Tag Archives: boots

My Cordovan Chukka Boots from Alden

With many things pertaining to smarter modes in menswear, I’m often late to the party. I didn’t fully understand the pleasure (or importance) of a well-tailored suit or what went into a well-made shoe until my late 30s. When I “discovered” things like Warby Parker, J.Crew’s Ludlow suits, Indochino, Kamakura or The Tie Bar, I learned that other smartasses in the menswear ether had known about them for years. I don’t claim to be inventing any wheels here, and I will never pretend to be an expert. We get there when we get there.

Another party to which I arrived late is Alden. To be clear, I’ve certainly been aware of Alden and their gold standard in American shoe and boot making for a long time. In fact, I’ve been coveting a pair of Alden’s cordovan chukka boots for several years. My new arrival to the Alden party comes in the form of actually owning a pair. Continue reading My Cordovan Chukka Boots from Alden

My Shopping Plans for Black Friday 2013

Danté’s Inferno starts on “Maundy Thursday” in the year 1300. In the modern age, I believe his tenth circle of Hell would ensue on Black Friday – a day invented by retailers that makes employees want to kill themselves from pressure to make goal numbers and causes shoppers to kill each other (literally) to get the best price on even more stuff. I would rather swallow live bees than walk into a Macy’s, a Walmart or even Barney’s on Black Friday.

Aside from supporting my fabulous local businesses within walking distance, like Fine and Dandy and Domus, my Black Friday pursuits will happen strictly online in the warmth and safety of my own home, where the coffee, music and mood are infinitely better than what I’d experience in a mall.

When it comes to shopping for fit-specific clothes online, I prefer to buy from brands with which I already have a size and quality relationship. For example, I know I’m a 30/34 in Levi’s Shrink-to-Fit 501s, I know I’m an 8 1/2 in Aldens or Converse, I know I’m a medium with casual shirts and tees at J.Crew, and I know I can get a perfectly-fitting custom suit based on my measurement profile in my Indochino account.

As the shopping frenzy lurks, I happen to be in the market for what I mentioned above. Here’s a more specific list of what I’m looking for:

Levi’s Shrink-to-Fit 501s
According to an email I just received, Levi’s is offering 30% off site-wide, plus free shipping, until midnight on Sunday December 1st. I have two nicely worn pairs of 501 Shrink-to-Fits. One pair is very well-worn, and the other pair is in-between. I’m in the mood for a third pair to keep nice and dark, shrinking them down with hot water with that crucial first wash. From there, I’d wash them very infrequently, inside-out and in cold water with a hang dry.

Alden Plain Toe Chukka Boots
I’ve put these off for too long. And since Alden itself does not have an online storefront, one has to go through one of their stockists to snag a pair from the interwebs. For my purposes, it looks like Barney’s, who sells this lifetime investment in shell cordovan for a full retail price of $675. My fingers are crossed for some kind of site-wide sale for the holiday spendfest.

Converse Jack Purcells
I have exactly two pairs of sneakers. One is a pair of canvas Chuck Taylors in white, and the other is a pair in navy (now sun bleached and on their last legs). I’ve had my eye on an iconic pair of Jack Purcells for some time, and J.Crew has “remastered” versions of these canvas icons with some subtle style upgrades from the originals. They’re available in white or black and go for $60 full retail. I’d go with white.

Plain White Slim T-shirts
Speaking of J.Crew, I have three pairs of their slim “broken-in” v-neck tees and I love them. In my experience, a great-fitting t-shirt is surprisingly hard to come by. These tagless tees are arguably the best fitting and most comfortable t-shirts I’ve ever worn. I know it doesn’t sound like the sexiest purchase one could make, but I need a few slim broken-in crew neck tees.

Another Custom Suit
It’s no secret that I love Indochino’s custom suits. A recent purchase of a premium navy suit from Indochino whetted my appetite for another one. The hand of the Super 140s fabric (95% wool, 5% cashmere) is insane. I’m also looking at the Essential Blue Suit (Super 100s), which isn’t quite navy but something lighter, with a little slate in the tone. I do know Indochino is having a Black Friday sale from Tuesday November 26th to midnight Monday December 2nd. They’re offering 50% off select items, and 20% off all orders over $600.

I don’t think I’ll pull the trigger on all of these things, but I will definitely do some damage by Monday. I do know that when the stampede begins at midnight on Thanksgiving at retail rodeos everywhere, I’ll probably be asleep or watching Netfilx. But on Friday, keeping a safe distance from big stores, I will turn up my Holiday Spotify Playlist, enjoy my own amazing coffee and murder any leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. I will also be visiting the aforementioned retailers and other favorite brands online to see what deals I can get on some handsome, well-made, affordable and workable goods.

At some point, I should also probably figure out what I’m getting as gifts for everybody else.

