Herring Shoes – A Follow-Up Review

It’s been almost a year since I received my first pair of shoes from Herring, and I can honestly say that they have stood the test of time. Quickly becoming my go-to shoe (they pair so well with every outfit), it’s safe to say that they have received plenty of wear; I’ve even found myself reaching for them on consecutive days, when I really should be letting them rest, because they are just so damn comfortable.

They fit me better now than they did at first (which was still a good fit), because the soft calf leather has molded to my foot over time; and the constant polishing has given a them a new depth of colour. In fact, the only problem that I’ve had with them is that I have had to replace the laces a couple of times.

Herring

I hold these shoes as a shining example of what good shoes should be, and everything I’ve tried on since has paled in comparison; they put the rest of my collection to shame, so much so that despite a decent collection, I usually end up rotating between only two pair: these, and a pair of Charles Tyrwhitt Black Monk-straps. I still enthusiastically recommend Herring Shoes to anyone who has the misfortune of talking about shoes in my presence; If I had a little more money, or a little less self-restraint, I would no doubt have already bought several more of my own. To reiterate the summary of my first review: buy as many of these shoes, in as many styles and colours as you can afford. You won’t regret it.

The Boutonniere

A boutonniere is great way to add a bit of flair to an outfit; but when is it proper to wear one? And which flower should you be wearing? And how do you actually wear one? For answers to all these and more, read on.

Boutonniere

The ever dapper Sean Combs, in a double-breasted pin-striped suit, complete with boutonniere

The how is pretty simple; all you need is a jacket with a working lapel buttonhole, and a fabric loop on the back of the lapel to hold the flower stem in place. If you jacket doesn’t have these, don’t worry; it’s easy enough for them to both be added. Just be careful, if your lapel isn’t canvassed, it may not be strong enough to support a larger flower.

As far as when you can wear one, the answer is also pretty simple: Whenever you feel like it. With a tie and pocket square combo, it adds that little extra level of dressiness to an outfit; and without a tie it can it can add a bit of interest to an otherwise simple outfit. The idea that a boutonniere should be reserved for formal occasions is completely incorrect, and doing so just limits you unnecessarily.

A working buttonhole and a loop on the back are a necessity. Image curtosy of Art of Manliness

A working buttonhole with a loop on the back are a necessity. Image courtesy of Art of Manliness

As for what flower to wear, much like everything else, that depends on the occasion. For formal events, stick with simple colours, like Red and White. For every other event, the colour matching principle is basically as the same as a pocket-square; match it with one of the other colours in your outfit.

Tom Ford in Black Tie with a white boutonniere

Tom Ford in Black Tie with a white boutonniere

Carnations and Roses

Carnations

Carnations are great because they are relatively cheap, common, good-looking, and come in a range of different colours. Stick with red or white for formal occasions, but don’t be afraid to go a little crazy with you choice for more casual outfits.

Carnations are one of the most common boutonniere flowers in the United States, are the national flower of Spain, and show respect in Korea. In France however, carnations are a common funeral flower and considered unlucky outside of this setting. – The Art of Manliness, A Man and the Boutonniere

 

Roses

Think of Roses as more expensive Carnations; they come in just as many colours, and are just as appropriate. For a super-quick guide to the meanings behind different colour Roses, click HERE 

Poppy

Poppy

The Poppy is pretty much the universal symbol or remembrance, so wear it to memorial services, and on the various remembrance days.

Fake Flowers

Now, as nice as fresh flowers are, they don’t stay fresh forever, sourcing good ones can be a pain, and the cost can quickly add up; that’s where Fort Belvedere comes in. They’re certainty not the only ones making fake flowers, but they are definitely some of the nicest that I have seen; from a distance, you would think that they were real. You can also make more casual felt flowers yourself at home.

 

A more casual option, felt flowers can easily be made at home, or bought online.

A more casual option, felt flowers can easily be made at home, or bought online.

 

Recommended Reading: 5 Books Every Stylish Man Should Own

Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion by Bernhard Roetzel

Timeless Guide

The first book on men’s style that I owned, A Timeless Guide to Fashion is the most recommended style book on lists like this. Full of colourful pictures and easy to understand text, this book is at home on your bookshelf as it is on your coffee table.

The Handbook of Style: A Man’s Guide to Looking Good by Esquire

Handbook Style

Witty, humorous, and well written, The Handbook of Style is a mandatory part of any well-dressed mans library. Full of pictures, drawings, and good advice, the Handbook is aimed at the style novice, but there is something for everyone in it. If you only have one book on this list, make it this one.

