The ultimate guide to men’s winter shoes

Man wearing leather mens shoes on wet winter day

It’s time to think about upgrading your shoes for winter
Image: alexkatkov

There’s always someone who makes a point of under-dressing for the weather, but there’s nothing manly about not taking good care of yourself. A coat, hat, and an umbrella are essential components of your winter wardrobe – and so is a decent pair of quality leather shoes.

Here are some of the best options for keeping your feet warm and dry this winter, including non-slip shoes and boots to keep you upright no matter what the weather throws at you.

What are the best soles for winter shoes?

Prestige Oxford shoe with rubber sole from Samuel Windsor

Rubber Goodyear welted soles give your shoes traction and longevity
Image: Prestige Oxford shoe with rubber sole from Samuel Windsor

The old ways are often the best, and that’s true for your choice of soles too. Our top choice is Goodyear welting which offers the perfect combination of practicality and style. This process was invented over 150 years ago and uses a special machine to stitch soles to your shoes through a narrow band of leather called the welt.

The Goodyear method creates a warm dry cocoon for your feet – the welt covers the join between leather upper and the sole, and it, along with the sole can be replaced over and over again, making your favorite leather shoes last for many years.

Another method of attaching the sole to the upper is called Blake stitch – the sole is stitched directly to the upper with no welt. This also offers fair protection from the elements but, though it makes the sole more flexible, it doesn’t beat Goodyear welting for waterproofing.

Modern construction methods that use glue to create a powerful bond between synthetic soles and leather uppers arguably offer the best solution in terms of waterproofing, but shoes made this way are not as easy to repair, and so won’t last as long as traditionally made shoes.

Which are more water resistant – Oxfords or Derbys?

Prestige Davington Brogue from Samuel Windsor

Derbys are less water-resistant than Oxfords but they still make excellent fall/winter shoes
Image: Prestige Davington Brogue from Samuel Windsor

Oxfords are well recognized as the smartest choice for the office. But did you know that they’re more waterproof than their close cousin, the Derby (or Blucher) shoe? That’s because an Oxford has the vamp stitched under the eyelets, rather than left open, making it harder for water to get inside.

Oxford Brogues are a great choice for winter. Formerly the footwear of choice for Scottish gamekeepers – ghillies as they’re known in Scotland – the decorative perforations used to go all the way through the shoe to allow for free drainage when tracking game in boggy peatlands.

These days, the holes are for decoration and are stitched over the leather upper, affording an extra layer of protection from the elements, and giving the shoes a rugged, country aesthetic.

If you prefer Derbys for smart casual wear, go for a pair featuring rubber soles, and team them with corduroy pants, moleskins, or a pair of indigo jeans. A soft brushed cotton Tattersall shirt and a warm fisherman’s sweater complete the look.

Best leather boots for winter

Prestige Kensington Boot from Samuel Windsor

These stylish leather boots feature rubber Goodyear welted soles
Image: Prestige Kensington Boot from Samuel Windsor

Paired with the right pants, a pair of smart boots is perfectly acceptable for wearing to the office, as well as for other formal, semi-formal and smart casual occasions. A rubber soled Kensington boot with Goodyear welting is an excellent choice. Combining formal looks with extra warmth and support, it makes the perfect Fall and winter addition to your workwear wardrobe.

Alternatively, rubber soled Chelsea boots work well with everything from denim jeans through to cord, moleskin and flannel pants. And for slightly less formal occasions, a pair of country brogue boots looks great.

Looking for some tough weekend boots? We suggest the Cumbria. This smart casual boot has grippy rubber soles and soft, cushioned insoles for all day comfort. Wear your Cumbria boots with jeans or cords, a flannel shirt, rugged Nordic sweater and a waxed jacket for country walks.

Other winter footwear options

Prestige mens leather Boat Shoe from Samuel Windsor

Deck shoes perform well in winter
Image: Prestige Boat Shoe from Samuel Windsor

Who would have thought that the humble, summer-loving boat shoe or penny loafer would find a use during the harsh winter months? But if you live in any of the warmer states, this shoe style is far more versatile than you may have imagined.

If you choose a day when it’s not too cold and pair them with a warm pair of socks, boat shoes or loafers are the perfect way to add a touch of sunshine to your winter smart casual look. In fact, with their low ankle line, they’re a great opportunity to let a bright pair of wool socks shine.

Go for a loafer or boat shoe with a chunky sole. Designed to prevent sailors slipping on wet decks, they’re ideal for staying upright on winter sidewalks.

How to dry wet leather shoes correctly

Don’t dry wet leather shoes next to direct heat source

Don’t dry wet leather shoes next to a direct heat source
Image: Shutterstock

If your shoes or boots do get wet, it’s very important to dry them the right way or the leather can curl and crack. Never place leather shoes near a direct heat source or a fireplace.

Instead, stuff your shoes with newspaper and place them somewhere at room temperature, where there’s good airflow. Replace the newspaper if it becomes damp, and after 48 hours or so, your shoes should be dry. Make sure you treat them with a good shoe cream before you wear them again.

Look after your feet too. If your toes are cold and wet, put some fresh socks on along with a pair of quality leather slippers. Never warm your feet too quickly or you may live to regret it. Chilblains are a curse we can all do without.

Do you have a favorite pair of winter shoes? Do let us know by heading to our Facebook page and leaving us a message.

Posted in Men's Shoes.

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