Following on my umbrella round-up, I thought I’d write about footwear you can use for the coming rain season. As you can probably guess, I’m not terribly fond of Hunter Wellingtons. They seem to work fine for women, but when they’re on men, they remind me too much of Paddington Bear and animal husbandry. There are other options though that allow you keep your dignity and stay dry.
The first is Brooks Brothers’ Peal & Co. cordovan boot. In addition to being an incredibly beautiful leather, cordovan has the advantage of shedding water easily. These particular boots by Brooks are Goodyear welt constructed, which means that the sole is attached to the upper on the side of the upper (notice the stitching along the bottom edge of the shoe). This differs from Blake construction, where the sole is stitched on from the bottom, thus leaving holes where moisture can penetrate. These boots also feature a Danite sole, which, along with commando soles, should be the only soles you use in the rain.
Another exceptionally nice cordovan boot is this Carmina 797. As a Spanish shoemaker, Carminas are sleeker than American models. I personally think that’s a big plus, but it’s a matter of taste. Like the Brooks boots above, the big upside to splurging on cordovan boots is that these can also be your go to shoes for all foul weather environments, including snow.
The third is Crockett and Jones’ Snowdon. This comes in a waterproof wax leather hide, which is a great way to get some of the benefits of cordovan leather but without dropping big coins. They feature a Norwegian welt construction, which means the leather on the welt is turned outwards and then stitched. This makes it harder for water to seep into the shoe. Their big commando soles make them a bit more rugged looking, but they’re still nice enough to wear with wool trousers and a button up shirt.
Not to oversell Crockett & Jones, but they were made with an England’s wet weather in mind, so it seemed appropriate to mention another one of their boots. This model, called the Northcote, also features the wax calf leather and Norwegian welt construction we saw on the Snowdon. However, these have Danite soles instead of commando, which makes them look a bit less clunky. They’re also built on the 348 last, which is one of the sleekest lasts on the market. It’s a bit uncommon to see this level of sleekness coupled with this amount of bad weather protection, but that’s why the Northcote is a better option than most of the inelegant rain shoes out there.
If the above are too expensive, you could just get a simple paraboot. There are numerous options on the market - Crockett and Jones’ Coniston, Alfred Sargent’s Culford, and Charles Tyrwhitt’s tan military boot. They’re all basically the same and they all feature a Danite sole, pebble grain leather, and either Goodyear or Norwegian welt construction. Alfred Sargent and Charles Tyrwhitt’s models are very affordable. I’ve seen both sell on eBay for less than $100. Throw a few wax polishes on these, allow them to dry after every wear, and you’ll have a decent pair of rainy day shoes.
Bean Boots are a bit too “heritage-wear” for me, but they can be more appropriate if you’re wardrobe is very casual. There is the classic Bean Boot model, which everyone is familiar with, and then there are the two slightly redesigned versions by LL Bean Signature - one with a black leather upper and the other with a waxed navy canvas upper - which I’ve featured above. Ralph Lauren also came out with the Ackley boot, which is basically like the Bean, but features a kiltie, sherling lining, and snap button pocket. What to keep in that snap button pocket? Why, a Cone Mills selvedge chambray pocket square or Italian tan lambskin gloves, of course (haven’t you been paying attention?).
Finally, there are overshoes. Just slip these on over whatever you normally wear and you’ll prevent your shoes from getting wet. Swims are the best ones, as they’re lined, but you can get very cheap ones by Tingley or generic versions on eBay for around $20-30. Unlined overshoes will leave a bit of a rubber residue on your leather shoes, but you can just clean them off when you get to your destination. Even if you do get one of the boot options above, I recommend getting a pair of overshoes for the office, just in case you unexpectedly get caught in the rain with your dress shoes on.
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