ABC of Men’s Fashion by Hardy Amies

ABC

Laid out like a glossary, this book has just about every word related to men’s style, and their definitions. More of a reference book than a guide, ABC of Men’s Fashion will definitely come in handy decoding your other books.

Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Men’s Wear by Roberto Cabrera

Classic Tailoring

Classic Tailoring Techniques isn’t necessarily about style; but I think knowing how your clothes are made will give you a greater appreciation and understanding of just how and why things are the way they are. Not only that, but you will never have to ask someone to sew a button or hem a pair of trousers for you again.

Details Men’s Style Manual: The Ultimate Guide For Making Your Clothes Work For You

Details

A bit more colourful, and definitely for the beginner, the Men’s Style Manual is a basic primer for those just getting started; styled more like a magazine than a library book, it features glossy, full colour images, and interviews with style icons. It’s a good starting point for the absolute beginner.

Herring Classics – A Shoe Review

Tl;DR:  Buy as many of these shoes as you can afford, in all colours. They are awesome.

Herring-Herring Richmond-Burgundy Burnished Calf-451-421-1

Richmond model in Burgundy

I’m going to start this by talking a bit about customer service. It doesn’t matter if you are selling literally the best product in existence, at half the price of your competitors; if your customer service if crap, no one is going to buy from you. This is especially important with online stores; where your customers can’t physically hold or see your products, and tell for themselves how good it is. When I was doing my research on Herring before buying my last pair of shoes, the product reviews were decent; most thought that the shoes were more-or-less worth the price, but absolutely everyone commented on the amazing customer service. So, lets talk a little about Herring, the company.

Herring Shoes is a UK-based company that stocks a range of brands (Church’s, Loake, Barker, etc), as well as their own house brand; these shoes are made by other companies (Loake, Barker, and Cheaney), using their lasts* and construction techniques, with Herring providing the designs, and typically better quality leather. They provide a massive range of shoes from all the brands, at very competitive prices; better than most online stores, and infinitely better than anything found in Australia. Every pair of shoes they send comes with a complimentary travel sized shoe horn, and a tin of polish matching the shoes (which I will talk about in another article).

*The last is the foot-shaped structure that forms the shape of the shoe. It looks similar to a wooden shoe tree.

A Loake shoe, and the last it was formed on

A Loake shoe, and the last it was formed on

Now, for the shoes themselves. Made by Loake (on their 026 last), the Richmond model is a full brogue in calfskin leather, with a full leather lining, a Goodyear Welted leather sole (with a 1/4 rubber heel), and are handmade in a factory in Northampton, England. My pair is Burgundy, but they also come in Black, Tan, Brown, and Brown Suede. At £162.5 (~$315AUD), they are in the same price range as the Loake 1880s, which is considered by most to be their best range of shoes; most will compare Herring favorably to the Loakes, but having never owned the 1880s, all I can say is this: these are the best pair of shoes that I have ever owned.

Herring-Herring Richmond-Burgundy Burnished Calf-451-421-3

Herring-Herring Richmond-Burgundy Burnished Calf-451-421-4

First Impressions

As I’m writing this, I have just returned from a quick shopping trip, and my first time wearing these shoes. The first thing I have to say is that these are the most comfortable things that I have ever put on my feet; I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they are more comfortable than standing on a cloud made of marshmallows, but they must be close. Given that it’s the first time they have been used, the leather soles are still flat, and a little slippery, so I have to be careful walking down the stairs; and the leather upper is still relatively stiff (as all new leather is), but it will soften over time. Even if it doesn’t soften, it is still incredibly comfortable. The quality of the leather in these shoes is easily the best that I have ever owned; there is absolutely no comparison to the corrected grain leather in my other shoes.

The only flaw that I can find in the shoes is minor, and cosmetic; there is some overlapping in the decorative pattern around the welt on the sole of one of the shoes, where it has been done twice in the same spot; as far as I am concerned, this just adds character to the shoes, and the human error just proves they were done by hand. I’m going to stop now, and come back in about a weeks time, after the shoes have been worn in a bit.

Some Time Later

So I have worn these shoes all day for the last three days (to break them in, and really test them; in the long run I will obviously give them rest days), and given that I am on my feet for 9 hours straight each day, I can safely say that they have been well-tested. Fortunately, I can say that they have passed all my tests with flying colours; the leather insoles are comfortable, especially in the heel where there seems to be a soft (but firm) foam pad underneath the insole.

