Back when I framed houses in Seattle, there was one shoe to wear: Red Wing Boots. They broke in best, outlasted the competition, handled the weather, and protected my dogs from everything I dropped (hammer, tape, beams). That was 2008. Since then the hammer’s gone rusty and the Sawzall has transitioned from throwing sawdust to catching cobwebs. My hands aren’t so calloused anymore, and most of the time I’m wearing twill pants, not Cordura. And so the footwear reflects the times; now, in my current stage when versatility of wardrobe trumps any kind of workman heartiness, I turn to the suede oxfords.
Suede keeps it casual, oxford styling dresses it up. It’s like the work-appropriate shoe-mullet that parties with jeans, chinos or light colored suits. And while most suede sucks in inclement weather, Cole Haan’s Lenox Hill Split Oxford ($218) spites the elements. With a waterproof upper and a full rubber outsole, it lets you reach for suede without checking the forecast.
Yes, work boots have moved to become style icons rather than industrial companions in the past half decade, but I still find the oxfords more at home under a straight pant. I’ll save the boots for the job site and weekends, and employ a solid utility low-top for the hard work of everyday desk labor.