Spring Buyers Guide | Classic Shoes

Every year at the beginning of spring I have the same thought. “I should throw away all of my spring / summer shoes and start over with just the classics.” Do I ever build up the guts to do it? Not so much. But since this is the internets and I’m free to play with hypotheticals, this is what my dream team would look like. Everything I need, all that I want. Classic. Shoes that work for 2009 and 2049. Are there other scenarios that could be played out here? Yes. The good news is, I’ll leave it up to all of you to name your summer all-star starting line-up in the comments, thereby saving your lowly steward some grief.


Last night when I was compiling this group I sent the above image to my buddy The Trad and asked him if he thought I was leaving anything out. He wrote back in a friendly yet disapproving tone. “Is this a test? Cordovan out – everything else in – despite the cliche of it all” Touché Mr. Trad, touché. The thing is, shoes are like beers, everyone has a favorite and who can argue with why you like something. You like what you like. So I’m going to ride this cliche out, all summer long.

Other worthy additions to the above group are the classic lace-up vans, the tasty canvas sneakers from Aprix and finally the high-top Sperry Chukka boat shoes that Mr. Impossible Cool has been rocking all over town. My classics above are detailed below.

The particulars in clockwise order:

Comments on “Spring Buyers Guide | Classic Shoes

    Tom Paine on April 21, 2009 8:41 AM:

    My spring footwear rotation:
    Brown Quoddy trail mocs, brown Alden derby, white Jack Purcell, brown beeswax Clarks Desert Boot, and white w/black stripes Adidas Samba.

    tons of land on April 21, 2009 9:00 AM:

    seems like a pair of sandals should be in there somewhere… otherwise, well done.

    robin sykes on April 21, 2009 9:15 AM:

    You would also probably need nice brown loafers for a semi formal

    Theo on April 21, 2009 9:18 AM:

    would someone be able to tell me more about this mark mcnairy fellow and/or how to get some white bucks to australia? it’d be incredibly appreciated

    anewnadir on April 21, 2009 9:25 AM:

    not to slag unnecessarily on Alden but I went to look for a pair of wingtips at Alden, Brooks Brothers, and Allen Edmonds. Alden definitely has some nice styles but their fit isn’t too great. More importantly, the service at the Alden store was abysmal. I walked in and the guy didn’t even so much as look up from his desk. Compare this with the woman at Allen Edmonds who was putting on my shoes for me and suggesting fits / styles. In the end service doesn’t really determine how good the shoe looks and feels, but I’d like to think the reason I ended up with the AE’s is because of how well I was treated. I can’t shake the impression that the Alden clerk knew people were dying to throw down hundreds of dollars for their shoes so it didn’t matter one bit whether a customer gets treated properly.

    ddml on April 21, 2009 9:27 AM:

    cordovan is not very spring friendly, i agree with Mr Trad. not very breathable. and i prefer the quoddy boat over the sperry. and i’d replace the white chuck taylors with vintage rod lavers. time to dust off the sand desert boots. i can’t hate your list!

    james fox on April 21, 2009 9:50 AM:

    ‘dream team’ love it. i guess it never rains in NYC?? zing.

    EnzoAGC on April 21, 2009 10:02 AM:

    forget the striper and the chucks, the tretorn nylite canvas is all you need for sneakers in the summer. I’d also swap in the bean camp moc for the topsider and a pair of RL drivers and alden tassels

    ad ease on April 21, 2009 10:06 AM:

    Here’s my spr/sum rotation:
    1. Quoddy black bluchers (thanks Sweetu!)
    2. Vintage original Stan Smiths
    3. Alden black calfskin cap-toe oxfords with Cats Paw heel (more breathable than Cordovan)
    4. White American Rag CIE canvas sneakers (bought from INA a few wks back for $75)
    5a&b. Sperry Top Siders (brown with creme sole & navy with creme sole)
    6. Khaki Beams canvas sneakers (thanks Clint!)

    ad ease on April 21, 2009 10:11 AM:

    anewnadir, i agree with you about the Alden store. I went there a few weeks ago to pick up my first pair of Cordovan 994s. They barely even knew anything about the shoes they were selling. I was really expecting better more passionate & knowledgeable employees than were there. i was asking about chukkas and red brick soles and all sorts of things and they looked at me like I was weird. These guys acted like could have been working at the Yankees Clubhouse store for all they cared. I wanted to grab them by the collar and scream, these are ALDEN shoes you have here! Have some respect!

    william on April 21, 2009 10:38 AM:

    Instead of the white Chuck Taylors, may I suggest a pair of PF Flyers Center Lo…still old school (maybe more so), but a bit more obscure.

    akatsuki on April 21, 2009 10:41 AM:

    Pretty good set of classics. Although with the decline in Clarks and Sperry quality, I might have substituted another shoe for Clarks and gone with the Gold Cup series or Quoddy in boat shoes.

