Dr. Martens Women’s Pascal Boots Review – $135

In 1960 the first pair of Dr. Martens boots left their Northamptonshire factory in the English Midlands. In the time since then, Dr. Martens have become an icon, embraced by rebellious British youth championing working-class style. Today we’ll be taking a look at the Dr. Marten Women’s Pascal Boots.

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ABOUT

This is the third pair of Dr. Martens footwear that we’ve reviewed here. Read our review of their 1460 ForLife Boots here, and the Made in England Weaver Shoes here.

Based in England, Dr. Martens’ impact on youth culture and beyond can be seen around the globe. They’re innovative, yet steeped in tradition – cutting edge but always paying tribute to their past. Dr. Martens is a brand that seems to cross multiple generations these days. You’re just as likely to see a 40 year old dude sporting a pair of Docs as you are an angst filled teen in one of their latest boot styles.

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CONSTRUCTION & FUNCTION

The Pascals are Goodyear-welted, with a chain-stitched and heat-sealed upper and sole. The welt itself is also chain stitched to the upper and insole. This construction makes the boots quite sturdy and able to stand up to the elements. The leather is a tight grain, soft Nappa leather. It is stitched in single, double, and triple rows with a matching thread to create a nice, smooth look and allows the main focus to be on the signature AirWair sole and contrast stitching Dr Martens in known for.

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Dr. Marten shoes are well-known for their AirWair soles, which was born out of a partnership with a German duo in the late 1950s. The AirWair sole is an air-cushioned, extremely comfortable to wear sole that is oil resistant, offers excellent long term wear, and great traction. My mom – the lucky recipient of these shoes – is a Registered Nurse  who specializes in home health care. She is on her feet for hours at a time, and is able to wear these shoes all day long with no issues.

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AESTHETIC

These boots have the classic DM aesthetic, with the thick, yellow thread used for the contrast stitching and the hefty, tan AirWair sole. They are a bit slimmer and tighter than some of the industrial boot styles, which works perfectly for a ladies’ boot. The front part of the sole is also a bit thinner, which makes for a slightly less imposing boot with a smaller silhouette. The Dress Blues color is versatile and matte, making it easy to pair with plenty of outfits.

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THE ORIGINAL LINE vs THE VINTAGE LINE

When it comes to Dr. Martens, there is some debate about the quality of the Original Line, which is made in Vietnam. DM offers a “Vintage” Line (Made in England series), which is still made in England. In my experience, boots from the Vintage line have higher quality leather and more solid construction. The Vintage Pascal comes in a shiny black brush-off leather, with a matching black sole. And usually, the debate ends with the ultimate question of economics. How much do you want to spend? The answer is purely up to you and your budget.

If you have the money, I’d suggest spending the extra $100 and upgrading to the Vintage Pascals, which will last quite a bit longer with a more custom fit. (The Vintage 1460s are a unisex boot in a similar style.) However, if you are mostly concerned with getting the Dr. Marten aesthetic, the Original Line will suit you perfectly. Both lines are very sturdy, well built, and feature the hefty sole and classic heel loop that are so iconic to the brand.

CONCLUSION

The Dr. Marten Women’s Pascal Boots are a great choice for ladies looking for that iconic Dr. Martens look at an affordable price of $135. With their slimmer silhouette, the Pascals are a great asset to any ladies’ wardrobe. They are comfortable for all-day wear right out of the box and stand up to the elements like a champ.

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Nicks Boots 6″ Roberts Boots Follow Up Review

“Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future…” Dang – was Steve Miller ever spot on with that line! 2015 has moved along at warp speed it seems. It’s hard to believe it’s late October already! So, what does that mean? It is just a sign that I’m behind on some follow up reviews. So, here goes an update on my awesome 6″ Roberts Boots from Nick Boots.

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These boots rock. There. I’m done.

Seriously, they do. But, let me expound a little bit. I’ve been wearing my Roberts for a little more than a year now. As I mentioned in my first review, the folks at Nicks Boots state that it takes 80-100 hour of using the boots to get them properly broken in. Since getting past that break in, these boots have become more and more comfortable with time and use. At this point, they are completely ‘molded’ to my feet and are definitely an all day boot. These are not lightweight boots. And, the heel is substantial too. But, that “legendary arch” works its magic and comfort rules.

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I did remove the decorative tongue insert. It’s just a personal preference – I like the way the boots look without them. These boots look fantastic and show virtually no wear whatsoever. That’s not for a lack of wear either. I’ve used these boots consistently this past year wearing them at least once, twice, or more almost every week.

It does take time to get a pair measured specifically for your feet. But, the time is well worth it along with the financial investment. The return is a pair of boots that you will continue to feel better on your feet each time you slip them on and are easy to maintain as far as keeping up their appearance. If you’re shopping for boots north of the $400 price point ($439 to be exact), you should definitely consider going the custom route with a beautiful, hard wearing pair of Roberts from Nicks Boots. If you’re in a rush, you can order a pair of stock built 6″ Roberts for $429. Personally, I’d spend the paltry $10 more and get a pair made specifically for my feet.

 

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Steve Madden Romah Wingtip Oxford Review – $120

I have been a lover of shoes since I was a child. I always wanted to have the newest and coolest styles, and was never really content with the shoes I had. Unfortunately, I haven’t changed much in that regard. I have enough shoes in my closet for many women to be envious. Shoes are still one of my favorite things to own and Steve Madden has impressed me with their Romah Wingtip Oxford.

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About

Steve Madden has been an iconic footwear name for many years in the women’s fashion scene. After such a successful 10-year stint there, Steve Madden Men’s line was launched. Starting as a primarily casual offering, Steve Madden Men’s has evolved into a funky lifestyle brand that guys of all ages should include in to their wardrobe. Their purpose is to offer men as many different styles as possible, all at a high-quality, wallet-friendly price.

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Construction

The Steve Madden Romah is constructed with a full leather upper, synthetic sole, and an extremely comfortable fabric inner lining. The shoes are assembled in China, and brought back into the United States. The leather on this shoe is a very soft, polished leather that has age beautifully after several months of use. While some people like their dress shoes to develop a patina and worn-in look, the Romah Wingtip Oxford was not constructed to do so. The leather is very scratch resistant and will maintain the clean, sophisticated tan color.

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Function

This shoe is designed to be worn with anything from summer wear and bright colors to chinos and muted colors for the colder weather. Because it is lace less, it really functions as a casual yet dressy Oxford. Steve Madden is famous for the spunky, funky, do-what-you-want look, and these shoes are a perfect example of the lifestyle brand they have successfully created. I have used these shoes many times for casual summer evenings and even a little more dressy outings such as business meetings. Each time, I had numerous friends and family members ask about the shoes. The Romah is a funky shoe for the independent man that has functioned flawlessly and become my go-to casual shoe.

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Aesthetic

Steve Madden has done a wonderful job designing this shoe. Because of the unique brogueing trim and perforated medallion toe, the Roma is truly a do it all Oxford. The sleek tan color and no-nonsense shine of the Roma is perfect for a stylish, do it all shoe that most men should have in their closet. The lace less aspect of the Roma is the most important. Because the shoe does not have any laces, it exudes the casual, classy look. But the beautiful brogueing and sleek lines strengthen the dressy, modern side of the shoe. This feature is really what sold me on the quality and overall desirability. I do not own any other shoes like this, and Steve Madden has done an excellent job and will keep me coming back.

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Conclusion

The Romah Wingtip Oxford has proved to be a staple in my ever-growing wardrobe. The beautiful tan color, perfect brogueing, and lace less feature really turn this shoe into a perfect example of Steve Madden design. If you are looking for a funky, do-it al shoe, check them out. To purchase the Romah, use the Steve Madden Amazon store. The store has the Romah Wingtip Oxfords on sale for $63.00. This is a deal you shouldn’t pass up.

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Timberland Women’s Brookton 6-Inch Classic Boots Review – $120

Timberland boots are a beloved classic, formerly relegated to menswear only. We recently reviewed the Men’s 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots, one of their most recognizable products. The Women’s Earthkeeper Brookton 6-inch Classic Boots have a similar aesthetic, but are a bit rounder and lighter.

