There are so many things I wish I knew before I got into buying dress shoes. Let alone design and cosmetics and how to dress, and what shoes to wear with what outfit – I’m talking about shoes themselves.
Far too many of us (no shame if you’re one of them, I used to be) just go to the nearest big-box retailer or department store and get the first pair of “dress shoes” that looks nice. This is a huge – huge – mistake.
Even if you don’t customize your own shoes, there are certain things you should look for in construction that make a dress shoe or boot worth (or not worth) buying.
One is the quality of leather. First off, some producers use synthetics – steer clear of these – but others use genuine leather, which is “marketing talk” for low quality.
After having owned several pairs of “high-quality” genuine leather shoes, I can confidently say that they fall apart after a few seasons at most. Most shoemakers use low-quality genuine leather that is bonded together and delaminates (meaning it comes apart, literally – trust me) after a few months or seasons of wear.
Buy full-grain leather. It is made from one layer (without getting further into the details) of leather and will not come apart. Plus it ages beautifully, develops a pleasant patina with time, and is exceptionally tough. Full-grain leather will last for years and genuine leather will not.
Second, I learned about welts. Some shoes are made with cemented soles, meaning the soles are glued onto the bottoms of the shoes. These are not even worth buying. After a few miles (I wish this was an exaggeration) the soles will separate from the uppers and fall off. Then there’s nothing you can do.
The welt is the part of the shoe (typically a leather strip) through which the upper is sewn onto the shoe’s upper. Genuine Goodyear welts are the best. They protect the upper, and when the lugs or treads wear off your soles (leather, rubber, or otherwise) you can take them to a cobbler and have them re-soled.
Another thing I learned is the importance of a high-quality metal shank. The shank is a tempered piece of semi-rigid material that sits inside the sole, reinforcing it. Not only does a shank add structural stability to a sole, it lessens the wearer’s fatigue as it provides more support and rebound with each step.
All of that is important if you’re going to buy your dress shoes and boots from shoe designers. If you’re going to customize your own shoes, it’s even more important. You might be alright with paying more to design custom shoes – make sure you get what you pay for.
That’s why Idrese (Idrese.com) is the only place I will shop for custom shoes and boots. They have an easy-to-use online shoe design tool that allows you to customize by style – such as Chelsea boots, wholecuts, wingtips, oxfords, monk straps, and so on and so forth.
Their online tool allows you to customize your own shoes heel-to-toe (if you can excuse the pun!) with respect to the upper material, color, style, sole, and more. If you’re looking for custom shoes, Idrese is the answer, hands down.
Not only do they make it easy to customize your own shoes, but they only use premium materials and techniques, including full-grain leather and genuine Goodyear welts, in the construction of their shoes.
But if you can believe it (and at first I couldn’t) it gets better. Idrese sells direct to consumers. This means that you don’t need to pay a distributor or other retailer a premium. It’s the only place I know of where you can customize truly top-tier shoes and boots exhibiting old-world craftsmanship and quality, and pay surprisingly little.
Seriously, you won’t believe the prices of their dress shoes and boots. Visit their website (Idrese.com). You won’t regret it.