Suede shoes are stylish, soft, and tactile. A perfect summer shoe, but there are ways and means of wearing suede boots for winter, too. Most people would do well with a pair of suede shoes in their wardrobe, as they’re strikingly good looking and popular.
As an alternative to calf leather boots and shoes, the suede shoe is a softer, more casual approach to some of the same designs that you’ll recognise as formal footwear. This makes a suede shoe or boot perfect for smart casual settings, evenings at a bar, or dinner parties.
WHAT IS SUEDE?
Suede is a type of leather that uses the soft underside of hide for a high-quality feel and finish for items of clothing. Because of its soft and smooth texture, suede is often a premium fabric for shoes and instantly elevates your footwear from bog-standard to something special.
After tanning leather, it is split in to reveal the grain, which gives suede its distinctive texture. It was actually Edward, the Duke of Windsor, who brought suede shoes to popularity in Britain in the 1920s, despite suede being manufactured for centuries.
Colourful suede shoes are a popular, daring choice of footwear and have a slightly different style than other leather materials. Perhaps due to their popularity with rock ‘n’ roll stars such as Elvis Presley, who sang about Blue Suede Shoes in a way that cemented them in the Western cultural psyche for decades to come.
WHAT SHOULD YOU WEAR WITH SUEDE SHOES?
Depending on the scenario, there are a few different outfit styles that will work with suede shoes or suede boots. Of course, as with all fashion, you need to be able to correctly identify what kind of outfit will work best for you in the place that you’re going.
Suede is universally seen as less formal than other types of leather shoes, though that doesn’t mean it can’t be dressed up. In the current flexible-working climate, a suede version of a simple design such as a toecap or chelsea boot gives a casual edge to more formal clothing.
On the other hand, casual styles such as brogues and derbies can be further relaxed by being crafted from suede.
When matching a suede shoe to the rest of your outfit, a belt in a complimentary colour does most of the job for you – suede belts, although less common, are a wonderfully versatile addition and emphasise the softness of the shoes across the whole outfit.
DESERT BOOTS / CHUKKA BOOTS
One of the most iconic shoes that come in suede are called desert or chukka boots. These ankle-high boots with open facings and two or three eyelets are inspired by military boots in the early 20th Century. British soldiers found them in the Cairo markets, purchased them and replaced their leather boots because suede was much more comfortable in the heat.
When wearing chukka boots, you can wear jeans or chinos as these will generally work well. In fact, you could be bold and try wearing them with tailored cotton shorts.
SUEDE ANKLE BOOTS
These versatile boots are easy to wear and stylish for many outfits. Match with blue jeans and a jumper for a casual look, or a camel overcoat and navy trousers if looking for something a little more formal. A navy overcoat can work well with white chinos if you’re going for trendy.
In the hotter summer months, a summer blend suit will look fantastic paired with suede loafers; whether you prefer tassel loafers or penny loafers, you’ll find they look great in suede. If you’re opting for the no-socks look, we’d recommend wearing invisible socks instead of going barefoot. The moisture from your feet can soak into the shoe and make them difficult to maintain long-term, amongst other side effects. Be sure to dry out your loafers after each wear with wooden shoe trees to ensure their longevity.
Admittedly a rather broad category, suede brogues will look fantastic for the office as a smart casual look that will pair with trousers or a good pair of jeans. There are many brogue designs that can work well in suede, from monk shoes to Oxfords to Derbies. These shoes are all classic shoes that can adapt to many situations, and when crafted in a material like suede the traditional style becomes more versatile than you might first think.
Adding suede to a pair of trainers elevates the shoe into something that looks fashionable and is suited to more than just wearing for sports or casual walks to the shops. Many trainers that use suede will mix it with portions of leather, meaning that you have a visually interesting style that will arrest the eye.
These types of high-end suede trainers will look great paired with jeans, chinos, or even a tailored pair of shorts. To dress up with suede trainers, you can wear a sports jacket or wool blazer. Try and match the colour of your jacket to the shoes for the best overall appearance.
WEARING SUEDE SHOES AND BOOTS
Overall, suede boots and shoes are fantastic when substituting for similar styles. Suede can require some upkeep and maintenance to ensure it lasts, but the same can be said for other materials as well. You can gently brush suede with a rubber-bristled brush to remove markings, and a water-resistant spray ensures that water doesn’t mark or stain the soft material.