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Style Advice

Five of our favourite footwear styles for spring

Five of our favourite footwear styles for spring

What’s that on the horizon? Oh, it’s the return of our social lives inching into sight. Yeah, we know – mentioning the end of the pandemic can feel like a bad omen. But whether you’re ready to start celebrating or still feeling a little cynical, one thing’s for sure: you’re going to need new shoes. 

Footwear is probably something you’ve paid little thought to in the past year – if anything, it’s our socks and slippers that are starting to look worn out. So now, as we ease back into everyday dressing, we’re looking for shoes that will combine the dose of style we’re craving with the comfort we’ve grown accustomed to. But don’t worry, we’re not expecting you to navigate this forgotten territory alone. While you’ve had your mind on other things, our stylists have been keeping their expert eyes on the footwear landscape, and these are the styles they think you’ll want to be seen in.


Photographed: Clarks Wallabee (£129)

Wet winter weather can feel prohibitive to our wardrobes, so if you packed away your suede shoes in wait for milder climes, we don’t blame you. The soft, luxury fabric is easily ruined by rain and dirt, but since that’s less of an issue in spring, there’s no better excuse to slip into a new pair of suede moccasins. 

Now, as we ease back into shoes after a year of slipper-wearing, these are guaranteed to keep you comfy. The gum sole and soft suede upper perfectly treads the smart casual line, so you can slip them on for running errands, a walk in the park, or meeting friends at a pub garden.

How to wear them

Traditionally made by Clarks and known as the Wallabee, suede moccasins have made their way into subcultures ranging from Jamaican dancehall to NYC hip-hop to ‘50s rockabilly – in fact, they’re so pervasive, some of us even took to them as school shoes. From funky tie-dye prints to classic browns and tans, classic low ankles or boot-like high-tops, you’ll have no trouble finding a pair that’s perfect for you. And this same versatility extends to how you wear them: for a contemporary twist, try relaxed-fitting jeans or cotton trousers that combine their old-school heritage with laid-back modern style.

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Suede sneakers

If casual style is more your thing, there’s still a chance to sport luxurious suede. The rich, textural fabric brings a depth to your trainers that is otherwise lost in leather or canvas versions. And although low-top trainers are perfectly trans-seasonal, the suede upper makes them feel like the ultimate choice this time of year. Plus, the strong, super comfy rubber sole unit in this pair from Stepney Workers Club can still provide extra protection in unpredictable weather, so you won’t have to worry about the suede getting splashed in puddles.

How to wear them

Trainers, unlike smarter shoes, can get a bit battered and beaten up and still look great. In fact, sometimes they even look a bit better when they’ve been worn in – so don’t worry too much about looking after the fabric. Where your moccasins need to look a little cleaner so they still work with smarter outfits, your trainers can be worn pretty much anywhere. We slip ours on with everything from sweatpants and a hoodie to jeans and an overshirt, so there’s no excuse not to wear them at every opportunity this spring.

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Loafers haven’t lost their appeal, even in the casual depths of lockdown. So when it comes to reclaiming your old style, this is the smart shoe to reach for. It’s a style that feels particularly far removed from your favourite slippers, but once you’ve worn them in, we promise they’ll be almost as comfy. For a contemporary take that nods to retro style, opt for a penny loafer. They’re especially great for spring as the open slip-on shape feels lighter and has less coverage than your usual smart brogues or Derbies.

How to wear them

Don’t let the smartness fool you: loafers are far more versatile than you might think. They work dressed down with shorts and a sweater just as easily as they do dressed up with a suit and tie. But for a look that falls somewhere in the middle, pair yours with rolled-up denim jeans and a polo. It’s a nod to mod style that highlights just how strong an investment loafers are – you can wear them day-to-day, and when the time comes for something more formal, you won’t need to splash out on a second pair of smart shoes.

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Slip-on mules

Photographed: Birkenstock Boston SFB (£85)

For many guys, these shoes have been the saving grace of the last year. And while they’re a great house shoe, the more fashion-forward among us have been wearing them out and about for years – there’s even Instagram accounts dedicated to the look. They’re one of the few sandals that actually look better with socks (trust us on this one), and once you’ve slipped your toes into a pair of mules, you won’t want to take them off. 

Consider this the fashion alternative to crocs: they’re super comfy, they’re easy to take on and off, you can wear them for lounging on the sofa, and when you need to pop out, you don’t need to worry about changing into another shoe. Even better? If you invest in the classic Birkenstock Boston style, the sole is repairable – that’s how much you’re going to wear them. 

How to wear them

2021 is the year of opulent comfort, so keep it casual. Mules can look bulky, meaning they work best with loose-fitting trousers that will maintain the proportion on your bottom half – and yes, that does include track pants if you’re sticking to the at-home look outdoors. If you’re just dipping your toe into this look, you can ease in with a cheaper rubber version before splashing out on the luxury suede or leather styles, but whichever you go for, you’re guaranteed to have them on permanent rotation for laid-back occasions. And if you have a casual office dress code, you can even bring the comfort to work with you. 

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Retro runners

Photographed: New Balance MS327PG (£99)

Spring is the season for trainers. It’s also the start of more vibrant, laid-back dressing, so if suede is a little too anxiety-inducing for you, retro runners can easily become your go-to shoe for the foreseeable future. It’s a ‘70s trend that made a comeback in the ‘90s and is now seeing its third renaissance with dads, Instagram models, and everyone in between sporting a pair of vintage New Balance runners. The silhouette feels sporty, so you know it will work perfectly with the casual staples you’re holding onto as we step out of lockdown. But they’re contemporary enough to wear anywhere from the park to the pub to dinner with friends without veering into the scruffy side of laid-back dressing.

How to wear them

You probably don’t need us to tell you how to wear a pair of trainers. And since this shape works with everything from wide-legs, to tapered trousers, to shorts, all you need to do is the colourway that works best for you. Runners give any look a relaxed and playful feel, but if you want to keep the retro vibes going, these look great with your just-off-the-sofa loungewear. Pick a fresh hoodie and sweatpants and throw on your runners and a trench coat for a look that perfectly combines retro cool with contemporary style. 

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Words: Ella White
Photography: Jack Batchelor
Styling: Toby Standing