swims5-1
Hi Simon, 

Today’s soggy London weather has reminded me of a conundrum I’ve been stuck on for a while: what sort of shoes do you wear on a rainy day if you still want to look smart? 

I don’t want to wear leather-soled shoes, partly to prevent heavy wear and partly so as to retain some semblance of control when navigating wet steps. I’m yet to find any elegant rubber-soled shoes – maybe you know of some good options? And a “wellies outside then change inside” strategy just feels like too much hassle. At the moment I’m making do with lightweight rubber-soled loafers but they’re neither as substantial nor as smart as I’d like. 

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

James 

edward green sandown_indigo-4_1

Hi James,

This is a frequent problem for readers – hence the previous posts that you can see linked to at the bottom of this one. But its popularity suggests it is worth fresh consideration.

There is inevitably a trade off with any of the options you list, but it can be minimised.

Rubber-soled shoes are a good option. Not only will the sole not be soaked, but that will prevent water seeping into the upper of the shoe as well. And the biggest problem with leather shoes in this weather is salt stains.

(To minimise salt stains, wipe down your shoes as soon as you get inside, and then use a product such as Saphir Hiver-Winter stain remover to treat the stain afterwards.)

Rubber soles are a lot more elegant than they used to be. Edward Green and JM Weston, among others, are using a new rubber composite that is much thinner and sleeker – as you can see in the picture of the Sandown slip-ons above.

Of course, the thicker the sole the more the upper will be kept away from the wet ground, and a Norwegian or storm welt also stops water seeping into the shoe. But both add to the chunkiness of the shoe.

 

Windermere in crup, Edward Green SS2010

Cordovan is a good option given its water-resistance, but its thickness means it too makes for a less refined shoe. My shoes for really wet weather are Edward Green Windermeres (above), in burgundy cordovan with storm welts, but they are too heavy for light worsted suits.

I also think suede is underrated. It’s not great to get suede soaking wet, but you do entirely avoid the salt problem of leather, which can ruin a pair of shoes. And if you brush suede when it has dried you get rid of any dirt and bring the nap back up.

Finally, overshoes. I wear Swim’s, and they are very effective. But I agree it’s a bit of a fuss to take them on and off. I generally only use overshoes when I know I will be in the office most of the day – so I will only need them to commute in and back.

swims8

In conclusion: consider overshoes if you will not be outside very much; if you will, decide what trade off you want to make between dryness and elegance. And take solace from the fact that chunky shoes are – apparently – very trendy at the moment.     

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R

What about Covy’s overshoes ?

Søren H

Just a comment from the cold and wet Scandinavia.

Treat your leather soles with Burgol lether Oil that should take care of the worst problems.

James

Thanks Simon – helpful guidance. James (questioner)

Nils

I think suede shoes are probably to easiest to care for in winter weather. A modern water repellent spray makes them practically invincible to water and mud and dry dirt is easy to brush off.

Edward

I find Dainite soled shoes from Crockett & Jones (e.g. Hallam) or Cleverley RTW (made by C&J) are quite elegant, indistinguishable from single leather soled versions.

Julian

For reducing slipping in the wet, at least a bit, there is one other possibility if one wants to keep the elegance of leather soles. If going MTO with someone like G&G or EG then leather really is the way to get the most tightly sculpted waists.

Quite a lot of the grip from a shoe comes from the heel so I’ve been specifying leather soles but a full rubber piece for the base of the heel, i.e. the bit that interfaces with steps, pavements etc. If buying RTW then a full rubber base could be put on by any cobbler on the first re-heel. I find that this type of heel gives me much better grip than a heel where the base is mostly leather with just that little black wedge just at the back of the heel.

twitter_pato_londres

Dear Simon,

I wear John Lobb RTW Swims as well in very wet weather and can heartily recommend them. Although I have received comments that I look a lot like Poirot!

twitter_SharperLiving

Have heard many, many times that cordovan can get water stains from the rain. This includes from a bespoke shoemaker and a few guys working in upmarket shoe shops?

Matthew S

Simon, I wonder if I might foster some shoe care advice from you?

It’s actually on behalf of Mrs S, but any tips may well serve your other readers too, should they have suede shoes.

Mrs S had a rather nice pair of shoes made for our wedding in cream suede. She wore them on honeymoon too, which was when I scuffed my own, freshly-polished, black Churches against them, leaving a shoe polish mark. They’ve not been worn since (nor I spoken to).

Any ideas? (Apart from buffing my own shoes to remove excess polish more thoroughly in future).

Many thanks and with regards, Matthew S

jon di blasi

Off the subject post but will we be treated to extracts from your new book Simon?

Will

Hi Simon,

Great post! I think one of the convenient solution is to have some shoes topy(ied). I wear my topied shoes in raining condition and find that much less slippery and is water resistant (and at the same time still retaining some aesthetics looks of the leather soles).

I know that a lot of shoemakers are against topying shoes but sometimes I do find it quite annoying to wear leather sole shoes and stepping onto soaky floors (e.g. bathrooms) and god knows what we are stepping onto…

love to hear your views on this.

david crosbie

I too find the Dainite soled C&J shoes to be very elegant. I have a pair of Tetbury in the 348 last, which by even cleverly standards is an elegant and elongated last shape. Unless you got to see the sole, you’d never know it wasn’t leather. Add to that the fact that as a chukka boot, means its an ideal poor weather shoe.

david crosbie

Also… if they are good enough for James Bond… they are good enough for me 🙂

Jim Hudson

Herrings do some great dainite soled shoes and boots too – well worth a look.

