Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Men's Shoes, Casual and Dress

Original Photograph from Archives

1)  I am about to buy some blucher mocassins.   I am checking out Beans but was also curious what people thought about Quoddy?  Is there anything else I am missing?

2) I have two questions.   I am in need of both loafers and some dress shoes to wear with a suit.  Are Bass Weejuns still the default penny loafer or are there better ones out there that are worth the extra money?  Who makes the best lace-ups for dress?  And does it matter what color I should buy to wear with a Navy or Charcoal suit?

3) One of these days, maybe you could do a post on men's shoes.  I have the usual suspects, Bean's bluchers and camp mocs, loafers, Sperry boat shoes, many Cole Haan shoes for work, Bean boots, etc., but one shoe I would highly recommend to your readers is the Merrell Encore Gust clog (dark brown). These are incredibly comfortable, long-wearing, good in any season, and surprisingly flexible for work and play. A very simple design, and very low key.

Men's Dress Shoes
  • Lace-ups and Loafers (Penny, Horsebit, Belgians, Tassels, etc.).

Men's Casual Shoes


Katahdin said...

"Blunnies" (Blundstones) are great: versatile, light, good traction, easy on/off, waterproof version available

Anonymous said...

Bass & Cole Haan.



Anonymous said...

Clarks Desert Boot. If they were good enough for Daniel Patrick Moynihan, they are good enough for me.

Michael Rowe said...

Quoddy are what Bean's used to be.

WRJ said...

(1) My Bean bluchers are fine, but the leather is very plasticky. Can't speak to Quoddy, because I've yet to be convinced that spending $250 for casual knockaround shoes is reasonable.

(2) I think burgundy (including Alden's color 8 cordovan) looks great with both navy and charcoal suits. It's tough to find brown shoes that look good with both navy and charcoal. Black is still considered the most conservative option, so keep that in mind depending on office environment. Alden is pretty unbeatable here. Their unlined penny loafers are a great alternative to Weejuns, though at nearly 10 times the price, I guess the value proposition is questionable.

(3) I certainly hope those Merrells are comfortable.

AJC said...

For dress shoes, I own two pairs of Allen Edmonds and couldn't be happier with them.

As for casual shoes, count me in a a loyal Sperry fan. My four-year-old A/Os have finally given up the ghost and I contemplated stepping up to something from Rancourt or Quoddy, but as WRJ said, it's just not worth it for a pair of shoes that I'll just kick into the bottom of the closet after a dog walk or errand run.

Yeah yeah, I know all about how quality amortizes, etc. But when you can literally buy 4 pairs of Sperrys for what you would pay for one pair of Quoddys... well, the math speaks for itself.

Anonymous said...

Fourteen years ago the Brooks Brothers in Stamford, for reasons unknown to me, dumped their inventory of shoes. I bought 15 pair of their classics at a fraction of the cost. I'm still using five pair, and not one pair ever went out of style. It's going to be like reaching the end of an ice cream sundae when I have to go buy new dress shoes. Thanks for the suggestions. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I just posted about buying 15 pair of shoes at Brooks Bros. for a fraction of the cost....... then I went through the men's options on the list. I paid a little over a thousand dollars for 15 pair of shoes. Am I in some time warp? One pair at Brooks is now $650.00...... I know it is not done to discuss money, but I'm going to chalk it up to sticker shock.

Anonymous said...

The Bean bluchers are super. The ones on my feet as I type this are @10 years old and will simply not wear out. Great patina. Only change: replaced the laces with leather, which looks better. Got my Auburn freshman a pair for Christmas and they have barely left his feet. A true classic. I have the Camp Mocs as well, which I like.

For dress, I have Cole Haan bits, BB black tassels, BB cordovan tassels and pennies, and black Churches cap toe lace ups. The cordovan tassels are almost thirty years old and still look great. The Churches are at least twenty five and have the most amazing shine (unfortunately I don't have an occasion to wear them much). As with the casuals, these shoes are classics and don't go out of style.

