Patrick: I recently had a pair of black cap-toe boots repaired and afterwards the cobbler explained to me that my Banana Republic boots had fake welts. I realized that I hadn’t really paid enough attention to a lot of shoe details. Among the questions I had were:
Is there a preferred way to lace dress shoes? I searched online and came up with this site http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/lacingmethods.htm which lists 33 different methods for lacing shoes. Most seem inappropriate for dress shoes, but it also didn’t address the issue of stitching the bottom set of holes with laces over or under the holes. Also, have you ever gotten taps installed on your leather bottom shoes to extend their durability?
Thanks for all the all the great information. I have yet to find another blog that offers such keen and timeless insight into men’s style.
Thank you for the questions, Patrick, and your kind words. I’m afraid you have fallen into a design trap of some of the bigger US brands that sell their own shoes. As brands like Banana Republic are design-driven rather than craft-driven, they don’t worry much about the construction details that are the focus of much of classic men’s style sites like this one and the various fora.
I believe all shoes sold by Banana Republic are glued rather than stitched, and certainly not Goodyear welted, like classic British shoes. Someone in the design team may have decided, however, that they want to produce a British-looking shoe (driven, perhaps, by the return of the brogue into fashion through Thom Browne, Grenson collaborations etc.). So they have produced a glued shoe that looks like it is welted. The only advice I can give is to shop at a more traditional English store next time – for the same price (around $140 I think) you could get a pair of Barker or Loake shoes that will last you far longer.
(A little aside on Loake, make sure you look at the product details on their site as to where the shoes are made. Despite the song-and-dance about British workmanship on the homepage, some of the Design range is made in India.)
On lacing for dress shoes, most people use the straight (European) lacing from that site and I would recommend it. It looks neater to have straight bars across the eyelets, and having a criss-cross underneath makes them much easier to tighten. Start with the laces going over the bottom two eyelets. On more casual shoes a criss-cross lacing on top can look good, but that’s more a question of taste.
Lastly, I tend to avoid metal taps on shoes but it is largely because I can’t stand the sound they make. Sounds like I’m on the parade ground on in a tap-dancing troupe. They can also be a little slippery. But some people do like them and they are certainly effective. And having plastic ones can avoid the two problems I bring up. I would recommend you try them and see.