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The Thread Guide to: Shoes

The Thread Guide to: Shoes

If your footwear schedule's limited to a pair of lace-ups during the week and trainers all weekend, it might be time to broaden your repertoire. And yet that doesn't mean you need to do anything extreme (like wear pointy-toe shoes, for example).

Instead, consider subbing in a pair from Thread's roster of six favourite shoe styles (which complement our five favourite boots). The idea is that if you've got the shoes below in your wardrobe—plus a boot or two—you won't need another pair any time soon. 

Below, senior stylist Alice Watt talks us through the essentials, with tips on what to look for and how to wear each pair well. To make it even easier, we've arranged them from most casual to smartest. 

Thread's favourite shoes 1. Casual trainers

Why we like them: "For the same reason you do: comfort. Plus they're a nice chance to go bold by choosing an unusual colour or pattern."

What to look for: "Think about the sorts of colours you normally wear and pick a complementary tone. So if you normally wear indigo or even light-blue jeans (and don't we all?) then blue trainers will work well."

... and avoid: "Avoid trainers that are aggressively multicoloured. Two or three tones is probably the maximum before they look like the shoes you wore in nursery school. Keeping to a few colours is how you achieve a nice balance between stylish and sporty."

Wear them with: "Anything casual. If they're fairly neutral, like New Balance trainers, you could even do chinos. But if you've gone bold and bright, it's best to make them the focus of your outfit by keeping everything else pretty simple." 

Thread's favourite shoes 2. Boat shoes

Why we like them: "In the summer or on holiday, trainers can be too hot and sandals aren't for everyone. Boat shoes are great because they work just as well at the beach as in the city, and they go with shorts and trousers. They're an easy, casual go-to whenever it's warm."

What to look for: "The classic details are stitched toes, laces around the side and rubber soles. Stick to these essentials in a brown leather pair and you can wear them whenever it's warm."

... and avoid: "Don’t treat boat shoes as if they're loafers: they're not as smart. You wouldn't want to wear them with anything more formal than chinos. And these are too light and summery to stand up to cold weather."

Wear them with: "Boat shoes have a preppy feel to them, so anything similar will work—think Oxford shirts and chino shorts."

Thread's favourite shoes 3. Desert boots

Photographed: Selected brown desert boots (£50)

Why we like them: "Well, they're technically boots. But in reality they lie somewhere between a shoe and a boot, so we've included them in both groupings. Desert boots defy ages and seasons, and they're hard to wear badly."

What to look for: "Suede and leather are the most popular styles for a reason: they'll always look good. Sand, brown and black are the most common colours, but navy can also be a good shout. Crepe rubber soles are the more casual choice, while leather soles will work with smarter looks."

... and avoid: "Honestly, there's not much you can get wrong if you go for a classic pair without bells and whistles."

Wear them with: "Add a turn-up to your jeans if you want to show the boots off properly. But desert boots aren't just for denim; they'll add a slightly rugged feel to chinos, too."

Thread's favourite shoes 4. Minimal trainers

Photographed: Jigsaw white leather trainers (£98)

Why we like them: "Actually, we love them! They look so much sharper than bulkier trainers, and they go with everything from jeans to formal trousers. You can wear a good pair pretty much every day."

What to look for: "As we're going minimalist here, choose a neutral colour like white, black or grey. If possible, you want them to be one colour, maximum two. Leather and suede are your best options, as they'll go with jeans as well as smarter clothes."

... and avoid: "These should be a base that blends in with the rest of your outfit, so keep distractions to a minimum: avoid large logos or branding, and unusual closures like Velcro. And clean them to keep them looking good."

Wear them with: "I highly encourage experimenting! Sure, you can wear them with jeans and a jumper, but you could also try them with smart trousers and a jumper, or a blazer, shirt and jeans. The simplicity of the shoes makes them hard to wear badly—just keep at least one other element of your outfit on the casual side." 

Thread's favourite shoes 5. Brown smart shoes

Photographed: Whistles brown Derbies (£165)

Why we like them: "Brown lace-ups are that bit more versatile than their black counterparts because they're more casual. They work with every colour suit, but they also look appropriate at a meeting or at the pub."

What to look for: "Most importantly, a round toe plays much better than anything pointy. You can go for pretty much any shade of brown; lighter colours tend to be more casual. Go for a leather sole if you'll be wearing them to the office; a rubber sole is more casual."

... and avoid: "Anything that's been designed to look pre-worn. A good pair of leather shoes will break in naturally as you wear them."

Wear them with: "Obviously, smart shoes work really well with suits and formal trousers. But you can also wear them with dark jeans and a chambray shirt, for example, because brown and blue work well together, and the shoes will smarten the outfit up."

Thread's favourite shoes 6. Black smart shoes

Why we like them: "Black leather shoes make every outfit a great deal smarter."

What to look for: "Make sure you get real leather so that they break in nicely. We've chosen quite a contemporary pair here, which can be worn smartly or casually, but if you're a smarter dresser you'll probably prefer a buffed-leather pair with a thinner sole."

...and avoid: "Anything but the classics: brogues, Oxfords or Derbies."

Wear it with: "Black smart shoes are more formal than brown and won't work as well at the pub or with light-wash jeans. Keep them for smarter, darker clothes—from dark suits to dark denim."