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ABOUT TIMBERLAND

Timberland can trace its roots all the way back to 1920s Boston, where Nathan Schwartz began his career as an apprentice stitcher. Schwartz and his family grew the company and, in the 1950s introduced an innovative injection-molding technique that allowed them to waterproof their boots. In 1973, they introduced the “Timberland” brand, and the rest is history. Timberland is now a huge clothing and footwear brand that operates stores worldwide. Their company headquarters are in Stratham, New Hampshire.

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CONSTRUCTION & FUNCTION

The leather uppers are made of full-grain nubuck, with a tan sole and foam insoles. The biggest difference between the Brooktons and the classic men’s 6-Inch boots is the sole. The Brookton trades the hefty rubber sole for a lightweight EVA sole. This has its pros and cons. The biggest upsides are the boots’ weight and flexibility. These boots are insanely light while still being pretty sturdy and protective. The downside is that EVA compresses pretty quickly and isn’t going to withstand tons of wear. So far, though, they’ve stood up to the elements well.

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These boots take a bit of time to break in, so I’d recommend doubling up on socks for the first few wears. After that, they are surprisingly comfortable, with padding on the midsoles and heel, as well as a padded collar for a pleasant ankle fit and mobility. **Side note: Timberland has a pretty impressive commitment to sustainable and climate-friendly manufacturing. You’ll notice a lot of their shipping and manufacturing materials are recycled or biodegradable. You can read more about that here.**

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AESTHETIC

The Wheat Nubuck is the classic yellow color associated with Timberlands, with white stitching along the quarter to set them apart from classic 6-inch Timbs. They look great and go with nearly everything, especially skinny denim. The downside of this color is that they stain pretty easily. You can pick up a suede & nubuck cleaner pretty much anywhere, including on the Timberland website, and I’d recommend doing so if you like your boots to look pristine.

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The Brooktons come with two colors of 100% post-consumer recycled laces, in tan and brown. There are also two other leather options if you’re looking for a darker color. Dark Brown, with the same light color sole, and Black Nubuck with a cute grey and pink sole.

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CONCLUSION

So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the Timberland Women’s Earthkeeper Brookton 6-inch Classic Boots. They have proven to be a great choice for boots on the lower end of the price range. If you’re looking for a non-imported boot that can be resoled and last 5+ years, save up for a different boot and spend a couple hundred more dollars. If you’re looking for a classic streetwear aesthetic but don’t want to commit to a heavy sole, these are a good choice. The Timberlands are a very good price at $120, and you can often find them on sale. Casually, you’ll probably get a solid four years out of these boots, and their timeless look won’t go out of style any time soon. They’ll stand up to the elements and look good doing it.

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Rossi Boots 343 Musk Boots for Women Review – USD $118

There may be a contender in my family as far as who ends up with the most boots. While I still enjoy a fairly healthy lead, my wife is coming on strong with her own collection. Recently she added a new style of boots to her ‘fashion arsenal’ from Australia’s Rossi Boots. This new addition is the Rossi 343 Musk Boots.

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About

This is the second review we’ve done for Rossi Boots. Our first featured a pair of their men’s boots (which are awesome and will be featured in a follow up review shortly). Based in Adelaide, Australia Rossi Boots knows a thing or two about footwear design. They’ve been in the business since 1910. They’re well-known and extremely popular down under…and we’re trying to help people around our parts discover the awesomeness of their footwear.

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Construction

The Musk Boots are made with full grain kip leather. Kip leather is a soft, luxurious cowhide. It’s often used in high-end baseball gloves because it offers superior flexibility while still retaining high tensile strength and durability. The color is claret (a deep brown with hints of red mixed in there). Designed as a work boot, they have also become a popular all day, fashionable boot. The V-cut design features a leopard print elastic fabric. The boot features Rossi’s signature air cushioned sole with a molded heel. A lighter, contrasting heavy duty thread is double stitched and provides a nice detail to the overall design.

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Aesthetic

The Musk Boots are a completely new design for my wife. She’s never had a pull on boot in this style. When they came out of the box, she was immediately pleased with the color and style. While this is a traditional style of boots in Australia and many other areas around the world, it’s not a routinely seen boot here in the US. Her reaction after wearing them a few times is, “it’s a great style, works extremely well in just about any casual setting and with almost any pant style”. While they’re billed as a “work boot”, she uses them as a daily boot. And, they look great on her. She’s received lots of compliments from those at her office and the patients that she sees routinely. The style is not gaudy or over the top, even with the playful leopard print accent. In fact, it’s understated and the boots just exude a look of confidence, comfort, and a relaxed style.

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Functionality

Comfort is king when it comes to any kind of footwear that is billed as having “all day comfort”. The Rossi Musk Boots certainly meet that claim. The air cushioned sole and soft leather definitely provide all day comfort. The elastic V-cut provides flexibility and proper “snug-ness” in fit. Sizing is spot on. Just remember, that it is UK based sizing, so be sure to refer to their sizing chart.

The finger loops on the front and back of the boots make them easy to slip on and off. The over ankle height is perfect and provides good stability when walking over any type of terrain. The sole is provides great grip and isn’t too ‘chunky’ in appearance. Probably one of the best features that she’s noted is the overall weight of the boots. They’re nice and light, which is a huge plus when you’re wearing boots in an all day situation.

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Conclusion

My wife’s recommendation? “If you can find these in the US, get a pair.” All of the online retailers I’ve found that sell the 343 Musk Boots are located within Australia. When ordering, you may find the boots for much lower prices than the retail price listed here in the review – but, be prepared for some hefty shipping charges too. So, do your homework and find the best deal possible. At the USD $118 price, the 343 Musk Boots are definitely worth every penny. The leather quality, construction process, comfort, and durability will make you a Rossi Boots customer for life.

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Dr Martens Made in England Weaver Shoes Review – $350

It’s always fun to find a shoe that can easily pull double duty. With the new Dr. Martens Weaver Made in England shoe, you get just that dual feature. The Weaver can easily be worn as a casual shoe. In fact, it is a great warm weather shoe due to the woven style and you’re encouraged to wear them sans socks. But, for those times when you need to up your fashion game slightly above ‘casual’, the Weavers are an excellent choice.

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About

This is the second pair of Dr. Martens footwear that we’ve reviewed here. Read our review of their 1460 ForLife Boots here.

Dr. Martens is a cultural icon. They’ve been producing leather footwear for decades. Based in England, their impact on youth culture and beyond can be seen around the globe. They’re innovative, yet steeped in tradition – cutting edge but always paying tribute to their past. Dr. Martens is a brand that seems to cross multiple generations these days. You’re just as likely to see a 40 year old dude sporting a pair of Docs as you are an angst filled teen in one of their latest boot styles.

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Construction

This pair of Dr. Martens is part of their Made In England series of footwear, which is crafted in their original Northhamptonshire factory. It’s made with what they call “Beaumont” analine calfskin leather on the upper. It’s soft and supple. The upper and sole are sewn together, not merely glued. Combined with their unique Z welt-stitch and heat-sealing process, makes it a unique process to Dr. Martens. This is the only construction that is stitched on the outside and helps footwear take the shape to the foot. The Goodyear welt is chain stitched to the upper and insole. The outsole is then sewn to the welt around the edge and then heat sealed to create a very sturdy, long wearing shoe. The sole is the original Dr. Martens air-cushioned sole, providing underfoot comfort and durability since 1960. It is oil- and fat-resistant, tough, and offers good abrasion and slip resistance.

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Aesthetic

The Dr. Martens Weaver is a great looking shoe. The brogue inspired woven lacing is what really makes it a stand out shoe. It’s an attention getter and elicits comments and questions every time I step out in public with them.

The waxy black leather feels great to the touch. They feel great when wearing these barefoot too.

The contrast between the deep black color of the upper and the natural color of the welt sets the shoes off very nicely. Thin, waxed laces stay out of the way so as not to distract the eye from the unique laced/woven brogue patterns.

Not only is the lace pattern a nice feature on the top and sides of the shoe, but it does an excellent job of ventilation for your feet on those warmer days.

