11
Jan
L.L.Bean bison leather rubber mocc — I picked up “The Official Preppy Handbook” a while back and was rather amused at seeing a list of official “preppy” shoes. The L.L.Bean mocc was among them, but I’ve always found its look quite weird. 
This new mocc though is pretty cool looking. I like the darker tone of the bison leather and the red rubber chain tread sole (apparently, L.L.Bean found this color in their early archives) really sets off the shoe in a different way. 
It still has all the typical good stuff you’ll find from L.L.Bean’s boots: made in Maine, waterproof and weird sizing. It can be yours for $94.

L.L.Bean bison leather rubber mocc — I picked up “The Official Preppy Handbook” a while back and was rather amused at seeing a list of official “preppy” shoes. The L.L.Bean mocc was among them, but I’ve always found its look quite weird. 

This new mocc though is pretty cool looking. I like the darker tone of the bison leather and the red rubber chain tread sole (apparently, L.L.Bean found this color in their early archives) really sets off the shoe in a different way. 

It still has all the typical good stuff you’ll find from L.L.Bean’s boots: made in Maine, waterproof and weird sizing. It can be yours for $94.

30
Oct

Review: Johnston & Murphy 1850 Gannett boot

I’m a very skeptical person. When a men’s footwear brand contacts me about reviewing one of their pieces of footwear from a new heritage line they’re producing, I’m often cautiously interested. But Johnston & Murphy’s new “J&M 1850” line has a surprising gem in it that I feel is worth talking about. 

Plus, Johnston & Murphy is letting me run a contest to giveaway a pair of their shoes or boots to one lucky Chicago-area reader (details at the end of the review). 

The "Gannett" boot caught my eye for several reasons. First, the boots have a Goodyear welt, which I feel is a necessary minimum for shoe construction if you’re going to be paying decent money and expecting the shoes to present a decent value in the long term. Shoes with a Goodyear welt are able to be resoled more easily, which means you can wear them for a whole lot longer. 

Secondly, this pair got my attention because they’re made from Horween leather. This leather, of course, comes from the Horween Tannery in Chicago and has a well-regarded reputation. 

Finally, what surprised me is that the boots are priced at $275, which places them well under the price of other Horween leather boots from other competitors by at least $100, if not more. 

Johnston & Murphy’s representatives sent me a pair as a review unit and I must say I’m rather impressed. If you’ve been hanging around places like StyleForum for a while, then you know that many of the posters there have a less-than-favorable opinion of the brand’s products from the past decade or so, despite having at one time been regarded as one of the premiere made-in-the U.S.A. men’s footwear brands. 

Indeed, these boots were made in India, which may account for the ability to hit a lower pricepoint. Regardless, the quality of materials and construction is — as far as I can tell so far — still there and they’re quite comfortable to wear. 

The leather seems about as good as pairs of Allen Edmonds that I own, although time will really only tell how it develops a patina. The suede portion of the boot feels durable and a bit waxy, so I wouldn’t worry about wearing these in bad weather. The interior of the boot is lined with leather as well.

One thing I liked about the boots is that the sole is a bit of a hybrid between a leather sole and a lug sole. Outright lug soles can be a bit clunky looking and in my mind limits them to being worn only with denim. These have a slimmer profile with a semi-lug sole and it’s hidden from view, making them wearable with chinos. Still, I wouldn’t wear them with dress trousers, as they’re definitely a more casual piece of footwear. And I do think they go best with denim.

Naturally, I do have criticisms. I wished the stitching was a darker brown or black colored thread instead of being contrasting — and the stitching could’ve been cleaner, too. This would’ve given the boot a cleaner look, in my opinion. Also, the laces felt kind of cheap and given the extreme amount of tension you’re probably going to put on these, I’d recommend getting thicker laces with better durability. 

The break-in period isn’t terribly long and they don’t feel extremely too-stiff to walk in on the first wear. You can even wear them with thinner socks and not feel like your ankles have been rubbed raw. Still, there seems to be enough room for slightly thicker socks for the cold-weather months. 