If you are going to buy expensive shoes, you need a top notch shoe repairer which I have here in Atlanta.

Razor Boy

DT Chase said...

With regards to men's dress footwear, as the old timers used to say "no brown in town."

To that end, I find that my black Alden plain toe cordovan bluchers work for almost all business dress variations. Worth every penny.

The college where I work is a bit relaxed in our business dress options (although, thankfully, all men must wear neckties), so I do enjoy wearing Rancourt ranger mocs, their camp mocs, and a few of Yuketen's older crepe-soled (non-animal print suede) models.

Quoddy and Rancourt are rather similar in their levels of quality; I own and love shoes made by both, but I find that Rancourt builds on a last which fits me particularly well.

As for the value of a Maine-made boat shoe versus a Sperry model-- the Maine shoes are beautiful, but when I know that what I'll be wearing is going to be abused in salt water, the lower-quality leather and machine-made Sperrys will always be just fine. Their fit has stayed admirably consistent over the years.

Karan , Kuwait said...

Many of the worlds best mens shoes are missed on the list ( with the exception of the very fine Crockett's and Church's)

My "must have" list includes :

Tod's -
Car Shoe -
Cheaney -
Barker -
Alfred Sargent -
Loake's -
Edward Green -

The European leathers and workmanship are just superb

A few great places to buy online with free / low cost worldwide shipping
...or a bit pricier in the US -


Flo said...

In regards to Bass Weejuns-my husband has worn them for a very long time, but the last few pair he has purchased have not been all that great. Sizing from one pair to another is inconsistent and they don't seem to hold up like they used to. Same goes for the women's as well. We're hopeful now that Bass has changed ownership this issue will be rectified, but if what I see them selling is any indication (strange colors, patterns etc) I'm not holding my breath.

RDR said...

You won’t go wrong by sticking with Alden and Allen Edmonds, but be careful about the latter because they offer so many models in different lasts which fit differently.

Sebago also makes a good quality boat shoe comparable to Sperry only with slightly stiffer leather. I own both. I’m afraid of Quoddy because I don’t know how they’d fit at that price.

Alden, I believe, still supplies Brooks Brothers. About 15 years ago, I purchased a pair of their cordovan tassels and decided what the heck, I’ll get a spare while I’m at it. Lucky for me. They’re still new/unworn in the box, and would run me an outrageous $650 today.

Bally of Switzerland offers some comfortable shoes.

I used to wear Bass Weejuns as a youth, but from what I’ve heard they’ve become worse and worse. Beware.

If you’re a hedge-fund manager, then of course, John Lobb in London is where to go. That’s where the Royal Family and movie stars (in the past, Cary Grant) get their shoes.

Karan Kapur said...

@ RDR - Ah Yes John Lobb is now Hermès' John Lobb.
The shoes start at GBP 2400 - GBP 2600 a pair.
You do need to be royalty or great fund manager to splash out on those !

Matthew said...

What great questions! Taking them in order:

1) I think blucher mocs are great for weekend dog walks in the spring and fall and that sort of thing. But, for that purpose, I cannot imagine spending the kind of money that Quoddy asks. $275 for weekend knock-arounds seems vulgar, especially when Bean offers a decent pair for $79.

2a) It is never appropriate to wear penny loafers with a suit. Closed-lace shoes are best, although you can get away with Gucci horse bit loafers or (in some parts of the country) tassel loafers.

2b) With navy or grey business suits, you should always wear black shoes.

RDR said...

On the subject of men’s shoes, I thought some of you might be interested in the shoe collection of America’s best-dressed President ever.

Harry S. Truman

No, not FDR or JFK, but this former haberdasher and clothes-horse from the hinterland.

Truman owned 96 pairs of shoes. 96. Move over Imelda. Please check out the dashing spectators and bespoke double-breasted suits he used to run around in. An amazing character.


Anonymous said...

In my experience Allen Edmond wingtips and their wingtip tassel loafers are comfortable and last many decades (25 - 40 years). I have had one pair resoled over the years.

