Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Seeking Suede

Didn't have much time to put together anything lengthy this week, but wanted to take a quick look at one of my (recurring) obsessions: suede footwear. To me, suede is a kinda funky deal, in that it feels ridiculously seasonal during two opposite seasons: late spring and late fall. As spring starts to turn to summer, there's something about, say, a pair of off-white suede bucs that's perfect for the rising heat. Come fall, with winter right around the corner, the warm nap of a pair of chocolate suede chukkas is just as perfectly appropriate. And somehow, tan suede loafers fit the bill pretty much year round.

Anyway, the point is, I'm on the hunt for suede in a wide variety of footwear applications. Here's a roundup of some of my favorites right now:

Suede Sneakers:
Pennant Pack 574 | New Balance - $79.99
The most casual of the lot, I've been loving vintage-y running shoes. I have a few pairs without, but the pairs that do have suede are by far my favorite this season. I just picked up this pair of New Balance's the other week - not only is the style on point, at $80 it wasn't a bank-breaking buy.

Suede Loafers:

Unlined Penny Loafer in Snuff Suede | Alden - $512
Stepping up the formality a bit, but still very do-able as a casual shoe, I love a nice tan suede penny loafer. I don't yet have my own, but I know exactly what I want in a pair, and it's essentially a loafer version of these boots I picked up from Polo Ralph Lauren last year. The above pair is by Alden, and would definitely fit the bill, but I'd love to find something with a similar shape and color that didn't cost an arm and a leg. Any suggestions?

Suede Chukkas:
Men's Field Chukka | Brooks Brothers - $298
Just as versatile as a penny loafer, a chukka can be dressed up or dressed down as you will, especially with a sharper pick like this pair Brooks Brothers. While significantly more expensive than a similar pair of Clark's (almost $300 compared to $130), the sleeker profile makes these far more appropriate with dressy clothing and suits. At the same time, they remain just as easy to pull off with a sharp pair of denim. And that warm, hot-chocolate-brown is as good as it gets as the temps continue to dip.

Suede Bomber:
Balderton Bomber | Bonobos - $695
Of course, suede isn't only used in footwear. In my opinion, the best alternative application of suede has got to be a nice suede bomber. It takes a more sporty style and adds a level of elegance that is level, I guess! Of course, like any leather jacket, you won't find these puppies for cheap, but I'm a big fan of the jacket we offer at Bonobos - full disclosure, I do work there, but I'd recommend their iteration anyway! Keep your eye out for a promotion and you might be able to knock the price down to a bit more affordable point.

I'll end with a quick cautionary note: as perfect as suede feels for the fall, you've gotta be careful as we start encountering inclement weather. Personally, I think some suede looks fantastic all beaten up and worn out, but if you're trying to keep your suede fresh, snow and slush can be your worst enemy. Weatherproofing and diligent shoe care can help out immensely, but some days you'll just want to leave em at home.

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