Choose them well and then look after them and good leather shoes will repay you time and again…
Don’t skimp on quality
There are few fake materials that are as unforgiving as faux leather — it cracks and wrinkles easily, exposes wear and tear, feels uncomfortable because it’s so rigid, stinks like chemicals, and wears out rapidly. Just don’t even flirt with the idea — besides, that $50 or $100 saving won’t be looking like too clever an investment six months down the track when you’re forced to shell out for a new pair of shoes after the fake leather has worn out.
Do take care of them
Even real leather degrades if you don’t take care of it properly. That means giving your shoes a quick brush to remove any dirt and dust at the end of the day, inserting cedar shoe trees to absorb sweat and reduce odour, keeping them in a dark dry spot, and polishing them at least once a fortnight to extend their lifespan.
Don’t rock the wrong toe
“Don’t buy square-toed shoes” is advice that’s as obvious as saying “don’t splatter paint all over your shoes” or “don’t go for a stroll through a muddy cow paddock” . . . but going to another extreme is just as ugly. Clunky square toes look dreadful but so do knife-sharp pointy toes or perfectly circular toes — stick to a sophisticated curved toe like you’d find on the classic Oxford.
Do match them with your belt
Matching the colour of your shoes with your belt is one of menswear’s oldest commandments — and although it’s possible to break the rules and pair black and brown leather items with style, it’s a gamble that’s not worth the risk. Black and black might be conservative but it’s an idiot-proof combination with your formalwear, while brown and brown is less formal but equally reliable.
Don’t choose a rubber sole
A natural accompaniment of fake leather and square toes, an unholy trinity you need to avoid. Single or double leather is the most elegant material for quality dress shoes — sure, they’re not great in heavy rain, but it’s not like cumbersome rubber soles protect your feet like full-on Wellingtons, either. Also, the heel doesn’t need to tower too high — anything taller than an inch or so ventures into boot territory and undermines the sleek silhouette of classic leather dress shoes.