Spring Wardrobe: Footwear Guide Featuring Common Projects, Vans, Clarks, and More

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Spring is an interesting season in a sense that it’s incredibly unpredictable. Pleasantly warm sunshine one moment can in the blink of an eye become an inclement deluge. April showers bring May flowers, right?

Given the fortuitous nature of spring weather, it’s essential to employ a line of footwear that’s not only fashionable, but functional as well. Shoes are arguably the most subjective category of apparel as it seems like no two people have the exact same taste in footwear. That being said, be sure not to treat this as an authoritative guide of what one must buy to look good this season, but rather a reference for a handful of styles at a range of price points. Let’s get to it.

White Sneakers

Let’s face it–the minimalist white sneaker craze isn’t going anywhere, and I’m not complaining one bit. Low-cut white trainers can open up a lot of different styles in your wardrobe. An attractive and unobtrusive silhouette coupled with nearly limitless versatility might make some of your other footwear jealous. Nowadays, practically every footwear brand offers a simple unadorned white sneaker, so what should one look for? Well, for starters, I’d consider the uppers–leather or canvas. For my money, I’d go with leather; it’s often easier to clean, and it tends to hold up much better than lower-end textiles. Plus, it’ll better handle that surprise rain shower. That said, canvas is a great choice for when the temperature climbs.

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Vans Authentic Canvas Sneaker

Given the price, Vans offers a solid option in the form of the Authentic. Do note that the material is canvas which is, well, a canvas for stains. I’ve found my personal pair to be one of the hardest to clean stains off of; however, the retail price makes replacing them a little easier to swallow.

Adidas Stan Smith

Though practically its own meme in men’s fashion, the Adidas Stan Smith is as optimal a choice as ever. The most popular model is the white base with the Fairway Green heel. I’d shoot for the Triple White colorway, though a model with a colored heel is great way to add a splash of color to your outfit.

Buttero Tanino Low

Buttero is a renowned Italian shoemaker, and the Tanino is the brand’s take on the crisp, low-profile sneaker design. The shoe is comprised of untreated Vachetta leather (the same leather used by high-end bag makers for trimming), so it will develop a beautiful patina over time. The Tanino exhibits little ornamentation, drawing instead attention to the simplicity of the form.

Common Projects Achilles Low

Common Projects is undeniably at the forefront of  the white leather sneaker trend, having led the way many years ago with their iconic Achilles Low model.  Though far from cheap, the CP Achilles is the culmination of elegance and simplicity when it comes to minimal footwear, and the slim silhouette, high quality leather, and stitched sole make for an extremely versatile and hard-wearing sneaker.

Boat Shoes

Arguably the most iconic warm weather American footwear, boat shoes were invented roughly 80 years ago by Paul A. Sperry (who later founded Sperry Top-Sider) for the purpose of providing grip on the wet deck of a vessel. They’ve since deviated from their original function and have established themselves as a staple component of casual and preppy wardrobes. Boat shoes look best with chino shorts or cuffed pants and are generally worn without socks, though I’d definitely recommend some no-show liners for added comfort and to eliminate foot odor. Boat shoes are typically constructed of canvas or leather, though I personally prefer the latter.

L.L. Bean Casco Bay Boat Shoes

One of the least expensive options for a fundamental boat shoe, the Casco Bay from L.L. Bean balances style with value and features leather construction, tonal stitching, and a hard-wearing rubber sole.

Sperry Authentic Original

Perhaps the most popular model of boat shoe on the market, Sperry’s A/O is an excellent mid-tier offering with plenty of different color combinations and leather finishes. For under $100, they take the cake.

Rancourt Read

Those looking for a higher quality, American-made option should consider the Read from Rancourt. Boasting true hand-sewn moccasin construction and high-end American Horween leather uppers, the Read is certain to turn heads. Fun fact: Rawlings sources Horween leather for its professional baseball gloves.

Loafers

Penny loafers (AKA Weejuns) are characterized by a low-cut, laceless silhouette constructed of leather or suede. They’re as classic as it gets when it comes to footwear (their origin can be traced back to Norwegian dairy farmers) and they’ve played a consistent role in in menswear since the 1930s. Stylistically, they’re relatively versatile, though younger guys might be hesitant to incorporate them into their wardrobes. They’re sometimes ornamented with tassels, which is a love-it-or-hate-it addition, and they’re generally offered in brown or black. My preference is for brown, which allows for more wardrobe options in terms of color–something you want to play with in the warmer months ahead.

Bass Larson Penny Loafer

Bass was the first company to bring the loafer to market, and to this day they produce many of their classic and iconic styles, one of which is the Larson. It features a stacked leather sole, full leather uppers, and is available in a multitude of colors.

Rancourt Pinch

Handmade in Maine, Rancourt’s Pinch penny loafers offer a higher-end option featuring true hand-sewn moccasin construction and Horween leather uppers. You can find them on an Amazonas rubber camp sole for a more casual and youthful look, or on a stacked leather sole for a more traditional take. Rancourt will also resole you shoes for a nominal fee, so they’re certainly designed to last.

Quoddy Penny Moc

Quoddy hits the nail on the head with its classic loafer with a twist–a Vibram wrap sole designed for ultimate durability. If you’re not familiar with Quoddy, you might be interested (or rather shocked) at the expansive selection of customization options. From the upper leather/suede construction down to the color of thread to sew it all together, this Maine-made loafer is sure to satisfy all tastes.

Chukkas

Characterized by suede or leather construction, open lacing, and a frame ending at the ankle, chukka boots have a place in every man’s wardrobe. Though they can be worn with shorts, I would advise sticking to denim or chinos. Taking that into consideration, chukkas can also be worn throughout the fall with a thicker sock, so they’re great transitional shoes. One particular and popular variation of the chukka is the desert boot, which was originally worn by British officers in the Second World War. Chukkas are an excellent choice for those seeking a simple boot for both casual wear and slightly dressier occasions.

Clarks Original Desert Boots

Admittedly, I have an affinity for Clarks Desert Boots. Not only are they competitively priced at $80-$120, but the sheer selection of leather finishes and colors is impressive in itself. The Beeswax leather is by far the most versatile, but I’m also a fan of Sand Suede–a great lighter option for warmer weather.

Red Wing Heritage Work Chukka

Red Wing’s US-made chukkas feature Goodyear welt construction and a contrasting white sole that compliments the bold color of the leather. They’re a much more structured boot than the aforementioned style from Clarks, so they’ll serve you better on slightly cooler days.

This wraps up the second installment of our spring wardrobe series. If you missed the previous post on jackets, go check it out. Feel free to drop a comment/suggestion in the comments!

Frank was born, raised, and currently resides in Philadelphia. He has a passion for menswear, watches, and the great outdoors. Frank is an active member of Reddit’s r/watches and r/malefashionadvice communities and manages @stylesofman on Instagram as a means of providing inspiration to young men looking to better their fashion sense.
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  • Efreeti

    Agreed. Obvious selection but style-wise there is nothing to argue about.
    Thanks for article!

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