trouser leg, just to keep with the Mod tradition.

Q & Answer: What Shoes Should I Bring On Vacation?

Ben writes: This May, my wife and I are honeymooning in Europe for two weeks. I know that I will be doing a heavy amount of walking. Do you have any suggestions for footwear that will allow me to keep pace with my wife without looking like the ugly American?

Packing shoes for a trip - especially one that requires more than one level of formality - is always tough. When I travel, I fight not to bring more than two pairs of shoes, with one of those pairs on my feet. I don’t always win the fight.

I’ve got plenty of dress shoes that are perfectly comfortable, but none that I’d want to walk miles in. So if I’m bringing a pair of dress shoes to make a big presentation or what-have-you, I’m usually looking to compliment them with a “walking shoe.”

Depending on the season and context, that usually boils down to one of two things: a simple sneaker, or a comfortable boot.

I actually own the Grenson chukka boots pictured above, in a slightly darker brown. I find they work great with jeans or khakis, though I obviously wouldn’t wear them with shorts were I headed somewhere hot. In fact, they’re sort of a three-season shoe - fine anytime but summer. Sometimes I’ll substitute the chunkier, hardier Alden Indy Boot for these. Most importantly, I can put in a few miles on these, and be happy to see them the next day.

I also frequently bring sneakers on trips that will involve walking. As usual, I’d say the simpler the better. Above are a classic, the Adidas Samba. I usually wear Common Projects, which are great but expensive. I’m hoping Kent Wang gets in a full size run of his plain white sneaks soon. And of course if it’s summer, there’s stuff like Jack Purcells and Supergas, among others.

Traveling’s really an exercise in building a capsule wardrobe. You want to carry as few pieces as possible, and have as much interchangability as possible. So: keep it simple, and you’ll be fine.

Bean Boots with a Buckle
Last weekend while heading out to meet friends for what would later prove to be an ill-considered attempt to capitalize on National Margarita Day specials, I stood waiting for the bus and noticed another gentleman in a suit, overcoat and a pair of unique Bean Boots. 
Being a bit of a nerd and also wearing my Bean Boots, I couldn’t stop myself from saying, “Nice boots!” 
What struck me about his boots though was the lack of laces and a buckled strap across the front. I remarked that I’d never seen such a boot before and he said, “Oh, that’s a shame. I bought these a long time ago. I couldn’t stand the laces like yours have.” 
I understood his frustration. The laces work great when you want the boots tight and will be wearing them for a long while, but they do take a little bit more time to put on and take off. A slip-on model would be ideal for office commuting, allowing you to quickly remove them at your desk. 
The model of the boot is called the “Lounger” and L.L.Bean had discontinued the boot for a while until back in 2010 when Red Clay Soul started a campaign to bring them back and they returned in the form of a shearling-lined boot — but sans the buckle. 
But while searching their site today, I noticed L.L.Bean has brought back the 1970s Bean Boot Lounger model — complete with buckle — to their Signature line.
For those of you trudging to work in snow and slush and who hate laces, it’s worth giving the Lounger a look.
-Kiyoshi

Bean Boots with a Buckle

Last weekend while heading out to meet friends for what would later prove to be an ill-considered attempt to capitalize on National Margarita Day specials, I stood waiting for the bus and noticed another gentleman in a suit, overcoat and a pair of unique Bean Boots. 

Being a bit of a nerd and also wearing my Bean Boots, I couldn’t stop myself from saying, “Nice boots!” 

What struck me about his boots though was the lack of laces and a buckled strap across the front. I remarked that I’d never seen such a boot before and he said, “Oh, that’s a shame. I bought these a long time ago. I couldn’t stand the laces like yours have.” 

I understood his frustration. The laces work great when you want the boots tight and will be wearing them for a long while, but they do take a little bit more time to put on and take off. A slip-on model would be ideal for office commuting, allowing you to quickly remove them at your desk. 

