If you look up the word elegant in Dictionary.com the first definition that it gives is:

“Tastefully fine or luxurious in dress, style, design, etc.”

To me, the whole-cut dress shoe sums this definition up to a ‘T.’ The fact that it has no stitching (apart from the heel) leaves it completely refined and flawless. Obviously not every whole-cut ever made has fit this description but when they have been made properly, with a beautiful last shape, they are second-to-none on the stunning scale!!

Left Shoes: Gaziano & Girling
Right Shoes: Koji Suzuki

In a modern day, where dress rules are being broken all the time such as not wearing white until after labor day or only wearing patent leather shoes with a tuxedo you see that the whole-cut shoe is bending this tuxedo rule slowly by becoming the ‘new’ tux shoe for those who do not wish to wear patent, which is becoming the majority of people. While I love clean-looking patent leather shoes, many people (that I have had experience in helping) unfortunately do not see the practicality of buying a shoe that THEY can only wear for special occasions and therefore opt to something else that is within the same elegance level but has a larger range of functionality. Being that stitching brings out the casualness in a shoe and the whole-cut has virtually no stitching it becomes the top contender for replacing a tuxedo shoe.

Left Shoe: Saion
Right Shoe: Pierre Corthay

Coming from a shoe-making standpoint, the whole-cut style is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, style to last. For those that don’t know what that means, ‘lasting’ is when you take the upper leather (all sewed together) and attach it to the wooden form that represents your foot. The reason why it is so difficult is because of the fact that it does not have any stitching to allow some give when pulling the leather over the last. If not done properly, it can leave gaps of space in between the upper leather and your last and when having a pair of shoes made for you it can create a spot of loose leather. However, if made properly, the way the leather of a whole-cut shoe follows the shape of the form becomes a sight of appreciation that, in my opinion, is more appealing to the eye compared to shoes that have stitching. So if you are an avid fan of dress shoes and do not have a whole-cut shoe in your wardrobe, I would say that it is time to re-evaluate your chosen styles and find yourself a nice pair!

Both Same Shoe By: Gaziano & Girling

11 thoughts on “The Whole-Cut Shoe”

  1. Is it just me, or do whole-cuts take on polish better than other forms of footwear?I notice that both of my burgundy derbies achieve a brilliant polish easily, even when I use cream instead of wax.

  2. It would seem to me that they do take a polish better because there isn't any stitching to get in the way of the shine. Stitching does not become shiny and the part of the leather that sits next to another piece of leather sewed on top of it is hard to get shiny as well. That might be confusing. For example on a cap toe, the cap is sewed on top of the vamp (where your foot bends at the bottom of your toes) and where leather closest to that seem of the cap is really hard to get to. With a whole cut there is not any stitching to create these complications

  3. Great insight, and would the reason why my full-brogue wingtips rarely maintain an adequate shine be due to the many perforations and stitching?I know they're supposed to be worn in casual settings, but there are few things that are more addictive to look at than a brilliant shine on tobacco/caramel calf IMHO.

  4. About the comment "The fact that it has no stitching (apart from the heel, which is inevitable)" is not totally true. Shoes done in REVERSE WRAPPED WHOLE CUT(s) can has no visible stitching at the heel. G&G, EG have similar shoes that have not stitching at the heel.

  5. Dear Anonymous – You are right! Only a few makers can do this and I think that at the time that I wrote this I was not under the awareness of anyone who could and have just yet to change it. Thanks for reminding me. -Justin, "The Shoe Snob"

  6. Anonymous – I would say that I approve. I cannot be so snobbish to say that people should only buy expensive shoes, as not everyone can afford them. I think that the shape of these is more than reasonable and even though pictures can sometimes be deceiving, they look quite good. I am also glad to see that you are buying brown and not black…Don't be afraid to wear them with a navy suit, it would look nice..-Justin

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