    Sam Jacobs on April 21, 2009 10:42 AM:

    Nice choices. My spring rotation usually flips between my Timberland desert boots (much like your Clarks), J.Crew penny loafers, Sperry Top Siders (in traditional brown and in navy blue), and Jack Purcell sneakers. Of course, there’s also the Reef flip-flops, but those are for home and beach use mostly.

    greenjeans on April 21, 2009 10:44 AM:

    Great shapes and palette. I’d love to think that my kick game was as diverse as this, but in reality, I vacillate between wu-wallabees, nike waffleIIracers, and some camper moccasin things.

    Michael Williams on April 21, 2009 11:03 AM:


    Email through the McNairy website and I’m sure they will accommodate you.


    Speedmaster on April 21, 2009 11:42 AM:

    I LOVE those Alden shoes. ;-)

    Paul on April 21, 2009 12:14 PM:

    All of these are great – but i can’t live without tassle loafers – I have at least eight pair (in varying stages of decomp).

    Ryan on April 21, 2009 12:30 PM:

    Nice compilation Michael,

    Only thing missing is some loafers for me, and a couple trade-ins. Allen Edmonds for me too.

    Ol' Sport on April 21, 2009 12:46 PM:

    rod laver-mesh
    bass-white buc’s

    epaulet on April 21, 2009 12:58 PM:

    @ anewnadir

    I just want to point out that the “Alden Store” in NYC is not actually owned by Alden. It’s a totally separate business that exclusively carries Alden shoes. So their service (or lack of) shouldn’t reflect on Alden as a whole.

    For the record, my partners at Alden are some of the best people that I work with. I love that company.

    But I totally agree with AE – I’ve always been treated well at their stores. They have great staff.

    JOA on April 21, 2009 1:28 PM:

    TopSiders, Quoddy Canoe Mocs, NB 992, Rod Lavers, Wallabees and Alden x Brooks Bros. Shell Penny Loafers…my shoes of choice every spring/summer for years now.

    Andrew Hazlett on April 21, 2009 3:15 PM:

    I can’t believe that those white bucks could be worn more than once before getting spotted or scuffed. Too beautiful to live.

    masonry on April 21, 2009 3:40 PM:

    My starting lineup now looks like this:

    Clark’s Desert Boots, sand
    Converse Jack Purcell, white
    Converse All-Star High, black
    adidas Stan Smith, white
    Arrow Two Eye Tie Moc, brown

    … but will probably be supplanted by some Vans slip-ons, and maybe some Tretorns.

    Chris on April 21, 2009 3:46 PM:

    This list is not complete w/o a pair of Vans slip-ons or lace-ups. Could be my inner Spicoli talking or my 10 years in LA but I find my self wearing them with cut off khakis and linen casual pants. Vans has a pretty cool web site where you can build your own.

    OneUponATime on April 21, 2009 4:19 PM:

    I love you. Well, at least your comment.

    kara - all things ordinary on April 21, 2009 4:25 PM:

    id have to add a black pair in there somewhere.

    archredux on April 21, 2009 5:00 PM:

    Just picked up a pair of white canvas topsiders, now I need some sun here in Glasgow.

    Moldy on April 21, 2009 5:51 PM:

    those are all cool classics for me I would add a bunch of vans

    Michael on April 21, 2009 7:08 PM:

    I’ve always thought that sandals and flip-flops have no place outside of the beach or the shower, so nice call on leaving out those vile things. Men should not show their toes.

    Summer line up:
    White Chucks/black Chucks
    White Purcells
    Old Ralph Lauren bucks that were my dads
    Tricker’s brogues in brown
    Clarks Desert boots
    Vans Sk8 Hi
    Guidi lace-ups in kangaroo

    Kevin on April 21, 2009 9:26 PM:

    My response is in regard to comfort. The Sperry’s withOUT laces that tie are not comfortable for me. The elastic is not good. My Quoddy’s (blutchers) are way better, even with a simple arch. I also wear stan smith’s and I don’t know what it is but these shoes kill my feet after a while. I can’t wear Adidas soccer cleats either, just something about them. Off the subject but, I have a pair of N.D.C. plain black oxfords and they are already falling apart, these shoes are crap. So I wear the sperry’s anyway and the adidas with pain and I have to wear flip flops around the house but it is hot as hell here so these comments about not wearing flip flops need to be qualified by geographic region.

    citizen wayne on April 21, 2009 9:38 PM:

    1. Quoddy Brown Suede Brick Sole Blucher
    2. Nepenthes Ghiles Hi White/White
    3. Needles Ghiles White/White
    4. Visvim Logan Deck Lo Navy
    5. Visvim Skagway Lo White
    6. J.S. Homestead Gym Sneaker White
    7. J. Crew Flip Flops

    Winston on April 21, 2009 10:17 PM:

    My perfect spring summer line-up
    1. L.L.Bean Blucher Mocs
    2. Common Projects White Achilles Mid-Tops
    3. Salvatore Ferragamo The Renzo
    4. Rick Owens Black Sneaker Boots
    5. Nike White Air Force 1’s
    6. Visvim Olive Christo Sandal
    7. NewBalance 992’s/3’s (I don’t care what anyone says they are the most stylish running shoes ever)

    Christopher Baus on April 21, 2009 10:28 PM:

    I have the Alden saddle’s in #8. Great shoe. Also have a vintage US Made pair of Cole Haan white cap toe bal bucks that I have on today.