Handsome Selections in the AW2012 Collection from CAT Footwear

Men’s Haverhill Boot

As many of you probably know, Caterpillar – that same company that makes tractors – also makes footwear. Earlier this month, CAT Footwear celebrated the launch of their Autumn/Winter 2012 collection of casual shoes and boots at their showroom in New York City. Style bloggers were treated to a complimentary pair of their choice.

My favorite boots by far were the Orson ($160) and the Haverhill ($140). (I snagged a pair of the Haverhills.) Each is made with Caterpillar’s standards of durability, including a full grain leather upper, canvas lining and Goodyear welt construction.

Men’s Orson Boot

The A/W 2012 collection is now available to the general public in select stores and online at www.catfootwear.com.

A Handsome Vegan Alternative To Leather Shoes and Boots

The 100% vegan "Defender" boot from Brave GentleMan
There is an emerging movement of apparel designed by and for discerning gents who like to look handsome while maintaining their love and respect for the animals with whom we share the planet. These animal-friendly collections use no leather, no wool, no alpaca and absolutely no fur.

Several years ago, top men’s designer John Bartlett stopped using leather altogether in his collections and, more recently, all other animal-born fabrics like wool and alpaca. Only cotton, recycled poly and rayon find their way into his clothes. The wonderful website The Ethical Man (@theethicalman), founded by Dan Mims, also comes to mind.

Another promising pioneer in producing men’s goods with ethical handsomeness is Joshua Katcher, author of the blog The Discerning Brute (@DiscerningBrute) and founder of Brave GentleMan, an online men’s shop that features very handsome 100% vegan items: pants, tops, outerwear, accessories, grooming products and home candles.

I’ve never worn fur (never will) and I don’t have a ton of leather goods except for one jacket and many pairs of shoes, which are at the root of my biggest question about this whole idea. Part of the inherent beauty of a well made pair of brogues is the craftsmanship with the leather. How can one make a handsome oxford or boot without leather? Well, it looks like Brave GentleMan is on the road to doing just that.

The way I (and many others) see it, part of the problem with this kind of style alternative has been the image and branding. The eco/ethical image rarely seems to stick as something rugged, handsome, masculine or “cool.” The fashion industry kicks it to the curb while pushing designers and collections featuring lots of leathers, suedes and furs in the interest of nurturing profitable relationships with leather and fur businesses. (Yes, Ms. Wintour, I’m looking at you.) I am personally guilty of thinking of eco/ethical alternatives as rather anemic in their image, style and execution. Mr. Katcher is taking that problem head-on with Brave GentleMan, which he has established as “the premiere resource for Principled Attire & Smart Supplies™, carefully curated to accomodate the most ethically handsome™ of men.”

In a collaboration with animal-friendly crafters Novacas, Brave Gentleman has started a small collection of great-looking boots and shoes, using no leather whatsoever. Instead, the shoes and boots are made of high-quality faux leather with a sturdy sole. All of them are completely vegan and made with sustainable textiles under fair labor conditions in Portugal.


Principled, smart and ethical indeed. Call me a fan of Mr. Katcher and his work with The Discerning Brute and Brave GentleMan. While the price point currently aspires to a fancier wallet, perhaps these goods will gain popularity and become more accessible to the rest of us who have a discerning eye for handsome goods and a discerning heart for the beautiful creatures with whom we share this place.

For now, this is a direction really worth exploring for the stylish and principled gentleman.

Further Refinement:
John Bartlett
Brave GentleMan
The Discerning Brute
The Ethical Man

A New Life for Old Boots

After eight years of too-frequent wearing and basic-care neglect from not oiling, polishing or using shoe trees, I was about to kiss an old pair of boots goodbye. Instead, I took my kickers to the shoe repair to see if they could be resuscitated with new soles. Two days later, I’m happy to report that my boots have brand new leather soles, new heels and a new life, which will be prolonged even further now that I know how to care for them properly.

Getting Booted, Handsomely and Inexpensively

[singlepic id=176 w=320 h=320 float=left]Quality footwear is one area of a man’s wardrobe that can’t really be done on the dirty cheap. It’s hard to find good shoes and boots, i.e. ones that aren’t trendy and that will last, for less than around $300 on the low end. You can expect to snag a smart pair of Grenson’s, Church’s or Allen Edmonds in the neighborhood of $500 or more, BUT they’re impervious to trends and they’ll last longer than you if you take care of them.

Kenneth Cole, on the other hand, has a few handsome offerings in the boot department that won’t bankrupt you if you know what to look for, especially if they’re on sale. I’ve been sporting the same two pairs of Kenneth Cole boots for years, and they’re showing no signs of retirement. (I never wear the same pair two days in a row; I keep cedar shoe trees in them; I tend to the heels and soles; and I polish them regularly.)

The boots I’m featuring here are part of the current (Fall/Winter 2011) men’s collection from Kenneth Cole, and they range in price from $138 to $198. They’re great looking boots. I’d proudly wear any one of these.


Kenneth Cole – Men’s Boots