Winter has befallen Britain, the charming chaos has commenced; the ground is wet, the roads icy and the trains have started their inevitable grind to a halt. As such it is quite likely we shall all need to do a little bit more walking. However the number of thoughtless oddbods I see out there carelessly slipping around like a Daddy Long legs on ice in a pair of Converses or unwittingly wrecking Suede in deep snow has led me deduce that some of you might need a hand when picking winter shoes.
Lesson One: Wear a boot.
You should also probably be picking something that gives you a bit of grip. Go with a Commando or Dainite sole. A Commando sole looks better on a more rugged, work based boot, it also gives you the best grip. The Dainite adds some tread to a more formal, stylish shoe without making it look too weighty. Both have their merits and the choice really comes down to buyer discretion.
Lesson Two: Look after them, and they will look after you.
No boot is indestructible, if you are going to make the investment, then you should probably take steps to maintain it. Simple actions, such as spraying your shoes with Scotchgard before heading out in wet conditions and using Ceder wood Shoe Trees and Boot Shapers to help absorb moisture, keep the shape and really do help. These do entail an initial cost but will save you money in the long run by enabling the leather on your boots to age dutifully rather than decay and fall apart. To clean use a Saddle Soap rather than water, as it will help nourish the leather rather than dry it out.
And so, the recommendations:
I) Cheaney X Private White V.C ‘Scott’ Derby Boot, £335 (www.privatewhitevc.com)
Two of our favourite British manufacturers have teamed up to create The Scott, a warm, shearling lined Derby Boot. Handmade in Northampton with an ‘will-age-well’ Almond country colour grain leather and a Maracca suede grain. Finished with that useful Dainite rubber sole.
II) Red Wing Moc Lug, £206.10
This is the model that originally made Red Wing famous over in the States. Everything about it has been built to endure hardships and last a lifetime. It is made with Briar Oil Slick Leather (which Red Wing make themselves at the S.B.Foot Tannery in Minnesota) durable, long lasting Taslan laces, a Commando Sole, and that ubiquitous mark of a well made shoe; Goodyear welting.
III) L.L.Bean ‘Bean’ (or ‘Duck’) Boots, £137.60
Well I had to throw in a curveball somewhere… Given the dominance of the Wellington Boot here in Britain (something I noticed that has now spread to New York, a place suspiciously devoid of mud) The Duck Boot is very rarely seen in the UK. However given their hunting pedigree; full grain leather, Thinsulate insulation and inner steel shanking for support, it’s a pretty fair choice. The rather unique chain-tread sole works on the same principle as chaining a tyre in the snow. And they can be worn rather stylishly..
IV) Dubarry Galway Boot, £299
Possibly the least stylish and most practical choice here, Dubarry is the footwear choice for the European gentry (they’re named after a French courtesan) when toting antique Berreta rifles across the countryside in search of inbred wildfowl. The Leather is specially treated to absorb less moisture and age well. The soles are directly moulded to the upper to create one study piece giving it the perfect seal against water and snow. They are also ‘stirrup friendly’ should you feel the need to commandeer a nearby horse.
V) Alfred Sargent Hannover Boot, £345 (apairoffineshoes.co.uk)
Back to Northampton for our final choice. These beautiful handmade Wing Brogue boots, wrapped in rustic Walnut grain calfskin leather (with a Goodyear welted rubber Commando sole) make sure that even in poor weather, a man can still make a sartorial point.
Boots are, on a whole best worn with a slim trouser as they tend draw the eye downwards. I personally like to either tuck my trouser into a pair of thick woolen socks or roll mine them a little, just to show of that I am indeed wearing a boot, like so (Falke ‘Walkie’ socks are good for this, £17 www.oipolloi.com) :