The minor cosmetic damage to the patterning on the sole has disappeared due to the general wear to the leather; an unfortunate side effect of actually walking on something other than carpet.

Herring-Herring Richmond-Black Calf-1396-675-1

Richmond model in Black

Herring-Herring Richmond-Cigar Suede-5236-2739-1

Richmond model in Suede

Herring-Herring Richmond-Tan Burnished Calf-450-420-1

Richmond model in Tan

Loake 202 – A Shoe Review

So, last week I received my new Loake L1s from Herring Shoes, and now, I’m ready to write my review.

tl;dr: Good for the price, but I recommend saving up for something with better leather.

As always, I did my research before hand, and I was honestly hesitant to shell out $220 on a pair of shoes that either might not fit my, or might be not the best quality. The reviews on the forums seemed to indicate that while Loake in general was fairly decent, the only range really worth buying were the 1880s. Still, the L1 range looked decent, and was within my budget, so I took the plunge.

Loake-Loake 202-Brown Polished-239-228-3

 

At £100($193), they are actually cheaper than my shoes from Charles Tyrwhitt; with the exchange rate at the time, plus postage, they came to about $220AUD when I bought them. For that price, they are excellent; Goodyear Welted construction, with a rubber heel, and a quarter leather insole; the only real flaw is the corrected grain leather upper. Being made in India hasn’t affected the construction quality, and they are made well to Loakes standards.

However, as with all corrected grain, the leather is stiff, and plastic-y; despite this, they are still comfortable to wear, and the leather will soften a bit over time. Overall, they are a good shoe, and worth the price. Still, I recommend saving up and buying something with better quality leather, like the 1880 range, or the Herring Classics (which I will be reviewing later this week).

Loake-Loake 202-Brown Polished-239-228-4

Loake-Loake 202-Brown Polished-239-228-1

 

First Thoughts: Loake and Herring Shoes

Herring Shoes

So after being disappointed with the price and range of shoes at David Jones (and Australia in general), I turned to Herring Shoes; an online, UK-based shoes store that stocks a large range of shoe brands, at pretty awesome prices. A pair of Loake 202’s (which I bought), cost $369 at David Jones; including postage, and my $10 off coupon, the same model was only $220 at Herring.

Not only do they have great prices, they have a massive range of shoes, including Loake, Church’s, Barker, and their own house brand; as well as a range of accessories.

The best part for me however, was the postage; from when I ordered them, they only took 5 days to arrive. That alone is enough for me to be a return shopper, but the range and prices that are offered make me think that I have found my new shoe supplier.

The only negative that I can find is that, because I live outside the UK, if I ever do have to return a pair of shoes, I will have to pay the postage costs; still, I can avoid that by not returning anything.

The shoes also came with a Herring branded shoe horn, and a tin of polish matching the shoes, as well as info booklets for Herring and Loake. The shoe horn is nothing special (but still definitely appreciated), but the polish is a nice touch, and I look forward to seeing how well it works.

Loake Shoes

Style wise, the shoes look great, and they fit perfectly; a dark brown wingtip, in a size that fits my foot, the only flaw that I can find with these shoes is that they are corrected-grain leather. I knew that going in however, and I wouldn’t expect any different from a shoe at this price; at a total of $220, they are only slightly more expensive than my Charles Tyrwhitt shoes, and at least as good. I’ve only had them for a few hours now, so can’t speak to the long-term quality, but I will have a proper review in a couple of weeks. My first impression is that I love them, and I’m hoping they will hold up well.

IMG_20150427_102240

Fresh out of the box, in direct sunlight

IMG_20150427_130823

With a light coat of polish

 

 

A Guide to Cufflinks

I love cufflinks; all but one of my dress shirts have french cuffs. As a matter of fact, unless I absolutely love the rest of the shirt, and I’m buying it at a discount, french cuffs are a prerequisite. I covered the different types of cuffs in my Guide to Collars and Cuffs, but as a quick refresher, this is a regular button cuff:

1-button-barrel-cuff

Single-Button Barrel Cuff

And this is the french cuff:

french-cuff

The French Cuff

 

When in doubt stick with the basics.

My favorite cufflinks are a pair of plain silver-coloured ones that I bought on eBay years ago for about $7; I wear them most days, they are simple, elegant, formal, and match with my other accessories.

Silver Square

For more formal occasions I have a pair of black and gold cufflinks (similar to the pair pictured) that I picked up for $10 at a thrift store.

Black Gold

 

What they have in common is that they are both subtle, and simple designs; things that don’t stand out or draw attention, but will still work with most outfits or occasions.

