Summer is very much upon us with the warm weather drawing in, the smell of barbeque smoke drifting in the breeze and people flocking to beer gardens across the country. It was while frequenting my local pub that I noticed something, while the weather has adapted, most people haven’t adapted to the weather. Sure they are all propping up the bar in brightly coloured shirts and beige shorts, but their shoes to have not caught up with the season. I noticed lots of heavy winter boots, black leather brogues and a plethora of Primark plimsolls. Thus I thought it was high time to write an article on summer shoes!
So what shoes should you be looking at for summer?
The first shoe is the driving moccasins, these shoes use to have a whiff of old money about them, the kind of item that would be seen on ageing men who like to talk about greasing bearings on their classic Porsche. Luckily the Driving Moccasin has been reborn and is now as stylish as ever thanks to an injection of new colours, styles and materials.
What is a Driving Moccasin?
A driving moccasin is a heelless slip on shoe with a soft flexible sole; they are traditionally made out of deerskin, but are now readily available in a variety of materials such as suede or leather.
Although not technically a moccasin, driving mocs are a modern off shoot of the original. They have soft rubber soles in the form of tabs or knobs on the bottom of the shoe. These unusual soles are designed to protect the soft leather sole of the shoe from contact damage such as scuffs or scrapes, whilst concurrently allowing the full use and comfort of having a supple flexible sole.
What materials should I get a pair of Driving Moccasins in?
A wonderful material made from leather hide, suede shoes all have unique characters due to the wear and tear the shoe goes through. Suede is comes from the interior split of a leather hide, which is why it has such a distinctive raised and rough finish.
This brushed finish is not suitable to wear in damp or rainy weather as it will discolour the suede. If you live in a country which is not particularly rainy or prone to sudden down pours, suede can be worn all year round, providing a comfortable, stylish shoe material.
Best used as a smart casual material suede mocs are less durable than their leather brothers who wear in better and will endure considerably more hardships before looking old and rugged.
Suede shoes are perfect for summer month when combined with a pair of coloured shorts or light cotton trousers. The range of vibrant colours suede comes in means you can get creative with your shorts and shoes, think dark navy suede driving mocs, red chino shorts and a white polo shirt.
The most common material to find driving mocs in is leather; it is less edgy or contemporary than suede. It provides the wearer with a formal, classic shoe which is at home in the car, in the house or with a good pair of chinos on the beach.
Leather moccasins are far more durable than suede versions are can be worn all year round due to the material being more resilient to weathering or wear and tear.
What to wear your Driving moccasins with?
The perfect shoe for warm weather casual style, the driving moc can easily be paired with a range of garments. In spring the most likely items to mix your mocs with are chinos, seersucker, jeans and shirts. While in summer you should wear shorts, seersucker, cotton trousers and polo shirts with your moccasins.
Nautically themed deck shoes or boat shoes designed for life on the rolling waves now see far more time on the concrete streets of major cities. The utilitarian design makes them the shoe of choice for marinas, yet the practical, comfortable and stylish charms of the deck shoe also rubbed off on non-marinas.
The rubber sole with a carved herringbone structure, provides amazing grip on wet desks but has the unintended benefit of creating a comfortable walking sole for concrete or tarmac.
Traditionally deck shoes had dark brown leather uppers, with three or two eyelets and a structure that threads the laces around the upper lip of the shoe. This is all treated to repel water and prevent staining making deck shoes the ideal casual shoe for spring and summer. Its water repelling characteristics mean your feet stay dry even during a heavy spring shower, plus the stain prevention means you can sweat into this casual shoe without creating unsightly salt sweat stains.
How to wear a deck shoe?
This is a shoe which is only to be worn for casual wear; it has no place in business regardless of how relaxed your office wear is. Deck shoes traditionally are leather in a brown with a white sole, making them a relatively plain shoe. This gives them versatility to be worked into outfits with different textures and colours.
Or add colour to the shoe itself, a range of suede coloured deck shoes are available to buy in most shoe stores. If you are feeling adventurous, go for a pair with a contrasting coloured lace then match the lace colour to another detail on your outfit. For example a dark navy polo with burgundy shorts, light blue deck shoe and red contrasting laces.
A point of conflict has always been whether to wear socks with deck shoes, personally I think it is about being able to see or not be seen wearing socks rather than the practicality of wearing them. There are a number of clever designs now to address this problem, one such design was a pair of slippers you place inside your deck shoes that can be removed and washed when you wished. These give you the comfort and protection of a sock without ever risking showing faux pas tops of a sock peeking over the edge of your shoe.
Depending on what you combine your deck shoes with, you can dress up or down this footwear summer staple. Think of clean, chinos, khakis, shorts, seersucker or even jeans and you will have just a few of the items that your deck shoes can accessorise.
Often mistaken for the lighter desert boot or the Chelsea boot, the chukka shares similarities with both but has its own unique personality. With a thicker leather sole, thicker upper and superior water resistance (than the desert boot), the chukka is the boot for all casual occasions. Nobody looks bad in a chukka, it can be worn with jeans, chinos, tweed and even suits for casual events.
Gentleman’s hint: the Chukka is popularly seen in summer in the US and UK, in a lighter breathable material such as suede.
Its heritage started on the polo field, where the boot received its name, a chukka is a period of seven and a half minutes which the game of polo is played in.
Gentleman’s hint: A desert boot had rubber soles as leather wore out to quickly when walking on sand. Whereas Chukka’s were meant to be worn riding or on grass so have harder leather soles
What is a Chukka boot?
The Chukka has changed much since it first started being worn, like many modern items of clothing there are now a variety of variations and personal interpretations by designers of the classic chukka. A chukka in general sweeping terms is an unlined leather lace up ankle boot with two or three eyelets that has a rounded toe box.
It traditionally had leather sole and the whole shoe was created from only two parts of leather. This combined with the distinctive design of having the quarters sewn on top of the boots vamp creates the iconic chukka.
Gentleman’s hint: A Quarter: The rear and sides of the upper that covers the heel of the boot or shoe.
Gentleman’s Hint: The Vamp: The vamp is part of the upper that covers the front of the foot; it stretches back as far as the join on the quarter.
The chukka use to be made out of calfskin leather, but as mentioned is now made out of a wide range of synthetic, natural and blended materials. Historically it was a boot only suitable for casual wear, yet dress chukka’s are seen combined with suits for semi-formal occasions.
What to look for in a Chukka?
Leather uppers are the smartest, whereas synthetic or fabric uppers are considered casual and informal versions of the chukka. Thus for autumn winter wear it is recommended to go for leather upper, in a dark brown, black or navy as it will allow you to wear your chukka casually with jeans or formally with a suit. Another bonus of going for leather is the water resistance, a leather chukka will protect better from the elements than a fabric or synthetic* variant.
The sole of the boot should be the first aspect investigated; the sole will determine how suitable the boot is for the wear and tear you are going to put it through. The thickness of the sole is a marker as to how formal the boot is. As a rule of thumb, thin leather soled boots fall into the formal category whereas thicker rubber soled boots predominantly are for casual wear.
Gentleman’s hint: while chukka’s can be suitable formal wear, they are not considered business wear
The colour of the boot on the upper and the sole should be the last area to look at. Darker colours are considered formal such as black, navy or dark brown, whereas red, tan and khaki should be reserved for casual events.
The chukka rounds up our little list of perfect summer shoes, I hope this small article has made your summer shoes choices easier.
Plus they say to be fore warned is to be forearmed, or as I like to think of it: “To be fore-told is to be well-heeled..”
By Sam Adam Smith The well-heeled gentleman #3PG