GJ Cleverley bespoke brown oxfords

Laces are to a shoe what buttons are to a jacket. Often ignored, but with a disproportionate important effect on the overall look. 

The most attractive buttons, for me, are always matte horn with a touch of contrast in their colouring. They produce the same sensation of pleasure as a finely sewn buttonhole or gently curving lapel.

Of course a suit worn with black shoes should not have brown buttons, but even then horn is better than corozo. Why so many Italians use corozo is beyond me. 

Often, buttons are simply ignored in favour of more obvious style points, such as the width of the lapel. Yet change the buttons, and the whole look of the jacket changes.

Contrast in a button is one of the key things that separates a blazer from a suit jacket, and it is one of the reasons I find my Gieves travel jacket with interchangeable buttons so useful. 

GJ Cleverley bespoke brown oxfords waxed laces

Laces are even more commonly ignored than buttons. For some brands they are part of their identity – the thin, lightly waxed laces used at Corthay for example (below) – but more often they are never given a second thought. 

English shoemakers, as you might expect, are particularly bad in this regard. They pretty much all use the same round, thick lace, whether it’s on a formal black whole-cut or a country tan derby. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this lace – seen above, left, on my bespoke brown Cleverleys. It is strong, reliable and not too slippery. But I would argue that it’s out of place on a more formal, dress shoe. 

I therefore wear a flat, waxed lace (above, right) on any smart shoes, such as all my Cleverleys, Gaziano & Girlings and Stefano Bemers. In fact, any shoe that has a chance of being worn with a suit.

Justin Fitzpatrick does a nice set, as does Kirby Allison on The Hanger Project, who has a variety of thicknesses of lace.

Change your laces. Then look again at your jacket buttons, too. 

Corthay laces shoe