I think a lot of guys get overwhelmed by footwear choices when they first set out to rebuild their wardrobe away from those crappy Rockport hybrid dress/sport shoes or square-toed Kenneth Cole polished leather abominations. If you don’t wear a suit or even a sport coat every day and you’re on a budget, then consider buying a relatively cheap pair of shoes you can beat to death every day with chinos or jeans.
For me, that’s the Clarks desert chukka boot. Easily my most-worn pair of shoes by a large margin and they’ve been going strong for well beyond a year now. The crepe sole hasn’t worn down much — surprisingly — despite the fact that the heels on many of my other dress shoes have shown some very noticeable wear quite quickly.
I tried to think about why I wear them so much, and I came to the conclusion that they lace up and come off quickly. You don’t need to worry about a shoe horn. The suede is insanely comfortable to wear barefoot as it’s unlined. These shoes work great for those quick trips around your neighborhood and fit with the more casual element of your wardrobe with ease.
But I don’t want to shortchange them on their legitimate rugged abilities, either. I know some people freak out when it rains and they’re wearing suede shoes. I used to, until one night I got caught at my favorite (now closed, R.I.P.) Italian restaurant in a downpour that was so bad that raindrops actually hurt when they hit you and puddles were half a foot deep.
Needless to say, I got my shoes completely soaked in water. I stuffed some newspaper in them when I got home and let them dry out overnight. The result: the suede got incredibly softer and they actually felt better to wear. Funny how that works.
I continue to be impressed with the fact it hasn’t fallen apart just yet, nor has the sole started coming off from the uppers. I’ve put other “cheap” shoes through less and gotten way less mileage out of them.
For a shoe you can find from $60-$100 regularly in a wide variety of colors, I think these are a no-brainer recommendation for someone who just needs a decent-looking shoe that’s built for comfort and has classic styling for the modern casual wardrobe.
(“Investment Pieces” is a series about the items in my wardrobe that have gotten the most usage and wear. It’s part review and part paean to the clothes I really would recommend to anybody. These aren’t luxury items or limited in availability — you can get them anywhere at anytime for a fairly reasonable price.)
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