    I think the cordovan is ok in the spring. Not that hot.

    Nico Dodd on April 21, 2009 10:44 PM:

    bass bucks and brown sperrys all year.

    JP on April 21, 2009 11:08 PM:

    Clarks & Converse get me through 90% of the time.


    r on April 22, 2009 12:04 AM:

    real men show toe

    D Chandler on April 22, 2009 3:52 AM:

    So glad to see the saddle shoes on here. But save 550 dollars and get a pair on ebay. Also, can’t really do Converse because of the whole Nike thing.

    john on April 22, 2009 10:58 AM:

    Slip-on Vans, also. And Weejuns.

    Chuck Taylors should be high top. Regular Vans have the low top angle covered.

    jbird on April 22, 2009 11:25 AM:

    i like winston’s llbean blucher reccomendation and all the van’s additions…the one that’s missing from the sperry line-up is the captain’s oxford…


    Oscar on April 22, 2009 12:09 PM:

    Boat shoes fo sho!

    Chucks are too ubiquitous around my area, so I’m gonna rock Jack Purcells this summer. I’ll set the trend.

    mike on April 22, 2009 9:42 PM:

    summer 5 no particular order

    1. Quoddy mid top deck shoes in Navy
    2. beat black hiroshi chucks from a few years back
    3. yellow huf doughboys for bikin around the city
    4. Brown suede dessert boots
    5. half cabs foe the skating

    Pedro Blanco on April 22, 2009 11:02 PM:

    Classic, but predictable, and yes, cliche, but then again:
    1. zig zags/doughboys/winos
    2. white chuck lows
    3. 10 year old weejuns
    4. Nike Bruin SB (free, and for skating)
    5. Old RL white bucks dyed navy
    6. Visvim FBT without the shroud (classy when rocking shorts)
    7. Frye engineer boots (for motorcycle)

    Stefan on April 23, 2009 2:34 AM:

    Weird… copped the sperry originals in the very same colorway published. Got em in Palm Springs. It felt right at the time. Good decision I suppose.

    Chris on April 23, 2009 6:22 PM:

    Man I am trying to like that Captains Oxford but it looks like a narrow version of a wallabie but with an subtle orthopedic vibe. Maybe it’s the sea foam coloring. Do you have a pair?

    Trevor on April 24, 2009 2:19 PM:

    My shoe rotation includes…a new pair of Zeha-Oxfords (i dont know how to make them casual), a collection of converse kicks and Air Force Ones….I am a recent business graduate and feel it is necessary to change up my style appropriate for my age and work …any suggestions? Also, what is a good shoe to pair up with shorts?

    Dean on April 25, 2009 5:06 AM:

    I would choose plain white supergas over the converse, and perhaps throw in a pair of espadrilles?

    Dean on April 25, 2009 5:08 AM:

    And perhaps a tassled suede penny loafer?

    the.mez on April 25, 2009 7:18 PM:

    Anyone of sound mind only wears shoes made in Northampton, England.

    Google Prince Michael of Kent, dress accordingly and Never forget: you can’t learn style.

    salah on April 26, 2009 4:28 PM:

    Another vote for the classic Rod Laver. Not only are they a classically good looking shoe, but they repel water, are easy to clean, and get better looking the older they get. Bonus points for not being very popular, therefore they’re still reasonably priced, and well made.

    My spring/sumer lineup is rounded out with a pair of high top Converse all-stars in black, and a pair of brown suede Ferragamo loafers I picked up about 10 years ago, and are the best shoes I’ve ever purchased.

    joel on April 27, 2009 3:40 PM:

    I’d add Common Projects low Achilles in white or gray and now my Clae Garveys…

    ag on April 29, 2009 5:57 PM:

    Very nice list, I have a few that are similar. Here is my current rotation:

    1) LLB Bluchers
    2) Sperry Canvas Blue Boat Shoes
    3) Vintage Cole Haan Dirty Brown Saddle Shoes
    4) Rainbow Sandals for the beach

    Next purchases will be dark brown Clarks Desert Boots and vintage Made in USA Bass Weejuns!

    craig on May 5, 2009 7:28 PM:

    A little late I know, but what are your thoughts on wearing desert boots with shorts? I’ve tried with and without socks, chunky wool socks look best. But still feel weird wearing boots with sorts.

    Jerry on July 7, 2009 9:08 PM:

    Here’s my 10:
    1) Rod Laver
    2) White low chucks
    3) Clarks
    4) Brooks Bros. Shell Penny Loafers
    5) White Bucks
    6) Adidas Black Sambas
    7) Jack Purcells Black
    8) Jack Purcells White
    9) Tod’s Driving shoe chestnut
    10) Black Van lace-ups

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