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Footwear to Solidify Your Wardrobe

These are the must-haves — from soft socks and long-lasting boots to trendy kicks and your daily wears.

new essentials footwear

A version of this story first appeared in Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today.

Although most men would argue they own too many shoes, footwear is the part of the wardrobe that's imbalanced most often — in my opinion, at least. If you love sneakers, for example, you probably own quite a few pairs of sneakers; same story if you're obsessed with boots. Rarely do men have a stable of solid options; affection for one type of footwear almost always leads to a shortage of others. Are you following?

Our list of new essentials covers all of the bases: boots, sneakers, sandals, socks and dress shoes. I'm clearly doing my best to justify buying one from each section, but surely adding just one (or two) to your rotation will greatly improve it — like when a sports team adds a few superstar players and suddenly wins a championship.

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new essentials footwear

Boots are the tires on your daily driver (you). They can trudge through snow, traverse tough terrain and top off a tonal fall outfit. Markers of good-quality boots are rebuildable, welted constructions like Goodyear and stitchdown, and full-grain leather like Horween Chromexcel. If you base your buy off these benchmarks, you’re bound to end up with a boot that’s comfortable, hard-wearing and long-lasting. They’ll earn a patina while promising longevity. If you ever planned on emptying your savings on something you wear, this is the category to do it in.


Flint Calf Suede Chelsea

Inspired by vintage Argentinian riding boots, Viberg's Chelseas are designed to last — and look damn good doing it. 

Trench Boot
Oak Street Bootmakers

Goodyear welt construction, Horween leather, Vibram toplift, a custom last and a leather sole? Check, check, check, check and check.

Moc Toe Boot
John Lofgren

"An archetype of a category built to the highest standards, from the best possible materials," Standard & Strange says of John Lofgren's Moc Toe Boots. We absolutely agree. Trust the experts (aka us and S&S).

new essentials footwear

Once considered a sartorial snafu, wearing New Balance sneakers is suddenly a very cool thing to do. Thanks in part to a long list of collaborations lending them street cred, the Boston-born company’s having one of its best years on record. They’ve clearly figured out the formula for success; while New Balance sneakers are everywhere, they're almost impossible to buy.


Made in the UK 991
New Balance

Made in the UK luxury from the New England brand.

Made in US 993
New Balance

Go gray or go home.

Made US 992
New Balance

This is an obvious exception to the "go gray or go home" rule I just established. 

new essentials statement loafers

Sneakerheads have realized that $300 can be used towards better shoes than one-off Jordans, and thus, they are turning to a new type of footwear: loafers.

There’s a new cohort of brands crafting loafers out of materials classic labels never felt compelled to touch — colorful pebble-grain leather, mohair, hairy suede, denim and more. These iterations represent the streetwearification of slip-on dress shoes but also a shift in what consumers value. As cool as sneakers may be, the obvious concerns remain: How will they hold up with regular wear and will they make the right impression?

Free yourself from Nike’s release calendar, quit checking what your recently ruined New Balances are running for on StockX. A pair of well-made loafers will hold up better over time.


The Ellis Penny Loafer
Blackstock & Weber

Zany all-over animal print? Yes.

Bit Leather and Suede Loafers

Lighten up a little. Get lifted loafers.

Contrast-Stitch Loafers
Stefan Cooke

No, you don't need to lace these, but they come visibly laced up — decoratively, clearly.

new essentials footwear sandals

There’s no sensible way to wear Birkenstocks in a snowy winter. Hence, they’re a three-season sandal: fine for fall, super in spring and the star of the show in summer. There are leather, suede, rubber and even vegan options nowadays.



Go green. Get Birkenstock Arizonas (in green suede).

Shearling Arizona

Shearling? Smart for winter. Shearling Birkenstocks? Not so smart for winter — unless you're living in warm, coastal California.


These are a little bit more acceptable than Arizonas, but your heels freeze just the same.

new essentials footwear

Let white sneakers become so embedded in your wardrobe that you lace them up on autopilot every morning. You won't have to worry about working to make them match — they go well with everything, from suits and wool trousers to mesh shorts and sweatpants. You can even choose one pair for dressing up, one for casual occasions and another for sportier settings if you're so inclined.


Club C 85 Vintage Sneakers

Vintage is in. And it sort of always has been. Get the best of both new and old with Reebok's retro Club C 85s.

Capri Triple White

These are the white sneakers I think of when someone says white sneakers. Make sense? 

Air Force 1

These are an elevated rendition of the famous AF1, because of a luxe new leather and suede accents.

new essentials footwear

Why not wear socks you can show off? Stop stockpiling your top drawer with six-packs by Fruit of the Loom and Gildan and get a few pairs from this trio of all-star Japanese brands: Kapital, Anonymous Ism and Rototo. They last longer, look better and subtly signal you know fashion — well, at least enough to know good socks when you see and feel them.


Recycled Wool Checkerboard Socks

Recycled wool + checkerboard print = pretty, pretty cool.

Brushed Animal Pattern Crew Sock
Anonymous Ism

Get a soft Japanese sock with a subtle, all-over animal print.

Smiley Heel Cotton-Blend Socks


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