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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 

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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.

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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.