Spring is an interesting season in a sense that it's incredibly unpredictable. Pleasantly warm sunshine one moment can quickly deviate to an inclement deluge of showers and inconvenience in what seems like the blink of an eye. April showers bring May flowers, right?
Optimism aside, the objective of this post is to provide an array of possible spring and summer footwear options for the season. Given the fortuitous nature of spring weather, it's essential to employ a line of footwear that's not only fashionable, but functional as well. Shoes are arguably the most subjective category of apparel as it seems like no two people have the exact same taste in footwear. That being said, be sure not to treat this as an authoritative guide of what one must buy to look good this season, but rather a reference. Another point to note is that some options may be more/less viable in certain regions of the world as opposed to others. Let's begin.
Arguably the most iconic American footwear for warmer weather, boat shoes are typically constructed of canvas or leather, though you should almost always opt for the latter. Boat shoes (AKA deck shoes) were invented roughly 80 years ago by Paul A. Sperry (who later founded Sperry Top-Sider) for the purpose of providing grip on the wet deck of a vessel. They've since deviated from their original function and have established themselves as a staple component of casual and preppy styles alike. Boat shoes look best with chino shorts or cuffed pants and are generally worn without socks, though I'd definitely recommend some no-show socks for added comfort and to eliminate foot odor. If you're looking for something along the lines of a deck shoe, looking into camp moccasins may be worthwhile. They're similar to boat shoes both functionally and aesthetically, but instead sport a single eyelet that merges directly with the vamp along with a few other minute differences.
($) - Dockers Castaway Boat Shoe: One of the least expensive options for a fundamental boat shoe, the Castaway features leather construction, contrast stitching, and a rubber sole.
($$) - Sperry Authentic Original: Perhaps the most popular model of boat shoe in the market, Sperry's A/O is an excellent mid-tier offering with plenty of different colors combinations and leather finishes. For under $100, this takes the cake.
($$$) - Rancourt Read: Those looking for a higher quality, American-made option should consider this option. Boasting hand-sewn construction, chestnut leather laces, and brass eyelets, the Read is certain to turn some heads. Fun fact: Rawlings sources Horween leather for its professional baseball mitts and nearly one half of MLB players use Horween gloves.
Let's face it - the minimalist white sneaker craze isn't going anywhere, and I'm not complaining one bit. Low-cut white trainers can open up a lot of different styles in your wardrobe. An attractive and unobtrusive silhouette coupled with nearly limitless versatility might make some of your other footwear a bit jealous. Nowadays, practically every name in fashion has an offering for a white sneaker, so does one know what to look for? Well, for starters, I'd recommend acquiring a pair constructed of leather as opposed to canvas or another material. It's often easier to clean, and is much more stylish than lower-end textiles.
($) - Vans Authentic Canvas Sneaker: Given the price point, Vans are actually a very solid option for a canvas sneaker. Do note that the material in canvas and is, well, a canvas for any sort of stains. I've found my pair of white Vans one of the hardest to clean stains off of; however, the retail price practically makes them disposable if the problem becomes too troublesome. Note that Vans lows come in two different lines: Authentic and Era. I personally prefer the Authentics as they have a slimmer profile while the Era has a padded collar, which makes them a tiny bit chunkier. The Era is also available in a leather version as opposed to canvas.
($$) - Adidas Stan Smith: Though practically its own meme in the men's fashion community at this point, the Adidas Stan Smith is as optimal of a choice as ever. The most popular model is the white base with Fairway Green accent on the heel. I'd shoot for the Triple White colorway, though a model with a colored heel would look just fine.
($$$) - Buttero Tanino Low: The Tanino is renowned Italian shoemaker Buttero's take on the crisp, low-profile sneaker design. The shoe is comprised of Vachetta leather and exhibits little ornamentation as to not take away from the simplicity of the form.
($$$$) - Common Projects Achilles Low: The cult favorite Achilles Low was undeniably a vanguard in the white leather sneaker trend and for good reason, too. Though far from cheap at a Hamilton above $400, the CP Achilles is the culmination of elegance and simplicity when it comes to minimal footwear.
Characterized by suede or leather construction, open lacing, and a frame ending at the ankle, chukka boots have a place in every footwear arsenal. Though they can be worn with shorts, I wouldn't advise deviating far from denim or chinos. Taking this into consideration, chukkas are best reserved for cooler or cloudier days. One particular variation of the chukka is the desert boot, which was originally worn by British officers in the second World War. Chukkas are an excellent choice for those seeking a simple boot for both casualwear and slightly dressier occasions.
($) - L.L. Bean Kennebec: The Kennebec Chukka features full-grain leather construction, an EVA midsole, and is made in Brazil, which is arguably better than sourcing from Eastern Asia. The boot runs a bit large, so size down accordingly.
($+) - Clarks Original Desert Boot: Admittedly, I have an affinity for Clarks Desert Boots. Not only are they competitively priced at $80-$120, but the sheer selection of leather finishes and colors is impressive in itself. In my opinion, the "Beeswax" leather finish is by far the most versatile, but I'm also a fan of Sand Suede, especially for warm weather. Be sure to skip the heavy socks in place of a lighter, more breathable material as long, warm days and boots often don't mix well.
($$) - Red Wing Heritage Work Chukka: Red Wing's US-made chukka features Goodyear Welt construction and a contrasting white sole that compliments the bold color of the leather.
Penny loafers (AKA Weejuns) are characterized by a low-cut, laceless silhouette constructed of supple leather. They're as classic as it gets when it comes to footwear (their origins trace to Norwegian dairy farmers) and have consistently played a role in menswear since the 1930s. Stylistically, they're pretty versatile and will likely have no trouble fitting into your existing wardrobe. They're often ornamented with tassels, which is a love-it-or-hate-it addition. Loafers are generally offered in brown or black, though I'd certainly recommend a shade of brown as it carries far less visual weight that can through off the color cohesion of your look!
($) - Bass Larson Penny Loafer: Bass is proclaimed to be the first to market the loafer in the fashion sphere. The Larson comes in a few variations of black as well as a gorgeous burgundy leather finish.
($$) - Rancourt Pinch: Handmade in Maine, Rancourt's Pinch penny loafers offer a lightweight Horween Chromexcel leather build as well as contrasting moccasin stitching.
($$+) - Quoddy Penny Moc: Quoddy hits the nail on the head with its classic loafer fused with Vibram sole technology. If you're not familiar with Quoddy, you might be interested (or rather shocked) at the expansive selection of customization options. From the upper leather/suede construction down to the color of thread to sew it all together, this Maine-made loafer is sure to satisfy any taste.