There are different types of shoes that use the hide of various animals like cattle, goat, pig, crocodile, snake, deer and even lizard! They are also the most durable shoes and good care can make them last for years. Have you ever bought a pair of shoes that you regretted later because of poor quality or bad fitting? There are so many other criteria that a perfect pair of leather shoes must meet, like a well-attached sole and heel (stitched or glued), thickness of the leather, tendency to wrinkle and the polish of the shoes. Viewing the shoes may make everything seem to be fine. But, you need to feel the texture and the linings of the shoe too.
Choosing Leather Shoes
There are different types of leather that are used to make shoes. Polished and natural finish leather don't get stained easily. The leather shoe should be well-lined from back to front. Three general classifications of leather are:
- Suede: Suede leather is very soft and won't last if you wear them during monsoons. Same is the case with nu-buck leather. They are made by completely separating the grain from the hide. Also, they easily get stains, unlike patent leather, and need a lot of care. It is best to spray them with a protectant to make them last longer. Suede leather is generally low-cost.
- Full Grain: Most shoes are made using full grain leather. Often used for the entire shoe, full grain leather is commonly used in shoe parts such as shoe uppers and linings. It is the upper side of animal hide that once contained hair and that has now been removed. Full grain leather is not treated to remove imperfections. This makes it very durable and preferred by most people due to its fine quality. It also has a lower tendency to retain less moisture and easily takes the shape of the foot.
- Corrected Grain: As the name suggests, corrected grain leather has been treated using grain to correct imperfections after sanding off the leather. The hide is generally low quality and the natural grain is buffed. Then, an artificial layer of grain is applied on the hide. Such leather is generally used for dyeing that further hides the scars on the hide.
Other types of leathers are Nappa leather, buckskin, patent leather, tanned leather and shagreen. If the leather is too thin, your shoes are likely to wear off quickly and they are not the best choice if you plan on buying heeled shoes. Also, they easily take the shape of your feet and soon you will be able to see imprint of your toes onto the leather. While choosing look for a pair that has a strong leather so it lasts longer. Did you know? Pigskin is more permeable than calfskin, so it has more breath-ability for your feet.
Your shoe size may not be one of the conventional sizes. There are many people stuck somewhere between two shoe sizes like between 8 and 9. In such a case, you wouldn't know which one to buy. So, you should try both sizes and preferably go for the bigger one because a shoe that is little too tight can make you feel very uncomfortable. Also, even though there is a scale for shoe sizes and yours may just be one of them, everyone's width of the feet is different. Heavier people tend to have wider feet. If you are not sure about your foot size, ask the salesperson to measure both feet for you.
If you are going to wear the shoes with socks, it is a smart move to try on the shoes wearing socks. This is because socks will make the fit of the shoe slightly tighter. Now, check the space between your biggest toe and the edge of the shoe. There should be a space of about half an inch between them. This is because our feet tend to expand by a size during the day. In fact, you should ideally buy shoes in the afternoon when your feet will be at its biggest size. Avoid the half-inch rule at this time. Once you decide to buy a pair of shoes, walk around in them in the store for about 5 minutes and then keep wearing them for another 5 minutes. It will help you to know whether your feet are comfortable in the pair and if they may give you a shoe bite.
Shoes designs rarely go out of fashion. So, anything you buy will be trendy even after years! There are several designs available in the market like Oxford shoes, loafers, boots, cap toes and monk strap shoes. Women have them in pumps, boots and Mary Janes. Try different styles to know what looks good on you. Some people who have a slim feet look great in slim-fit designs. But, if you have wide feet, go for such shoes that accommodate the width of your foot such as loafers and leather slip-on shoes.
If you have wide feet but you are wearing a slim fit design, you will feel your feet spill out of the sole and stretch out from the sides. You will also be likely to suffer from warts and sores. You know it best what goes well with the outfits you intend to wear with your leather shoes. If you are doubtful about your choices, bring a friend along to choose the right pair. Do remember, that, your shoe must be comfortable apart from the style factor. Do not follow trends that make your feet unhappy! For low-heeled shoes, check the balance of the shoes by placing them on a table top. They should meet the surface at the center of the sole.
The most common colors are black and brown (dark or tan). They are classics and go well on all types of attires, especially formal suits. Other colors available in leather are oxblood, brick, gray, red and white. They are dyed using vegetable dye and aluminum dye. Also, remember that a good pair does not have any polish or oil stains. They should also not have any scars or marks.
Shoes that are made of calfskin, pigskin, kidskin or crocodile skin tend to be more expensive than the rest that may be made of veal or full grain leather. For men, a good-quality pair can cost anywhere around $350 onwards. However, they will be very durable so, it is definitely worth the price. My father buys the most expensive pair and they always last him for years! Shocker, huh? I know it because I teased him about buying a new pair and not telling me about them (yes, the shoe-obsession gene has been passed down the generations), until I found out they were more than 8 years old! I swear they looked so new like he just bought them off the store. Not to forget, though, he takes really good of care of his shoes. You should compare prices and quality offered by different stores for the same design of shoes, before you buy a pair.
Are you stuck with shoes that are too tight and now it's impossible to wear them without wincing? Well, you don't have to throw away your exquisite buy. You can stretch leather shoes at home! When you take off the laces, make sure you untie the laces before you get your feet out else it will stretch the top line of the shoe, ruining its fit. Always check the fit of the shoes before you buy them. So, I'd suggest you refrain from buying shoes online. Remember, that you need to take proper care of shoes so that their finish and shine last longer.