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Function

These shoes are comfortable. That should go without saying since they’re Dr. Martens. Their legendary air-cushioned sole provides a cushy, comfortable experience for your feet. It’s a long lasting sole too so don’t be concerned there.

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The only apparent drawback I can see with these shoes is they are limited to three seasons for me. Due to the lacing on the shoe, they will not perform well in cold, wet weather. If you live in Florida or California, you’ve got the ideal climate for year round usability with the Weavers.

I only point that out not to necessarily be a negative…just to say I won’t be wearing these again until next spring. And, that is unfortunate because these are some cool, stylish, comfortable shoes that give true all day comfort. But, I’ll be super excited to get them out when the seasons change again!

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Conclusion

At $350 the Weavers are somewhat expensive. But, they certainly meet the “you get what you pay for” adage. Attention to detail on these shoes is fantastic. The build quality is excellent. The styling and versatility make them unique standouts. You’ll wear them for many, many seasons. So, they’re definitely worth the initial investment. Your feet will be happy…and you’ll be happy because you’re going to like the way you look with the Weavers on your feet.

 

BOSTON BOOT CO CAMBRIDGE BOOT REVIEW – $200

As the ill fated Ned Stark would say, Winter is coming. While stowing away our flip flops and sunblock might seem like a real downer, the absence of men’s capris and the chance to dress up a little bit more seem like a good tradeoff. We’re excited to look at Boston Boot Co’s Cambridge Boot as a viable footwear option.

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ABOUT

Dubbed Boston’s first Micro-Shoery, Boston Boot Co launched after a massively successful Kickstarter campaign in December of 2013. With over 30 years of combined experience in business and the shoe industry, founders Joe Lyons and Joe Prew established the brand with the aim of making small batches of highly crafted footwear. Free from the constraints of corporate bureaucracy, Boston Boot Co focuses on making the best boot possible. They currently offer various designs ranging from dressy wingtips to rugged chukkas.

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CONSTRUCTION

The immediate appeal of the Cambridge Boot is its use of waterproof Horween 2.0-2.2mm Chromexcel leather. The pull up (changing of colors due to bending or pulling due to natural oils) on this leather is amazing. Rawhide laces from Kentucky based Auburn Leather Co are kept in place with 10 mm copper eyelets which are anodized for added protection. The Lining is calf leather and the triple density footbed with gel cushioning provides the comfort. A natural leather welt is used, which is the strip of leather that runs along the perimeter of the outsole. The outsole itself is a lightweight high-density blown rubber. Boots weigh in at approximately 2lbs 9 oz.

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FUNCTION

The Cambridge is a pretty versatile boot that performs well in a variety of situations.  The thumb tab on the heel makes for easy fitting. The high density insole coupled with the blown rubber outsole usually associated with running shoes provides for a boot that wears more like a shoe and is very comfortable. While I’ve never been a fan of rawhide laces due to their tendency to come untied, I can’t deny their aesthetic. The Auburn laces are pretty supple though and hold a lot longer than other laces I’ve tried. In cold weather, I’d definitely recommend some thick wool socks, as the Cambridge is not insulated. I actually prefer them this way as they can be worn across a wide range of weather conditions. The waterproof Horween definitely delivers as water glides right off, and with the welt construction I wouldn’t worry stepping in deeper puddles. I would have really liked to have had a gusseted tongue though, as it would prevent water and debris from entering the boot and making the Cambridge truly go anywhere. Traction is really good and the moderate outsole pattern can handle city streets and dirt paths adequately. All in all, the Cambridge is great for the shoe wearer who wants a boot but desires the flexibility and comfort of a casual shoe.

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AESTHETIC

These are some damn good looking boots. The subdued orange outsole provides a snappy contrast to the sumptuous Horween leather. The welt coloring matches the stitching and the almost idiosyncratic attention to detail really completes the look. The eyelets are silver colored but the top is red, which gives some understated styling without showboating. The Boston Boot Co overlapping B symbols adorn the outer side heels. No loose threads, no separation on the welt and even stitching make you think some souls were sold in the fabrication of these boots.

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CONCLUSION

If you’ve been spending the last few weeks looking for boots and weren’t satisfied with the current selection in large retail chains, then Boston Boot Co’s Cambridge Boot certainly warrants a second look. Made with top quality materials and priced rather fairly, they are a solid purchase.

Timberland Men’s 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots Review – $190

Timberland boots are one of those menswear items that have become an icon. Whether you’re a construction worker or Kanye, Timberland boots will probably fit into your aesthetic. From ladies’ footwear to accessories to luggage, Timberland has it all, but their Men’s 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots are by far their most recognizable product.

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ABOUT TIMBERLAND

Timberland can trace its roots all the way back to 1920s Boston, where Nathan Schwartz began his career as an apprentice stitcher. Schwartz and his family grew the company and, in the 1950s introduced an innovative injection-molding technique that allowed them to waterproof their boots. In 1973, they introduced the “Timberland” brand, and the rest is history. Timberland is now a huge clothing and footwear brand that operates stores worldwide. Their company headquarters are in Stratham, New Hampshire.

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CONSTRUCTION & FUNCTION

Whether you’re wearing these for work or play, you’re going to want your boots to be durable and waterproof, especially considering the fact that they’re pretty heavy. The leather uppers are directly attached and are sealed at the seam so they stay waterproof. The hefty rubber sole is the most important part of these boots, giving you great traction and the knowledge that you’ll never wear through the sole. The only issue I’ve noticed is that the rubber soles can be a little squeaky!

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These boots are surprisingly comfortable, with thick padding on the midsoles and heel, as well as a padded collar for a pleasant ankle fit and mobility. They’ll also keep your feet warm, thanks to their built-in Primaloft ECO insulation, made from 50% recycled plastic. **Side note: Timberland has a pretty impressive commitment to sustainable and climate-friendly manufacturing. You’ll notice a lot of their shipping and manufacturing materials are recycled or biodegradable. You can read more about that here.**

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AESTHETIC

The Wheat Nubuck is of course the classic yellow color associated with Timberlands, but this Rust Nubuck comes pretty close, and has a richer color and texture. They look great and go with nearly everything, especially denim. The downside of this color is that they stain pretty easily, especially if you wear them as actual workboots. You can pick up a suede & nubuck cleaner pretty much anywhere, and I’d recommend doing so if you like your boots to look pristine.

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There are also quite a few other options if you’re looking for a darker color. Smooth Black, Black Nubuck, Dark Chocolate Nubuck, Black/Olive Hainsworth, and Chestnut/Navy Hainsworth, some with different color soles.

The laces are made of 100% recycled nylon. If you want to be really cool, you can leave them untied and flip the tongue out, but you have to be pretty stylish to pull that off. Either way, these are going to look great.

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CONCLUSION

So far, the Timberland Men’s 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots have proven to be a great choice for boots on the lower end of the price range. If you’re looking for a non-imported boot that can be resoled and last 5+ years, save up for a different boot in the $375+ price range. The Timberlands are a good price at $190, and you can often find them on sale. Casually, you’ll probably get a solid three or four years out of these boots, and their timeless look won’t go out of style any time soon. And if you’re not totally convinced on the more classic Wheat or Rust Nubuck style, the other leather and sole colors differentiate themselves enough to look like a separate boot altogether. They’ll stand up to the elements and look good doing it.

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Hanwag Men’s Tashi Boots Review – $425

How many times have you heard someone say, “well, my boots are made from yak leather”? I can honestly say that, before this year, I didn’t know anything about yak leather. But now…not only do I KNOW about yak leather – I have a pair of awesome yak leather hiking boots from an great company called Hanwag.

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About Hanwag

This is the second feature from Hanwag here on BestLeather. Recently we published a review on a pair of hiking boots for ladies, which you can read here.

Hanwag is a German company that’s been around since 1911. They have a strong following throughout Europe and are seeing the brand successfully grow in the United States now. They’re dedicated to environmentally friendly processes, sustainable processes, and producing high quality products.

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Construction

As mentioned earlier, the Tashi Boots are made with Tibetan yak leather. The chrome free yak leather features an eco-friendly, sustainable technology used during manufacturing process. The leather is 2.2 to 2.6 millimeters thick. This leather is sourced exclusively from the Lhasa Leather Factory in Tibet.