If you are going to walk a lot in your boat shoes Mephisto provide the most comfortable support, last a long time and can be resoled.

Quoddy's are excellent (a little less expensive and made in USA) and are worth the price.

John B said...

I just had two pairs of Cole Hahn mens dress shoes re-soled after 10 years of wear and I have hopes of still wearing them when I retire(about 15 years). I have to say that I bought two pairs of Bass Weguns about 15 years ago and I thought they were VASTLY over rated. I got maybe 5 years out of them. I am wearing a pair of Rockport Penny Loafers today. They are about 10 years old and I see nothing to tell me that I need to have the original soles replaced or will need them replaced in the next few years.

Matt said...

I'd advocate looking for specifications, rather than a brand. For example, you'll want leather soles on a dress shoe. These days, it's a good indicator of quality.
You can get away with cordovan or brown shoes with a navy or light grey suit. That's as dark as I'd go before switching to black shoes. Obviously, in the summer time, the lighter color and weave of seasonal suits better lend themselves to brown or tan shoes. This is when to wear bucks and other crepe soled shoes that don’t well in the winter.

snowysailor said...

I have a pair of Quoddy mocs and I doubt they will wear out before I do...I am curious about the Rancourt "build your own" wingtips/brogues; they are built to your foot, so hopefully worth the price.
With Sperry Top-Siders lasting about one season, I am curious about the longevity of Quoddy and Rancourt boat shoes...
The only footwear that seem to hold up to all the abuse are my Lange ski boots... oh well...

Chesapeake said...

Oak Street Bootmakers out of Chicago makes some fantastic casual shoes for men (including mocs and loafers), all handcrafted in USA.

Brett - Midwest said...

Alden shoes are a dream to wear. Can't get over how comfortable they are.

Bass Weejuns are great for the price. I buy them instead of the more expensive Aldens. That way I don't worry about abusing them. With loafers, I like to avoid the "beef roll" varieties. I like the plain seam.

On color, I have cordovan and black lace ups. I end up wearing the cordovans all the time. Cordovan shoes get that worn patina that looks great. You don't get that with a black shoe.

For casual, white Chuck Taylors are great.

Randall said...

The Johnston & Murphy "Ski-Moc penny loafer in cordavan and black are the best and most trad penny loafer available. Great value for the money. Last forever if taken care of properly: shoe trees and regular polishing. My current pair are about 5 years old and look like they just came out of the box. I also have very old pair of Florsheim penny loafers that are about 25 years old. They have been resoled many times but still look great with khakis. I don't think they make them that durable any more.

Margaret Murtagh said...

When I saw this I thought, this is what all my boys have:
Clarks desert boots for casual
Bass penny loafers
Cole Haan Dress loafers
LL Bean docksiders
black wing tips.
And of course USMC military

In going through my mothers' things recently we found my dad's bills for Johnston and Murphy wing tips?

Savannah Yankee said...

Savannah Yankee said ...

Can't add much to the list you've compiled. Suggestions for penny loafers: Allen Edmonds Patriot penny loafers. Also, Sid Mashburn loafers. Recently bought a pair of tan scotch grain penny loafers from Sid Mashburn. Hadn't seen the scotch grain style in a long time. If you like grain leather, look at Allen Edmonds football grain leather brogues. Classic style. Finally, can't say enough good things about Alden shell cordovan tassel loafers.

Anonymous said...

For those who have never had the pleasure of electric shock therapy, a pair of Gucci 1953 horsebit loafers in blue studded suede might do the trick, unless you’re an Elvis fan, in which case you might enjoy them.

For messing around, I’ve always had a pair of Men's Earthkeepers Timberland 3-Eye Classic Lug, a landlubber variation on the original Sperry Topsider, but much better made. For dress shoes, my old Brooks English and Peal will outlast me. Several pairs I’ve already gifted to my son, who has an unexpected eye for quality given his casual nature.