These boots have changed my perception of Johnston & Murphy (much how the Veblens changed my perception of Florsheim) and I think it’s worth taking a look over the future shoes in the J&M 1850 line to see what could be a good value from them — especially if better materials and construction are being used. 

And about that contest: I’ve got a voucher for one pair of J&M 1850 shoes or boots at Hanig’s Slipperbox, 2754 N. Clark Street, Chicago. The winner will be mailed this voucher and has to redeem it in-store — so, I’m making this contest for Chicago-area folks only (because if you don’t live in the area it’d be really hard for you to pick up your pair of shoes). 

How to enter: 

  1. Tweet this review using the hashtag #jm1850 and the URL: http://bit.ly/TS30YP
  2. Shoot me an email at thesilentist@gmail.com with your tweet. 
  3. Do both of these things by 12 noon CST, Friday, November 2nd. 
  4. Actually live in the Chicagoland area. 

I’ll take everyone’s names, do a random sort, assign a number and then use a random number generator to pick a winner. The winner will be contacted by email for their address so I can mail the voucher to them (or we can meetup in person). 

Good luck!

28
Sep

It’s on sale: Allen Edmonds — The American shoemaker is having their Rediscover America sale from now thru October 9th, with everything 15%-30% off at their site. 

Probably the best deal right now is their Fifth Avenue captoe balmorals, which feature a strip of broguing across the toe but nothing more. A good shoe that’s easily worn with a suit or blazer, now on sale for $229 (down from $335). 

For those of you with a more workwear vibe, the Long Branch wingtip boot is on sale for $269 (down from $350). It’s got a Vibram lug sole that would probably work very well to provide traction in rain, mud and snow during the winter. I think it’d go great with denim, casual chinos and maybe even tweed trousers. 

16
Aug
Archer Adams wingtip balmoral boots — Purple suede and chestnut brown calf? A bit dandyish for my tastes, but you have to admit they look damned impressive. Available in MTO for £625.00. 

Archer Adams wingtip balmoral boots — Purple suede and chestnut brown calf? A bit dandyish for my tastes, but you have to admit they look damned impressive. Available in MTO for £625.00. 

09
Aug

Investment pieces: Clarks desert chukka boots

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.)

10
Jul
01
Feb

Your thoughts on the Urban Outfitters Hawkings McGill wingtip boots? I'm wondering if they'll fall apart really soon. They also seem quite orange. picture on gq: /style/street-style/201112/ben-ferrari-new-york-city-street-style-boots#slide=15

- Asked by soundofpoop

Can’t find these on their site, but I’m guessing they’re probably not Goodyear welted or really the best quality leather you could get. I would rather spend $300+ and get a nice pair of boots that will last me more than a year or two.

23
Jan
17
Jan

Do you do anything crazy to your boots to get them winter ready? I snagged a pair of AE Bayfields for a good price. Would a normal conditioning & cream routine do me justice for rain/snow?

- Asked by Anonymous

I mostly wear my Bean Boots for winter slush and snow. 

The one thing you may want to do after wearing them is wash them once in a while with saddle soap to get the salt off of them so it doesn’t ruin the leather. 

As for doing more than that, I can’t really say. Obaneuf’s LP gets recommended on forums, but apparently it darkens the leather, too. 

12
Jan
thinkingwins:

These Bison Boots by Brooks Brothers are on sale right now for $99. That is a screaming deal. 

And, unlike a lot of other clearance items, there’s quite a few sizes left. I’m going to stick with my Bean Boots to fight the new snow here in the Windy City, but here’s a fairly affordable alternative. 
For those looking for warmer-weather boots, Brooks Brothers also has their canvas chukkas in red, blue and tan on sale, too, for $99.

thinkingwins:

These Bison Boots by Brooks Brothers are on sale right now for $99. That is a screaming deal. 

And, unlike a lot of other clearance items, there’s quite a few sizes left. I’m going to stick with my Bean Boots to fight the new snow here in the Windy City, but here’s a fairly affordable alternative. 