A bit of subtle flair

The basics are good, but cufflinks are a perfect way to add a bit of flair to an outfit, without being over the top. I’m fond of adding a bit of colour with glossy enamel cufflinks; I like a Fleur-De-Lis motif, but you can also show off your patriotism with flags, or your school pride (assuming you went to a school fancy enough to have its own cufflinks). Old coins can also be turned into unique cufflinks.

Cufflinks

A Little Novelty

Novelty cufflinks are a great way to subtly show off your interests, and can work as good conversational pieces (just don’t be the one to draw attention to them). I have three sets of novelty cufflinks; a pair of playing cards, dominoes, and a pair that are actually 8GB flash drives (so that I can pretend to be a spy).

Cufflinks2

These types of cufflinks are fine for everyday office attire and more casual events, but I wouldn’t bring them out for formal occasions or first dates (the second or third date should be fine). If you do have a formal occasion, your best option is…

Black and White (and Gold)

When it comes to black tie events, your best option is either Mother of Pearl, or black Onyx; the setting should either be Silver or Gold. I prefer Silver with Mother of Pearl, and Gold with Onyx.

Black Tie

Notice the cufflinks in the image above are double-sided, and joined by a short chain; these are considered the most formal type, and are the best option for Black Tie.

When To Wear Them

French cuff shirts are generally perceived as more formal, but the truth is they are acceptable in every situation that regular button cuffs are; the degree of formality would be determined by what else you are wearing (suit, sportcoat, blazer, etc), and the cufflinks that you choose. Ultimately, wear them when you have the desire.

Recommended Reading

If you are looking for a more in-depth guide to cufflinks, check out this article by Real Men Real Style; it goes into great detail about the different types and styles of cufflinks, and I recommend reading it. It also has lots of pictures.

The “Easy-Iron” Debate

There is a lot of debate over easy-iron shirts; some people swear by them, others wouldn’t touch them with a 10ft pole and a hazmat suit; and seeing as they are usually made with a formaldehyde-producing resin, I can certainly understand that reaction. But how bad are they really?

Well, if you are sensitive to the chemicals, they can cause you to break out into a rash, or just be generally irritating; if you don’t have sensitivities, then the level of potentially dangerous chemicals is usually too low to cause any long or short-term health problems. Even then, the chemicals will break down in the wash over time, and will eventually dissipate all together. As a general precaution, you should always wash new clothes before you wear them anyway (this may void a returns policy, so check that out first).

Pros:

  • Time Saver – Most of the time the shirts will be ready to wear straight off the clothes line, if not, then a light steam will get them going.
  • They stay neat all day
  • Good ones are just as comfortable as regular cotton
  • Great to have on hand in an emergency (keep one folded in your desk, or in the boot of your car)

Cons:

  • Potentially irritating/dangerous chemicals (always buy from a trusted source, not some shady guy in an alley)
  • Cheap ones can be stiff and scratchy, and hold sweat like a polyester shirt.

I’m a traditionalist, and generally try to stay away from synthetic fabrics when I can afford it, but I honestly have no problem with non-iron shirts. I’ve never experienced any skin irritation from them, and I spend most of my time in air conditioned rooms, so sweat isn’t usually an issue. Ultimately, my advice is to buy whichever shirt you prefer.

Speedback GT

This is not a review, just my thoughts on a very good-looking car.

I like cars, and for me, the Speedback GT is one of the single most beautiful cars that I have ever seen.

DavidBrown_Speedback_Gallery_16

 

A 5.0-litre V8 (500BHP), the sixties inspired Speedback is something that I could see James Bond driving; but I doubt he would have the chance. At half a million pound (~$900,000AUD), and with only 100 being made, it’s not something that the average person will probably get to see in person, let alone drive or own; which is a shame, because it’s absolutely stunning.

DavidBrown_Speedback_Gallery_03

 

DavidBrown_Speedback_Gallery_14

 

DavidBrown_Speedback_Gallery_20

This isn’t a racing car. It has a top speed of 250k/h, and does 0-100km in a respectable 4.8 seconds, but it’s not for the track. This is the car you take on your leisurely afternoon drive along the British countryside, probably on your way to and from your summer estate.

Even if I could afford it however, and assuming one was available for me, I wouldn’t buy it. It’s beautiful, but for that price, I could buy an Aston Martin DB9 (or two), or a house; I’m just too practical to spend a not so small fortune on something just because it’s beautiful. Still, I wish I could drive it once, or twice.