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The winter footwear guide

The winter footwear guide

Is there anything as uncomfortable as spending the day in wet shoes? That squelch across your office or, even worse, the embarrassment of a day spent in your socks as your lace-ups dry out? Well, possibly. But it’s still pretty unpleasant. And it’s also extremely simple to avoid. You just need to swap your summer shoes for something built for rough weather.

You should think of your footwear in the same way as you think about your clothes,” says Thread stylist Millie Rich. “You wouldn’t go out in winter in a flimsy t-shirt; nor should you go out in the winter in thin canvas shoes.”

The most important thing to consider is what stands between your dry feet and the wet floor. “A leather sole will be flimsy and absorb water in the winter, so you need something more durable and hefty,” says Millie. “Rubber is, by a long way, the best option.”

Further up, though, leather makes more sense. “It’s waterproof, especially if you keep on top of polishing it or using protector sprays,” says Millie. “And it’s wipe clean, so any marks will be minimal.” Keep a pack of wet wipes in your bag to deal with any puddles you don’t notice on the way in to work. The sooner you can clear the grime, the less likely it will mark your shoes.

Below, Millie breaks down the five styles that will keep you warm, dry and work with what you’ve already got in your wardrobe. “Men panic when a season changes but if you just stick to a few rules, you won’t have to change anything from your usual style.” Here’s how to put your best foot forward.

Chunky brogues

Chunky brogues

Photographed: Grenson Archie brogues (£210)

What are they? Your usual brogues, but with some extra puddle-clearance, courtesy of a thicker sole. This could be heavy-duty rubber or an extra welt – the piece of leather that joins the sole to the upper – which keeps your feet away from the wet.

Key features “The thicker the sole, the better. If you need to wear them in smarter situations, then look for Dainite soles – it's got rubber studs, but has a slimline profile that looks like leather from the side.”

How to wear them “They’re smart enough to wear with a suit and, because they’re a bit more interesting than a derby, are a great smart-casual option with chinos or jeans.”

Chelsea boots

Chelsea boots

Photographed: Reiss Tenor Chelsea boots (£195)

What are they? Leather boots with an elasticated opening. Because they’re free of detailing, Chelsea boots work with a suit, so can sub in on days that your Oxfords can’t handle. Just make sure to keep them polished, to keep the rain out and smartness levels high.

Key features “Make sure they’ve got a rubber, rather than leather heel – it’s grippier. And you’ll appreciate a heel pull when the soles are wet.”

How to wear them “They’re really versatile – you can wear them with a suit in the week and then denim, an Oxford shirt and an overcoat at the weekend.”

Hiking boots

Hiking boots

Photographed: Fracap M120 Scarponcino hiking boots (£219)

What are they? Above-the-ankle boots that could tackle a mountain as easily as a wet pavement. Just be careful quite how outward-bound they look.

Key features “Ensure they’re made of good leather, aren’t too bulky and look more traditional than modern. D-rings for the laces are good, but neon Gore-Tex panels should be kept for actual exploring.”

How to wear them “They’re chunky and practical, so look good with workwear. Think things like cargo trousers, flannel shirts and utility jackets.”

Winter trainers

Winter trainers

Photographed: Diadora Camaro trainers (£65)

What are they? Any trainers that won’t get ruined by puddles. That means robust fabrics like leather, rather than canvas or suede, in colours that don’t show the dirt. Black, navy and dark greens are particularly forgiving.

Key features “Look for waterproof materials, but if you can’t resist canvas, then pack some Crep Protect. A spray every day will stop the material getting grubby.”

How to wear them “They’re best for weekends, particularly when you’re walking around a lot. They also make a comfortable back-up pair if your other shoes get soaked.”

Chukka boots

Chukka boots

Photographed: Oliver Sweeney Waddell chukka boots (£169)

What are they? The desert shoe’s wet weather cousin. Instead of stainable suede you get wipe-clean leather and – to stop you slipping on wet pavements – they also feature grippy rubber soles in place of crepe.

Key features “Get a style that sits at ankle height or higher, to ensure your feet won’t get cold.”

How to wear them “Exactly as you would with a suede version – they’ll look great with anything from chinos to tailored wool trousers.”