You can tell people by their shoes! What do suede oxford shoes say about us, then? What is the reason that the world’s most seasoned dressers, swear by them? When and where can you wear them and what should you style them with? This is our SARTORIALE guide for wearing (the right pair) of suede shoes.
The most important distinction to make when deciding which suede shoes to add to your wardrobe is in style. The napped, matte finish of this type of leather, using the underside of animal skin; looks deliberately more casual, calm and considerate. While calf leather is prized for its sharpness and high shine, suede is exactly the contrary. Originally, part of the English country (weekend) attire, it was worn with traditional sporting and leisure apparel. Think seasonal fabrics like flannel, tweed, or linen.
SARTORIALE believes that there has never been a better time to invest in a pair of suede oxford shoes. Since we are living in a ‘working from home’ world, with most formal events in the calendar canceled, casual attire comes to the forefront. We might not need to wear fine worsted wool business suits, but we still want to wear collared shirts and tailored sports coats. Hence, suede oxfords allow for maximum flexibility and versatility as they are the optimal choice to finish off a smart-casual ensemble.
If we look at the oxford variety, four of the most historically stylish dressers come to mind; Fred Astaire, Bruce Boyer, Luciano Barbera, and The Prince of Wales. Peruse the internet and you’ll find numerous pictures of the aforementioned gentlemen wearing this style, yet we have also selected some of our favorite street style photographs below for inspiration.
In an interview for GQ Magazine in 1952, the style icon both for casual and formal wear Fred Astaire laid down his fashion principles. He emphasized the freedom that well-made shoes provide, mentioning how suede shoes are the absolute necessity in every man’s wardrobe. Next, there is nobody like Bruce Boyer when it comes to pairing suede oxford or derby shoes for an English Country House Look, although he was also known to wear them with navy blue cotton suits. On the second slide you will see Luciano Barbera, a true Italian style icon, sporting his flannel DB suit with monk strap shoes. Last but not least we have the notorious Prince of Wales, in his version of the same look. Need we say more?
Sadly, the suede oxford is somewhat of an underappreciated shoe. While calf leather oxfords look best with suits you have much greater freedom with suede, allowing its wearer to fit the shoe for the occasion and not the other way around. Suede does not only accompany linen trousers and cotton chinos flawlessly, but they also look great with washed or white denim too. Here are some ways how we at Sartoriale chose to style them:
Furthermore, often what keeps people from investing in a pair is the thought that suede is harder to keep pristine compared to their calf leather counterparts, but in reality, this is hardly true. Here are some key maintenance tips for suede:
How to protect them:
Right before you are about to wear the shoes, employ preemptive measures, such as a spray-on suede protector - we recommend Saphir Renovateur products. This will make them water-resistant and avoid dirt stains on your shoes. Colored sprays are also great to enliven the color of your shoes. Spray the protector on your shoes straight out of the box, then repeat it after every 10 wears.
Brush them after each wear:
Dirt gets easily into the pores of your suede and to remove it you need a special brush-again we recommend the brush from Sapphire. This will not only keep your shoes clean but ensure they don’t look worn out. The feeling of putting away spotless shoes will always be worth the extra effort.
Clean them with water:
Every year when nasty stains appear on your shoes, apply a light coat of water on your brush and wash your shoes thoroughly. You can use a bit of suede cleaner along with water, but vinegar can be also helpful. When you are done, make sure to stuff your shoes with paper and let them dry completely.