I also like Timberland work boots, which paired with a tweed jacket and a faded blue work shirt will give you that Marlboro man look, something I’ve never been able to achieve.

John Lobb undoubtedly makes the best dress shoes for men, but the sticker shock might be equal to the Gucci gag-factor mentioned above. My suggestion, have eight cocktails, order a pair of Lobb shoes online, and hope the box arrives in the mail before your Visa statement.


Reggie Darling said...

I'd add Belgian shoes and Stubbs & Wootton velvet slippers to this list. Also, BB's kidskin dancing pumps for formal dinner dances... Reggie

Karan said...

In Italy, most men do wear tan shoes with their summer suits and they look fantastic.
I got a pair of tan double monks and they go just great even with a grey suit.
Pic here :

Sartre said...

All the right brands seem to have been covered here, so a few thoughts on comments offered above.

-- As usual I take exception to those who make value judgments about what some of us are willing or able to pay for an item -- hence $250 for a pair of Quoddys is "vulgar" or not "reasonable."

-- Penny loafers with a suit may not be "appropriate" (that most over-used word of this most inappropriate culture) but it is certainly preppy.

-- I disagree that only black shoes should be worn with grey or navy. Cordovan is spectacularly appropriate with grey or navy.

Chesapeake said...

At a bare minimum, never by dress shoes that can't be resoled.

Anonymous said...

Regarding brown shoes with a blue suit, Alan Flusser, referring to closed-laced business shoes, says: "In Boston it is considered perfectly proper to wear a highly polished brown version of this shoe with a navy suit, whereas in London it would be construed to be in poor taste to wear this combination." So, I guess it depends on context.

As to loafers with suits, he says this of Gucci loafers: "This style shoe, with its identifiable gold or silver buckle, is far too casual and is thus inappropriate to be worn with the dressy business suit." I'm not sure I agree with him there, but I suspect he would feel horror at the sight of a suit paired with penny loafers.

Anonymous said...

It seems that Alan Flusser has not spent much time around preppy men. Who is Alan Flusser?

WRJ said...

I agree that cordovan looks great with navy and gray suits. However, there exist people who see that combination as inappropriate (just as there exist people who consider slip-ons of any kind, including tassels, inappropriate with a suit), so it's a more conservative bet to wear black lace-ups, to which no one will object. (I don't take my own advice here.) You do see lots of people wearing Guccis with suits, but it looks pretty strange to me, except perhaps with a very casual suit such as khaki poplin in the summer or corduroy in the winter. Most of the Guccis-with-a-suit people seem to also be Barbour-over-a-suit people, for what it's worth.

I'm mystified by the recent popularity of Belgians and evening slippers. Velvet slippers in particular seem outrageously pretentious and silly for almost any occasion. Belgians could be worn well by those strong enough of heart and mind to have their feet adorned with teensy bows, I suppose, but $400+ for slippers seems utterly impractical and frivolous.

(Please forgive the foregoing value judgment(s) (which for those not versed in the jargon, means "opinion".)

John G said...

In my experience, Rancourt offers good quality and customer service. Strongly recommend spending time on the phone with them before ordering to ask questions about sizing and fit.
To my mind, the Rancourt Ranger is a nicer style than the Quoddy blucher; the Bean blucher seems nicest of all, but <>. I can't speak to quality on the new, imported Bean bluchers (my American-made are from the early 1990s and doing just fine).

Cranky Yankee said...

Question 2

My father used to say that Philadelphia is "a brown shoe town." So is Boston. No surprise, then, that I have so many, mostly Crockett & Jones (online from Bodileys or Ben Silver) and Brooks Bros. (Peal & Co.). These days, I think that most Peals are made by C&J.

I'll sometimes wear brown shoes in New York during the day, but only black after 5:00pm.

The one dress shoe that you must have is a black cap toe Oxford (not blucher or semi-brogue). A punched cap toe is a good second choice. They will take you anywhere. Then you can add bluchers, monk straps, tassel and penny loafers...calfskin, suede and scotch grain.

Anonymous said...

