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Riccardo Bestetti in Pig Skin
Riccardo Bestetti in Pig Skin

Here is yet another post about Things to Know About Shoes. If you missed 1-20, you can find them HERE and HERE. I hope that you all enjoy!

21. Grained leather takes the rain best of all i.e. does not show the wear and tear as bad as calf. Suede is next (darker suede that is). Calfskin is actually the most sensitive out of the (main) leathers. So when it rains, wear suede or grained leather. Save your calfskin for dry days (or mild rain).

22. No brown in town = Old World mentality. This is 2014: The future. Wear brown every day, all day if you want. The Italians make it look easy and they nearly always look good. The idea of elegance is not about the colors/clothes you wear but about how you carry yourself and how you treat others.

23. Toe Spring: learn about it. In a simplistic explanation, it’s the amount of space between the ground and the bottom of your sole at the very tip of the toe. Too much of it looks awful and it’s sad to say that most cheap shoes have too much of it as they make shoes from contorted lasts. The worst thing about it is that if it starts bad, it will only get worse. Nothing is more unattractive (and ruins an entire outfit) then the tips of one’s shoes curling up like elf slippers (you know what I am talking about). Moral of the story: buy shoes with minimal toe spring.

Toe Spring: DON'T
Toe Spring: DON’T
Toe Spring: DO.... Gaziano & Girling photo courtesy of Leffot
Toe Spring: DO…. Gaziano & Girling photo courtesy of Leffot

24. A balmoral/spat boot can look elegant under a suit. It is probably the only boot that truly can (there are exceptions but it would take too long to list them all). People that say otherwise (i.e. no boots under suits) are part of the “no brown in town” crowd. Victorians/Edwardians did it and to me, they were amongst the most elegant men throughout history.

25. Baggy trousers don’t flatter your shoes. Neither does having too much cloth bunched up at your shoe. If you want to show off your shoes, then you need to taper your trouser to a length that just graces your shoes. That does not mean that they need to be an inch above your ankles or skin tight however. There is a fine line between doing it right and being excessive. A mistake that I have made myself is thinking that I could be the same inseam measurement in every trouser. This is wrong as different trousers will have different rises and thus alter your inseam length. Don’t make the same mistake or you will pay a lot in alternation fees

26. If you are a hard walker (i.e you spring off of the ground with quite some force) and you walk a lot on concrete/pavement you will wear your toes down more significantly in the first few wears then the rest of the life of the shoe. Due to the way that a shoe is made (i.e. with an edged –as opposed to round– line at the sole) and the way we walk (spring off of the ground) it is inevitable. Once we have shaved off (naturally from walking) that edge and the tips of your toes become a bit more rounded, the tip will then begin to wear off at an exponentially decreasing rate. Best to simply affix indented toe taps to prevent wearing your toes down before you even need a resole.

Natural wear and tear, Foster's Bespoke Archive
Natural wear and tear, Foster’s Bespoke Archive

27. Exposure to sun will naturally lighten your shoes (over time). Exposure to rain will naturally darken them (over time). Therefore if you have a pair that you want to lighten, polish it with only neutral wax polish and wear it on sunny days. Alternatively if you want to deepen a shoe’s color, wear it in the rain and polish it with one or two shades darker but using cream polish. Never polish tan shoes with black polish. It will only make them streaky and will be very hard to fix. The results are obviously created over time. If you are in a rush, consult a patina artist.

28. You cannot waterproof a dress shoe. This is marketing rubbish. You can make them resistant to rain but a heavy rain day will cut right through anything and get your feet and shoes wet if exposed for too long. That is the reality of it. Good leather that is properly shined will be all the protection you need. Then it will be up to you to not step in any puddles.

29. A wholecut oxford is the hardest shoe to make, both in bespoke and in manufacturing (which is sometimes why they are more expensive). The reason is that due to the fact that the shoe is seamless (in the front for a regular wholecut, with a back seam) and therefore does not have as much give when being pulled by the last machine. It thus makes it hard to last it perfectly and have it lay flat on the vamp. Often enough, there is a bit of space/loose air left between the last and the leather at the vamp, causing the shoe to lose a bit of its shape….

30. A high shine on the cap will make any shoe look better

JFitzpatrick Windermere

19 thoughts on “Things To Know About Shoes, Part 3: 21-30”

  1. This might be a silly question, but is there a rule of thumb of “too much toe spring” (eg. more than 1″)?

    1. yes, the most is that of the size of sticking a ball point pen underneath and just going under at the tip but no more

  2. Hi Justin, many thanks for the above advice. You mention affixing toe caps, to help mitigate the risk of sole wear near the toes, would you be able to clarify whether this is something that has to be performed by a cobler, or can this be done easily by an individual? If the latter is the case, do you have any recommendations for where to obtain these from?

    1. as TK below said, do not attempt at home…best to leave it to a professional so that you do not run the risk of ruining your shoes….where are you based?

  3. The no brown in town , town is London, so the rule only applies in London. All other towns are country, clear now?

  4. Hi Justin,

    Love the blog and learn a lot. Completely agree that “no brown in town” is no longer valid. However, I still cannot cope with seeing people wearing blue suits with light or mid-tan shoes. Coffee-ish or deep brown/reddish looks fine, but not tan, and certainly not cheap, un-polished or un-cared for shoes! The look seems to have spread everywhere, and it is simply a matter of colours that go together, and not a rigid silly social rule. In my opinion anyway, and most people I know who seem to have general good taste do seem to agree.

    All best, P

  5. Hello,

    I’ve noticed you made a distinction between “full grain leather” and “calfskin” (the animal), is that how leather is classified? Could there not be a full grain calf skin? If you could shed some light onto this I would really appreciate it. I’ve enjoyed your articles and have learnt a lot from them.


    1. sorry, I think that you might have confused ‘full grain leather’ for ‘grained leather’ as in printed calfskin that has a grain texture.

  6. Hello – great fan of your blog, and I’ve learnt so much from your posts!

    With regards to Point 21, does ‘soft grained’ leather also count as ‘grained leather’?


    1. thanks for the kind words and happy to hear that you have learned lots. Grained leather is the umbrella word and within that there are many types, like scotch, hatch etc. I just call one of my grains ‘soft’ as it is quite supple and thinner than other grains

  7. Again on #21, and rain’s effect on leather: shell cordovan can be more sensitive than calfskin and, as with suede, dark shell is netter than light.

  8. Hi Justin. Love the blog. I wanted to let you know the 2 links to the previous articles in the first paragraph are broken. I was trying to read those and cannot seem to get to them…

  9. カタオカケン

    Hi, Justin,
    I’m a big fan of your blog and I found articles titled “THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SHOES” really fascinating. The articles should be very helpful guidance for shoe lovers in Japan and I would like to let readers of my blog know about the articles. Would you please let me know if it is acceptable for you that I will write articles translated of “THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SHOES” in Japanese? I will, of course, write about “THE SHOE SNOB” and describe that all the contents will be originally came from your blog.
    Thank you, please let me know,

    Sincerely, Ken

    1. Dear Ken,

      thanks for your kind words and support in the blog. Please feel free to translate these into Japenese for your readers. I appreciate it


      1. カタオカケン

        Hi, Justin,

        Thank you for letting us translate your article.
        Please be advised that the article (Part 1) translated in Japanese has been released. (Link: I do hope readers of our blog will like it ! We have been starting to write about the other parts too. If you have any concern with how I gave link back to your article, please let me know so I can edit the article as necessary.

        Sincerely, Ken

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