For those looking for warmer-weather boots, Brooks Brothers also has their canvas chukkas in red, blue and tan on sale, too, for $99.

29
Dec

I'm trying to find a good quality pair of boots for this winter in Wisconsin. I'm a Texas boy so the best pair of boots I have is a set of cole haan's. I've looked through Alden, JCrew (the chippewas look slick) but am trying to stay under 300$. Any recommendations? Or do your followers have any? I don't want to lose any toes while I'm up there.

- Asked by andgodsneezed

Snow, ice and salt are generally going to mess up any “nice” boots you’d buy. Best way to fight back is to get boots that’ll keep your feet dry and are bad enough to take the punishment. 

I’ve been a convert to L.L.Bean Boots. Virtually waterproof and the best thing I’ve found for dealing with Midwest winters. Oh, and they’re cheap. 

L.L.Bean also has these Katahdid Iron Works boots that look pretty tough when I saw them in stores last year. 

Via stylegirlfriend:

I couldn’t survive without my Sorels in winter, and I always get compliments on them to boot (unintentional terrible pun but it stays) sorel.com

28
Dec

I've had to wear steel-toe boots to work for the past ten years. As of the first of the year, this will no longer be required, but nearly my entire shoe wardrobe consists of Doc Martens. With what would you recommend I start?

- Asked by Anonymous

First, if you feel like you need to continue wearing steel-toe boots, despite the fact that you no longer are required to do so, then keep your ironfoots around. I’d rather wear those boots than be minus a few toes for the sake of wearing “cooler” boots.

Not sure what your price range is, but if you’re looking for some rugged alternatives in high-quality leathers that are made in the U.S. of A., then take a look at Red Wing Heritage Collection and Alden boots, which will have a more workwear vibe to them. It all depends if you want something more workwear or more formal (like a brogue boot) and how much you’re looking to spend. 

Obviously, on the high end you can opt for Horween shell cordovan boots that will last you forever. Lots of places are doing collaborations with Alden to make boots from this kind of leather (Epaulet, Unionmade, etc.). 

If your budget is around $500 or lower, then you can probably get any of the Indy boot models from Alden. 

Now, if you’re completely saying “I’m never wearing a boot again! I want to wear dress shoes!”, then we’ve got a whole another discussion, which will end with me saying something along the lines of, “Buy a pair of black captoe balmorals, a pair of brown wingtips and maybe a pair of penny loafers, too.”

It really depends what your day-to-day work life is like. 

06
Nov
03
Nov

I've been looking for some bean boots for awhile and saw the Lands End footwear sale. Any idea how the LE duck boots compare to the bean boots?

- Asked by peteraxtman

While Lands’ End has a fairly good guarantee on their boots, I can’t imagine they’re as time-tested and of the same quality as the L.L.Bean Boots. Still, I have no first-hand knowledge of the L.E. boots — but I do have a pair of Bean Boots and love them.

For ~$50, that’s not a bad price. Still, I read over the reviews of them on their own site and a few negative reviews kept popping up about not having good waterproofing and them falling apart after a while. Indeed, buyer beware.

26
Oct

What's a good year-round goto pair of shoes? Or howabout something more focused: what's the goto winter shoe?

- Asked by Anonymous

For year-round, I’d say a brown pair of wingtips. If they’re blucher style, then they’ll be casual enough to go with denim, while still perfectly fine for going with a suit. I think my wingtips are fairly versatile to wear with almost anything in my wardrobe. Get a pair of overshoes and you’ll be set for light snow and average rain, too.

For winter, I thoroughly suggest not fucking around and getting a pair of L.L.Bean Boots. When it got crappy out, these were my default, go-to shoes. I will note, however, that I kept a pair of “normal” shoes at the office to change into and wore the boots for commuting.

If you want something more classy for winter, a pair of military or brogue boots with a Dainite sole (or lug sole if you feel so inclined for a more rugged look) will do you nicely, like the Charles Tyrwhitt pair I mentioned. I’d also take a look at dieworkwear’s guide to rainy-day boots. Those Brooks Brothers shell cordovan boots are amazing.

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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