"The Yak" by Nadeemmushtaque - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Yak.jpg#/media/File:The_Yak.jpg
“The Yak” by Nadeemmushtaque

Quick rabbit trail: Yaks are hardy animals that thrive in their normal 4000 meter, relatively barren landscape. The animal provides many benefits to its owners over its lifetime. When the yak’s hide is tanned into leather, it has a naturally raw texture, not uniform at all. This gives each Tashi Boot a unique character.

The boots are double stitched, feature a rugged resoleable Vibram sole, and are handmade In Germany with materials exclusively sourced within Europe.

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Function

This is the really fun part. I’ve worn out many different pairs of hiking boots over the years. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on functionality and performance here. To put it succinctly…these boots rock.

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They are comfortable and feel great on your foot. The break-in period is very slight…wear them a few short times around town and then you’re ready to hit the trail. One of the things I noticed about these boots is the shape of the sole. They naturally cause your foot to move properly (pronate…supinate). The soles create a fantastic heel to toe roll, which is ideal for long hikes and exploring on the trail.

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The thickly padded upper is appreciated for comfort, ankle support, and the safety it affords while on the trail. Lacing them up is easy and the one set of speed hooks is set down low, which is ideal and gives you a good pull and keeps your heel firmly in place. Also, the eyelets on the lower portion of the boots actually contain ball bearings…a cool little feature that allows the laces to move easily without wearing them out (it’s the little things, right?). The Tashi Boots are a great all around hiker and will keep your feet comfortable for many miles.

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Aesthetic

The Hanwag Tashi Boots have a traditional European hiking boot design, which I’ve always found to be pleasing to the eye. The texture of the yak leather is immediately noticeable and very cool. It is definitely unique…and I like it. The dark brown of the leather and the padded upper is a nice departure from the traditional lighter brown of many boots in this style. The interior of the boot is visually appealing too with the light beige colored thin leather lining.

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The dark brown yak leather, the thick white stitching on the sole, the rugged Vibram tread…it all makes me feel like trekking through the backcountry of Yosemite again. If only I had the time and resources to run off and do it.

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Conclusion

At $425, the Hanwag Tashi Boots are a significant investment. But, if you’re a moderate to serious backpacking or trail hiking enthusiast, you already know that investing in a great pair of boots is the best choice you can make. You won’t go wrong purchasing these boots. They’re a treat for your feet and will continue to keep you moving down the trail for many years to come. And…they’re yak leather! You’ll by far be the coolest person on the trail for sure with these on your feet!

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Red Wing Iron Ranger Boots Review – $319.99

The first pair of Red Wing boots I ever encountered were given to me in the summer of 1984. I was actually reluctant to accept them. You see, I considered myself a “certified ranch hand”, even though I was truly only a greenhorn at the time. After quickly wearing out several pairs of decent, traditional cowboy boots on the ranch, my boss gave me a pair of Red Wing work boots (I don’t recall the type). Being a Texas boy, I kind of scoffed at the idea of wearing them for cattle ranching. But, I slipped them on, worked in them for a day…and continued to work in them for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, I grew out of them – I certainly didn’t wear them out. They were seriously comfortable and rugged…enduring all of the harsh punishment I dished out at the time. That was my introduction to Red Wing.

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About Red Wing

From their website: “Around the turn of the 20th century a Red Wing, MN shoe merchant named Charles Beckman saw a local necessity for shoes specifically designed for the demanding work of industries such as mining, logging and farming. The rigors of these jobs required footwear, which was tough enough to outlast harsh working conditions, but Beckman envisioned a shoe that was also comfortable enough for the hardworking people who wore them. Beckman set out to develop work boots to fill this need and in 1905 he and fourteen investors opened a company that would change the market. Beckman named his company Red Wing Shoes, and thus a new standard for excellence was born.

Over one hundred years has passed since our founding and our commitment to producing only the highest grade footwear remains as unwavering as Beckman’s vision. Our products consistently perform in environments spanning from the Mideast oil fields to the Midwest corn fields. Red Wing boots protect workers in more than one hundred countries across the world, an accomplishment built by years of hard work, endurance and the promise to never compromise on our quality.”

The Iron Ranger Boots that I have the privilege of reviewing are part of Red Wing’s Heritage Collection. Again, according to their website, “our Heritage collection, which is made up of footwear that represents the American ideals of prosperous work and excellence. All the styles in the Heritage collection are designed and built just as they were fifty, sixty and even over eighty years ago and are all made using premium Red Wing Shoe Company leather from our very own S.B. Foot Tannery. They are handcrafted to the specifications, which made each style timeless when they were first introduced.”

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Construction

The Iron Ranger Boots are made using premium black harness leather from their own S.B. Foot Tannery. This is oil-tanned leather, which is used in many of Red Wing’s boots and shoes. Oil-tanned leather is extremely durable, which is a feature easily seen and proven with Red Wing’s 100+ year history. The boots are made using Goodyear Welt construction, the hardware for the eyelets and speed hooks is nickel, and the laces are long lasting taslan. The nitrile cork soles initially appear like they would be slippery – however, they are not at all. Cork soles are extremely durable and provide excellent traction on almost all surfaces. This particular style also features an eye-catching double layer toe cap and double stitching. Interestingly, the boots feature two different colors of stitching – the toe cap and seams around the laces and top of the boot all feature black thread while the rest of the boot has white stitching.

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Function

While anticipating the arrival of my Iron Rangers, I read comments from many different long time Red Wing wearers and was initially nervous about the break-in period. Perhaps I’m just not that ‘in-tune’ with my feet, but the break in period on my Iron Rangers was virtually nil. They were comfortable initially…but, they’re really comfortable now. I’ve worn these boots consistently and in a variety of situations. All day comfort is definitely an one of the Iron Ranger’s attributes.

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In spite of their 8” height, I do not have issues slipping these on without a finger loop or pull loop on the back. Perhaps it’s because of the angled top of the boot? I’m not sure. However, unlike some other boots of this size that also lack a pull tab on the back of them, these slip on easily and effortlessly.

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Aesthetic

This style’s original purpose was to serve Iron miners in northern Minnesota. All I have to say about that is, dang…those were some stylin’ miners! This boot has some serious aesthetic appeal. They’re rugged – but with that toe cap, you can dress ‘em up too. Personally, I think it’s a great style and for those of you who are budget minded when it comes to footwear, consider this boot as two pairs: your dress boot and your casual boot.

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I enjoy the black version of the Iron Rangers that I have now. These boots also come in Amber, Copper, and Hawthorne leathers too – all of which look fantastic. I would not hesitate to hit the “Add to Cart” button on any of those versions.

To keep my boots in tiptop shape, I also received Red Wing’s Basic Care Product Kit, which contains their All Natural Leather Conditioner, Mink Oil, Boot Cream, Brush, and Cloth. This is a must have kit if you plan to keep the leather on your Red Wing’s conditioned and protected. At $39.95, it’s a great kit and will service your boots well.

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Conclusion

You can’t go wrong in purchasing a pair of Red Wing Iron Rangers. The construction, fit, finish, and heritage behind the brand is all fantastic. In the realm of quality footwear, their price of $319.99 is a great value. You will receive a pair of boots that will be enjoyed for years, will continue to perform well, and will become a daily companion on all of life’s adventures. The Iron Rangers are definitely a great buy. So, which pair will you be ordering?

Cordoba Leather Ladies Hudson Sandal & Mens Holiday Sandal Review – $177 & $179

If I were to count up all the pairs of flip-flops and sandals I’ve worn through over the years, I wouldn’t be surprised if it numbered over fifty. I swear I go through at least two pairs of cheap flip flops each summer. So when I got the chance to review a pair of Cordoba Leather’s handmade leather sandals, I was interested to see if they would stand the test. I received a pair of Ladies’ Hudsons, and my husband received a pair of Men’s Holidays.

ABOUT CORDOBA

Cordoba Leather is a one-man operation out of Lebanon, Ohio. David Somers, the owner, handcrafts each pair of sandals using high end materials and a keen eye for design. Here is a bit of his story, from the Cordoba Leather website:

On a vacation to Florida in September 2011 I met Dan Holiday, an adventurous man who has been making a diverse and impressive amount of leather items for 50 years. Mr. Holiday was very kind in taking me on as an apprentice. I feel very privileged to be able to say I have apprenticed under him. Mr Holiday is by far, most popular for his leather sandals, they are works of beauty. Sandals are what I learned from him first and sandal making is a unique art that I want to be a part of and carry on through the ages. I enjoy making a variety of different leather products but the prize of them all is leather sandals. The leather is thick and challenging to work with but the end result in a pair of sandals is splendiferous. Making something custom for someone that will last is kind of rare, but I enjoy making it a little less rare.

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THE PROCESS

These sandals aren’t just something you stick in your “Shopping Cart” and buy on a whim. No, these are handcrafted and molded to each foot’s precise specifications, so you have to provide David with tracings of both feet. First you trace the outline of your feet, marking the space between your big toe and second toe. Then you trace underneath your inner arch so he can mold the sandals with the proper curvature. You then trace a quarter on the page as a size guide for when you scan and upload the tracings to the Cordoba Leather website. All in all, the process takes about five minutes from start to finish, and there’s even an instructional video. It’s not a hassle at all, especially once you feel the sandals on your feet. There’s also the option to remove the arch support, if you have fallen arches or prefer a flat sandal.

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My lovely foot tracings. You can see where I traced under my arch and in between my toes. The circle in the middle is a quarter for scale.

CONSTRUCTION

The sandals are made entirely with full-grain, vegetable tanned leather, sourced from the USA and Mexico. The sole is made of thick shoe leather, topped with a layer of flexible saddle leather. The arch is molded to the specifications sent in the foot tracing each customer uploads with their order. The loops for the straps are cut into the sole and fastened with solid brass rivets. The two pieces of the sole are glued together, then hammered with solid brass clinching nails. You can see pictures and explanations of the entire construction process here.

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After the sandals are finished, they’re dipped in neatsfoot oil to help condition and preserve the leather. Neatsfoot oil is a yellowish oil that’s made by boiling the feet and lower leg bones of cattle. The oil is then skimmed off, pressed, and purified. Neatsfoot oil is great for conditioning, softening, and preserving leather. Now you don’t need to buy yourself a tub of neatsfoot oil, but I’d definitely recommend investing in a good leather conditioner for these sandals. They arrive soft and conditioned with the neatsfoot oil, but wearing them day after day will definitely dry them out, and you don’t want the leather to crack or become brittle. We’ve reviewed quite a few leather conditioners here at BestLeather, so be sure to browse through our Leather Care tag to see some of our recommendations, because you’ll want to keep these sandals beautiful for years to come.

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FUNCTION

When you receive the sandals, which came in a nice linen bag with a note from David, they’re still not quite ready to wear out the door. The strap still needs to be adjusted, tied, and cut to your size. He includes some instructions for doing so, which you can see below. This a simple process and easy to do with kitchen shears.

The straps before I cut them and after I tied them
The straps before I cut them and after I tied them

One I finished cutting the straps and walked around a bit in the sandals, I was absolutely amazed by how comfortable they were. They molded to my feet perfectly and the soft, perfectly-placed straps don’t rub anywhere. The toe strap curls comfortably around my big toe and keeps the sandal feeling snug. They don’t flop around or feel like they’re going to fall off. I’ve actually found that I can slip the ankle strap on and off without having to tie and untie it every time, which is nice for those who are lazy like me. All it takes is a little tightening now and then. I’ve walked long distances in these shoes and they’ve only gotten more comfortable as they form to my feet. Cordoba recommends getting them wet right off the bat to help them mold to your feet even faster.

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The Men’s Holiday sandals don’t have a toe loop, and have a flip-flop style instead.My husband calls them his “Jesus Shoes” and  raves about how comfortable they are.  His sandals are in the “Vintage Brown” color, a beautiful deep brown. They also come in a slightly brighter “Brick Red” like my Ladies’ Hudsons.

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If you’ve never worn shoes with a leather sole before, be prepared to slip around for a bit until the soles scuff up enough to provide traction. I’d recommend NOT wearing them for the first time on a slippery vinyl dock like I did! Just take a walk, scuff them up on the pavement a little, and you’ll be good to go!

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The soles with clinching nails

CONCLUSION

I was extremely impressed with Cordoba Leather, from start to finish. David guided us through the selection and tracing process and ultimately created us two pairs of gorgeous sandals. For $177, you are getting all leather, handmade sandals made in the USA precisely to your foot’s specifications. It’s not often that you get to be so involved in the creation of a product. I think $177 is a steal for these sandals, especially considering how comfortable and sturdy they are. You and your Ladies’ Hudsons or Men’s Holidays will be taking long walks on the beach for years to come.

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Hanwag Tatra Ladies’ Boots Review – $280

One of the greatest feelings in the world is getting out on the trail and breathing some of that fresh alpine air. But one of the worst feelings is getting halfway up the mountain, realizing you’ve got a blister forming, and knowing that the rest of the hike is going to be agony. That’s why it’s crucial to invest in a nice pair of hiking boots. Hanwag, based in Vierkirchen, Germany, has been making high quality outdoor shoes since 1921. We received a pair of their Tatra Lady boots to review, as well as a pair of Men’s Tashi Boots made with yak leather (keep an eye out for a review coming soon!). My wife immediately snagged up the Tatra Lady boots to test out and wear on a few hikes.

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ABOUT HANWAG

Hans Wagner opened his boot shop in 1921 in Vierkirchen, Germany, close to Munich. Wagner made a name for himself by producing high quality alpine skiing and touring boots. By the company’s 90th anniversary in 2011, Hanwag had become a staple in the hiking and outdoor sports world.  From their website:

“HANWAG boots and shoes are primarily made in Europe. Only a small number of our components require lengthy transportation. We make approximately 30 per cent of our collection (the double stitched and mountain boots) at our headquarters in Vierkirchen, near Munich. We have further exclusive production facilities in Croatia, Hungary and Romania. Our relatively limited transportation requirements help further minimize our environmental impact.”

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CONSTRUCTION

The Tatra boots are crafted with waxed nubuk uppers, lined with leather, and double-stitched onto a Vibram AW Integral sole. The leather is hard and waxy, but not crusty or plastic feeling. The upper, midsole, and insole rib are all genuinely double-stitched– you can see the flange on the edge of the midsole that proves that these boots are constructed extremely sturdily.

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The chunky Vibram AW Integral sole provides great traction while still being flexible enough to maintain a natural gait. Hefty metal shoelace hooks allow for a highly adjustable fit around the ankle, which has a medium-high cut.

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FUNCTION

These boots are immediately comfortable upon first wear. The perforated collar is attached to a soft, padded leather lining that keeps the foot stable and avoids rubbing. The insole is padded with Hanwag’s FussKomfort sole, which you can easily substitute or replace. So far, these boots have walked miles without an issue. Paired with a thick pair of wool socks, The Tatra will take you many, many miles in total comfort. They weigh 760 grams/1.7 pounds, which is on the heavier side, but the hefty sole and sturdy construction are worth it.

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AESTHETIC

The Tatra’s color is what makes this boot model so eye-catching. Hanwag calls the color Aubergine or Eggplant 82, however, in person the boots are really a bit brighter red than they appear on the website. The color is muted enough to be tasteful, yet interesting enough to stand out from the droves of brown hiking boots on the market. The upper has an interesting rounded cut that gives the boot a modern twist. The medium-high cut looks great while maintaining ankle stability. Hanwag Tatra Ladies Boots 1

CONCLUSION

Hanwag’s Tatra Lady boots are an excellent choice for the frequent hiker. Their stability and expert construction speaks well of Hanwag’s legacy, and their unique aesthetic sets them apart from other similar boots. $280 is a very reasonable price to pay for hiking boots that will last years on the trail. These are boots that you’ll want to take on adventures for years to come.

