With summer coming up and the Kentucky Derby this weekend, it’s about time to start breaking out the seersucker in your wardrobe. And with summer suiting comes summer casual footwear — particularly the white buck.
They naturally go with summer clothing, like linen and seersucker suits, colored chinos and madras. I particularly like their high-contrast look against dark denim, letting the indigo stain the suede a bit.
White bucks are typically seen as a preppy staple, with the term “white shoe firm” often referring to successful firms filled with partners who were Ivy Leaguers, as described in this column by William Safire. I suppose the thinking went that those in “black shoe” firms could only afford one pair of shoes, thus they bought the basic staple: a black pair of shoes. Those in “brown shoe” firms were more successful and able to buy pairs black and brown. And those in the elite could afford to have excess footwear, such as white shoes.
Funny enough, suede bucks are relatively cheap nowadays in comparison to full-grain leather shoes, as Put This On points out. In fact, many see them not as shoes you purchase with the intent to wear them forever, but as disposable after they wear out. Of course, that depends how much you intend to wear them. You can spend as little as $60 with Bass, or go as high as $500 with Alden.
On the higher end, you’ll find construction with Goodyear welts and soles made of the more durable Dainite red-brick rubber. The suede will probably also be of higher quality. By contrast, the lower end will have less durable rubber and glued soles.
Personally, I have a virtually unused pair from Brooks Brothers I found on eBay on the cheap. Unfortunately, a day after wearing them sans socks resulted in the footbed lining to come unglued and curl up under the ball of my feet while walking. Frustrated, I ripped out the footbed liners and now only wear them in colder weather with socks. So, paying more for “mid-range” bucks might not necessarily mean you get something better than something on the low end. Buyer beware — I’m just glad I didn’t pay full retail for them.
I will, however, vouch for the Walk-Over brand. I have a pair of saddle shoes from them — similar in construction with a Goodyear welt — and the lining has yet to come off the footbed with my bare feet. They typically turn up once in a while on sale, but $225 for Walk-Over bucks strikes me as a fair retail price.
Below I’ve done a roundup of white suede bucks by price bracket, so everyone should be able to find a pair in their budget.
$100 and under:
$100 to $150:
$150 to $300:
$300 and over:
And for grins, here’s me last year wearing mine during a nice summer weekend last year: