Most men’s shoes-at least the ones that last-are made of leather, but what truly differentiates one from another is the quality. If you want to buy shoes that look great, feel as good as they look, and can last years, make sure you select a pair that embodies style and excellence.
Top Shelf Leather
The best shoes demand the best materials, and that starts with high-grade leather. That’s of ultimate importance, whether you’re shopping for a traditional classic like Italian calf leather or an exotic leather shoe like ostrich, lizard, or alligator.
Lower quality leathers tend to feel dry, stiff or flimsy, and have a dull or blotchy appearance. Calf leather, for example, is often used in high-end dress shoes, thanks to its glassy smooth tight grain and lack of imperfections. You want leather that is appealing to the eye, supple to the touch, and comfortable and supportive on your feet.
There are many design possibilities, limited only by the creativity of the shoe maker. Even if you are investing in a classically elegant and timeless style like a wingtip or monk’s strap shoe, designs do vary from one manufacturer to the next.
Study the symmetry. Scrutinize the profile of the shoe from the side, from above, and from the front and year. A proper design will exude a beautiful aesthetic from every viewing angle.
Does the color of the shoe match its personality? If the shoe has hardware like buckles, make sure that they, too, enhance the design. They should be made of solid, well-crafted metals in tones that work well with the color of the leather.
Craftsmanship is Key
In a fine shoe, you’ll also see no crooked stitching or misaligned sections where one seam meets another. Everything will line up with exquisite attention to detail. That level of quality construction depends on skill and experience.
Fine shoes aren’t simply glued together but are carefully and durably stitched, often by hand. The interior of a great shoe will also likely be made of buttery soft leather instead of fabric. That makes the shoes last longer, reduces odor, and gives you the flexible option to wear your casual shoes like loafers or leather sneakers without socks, if you want.
Legacy Also Counts
The historic journey of a shoe and its DNA is also worth noting, because it can reveal traits like consistency, integrity, and enduring tradition. The founder of Belvedere Shoes, for instance, got his foot in the door by selling to discerning boutique stores in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The shoes soon attracted the attention of Nordstrom’s. From there Belvedere became a nationally and even internationally recognized artisan footwear brand. Today the Belvedere line is still crafted with pride and meticulous craftsmanship, and its roots can be traced directly to Italy, with its centuries-old reputation for quality footwear. Learn more about the Belvedere brand.
The Bottom Line
Shop for an outstanding leather shoe, using these helpful insights. You'll avoid wasting money on cheaply manufactured shoes that wear out too soon and don’t have ergonomic support and an ideal fit. Instead you’ll make a savvy investment that pays for itself over time as a genuine fashion and wardrobe asset.