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Waltzing Matilda NICA Sandals – $148

Summer is officially here, so it’s time to make sure you’ve got all your supplies together for a relaxing day at the beach. If you’re like me, you’ll pack a nice picnic, obsessively slather on 70+ SPF sunscreen, and grab your favorite shorts and sandals. The sandals part, however, is a little complicated. I’ve been checking out a few sandal options, so stay tuned for a couple of upcoming sandal reviews.

Today I’ll be looking at the Waltzing Matilda NICA Sandals, in Men’s Brown and Women’s Moc.

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About Waltzing Matilda

“Everything we make is handcrafted in the USA in small micro-factories and meant to last forever. We make a strong effort to use repurposed and recycled materials found during our travels. We don’t compromise. We are creative, adventurous, and humble, and sincerely want to stimulate the senses with our pieces. Every hide is handpicked and has unique features and marks that add to the character and beauty of each product. We hope you love your new piece of art, and that it travels with you for a long time. Please let it age gracefully.” – Waltzing Matilda website

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Waltzing Matilda actually got its start making this very sandal, born out of necessity during a surf trip in Nicaragua. After Mike, the founder, lost his shoes in a torrential rain storm, he crafted a pair of sandals out of an extra travel bag, and thus, the NICA sandal was born. Now, Waltzing Matilda is a full-fledged leather outfitter, making everything from shoes to bags to laptop cases to wine carriers.

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CONSTRUCTION

Like all Waltzing Matilda products, the NICA sandal is made by hand in Maine. Featuring Horween leather, the body of the sandal is hand-tacked to a rubber Birkenstock EVA sole. The straps are anchored into the leather at the top and bottom with tacks and the two sections of strap are joined with polyester thread. I’m not entirely sure that this is the best decision when it comes to construction, but it does give the NICA sandal that stitched-together bohemian look that Waltzing Matilda has become famous for. After several months of use, however, I haven’t noticed any give or weakness in that area of the sandal, so take that with a grain of salt.

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AESTHETIC

I love the way these sandals look. With the hand-tacked nails and unburnished edges, the NICA sandals have a unique look that sets them apart from other leather sandals. They aren’t pretentious or overdone, but definitely look like they are a quality item.

I wasn’t completely sold on the white Birkenstock sole on the Women’s Mocs, but after quite a bit of use, they don’t look as dirty as I expected, and they match well with the lighter leather. The Men’s Brown sandals are a beautiful, rich brown that goes well with any outfit.

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FUNCTION

These take some breaking in before they get comfortable. When you first try them on, it feels a bit like wearing a two-by-four on your feet. The piece that goes between your toes is thicker than most sandals and takes some getting used to. But after a couple of wears, the leather breaks in and forms to your feet, making them extremely comfortable for daily wear. These are by far the most comfortable leather flip flops I’ve owned. My husband regularly steals them even though they’re not his size. I think I’ll have to get him his own pair!

The Men’s Brown pair has a leather sole, which can be somewhat slippery if you’re not used to leather soles. It’s probably a good idea to avoid a wipeout by scuffing the soles up a bit before you head outside.

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CONCLUSION

At $148, the NICA sandals aren’t cheap, but you will get a LOT of use out of them. They’re perfect for a day at the beach, and look nice enough to wear for a casual dinner. They’re light and pack flat so you can take them anywhere. Waltzing Matilda also has several other sandal designs that I’d recommend taking a look at if simple flip flops don’t cut it. There are Roman sandals, Greek Sandals, and a third design they call “My Sandals.” Check ’em out!

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Mohinders Men’s City Slippers Review – $145

With spring here and summer on the way, finding the right casual footwear can be a pretty challenging task. I’ve never been a “flips flops” kind of guy but wanted something light and easy to slip on. After quite a prodigious search, I came across the Mohinders Men’s City Slippers and had to give them a go.

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ABOUT

Mohinders was born when founder Michael Paratore came across a pair of hand woven leather shoes in the markets of Mumbai. It was back in the states when he decided to quit his corporate job and start a shoe company. What followed was a journey back to India to locate the artisans behind the shoes he first encountered. Once he finally tracked down the craftsmen, Mohinders was born. Taking the original design and tweaking the style, comfort and durability, the CIty Slippers aims to be a wear all shoe you can sport anytime, anywhere. Skeptical? Well, if a man quits a successful career and opens a company essentially based on one shoe, it must be worth a second look!

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CONSTRUCTION

The City Slippers arrived in a very cool sackcloth pouch with a patterned lining. The shoes themselves are handwoven from vegetable tanned buffalo leather. The smell of the slippers conjured up memories of  petting zoos but this was only noticeable when deliberately held up to my nose. Mohinders credits this unique aroma to the dyeing process that uses babul tree and the myrobalan nut. The sole of the City Slippers are natural crepe rubber. If you noticing a pattern, the Mohinder’s are about as natural as it gets. The environmental impact from production is about equal to playing a round of croquet on the neighbor’s lawn.

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FUNCTION

If there’s one thing we like to stress about high quality leather products, it that there is usually a break in process to let the leather stretch and become pliable. That rule definitely applies to the City Slippers. At first they were a bit snug and I experienced a little abrasion on my pinky toe, but in the words of the great George Michael, you gotta have faith. As expected, the leather conformed to my foot perfectly. Not too tight where they felt constricted and loose enough to allow easy on and off. The crepe soles really impressed, very flexible and after several week of continuous use, show little wear and a promise of prolonged life.

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AESTHETIC

The City Slippers are a welcome alternative to flip flops, Jesus Cruisers, mandals, and all other sorts of exposed footwear for men. I have pretty hairy feet (think Frodo Baggins) and don’t usually feel comfortable wearing traditional sandals. The City Slippers on the other hand look great and allow for that laid back vibe. The styling is very adaptive and I can wear these around the house just as easily as I can at the farmer’s market. Served with chino shorts and an Oxford with rolled sleeves and you’re good to go.

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CONCLUSION

The Mohinders City Slippers are a solid option for men who aren’t into the whole sandals thing, or who simply want a new, casual good looking summer footwear option. The $145 price tag is a little steep, but you’re supporting artisans in rural communities, and wearing an environmentally conscious shoe. Oh, and you’ll look good every step of the way.

 

Steve Madden Nathen Boots Review – $140

I like boots. They’re my preferred footwear for just about any occasion. My wife says I have a problem. Obviously, I disagree. Boots are awesome. Need something casual? Boots. Need to dress up? Boots. Need to go do some work? Boots. Need something waterproof? Boots. Going hunting? Boots. Going hiking? Boots. Get the idea? In my latest boot review episode, we’re going to be taking a look at the Nathen Boots from Steve Madden.

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About Steve Madden

Steve Madden has been an iconic footwear name for many years in the women’s fashion line. After such a successful 10 year stint there, Steve Madden Men’s line was launched. Starting as a primarily casual line, Steve Madden Men’s has evolved into a lifestyle brand. The desire is to give guys many options to wear their products for different aspects of his week – day to evening, work to weekend.

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Construction

The Nathen Boots are made in Asia will full leather uppers, cemented construction, a split suede lining, and synthetic sole. I’m not sure where the leather is sourced. The leather is soft and supple, stitching is even and nicely done, and the zipper and eyelets feature an antique brass finish.

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Function

Upon opening the box, several of my senses were very pleased. Initially, I was greeted by a delicious smell. If you’re a long time reader here, you’ve heard a few of us comment on the awesome aroma associated with certain brands and these boots totally remind me of that same, rich, aromatic leather scent. Upon holding these boots, I was immediately impressed with the leather. It’s very flexible and soft to the touch. Then visually, I was pleased with the build quality and styling of these boots. This is the first pair of boots I’ve had with side zippers and now, they won’t be the last pair I have. They are easy on and easy off. In fact, you can leave them laced up and just “slip, zip, and go”. Awesome.

Sizing (for me) is spot on. I usually wear an 11.5 and these are perfect. The low heel and traditional lug sole are all day long comfortable. And, there is no break in period at all.

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Aesthetic

As mentioned earlier, I almost always wear boots. When I get a pair in for review, I tend to get comments at client meetings, at church, and lots of other locations. However, to date these Steve Madden Nathen Boots have generated more comments and questions than any other pair of boots I’ve reviewed. Their eye-catching color, along with the brogue styling combines well to draw people’s eye to them. And, people like them…a lot.

