A good pair of leather shoes can be the perfect pairing to a fancy outfit or a classic pair of jeans. However, choosing the right pair of shoes is not always an easy process. From understanding animal hides and grains to deciphering between soles, there is a lot to analyze.
Here at FootFitter, we made your selection process a little easier with a guide on how to pick the best leather when you are out shoe shopping.
Consider your leather.
Not all leather is considered equal. Leather is first classified by its grain, or the outside appearance of your leather shoes. On top of that, it is essential to choose the right style of leather shoes for your outfit and personality.
Types of leather
It is first important to consider the way your leather shoes are procured. Some leather embraces its natural form. On the other hand, other forms utilize sanding processes and polishing. To realize the difference, we broke down their characteristics below.
Full-grain leather maintains its most natural form. Moreover, full-grain leather shoes will appear to be more textured. The reason for this is the animal hide that is used, which remains not sanded or buffed.
Typically, full-grain leather comes with a light stain and subtle aniline finish that showcases the natural features of the leather. This runs contrary to corrected-grain, which includes the sanding process and a thicker finish.
Among leather experts and enthusiasts, full-grain is considered the highest quality because it is more durable, lasts longer and is more breathable.
Corrected-grain leather shoes deconstruct the animal hide, sanding down the top layer to mask imperfections. This type of leather also utilizes a top coating that imitates the natural grain of leather.
Generally, in the shoe community corrected-grain leather is less valued because it does not allow the leather to breathe as much as full-grain.
Moreover, in leather shoes this causes your feet to be sweatier, smellier and less comfortable.
While corrected-grain leather may be the cheaper option short-term, it may not be as durable or long-lasting as full-grain leather, making the investment worth it.
It will make it a lot easier when purchasing new leather shoes, if you have some background knowledge about the style names. Listed below are some of the most popular and common styles.
what it’s known for: being the classic dress shoe
what makes it great: it does not show many blemishes while still maintaining durability
what it’s known for: being a favorite among military men
what makes it great: the soft but textured surface does not require polishing and is very durable
what it’s known for: its unique design
what makes it great: it uses a finish that makes it more weather-resistant
what it’s known for: being expensive but rare and high-quality
what makes it great: it can last for decades because it is made of horse hide
what it’s known for: its developing color and patina over time
what makes it great: shoes with changing colors can be matched to various outfits
Choose the right sole.
While your shoes’ soles spend most of their time facing the ground, they are not something that should be overlooked and forgotten. When it comes to choosing the proper soles for your shoes, price should take a backseat to comfort. After all, if you make the right investment you can gain use of your leather shoes for a decade or more.
The upside? Leather soles are durable and have the ability to contour to the natural shape of your foot. In addition, they maintain a clean shape and look over time. The downside? Leather can be pretty rigid and take some time to break-in. It will also be more expensive because of its properties to increase the longevity of your leather shoes.
Rubber soles may seem like the better choice because they seem more comfortable from the beginning and cheaper. However, rubber is also a lot easier to wear down. While the added shock-absorption may feel nice at the start of the day, after a long day of wear your feet will grow tired and uncomfortable from the inability of the rubber to mirror your foot’s natural curves.
Pick the right products to care for your new leather shoes.
Once you pick your perfect pair of leather shoes, it is important to protect your investment. That means purchasing a few products that will ensure your leather stays in the best shape possible.
A cedar shoe tree is a beneficial tool in your collection. First, it will help maintain the shape of your leather by imitating your foot while you are not wearing the shoes. In addition, it also helps refresh shoes after a long day and eradicate foul smells.
Shoe polish is useful for buffing away scuffs and stains and giving your leather shoes a mirror-like finish. It can transform your year-old shoes and make them look brand new again.