The model of the boot is called the “Lounger” and L.L.Bean had discontinued the boot for a while until back in 2010 when Red Clay Soul started a campaign to bring them back and they returned in the form of a shearling-lined boot — but sans the buckle

But while searching their site today, I noticed L.L.Bean has brought back the 1970s Bean Boot Lounger model — complete with buckle — to their Signature line.

For those of you trudging to work in snow and slush and who hate laces, it’s worth giving the Lounger a look.

-Kiyoshi

Replacement boot laces
For several years now I’ve appreciated the ruggedness of my L.L. Bean Boots for winter. They’ve held up quite well in rain, snow, slush and that slurry of dirt, melted snow and rock salt that seems to stick around well after the storms are gone. 
But I can’t say I’ve been impressed with the stock laces that came with my Bean Boots. Perhaps I was an outlier, but both began to fray and fail the very first winter I wore them. In a pinch, I decided to pick up a pair of Kiwi leather laces at the local Walmart. Those lasted at least a winter until a few weeks ago when I went to lace up my boots and one of them snapped in my hand while tightening them. Perhaps that accounts for their 2-star rating on Amazon. 
I spent a bit more time doing some research and came across an old, 2009 post from Sartorially Inclined (R.I.P.) on Danner boot laces. Price has gone up a buck (now $6), but I figured they’re worth a shot. I’m hoping they’ll stay together for more than a year. Perhaps I should’ve just bought two pairs to have a spare. 
My friend also recommended a good idea: paracord, which was used by the U.S. military for their parachute lines. You can usually buy a significant length of it for a few bucks at your local military surplus store. Simply cut to length and burn the ends with a lighter to keep them from fraying at the tip. 
-Kiyoshi

Replacement boot laces

For several years now I’ve appreciated the ruggedness of my L.L. Bean Boots for winter. They’ve held up quite well in rain, snow, slush and that slurry of dirt, melted snow and rock salt that seems to stick around well after the storms are gone. 

But I can’t say I’ve been impressed with the stock laces that came with my Bean Boots. Perhaps I was an outlier, but both began to fray and fail the very first winter I wore them. In a pinch, I decided to pick up a pair of Kiwi leather laces at the local Walmart. Those lasted at least a winter until a few weeks ago when I went to lace up my boots and one of them snapped in my hand while tightening them. Perhaps that accounts for their 2-star rating on Amazon. 

I spent a bit more time doing some research and came across an old, 2009 post from Sartorially Inclined (R.I.P.) on Danner boot laces. Price has gone up a buck (now $6), but I figured they’re worth a shot. I’m hoping they’ll stay together for more than a year. Perhaps I should’ve just bought two pairs to have a spare. 

My friend also recommended a good idea: paracord, which was used by the U.S. military for their parachute lines. You can usually buy a significant length of it for a few bucks at your local military surplus store. Simply cut to length and burn the ends with a lighter to keep them from fraying at the tip. 

-Kiyoshi

Arrow Moccasins: Handmade at an Amazing Price
I just got off the phone with the good people at Arrow Moccasins. They’re a small family company in Hudson, Massachusetts, who hand-make moccasins of every sort. There are traditional laced boots like the ones above, camp mocs, fleece-lined boots, big tall boots and even fur-trapper boots. They even make dog collars and leads.
My wife’s favorite shoes are a pair of their ring boots - but one recently went missing. We think my 15-month-old son may be the culprit. Lately he’s been really into putting things in the trash can. We decided to buy her a pair of double-soled lace boots to make up for it. I’ve already got a pair that I love wearing all fall and winter.
The best part is that these hand-made shoes are exceptionally reasonably priced. The lace boots, outfitted with double soles, are $169 for men and $165 for women. I’ve had no durability issues with the soles (they’re resolable, by the way), but some people prefer crepe rubber soles for city wear - they can do that, too.
Call to order - their number is 978-562-7870. They take a credit card and ship almost anywhere. You can find the full range of their products on their charmingly 1995-ish website.

Arrow Moccasins: Handmade at an Amazing Price

I just got off the phone with the good people at Arrow Moccasins. They’re a small family company in Hudson, Massachusetts, who hand-make moccasins of every sort. There are traditional laced boots like the ones above, camp mocs, fleece-lined boots, big tall boots and even fur-trapper boots. They even make dog collars and leads.