The Nathen Boots do a superb job of allowing you to either dress up or go casual with this boot. They look great with dress pants, yet will also look fantastic with a pair of jeans.

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Conclusion

The Steve Madden Nathen Boots are a great deal for the money. Will they last for years and years? Depends on how often you wear them and how well you treat them. They’re certainly not a custom or high-end handmade boot. But, they’re also only $140…a price that most people can afford. And for that price you get a great looking pair of boots that give you lots of options on how you’re going to wear them. These boots are available in tan (color featured here), brown, and black. As a fashion footwear brand, Steve Madden Men’s has hit a ‘homerun’ with the Nathen boots. They incorporate good quality leather in a desirable style at a decent price point. The Nathen Boots are available from many different retailers such as Dillards, Macys, Zappos, and Amazon.

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Johnston & Murphy Maggie Penny Review – $168

Growing up is funny. Some of the things I used to tease my parents and grandparents about are things I now love. Penny loafers and driving moccasins are two of those things. I’m not sure if it’s because I grew up and realized how comfortable they are, or if it’s because they’re back in fashion and not relegated to “old people shoes.” Probably both. Now, with my newfound love of loafers and drivers, I present to you the Johnston & Murphy Maggie Penny.

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ABOUT

Johnston & Murphy has a rich history. The company began in 1850 as the William J. Dudley Shoe Company in Newark, New Jersey. By 1886, business partners and friends James Johnston and William A. Murphy ran the company for decades before relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, where the company still manufactures several shoe lines today. Self-described as a modern tastemaker, Johnston and Murphy have had the honor of outfitting numerous U.S. Presidents with their footwear. From Abraham Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama, their shoes have been a favorite of some pretty important people. Their website has a pretty interesting infographic that details a few of our presidents’ favorite footwear.

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No longer are Johnston & Murphy’s shoes solely for male feet. In 2008, the company launched an impressive line of women’s shoes, clothes, and accessories. We’ll be taking a look at a few different styles over the next few months, starting with the classic Maggie Penny.

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HISTORY OF THE DRIVER

The driving moccasin, or driver, originated in Italy in the 1960s to keep feet as comfortable as possible while zipping around in Italian automobiles. The nubs on the sole and heel were for added grip while switching between the gas, brake, and clutch. The shoes became a bit of a status symbol, worn mostly by men who could afford special shoes for their fancy cars. They eventually moved out of the car and into everyday life, becoming a staple in preppy casual wear, keeping the rubber nubs. While I don’t do too much racing in my 2001 Dodge Durango, it’s still fun to have those little details as a reminder of the shoe’s history.

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CONSTRUCTION

The Johnston & Murphy Maggie Penny is crafted from thin, glove-soft nubuck, constructed on a rubber driver sole and features hand-stitching around the vamp and back seam. It’s not a true moccasin construction, but the upper wraps around to give a convincing illusion. The insole is thickly cushioned and lined with smooth sheepskin. The shoe itself is extremely flexible and incredibly comfortable. The shoes slide right on and the sheepskin lining and buttery nubuck remain comfortable for all-day wear.

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AESTHETIC

The Maggie Penny is a classic driver, with a timeless look and feel. Their low profile and lack of a penny loafer style heel keeps them casual, comfy, and easy to wear. The blue color I have is bright and fun, perking up outfits that would be boring with regular flats. The shoe comes in black and brown, of course, but it also comes in some funky, eye-catching colors like Kiwi (a neon green), Cardinal Red, and Dahlia Pink. They also have some two-toned pastel versions that are on sale on their website for $129, so check those out while they’re still up.

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CONCLUSION

The Johnston & Murphy Maggie Penny is a great choice if you’re looking for a comfortable shoe that you can wear casually or at the office. $168 is a fair price for such soft leather, quality construction, and unique color. If you use them reasonably and don’t take them hiking or stomping around in the mud, you will get quite a few years out of these shoes. They aren’t going to fall apart or wear through. They’re the perfect shoe for a casual meeting, a coffee date, or even a joyride in your 1963 Ferrari.

Johnston & Murphy Copeland Chukka Review – $145

 

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Johnston & Murphy is one of four domestic men’s shoes manufacturers left in the United States. Making it to this iconic status demanded products that can endure many different lifestyles. Whether that is on Capitol Hill, your local credit union, or anywhere worldwide, Johnston and Murphy customers will always have a classy, stylish reputation. Today we will be taking a look at the Johnston & Murphy Copeland Chukka.

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About

Johnston & Murphy has an especially rich history. The company originated in 1850 from “The William J. Dudley Shoe Company” founded in Newark, New Jersey. By 1886, James Johnston and William A. Murphy had taken over the company and began the legacy we see today. The shoe company made shoes for decades before relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, where the company still manufactures several shoe lines today. Self described as a modern tastemaker, Johnston and Murphy had the honor of outfitting numerous Presidents with their footwear. From Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama, their shoes are a top choice among our nations leaders. No matter which style of Johnston and Murphy shoes or boots you buy, comfort, class, and quality are core features.

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Construction

The Copeland Chukka is constructed using tan-oiled full grain leather. The leather is an intensely rich brown color that offers sophisticated durability. Using a bond welt construction, the leather is attached to an exceptionally comfortable natural latex crepe sole. The chukka provides a very solid construction that is consistently comfortable, supportive, and ergonomic. The inner lining consists of soft goatskin and mesh insole, which is paired with a memory-foam heel cushion. The stitching is a light tan color that contrasts nicely with the leather. The Copeland Chukka is one of the most comfortable boots I have worn to date. I have used them for 7 weeks now, and not one single stitch has come undone, the sole looks brand new, and the tan leather has broken in attractively. This Chukka has obviously been constructed very well, meeting the standard Johnston and Murphy has worked so hard and long to achieve.

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Function 

While these are some of the most comfortable boots I have worn, it didn’t happen right away. It took a solid week of steady wear to break them in to be consistently comfortable. This is perhaps the only negative to the Copeland Chukka I have come across so far. But, this is a common issue with high-quality leather footwear, and Johnston and Murphy has done a very good job at minimizing the break-in time and the resulting aching feet. Over time the memory-foam cushion and padded mesh toe box has formed seamlessly to my foot, making this shoe comfortable no matter what I am doing. The Copeland Chukka has accompanied me on numerous motorcycle rides, coffee shop visits, and the occasional urban trek. I have been appropriately pleased wearing these boots and look forward to how they wear in the future.

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Aesthetic

The Copeland Chukka is a wonderful take on a classic boot style. With chukkas, you can really wear them in numerous different casual occasions, and still maintain a classy, stylish appearance. This chukka does come in three colors of suede in addition to the tan leather. All these colors are rich and all have the same construction and durability. This chukka is perfect for going out to dinner with friends, to a business-casual event, and really any casual event there is. This version of the chukka boot is a little on the rough, outdoorsy side because of the oil tanned leather. It still has that modern appeal to guys of all ages, making it a good choice for those of us who appreciate versatility.

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Conclusion

The Johnston & Murphy Copeland Chukka has proved to be an extremely well constructed, quality boot. I have enjoyed them every time I have worn them. If you are looking for a casual, versatile boot to add to your wardrobe, the Copeland Chukka is a suitable choice to consider. At $145, this boot is a reasonable purchase for the quality you will receive. If you haven’t already, head over to Johnston and Murphy to check out their products, learn their history, and appreciate quality leather footwear.

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Oliberte Women’s Amboa Review – $125

I got my first pair of TOM’s the first month of my senior year of high school. By the second month of my senior year of high school, they were trashed. The canvas was threadbare in several places and the poorly constructed toe was peeling away from the sole. Since then, I’ve been quite wary of TOMS and companies of their breed.

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When I opened up my Oliberte Amboas, my fears were immediately put at ease. These are no TOMS. First of all, their mission is much more sustainable. Instead of sending poorly made shoes to impoverished countries, Oliberte actively invests in the Sub-Saharan economy, boosting industry and providing justly compensated jobs. Their factory and sourcing is completely fair trade certified. Secondly, the quality of their products is much higher. To learn a bit more about their social and environmental mission, check out their About Us page.