Peter R.

Simon,

This is an excellent blog with very good information. Thank you very much for this. Just to questions if I may:

– What do you think about the idea of buying shoes with a genuine leather sole and then let a cobbler put a rubber layer on those?

– Where to get a good overshoe in London?

Thank you very much,

Peter

Peter R.

Hi Simon, many thanks for that. Just another one. Please point me to another post if you covered this already.

What are you toughts on metal heel and toe taps in terms of protection of the shoe, style, and noise?

Thank you

Alexander

Dear Simon! It seems to me that you gave two different statements on metal toe taps:
10/02/2014:
“I do use toe ones, however, as it’s an area I wear through very quickly.”
(thread: EDWARD GREEN TOP DRAWER)
10/03/2014
“No, I just don’t find I wear the toes that quickly. It’s a question of walking style” (thread: GAZIANO & GIRLING BESPOKE ADELAIDES)

Could you please clarify?
Thank you very much!

Stuart

Hi Simon, wondering what footwear suggestions you might have for someone who walks outside about 30mins to and from the office each day? Have considered investing in a pair of C&Js with Dainite sole for all day wear or alternatively an inexpensive pair of rubber soled shoes for walking in and another decent pair for around the office. Any thoughts? Many thanks.

The north

Simon,

I realized you haven’t done anything on rain coats. It would be interesting to read what type of material, style and fit you like.

Anonymous

Thanks for your quick response.

1. What 5 top versatile shoes do you recommend and use the most for fall/winter Simon? This includes loafers and chukkas.

2. Do you see this shoe by JLobb being very useful? And for what scenarios? John Lobb Prestige Philip II Loafer Parisian Brown Suede.

3. What soles are best in the rain? Would they be rubber soles, or crepe? Crepe and dainite soles seem to look less smart, I think.

4. Do you always use overshoes on your favorite shoes? Or do you sacrifice the look for functionality sometimes and have commonly-used shoes in rubber as well?

5 . And what 5 shoes for summer?

6. Do you ever see yourself wearing French shoes, like Aubercy? Why are French shoes/tailoring/everything considerably more expensive?

So many questions, I know. I’ve already read your personal bespoke shoes piece. Thanks for your work and hope you’re well.~

Vinay

Hi Simon,

Very useful article and post as usual.

I am interesting in buying a couple of pairs of work shoes, one black cap toe oxford and a dark brown Adelaide or semi-brogue. I walk a lot during the day as well as to and from work (30 mins each way) so my shoes get a lot of wear. I am thinking about getting a shoe with a rubber sole for durability and practicality.

I am tossing up between a C&J model (bench or hand grade) such as the Connaught 2 with a city rubber sole or alternatively, spending a lot more and getting a pair of Edward Green’s such as the Chelsea that also comes in a thin rubber sole.

I had four broad questions:

1. If I am to buy a pair with a rubber sole, would be it more appropriate to go with a C&J model with rubber sole rather than splash out for an EG pair? It seems as though part of the beauty and premium of owning an EG pair is the amazing detailing on the sole in terms of closed channel stitching, thin waist, oak bark tanned soles etc. I feel as though it may not be worth paying the same price for a EG Chelsea in rubber than the more elegant leather sole option and that I am not getting the same value. So is it not worth spending that level of money for a rubber sole EG?

2. Would the rubber soles on a EG pair of oxfords/loafers have the same or more durability than say a C&J pair with their city rubber sole? I know the Dainite soles would last longer but they tend to only offer that option for boots.

3. I know your go to English brand is EG. Is there any reason you don’t like and/or write much about C&J given their value at lower price points? Their hand grade models seem to have quite a few of the finishing and quality details of the EG at a significantly lower price. Again, I am considering this from the perspective of having say 3 pairs of shoes (e.g. black oxford, brown Adelaide, suede loafer) to rotate and walking a lot in them during the week. In your view, is there a material difference between the C&J Hand grade and EG models?

4. What would you recommend, for a 4 shoe capsule all with rubber sole? The four shoes would be: black cap toe oxford, dark brown Adelaide or semi-brogue, brown suede loafer and brown suede chukka boot. I think I know the answers based on your previous posts and articles but just wanted to confirm!

Thanks in advance for your advice and apologies for the long post.

P.S. I am only choosing between C&J and EG because they are the only quality brands that are stocked by a local store in my city for me to get a proper fitting.

Vinay

Thanks Simon.

From the SG range I’m thinking Chelsea black Oxford, Canterbury brow Adelaide and the Shanklin boot in suede. Not sure about the loafer as yer.

Do you own any C&J Hand grade shoes or do you just for for EG and bespoke?

What do you think is the main reasons for the price difference between the C&J Hand grade and EG?

Thanks again.

Vinay

Thanks Simon.

Ian

When discussing shoes very little mention seems to be made of perhaps the most important factor, which is fit. No matter how good the shoe, if it hurts your feet you will not wear it. I recently went to EG for some Oxfords but none fitted me properly. I then tried C&J where I found some that fitted perfectly, so for me, those were clearly the ones to get. They were rubber sole for the reasons discussed in the post and also because they give better traction on smooth floors.

John Plummer

Simon, just wondering if you have any experience with Paraboot, such as stocked at Drakes and soon to be at Trunk (as I understand it)? Not the most sophisticated of shoes, but seem to be good as a general walking/wet weather shoe? Many thanks.