One of the great joys of dressing for warm weather is the option of finally freeing your feet from heavy socks, boots, and other cold weather foot gear. As spring slowly morphs into summer, OTC offers up a few ideas to lighten up and air out in comfort and with style.
We have pulled together nine shoe options that cover your warm weather footwear needs from beach-and-beers casual to blue blazer cocktail hour dressed up. The one thing they all have in common is classic design that works in your modern life. Some, like the iconic Stan Smith white canvas trainer, are made for preppy downtime, while others, like Cobbler Union’s Driver moc, are fresh takes on modern but relaxed elegance.
The important thing about summer footwear is that it can, and should ideally be, transitional. Formal and informal, comfortable but not sloppy, fun but not silly; these are the elements that define great shoes that you can actually use in day-to-day life. Of course you should have some fun options – cherry red suede Italian loafers, for instance – but when it comes to wardrobe staples, get your lineup in place first.
CLASSIC PENNY LOAFERS
The beefroll penny loafer is one of the most recognizable pieces of summer footwear. Worn without socks and paired with khakis, linen trousers, and event shorts, these shoes are a staple of any self-respecting adherent to preppy style doctrine. They are also a comfortable alternative to lace-up shoes for those occasions when the dress code errs on the side of formal, but a suit is not required.
Loafers come in a variety of styles and finishes, from patent leather to suede to cordovan, but generally speaking, their ability to impart a sense of dressiness while keeping things less stuffy is always useful.
The casual cousin of the loafer is of course the docksider or boat shoe. While loafers may have been an original boat shoe, (see Weejuns, G.H. Bass & Co.) the docksider is king of the classic casual summer slip-in. Practical and iconically stylish, docksiders impart an instant seaside, wind-tossed flair to your look.
These are shoes you should use, abuse, get wet, and wear often. They look better with age and take on the type of “old friend” feel that makes these shoes so personal. And yes, you really do use these for sailing actual boats – they are meant to be working shoes that keep you on your feet when things get slippery.
WHITE CANVAS TRAINERS
When it comes to summer urban/city style, the simple while sneaker is staging a comeback. Fueled both by nostalgia for classic and simple menswear style and the growing popularity of “dress sneaker” designs, the clean and simple lines of the basic trainer fits with the summer aesthetic. While the aforementioned high-end sneakers crafted in flawless leather or suede – even exotic skins such as crocodile – are now often seen as an equivalent of an informal dress shoe, we prefer the basics.
We have a particular fondness for Converse’s Jack Purcell sneaker. Essentially unchanged since the 1930s, they are simple and iconic in both design and practical history.
MODIFIED CANVAS HIGHTOPS
Timberland takes the classic canvas sneaker and does one better. Their canvas Newport Bay Chukka is a hybrid – part canvas sneaker, part desert boot. Surprisingly comfortable and quite durable, they also make for a great pairing with shorts or faded, rolled-up khakis and are at home on the beach or out shopping.
HAND SEWN SLIP-INS
The camp moc, trail shoe evolution created a new category of footwear that speaks to a backpacking lifestyle while often living in day-to-day corporate casual office life. This is not necessarily a bad thing; being able to express some classic rugged style in your wardrobe is always a good thing.
When looking to invest in a pair of shoes from the camp moccasin category, you can’t get much better than the collaboration between Rancort x Ball and Buck. Shown in stitu at the top of this article, the soft bison leather of their Everyday Moc is flexible and comfortable while the dark brown rubber sole is flexible and provides good traction on slick surfaces. Whether you are sitting by the fire or stepping out of the tent in the morning these hand sewn mocs just might become your best friend.
MODERN BOAT SHOES
If you want something new, but with a solid backstory and history of innovation behind it, take a look at the new Paul Sperry Flex Deck sailing shoe. Sperry’s original sailing sneaker has been reborn and crafted with a performance mesh upper, clever drawstring toggle closure, and most importantly, Sperry’s legendary water defying outer sole.
We love the fact that this fresh take on a true classic come from the shoe’s originator. The innovative design is striking while at the same time hewing close to the DNA of the well-known, and well-loved original.
The Desert Boot from Clarks is so original that the word “original” is more or less part of its name. Inspired more than 60 years ago by British Wold War II footwear, the Clarks Desert Boot has become an international cult classic. In addition to the “original” original classic tan model, they now come in multiple seasonal colorways and a host of different finishes.
The simple, smart, and stylish silhouette, has given rise to versions from almost every footwear label, but we prefer the classic Clarks Desert Boot.
LEATHER DRIVING MOCS
The Italian style that gave birth to the driving moccasin is so embedded in the design of this rubber-nubbed footwear that once slipped on, you feel the need to hop into a very expensive sports car. This modern classic style has become a visual byword for urbane smoothness and a Mediterranean man-about-town vibe. Originally designed with the express purpose of keeping one’s feet comfortable while driving, the rubber-studded sole and heel helped to maintain stability on the pedals and the foot-hugging design allowed for flexibility and better road feel.
These Barcelona Drivers from small-batch shoe maker Cobbler Union are hand crafted from Italian calfskin.You can wear this beautiful shoes with pretty much anything; from a blue blazer to your favorite polo, jeans to shorts.
EVERYDAY CASUAL SHOES
A good pair of neutral everyday casual shoes can be a go-to choice when you aren’t heading to the office, but still need to do better than sweatpants and flip-flops. The Fortis Collection from Aureus squarely hits that middle ground space. Ideal for an urban setting , they are super lightweight yet provide firm, comfortable support.
The company was founded in 1977 and is a leading manufacturer of golf apparel and footwear – the kind of stuff worn by many elite-level pros. Thankfully, in 2014, they took all that knowledge and experience and started making casual and lifestyle footwear.