Men's Shoes 35........ Vera Bradley 17........... Who knew men's shoes could be so entertaining?

The Viceroy said...

@ Karan Kapur, re "John Lobb is now Hermès' John Lobb."

There are indeed two companies operating under the John Lobb label, one of them the original John oLobb of St James', offering bespoke only, and the Hermes subsidiary under the same name, offering ready-to-wear shoes as well as a custom line that is more made-to-measure than bespoke. The website address you provide is for the "proper" Lobb of St James', the Hermes subsidiary's website is, I believe.

If you look beyond the nostalgic appeal of the original bespoke outfit, both suppliers offer superb quality, at a price level that matches it, admittedly. Stylistically, while you will get pretty much everything produced by Lobb St James that you could possibly ask for, the firm's signature style is on the conservative British side whereas the Hermes brand clearly takes a slightly more fashion-forward French take on lasts, leather finishes and decorative details.


Bebe said...

One caveat about Allen Edmonds: it was bought by Brentwood Associates at the end of last year. Among Brentwood's acquisitions are C.C. Filson, Stanley Black & Decker, Bell/Bell Sports. Allen Edmonds remains independent with a focus on Made In USA, although one may evaluate this claim based upon the above-mentioned companies. I have noticed on their website the intro of some styles Coach has shown for some time, e.g., non-standard colors, unusual weaving, and distressed leathers. OTOH, AE and Alden are the only two US-made shoes I can find in my uncommon size of 6.5/7. Allen Edmonds also has more shoe offerings in traditional styles than Alden, whose range is rather limited. I shall remain hopeful this situation does not change appreciably.

Anonymous said...


This has nothing to do with this post, but I thought that you and followers of your blog would find it interesting: "The Miss Marple Diet":

Anonymous said...

Looking at some of the suggestions, a few people leaving comments might be better served reading a blog for fops and dandies. Muffy, I've always appreciated you New England Yankee sensibility. Keep up the good work.

I am too practical to want to care for all footwear as an investment. Not living in town, good shoes require significantly more planning. Mud season and rainy days, I default to LL Bean rubber mocs. Weejuns aren't like they used to be, but they are fine around town. I'm tough on them, but for just over $60 on sale and the fact that I can re-sole them if the tops hold together it's a decent value. For business, I have a few pairs of good shoes that with care and rotation will last a lifetime--Alden Shell Cordovan strap loafers, Allen Edmonds Park Avenues, Church's brogues, etc... I still stick to Sperry Topsiders, but have been looking at the Quoddys. Still looking. If a shoe holds up, I don't mind paying the price. Here in NY, my neighbors are amused by the fact I often garden in leather soles and what appears to be good clothes... They usually don't realize they were good clothes that have been retired to my work collection due to condition. It wasn't ever mentioned in my home state of RI, but then again, the late Senator Pell could be spotted jogging in a suit.

Lancer RIUSA said...

Although occasionally maligned The Preppy Handbook's section on mens shoes still hold true.

Anonymous said...

I think that one needs black shoes with a navy-blue suit, and that one should wear black shoes if one is wearing a suit at night in a big city such as New York or Boston. Brown shoes are fine with a grey suit in the daytime.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 7:22AM

You could have left out the first paragraph of your post, and I would know exactly where you stand on the subject of your shoes. Why don't we leave the back hand on the tennis court, and be nicer to one another.

There are certainly some suggested shoes here I would not care to wear, but I know that people who went to prep school come in all shapes, sizes, colors, orientations etc. As a father, one thing I am trying to instill in my children is to never make anyone feel less for who they are, or to be intentionally hurtful. Since one of the tenants of this blog is "graciousness" I felt someone ought to speak up. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Quoddy's are and will continue to be the gold standard for those that can afford them. The sperry's are perfectly good, albeit a bit disposable....

Anonymous said...

More of a question than a comment. Someone recommended, and I just wanted to ask: has anyone ordered from them? I can't find much info about them online, and I want to make sure they're a reputable retailer before I make a purchase.