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THE LEATHER

Oliberte sources their leather from the Hafde Tannery in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The upper on the Amboa is made of African nubuck, the midsole is made of veg-tanned cowhide, and lined entirely with goat leather. The leather is smooth yet firm and hasn’t stained or scuffed after quite a few wears. It comes in black and brown colors as well. The dark grey is a very unique color that I have found to be very versatile. The color is a bit lighter in person than on the website, and it has almost a light blue hue. They go great with dark skinny jeans, especially since they have a subtle heel.

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CONSTRUCTION & FUNCTION

The leather is cemented to the sole, made of molded rubber with a 2/3 inch wedge heel (15 mm). The laces are standard nylon, in the same grey color as the leather. The bottom of the sole is printed with a map featuring Addis Ababa, a fun little detail that I’ve been asked about several times. It’s a fun reminder of Oliberte’s mission.

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The only issue I want to warn you about is sizing. I generally wear a size 9.5, and was told the Amboas run a little large, so I ordered a size 9 (they don’t come in half sizes). They ended up being a little small and I now wish I had ordered a size 10. I worried that since they’re small, the cemented sole is starting to pull apart a tiny bit on one side. But I’ve worn the shoes probably two dozen times for long periods of time and it hasn’t gotten any worse, so I wouldn’t be too concerned. Just be sure to order up if you’re usually a half-size.

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Even though they’re a little tight, they’re not uncomfortable. I can easily wear them all day long. I’d recommend wearing the tiny socks made for ballerina flats because the goatskin liner can be a little squeaky without socks.

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CONCLUSION

These are great, unique shoes from a company with an amazing mission. These aren’t meant to be everyday shoes that will last you forever, but the Oliberte Amboas are a great purchase that will last much longer than a cheap shoe from Payless. Plus, they boast a much more distinctive look and story. At $125, these are very fairly priced, especially since they frequently put them on sale on their website. They’re currently down to just $60, so snatch them up while you can, and keep an eye out for sales on some of their other great looking styles.

 

 

 

Oliberté Narivo Review – $125

It’s not every day you have the opportunity to work with companies like Oliberté. This footwear company is extremely unique because they are the world’s first Fair Trade Certified footwear manufacturing factory. If buying products from a company who gives back in many ways is important to you, Oliberté’s offerings are a perfect place to look.

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About

“Oliberté is a sustainable brand supporting workers’ rights in sub-Saharan Africa. We believe in empowerment, transparency, and doing right by all. This means making premium quality products with a lifetime warranty, and it means treating every employee, everywhere in the world, with respect. In 2009, we started off as a small footwear company partnering with factories and suppliers in Africa. Since then, we gained enough momentum to launch our very own factory in 2012. We make every single pair of Oliberté shoes at this factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In September 2013, we also became the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear manufacturing factory.” To read more about Oliberté’s story and the Fair Trade model, check out their About Us page on their website

This company is dedicated to quality, respect, and humanity. Each and every pair of shoes or boots they produce reflect these intentions and principles. We will be taking a look at the Oliberté Narivo shoes, the classic Oliberté shoe.

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Construction

The Narivo shoe was immediately a household favorite when it arrived. My siblings were envious and my parents were constantly complimenting the shoe’s construction. Right out of the box you could tell the shoes had been formed with care and passion. The premium Ethiopian-sourced leather is soft to the touch, yet provides adequate support and structure. The inner lining is dark brown goat leather, allowing your foot to slide in easily. Using the traditional stitch-down stitching, the leather upper is attached to the crepe colored natural rubber sourced from various African countries. All in all I have been pleased with how well these shoes have been constructed. Quality materials, expert local craftsmanship, and a good cause put these shoes in good standing.

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Function

 I have steadily used these shoes for about 2 months now. I have taken them to Las Vegas, the Oregon Coast, college classes, and numerous day trips all over Oregon. Only once have my feet been uncomfortable in these shoes, and that is because the the first time I wore them I walked 25 miles in 2 days while at the trade shows in Vegas. These are extremely comfortable, all-purpose shoes, perfect for numerous occasions. The only negative aspect of the Narivo is the sound they make when I walk. Occasionally I’ll sound like a duck clapping down a hallway, so I have to adjust my gait before receiving stares from people. Perhaps this is just how I walk, but it is the only pair of shoes where this happens to me. Nonetheless, these shoes consistently perform well.

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Aesthetic

The Narivo is genuinely a do it all shoe. The casual loafer style truly allows the shoes to be worn with numerous wardrobes, which I can really appreciate. The shoes come in two different leathers. Brown/Yellow Pullup, and Dark Grey Nubuck. Both of these colors are rich and full, and both are top quality. The lacing on both pairs of shoes matches their color, giving them a very slick, well-rounded look. When the shoes first arrived, the stitching was a dark tan color, but after using them for a while the color changed to a dark brown, matching the shade of the leather. If you’re in the market for a pair of high quality, do it all leather shoes, the Oliberté Narivo shoe is a great place to start. The company also has several other casual shoe and boot styles that meet these criteria.

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Conclusion

The Narivo shoe has performed extremely well, especially for the price point. At $125, this shoe is a great deal for men looking for quality leather, casual footwear. Oliberté continues to impress me with their leather shoes, and their business model. Head on over to their website and check out some of their offerings and what makes them so unique. And for the women, don’t worry. We have a review of a pair of women’s shoes coming very soon.

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Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap-Toe Lace Up Oxfords Review – $385

Allen Edmonds is largely a household name. This has long been the case, as the name gained fame after World War II, during which it had produced shoes for the military. This established a base of lifelong followers of the company, and started it on the path to inextricably intertwine itself with American culture. Since then Allen Edmonds has been worn by presidents, prime ministers, and countless celebrities; but the real testament to the company is that their expertly crafted shoes stand up to the hype. We recently got a hold of the Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxfords, the same style as has been worn by four American presidents on their inauguration days (Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush).

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FUNCTION

The first thing you notice about a pair of Allen Edmonds is how durable they feel. The upper on these shoes is incredibly sturdy for calf skin, though they never seem too heavy. The sole is thick and un-padded solid leather which makes them a bit uncomfortable until they break-in. This can take anywhere from a day or two to a week of wear, being comfortable enough once they have taken to your feet. For a thick formal shoe they are reasonably easy to wear and take care of. I recommend using shoe trees and the appropriate shoe bags for the storage of a shoe of this value and quality. You can greatly extend the lifespan of any pair of shoes by taking proper care of them, and even a quality behemoth like Allen Edmonds need a little TLC.

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CONSTRUCTION

From simply picking up a pair of Park Avenues you would know that they’re sturdy. Each shoe is weighty and somewhat inflexible because of the construction. Heavily reinforced from toe to heel with a hefty solid-leather sole, the durability of the shoe is unquestionable. Double stitching secures the cap-toe section, with triple stitching in the throat line. The rest is sporadically single or double stitched to ensure that every inch lasts just as long as the wearer does. If resoled every decade or so, this pair of shoes could comfortably last you a lifetime.

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AESTHETIC

Undoubtedly a good looking pair of shoes, the moderate sole and toe width help to keep the contemporary styling modern and classic. The leather is both thick and fragrant, arriving well polished and ready for a special event or just another day at the office. Even after having been worn in the rain several times, this pair has retained much or its factory shine. Nearly perfect calfskin leather comprising the exterior makes the shoes consistently smooth and attractive from every angle. A great choice for special events or formal business settings, the Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxford shines as an understated yet classy footwear option.

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CONCLUSION

Most fine dress shoes cost anywhere from just over a hundred dollars to the multiple thousands range, placing Allen Edmonds in the middle of luxury and budget shoe brands. Still, to many $385 is pricey for a single pair of shoes. This is why the durability and longevity of a pair of Allen Edmonds comes in handy, because where one might need to purchase a new pair of cheap dress shoes every two or three years, this single pair of shoes could last you the rest of your life. With style, construction, and comfort all taken into account, the Park Avenue Cap-toe Oxfords are worth the heftiness of its price tag.

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