My wife’s favorite shoes are a pair of their ring boots - but one recently went missing. We think my 15-month-old son may be the culprit. Lately he’s been really into putting things in the trash can. We decided to buy her a pair of double-soled lace boots to make up for it. I’ve already got a pair that I love wearing all fall and winter.

The best part is that these hand-made shoes are exceptionally reasonably priced. The lace boots, outfitted with double soles, are $169 for men and $165 for women. I’ve had no durability issues with the soles (they’re resolable, by the way), but some people prefer crepe rubber soles for city wear - they can do that, too.

Call to order - their number is 978-562-7870. They take a credit card and ship almost anywhere. You can find the full range of their products on their charmingly 1995-ish website.

Chukkas for Fall

Fall for me is about boots. Brass-buckled tan jodhpurs worn with olive moleskins; shell cordovan balmoral boots, in that perfect tone of reddish brown, worn with grey flannel trousers; and handsewn, chunky moc-toe boots worn with dark blue jeans. There are dozens of styles, but the most versatile and easy-to-wear of them all is the chukka. Brought over from India by the British Raj, these were named “chukkas” after the playing period in polo. They were quite popular in the 1940s and 1950s, and today can still be worn with a wide range of ensembles – anything from chinos to jeans to wool trousers, put together with something as dressy as a sport coat or as casual a four-pocket field jacket. They can even be worn with suits, although it’s advisable to stick with more “casual” varieties, such as ones made from flannel, linen, or tweed, rather than smooth, lightweight worsted wools.

There are number of good options to consider. For those on a budget, I recommend Loake or Meermin. Loake has two models: the Kempton, which is built on the round toe 026 last, and the Pimlico, which is built on the slightly sleeker, soft-square toe Capital. These are also available rebranded as the Harwood at Charles Trywhitt, as well as the Gosforth and Barrow from Herring. Meermin, on the other hand, has two suede models on their Rui last, which is a round toe design you can more closely inspect here. If you happen to not like the Rui, Meermin can also custom build you a chukka with any last, leather, and sole you wish for a small surcharge. Just drop them a note through their website to order. Their quality is just as good, if not considerably better once you go made-to-order, as Loake’s. 

If you’re willing to spend a little bit more money, there’s a wider range of options. Allen Edmonds, for example, has their Malvern on sale for about $250. For a few hundred dollars more, there’s a number of designs at Crockett and Jones, which you can peruse by doing a search on their website for “chukkas.” My favorite from them is probably the Brecon, a country calf leather boot built on a Dainite sole. It’s a very rustic shoe that can be successfully paired with corduroys, moleskins, and jeans. For something sleeker, check out Kent Wang, who has something similar to the Crockett and Jones’ Tetbury for about $350. Additionally, there’s this handsome shell cordovan version from Alden. If you want one, but can’t afford the price, you can have something similar made through Meermin, custom ordered, for about half the cost.

Of course, those just scratch the surface of the most basic models available. There’s also crepe rubber soled chukkas, which are an incredible pleasure to walk on. Like other well made shoes, these can last years and years if properly taken care of and given regular resolings. Simple, basic designs include Clark’s Desert Boots, Church’s Sahara, Loake’s Campden, and A Suitable Wardrobe’s Easy Fitting Chukka. For something lighter and more breathable, try ones that are unlined. Unlined chukkas lack structure around the uppers, so they feel more like slippers. Models here include Allen Edmonds’ Amok and Alden’s 1494. The Amok is noticeably sleeker, but I find more charm in Alden’s wider 1494 version. Crockett and Jones also has unlined models called the Milton and Hartland, as well as one simply named the “Chukka.” All of those are available for view on their website and for purchase through their New York City store.

Whatever you choose, I encourage you to pick up a pair (if you don’t already own some) and try wearing them this fall with jeans and tweeds, corduroys and Shetland sweaters, and wool trousers and waxed cotton coats. In a smooth brown calfskin or russet shade of suede, these can be some of the most versatile shoes you will ever own.