A friend recently came back from London where he had the opportunity to work with a very established law firm. When he came back, he had all good things to say about his experience… except for one.
“I was chastised for the type of leather shoes I wore,” he told me over welcome-home beers. “Apparently it is inappropriate to wear bluchers with a business suit in London. They are too casual.”
While in America our office dress is getting more casual by the minute, London—the home of bespoke style—still adheres to a strict city suits only policy when it comes to the workplace; especially if you’re in a high-power sector.
Bluchers are considered “country shoes” by English standards, great for pairing with more casual suits (think tweed or a heavier flannel). However, that makes them just a shade below appropriate when it comes to pairing with a city suit. Their bulk makes the ensemble too bottom heavy.
In this situation, my friend could have really benefitted from having a pair of wholecut oxfords—like The Martin.
Oxfords are inherently more formal than the blucher. Their closed-lacing system provides a sleeker silhouette that doesn’t overwhelm a bespoke city suit. The oxford is the go-to style for gentleman in London and beyond.
The reason I choose the wholecut oxford for my friends is simple: his criticism was that his shoes were too casual. The Martin Wholecut, while versatile, is definitely the most formal of all Paul Evans’s catalogue.
The single-piece construction of wholecut Italian shoes is no easy feat. It takes a great amount of skill to take one piece of leather and construct it into a sleek, clean shoe with no seams save for the one in the back. And suffice to say the more skill put into a piece, the more valuable—and the more formal—it is.
Polished black wholecuts are considered the best pairing for eveningwear or black-tie events. But a pair in brown or oxblood might pair better depending on the color of your suit. See what we have to say about pairing your shoe and suit colors here.
As for my friend, he now has a pair in each color sitting in his closet so the next time he comes back from London, there will only be good things to report.