Footwear fundamentals: lessons in leather

5 min read
24 Feb 2017
5 min read
737 words
It’s here where we brush up your shoe knowledge and help you differentiate one from the other to pick what fits you best

Once the sole reserve of the dandy and the dapper, the quintessential leather shoe, today, has finally surpassed its days of gentlemanly modesty. It has risen in the full glory of contemporary masculine splendour, making it an absolute shoe staple that the modern, urban man simply can’t do without. Thus, the onus, now, is on all you fellas to put your best foot forward in some of the better multi-faceted leather-based options that exist in the men’s fashion footwear domain. And it’s here where we brush up your shoe knowledge and help you differentiate one from the other to pick what fits you best.

Decoding the differences

Loafer vs Opera Pump 

Quite simply, loafers are those easy slip-on, slip-off shoes that favour comfort before anything else, making them the ultimate casual favourite among men all over the world. An opera pump, while undoubtedly similar in style, is most commonly made from patent leather and often has a grosgrain ribbon on the cap—it’s most suited for the most formal and official black-tie events and occasions.

Oxford vs Derby

The ever popular Oxford’s defining character has to be its curved stitching from the bottom of the lace section down to the welt—that is to say, the strip of leather between the sole and the upper frame. The Derby, on the contrary, chiefly lacks this stitching, thus, resulting in visible flaps. In this regard, the Derby makes for a less formal shoe option than its Oxford alternative.

Cap Toe vs Wingtip

The term ‘cap toe’ refers to the extra layer of leather near the front of the shoe, often with a decorative patterned perforation. Similar in shape is also the front of wingtips, as the name suggests, looking like wings stretching across the front of the shoe.

The Monkstraps

Buckled straps are a variation on everyday loafers. Monkstraps come with one, two or even three straps, each number of straps suited to a certain look. A double clasp gives the shoe a trendier look, while the single strap keeps things on the classic side. For a more formal approach, opt for thinner straps. Single, thicker straps, on the other hand, go perfectly with casual wear.

The Dress Boot 

Lastly, Dress Boots are a sleek and minimalistic boot style paired best with jeans, pants and suits. Common styles of the shoe include the Chelsea, a classic dating back to the Victorian era, and the lace-up, ideal for smart casual wear, say jeans and chinos, but not suits.

Prim and polished

And finally, shoe care is vital (need we even say that) especially, regular polishing. Always opt for this, and use a horsehair brush and a buff cloth to clean your leather shoes. As for the polish, it’s quite simple: black for black shoes and neutral for brown shoes—for your aim is to moisturise not to colour.