Alternative Autumn/Winter Footwear

By now, we all know the importance of great footwear. Along with confidence, your shoes are arguably the most defining part of any ensemble, smart or casual. And it’s not just women who take notice of what’s on your feet before anything else these days, especially with more and more men showing an interest in fashion and style, so getting the choice right is vital for any sartorially-inclined male.

Despite us having more footwear silhouettes than ever to choose from, many of us still stick to what we know best – the classics. Those genuine wardrobe essentials that every man should own: tan/brown brogues, black Derbies, suede desert boots, white trainers… and possibly a more practical option if the weather is truly dreadful.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, but often it’s the subtle differences that set us apart as the best-dressed man in the room. And if shoes are as important as we all continue to make out, they’re clearly the best place to start.

With this in mind, we’re set to break down three alternative men’s footwear silhouettes for autumn/winter that will breathe life into your current collection…

1. Leather Chelsea/Desert Boots

We start with two styles all men should already be comfortable with: Chelsea and desert boots. Are they alternative? Hardly. Chelsea boots have been back on the fashion radar for the past twelve months and the popularity of the desert boot has never waned. However, although suede versions are now pretty ubiquitous on high streets up and down the country, it’s the more winter-appropriate leather designs we are recommending today.

As the weather is starting to worsen, suede is becoming a more and more problematic to wear. Having to brush your boots down after getting caught in a surprise rain shower quickly becomes tiresome and without significant care, the elements will eventually destroy the fabric completely. Not an ideal winter investment.

Don’t get us wrong, leather versions of these in vogue silhouettes aren’t going to see you through a snowstorm, but they will handle the daily rigours of winter weather much better, especially if you opt for a practical rubber sole. They’ll also stand out against the sea of military and brogue boots that are set to dominate the next couple of months.

Chelsea boots in smooth or textured pebble-grain leather are much smarter than their suede counterparts. Able to be dressed up or down effortlessly, they look just as good paired with your nine-to-five tailoring as they do with jeans down the pub on a Friday night. This is a style that will quickly become your default option for work and play. Their practical, easy pull on nature only makes them more appealing.

Similarly, switching your suede desert boots for a chocolate brown leather pair is an easy way to separate yourself from the next man’s Clarks Originals. Let’s face it: nearly everyone now owns a pair in beige, and for good reason – they’re the ultimate smart-casual shoe. Yet leather versions are arguably more versatile than their delicate suede cousins, as they can be dressed up with slim-cut trousers and a blazer without looking out of place. Perfect for a night out on the town, and it means you won’t have to dodge all the puddles on the way home anymore.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Leather Desert and Chelsea Boots Autumn/Winter Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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Key Styles
  • Selected Homme Marc Chelsea Boots In BlackSelected Homme Marc Chelsea Boots In Black
  • Topman Dune Cactus Lea Contrast Piping Desert Boots Topman Dune Cactus Lea Contrast Piping Desert Boots
  • Grenson Declan Chelsea Boots In Dark BrownGrenson Declan Chelsea Boots In Dark Brown
  • H By Hudson Houghton Boots In BlackH By Hudson Houghton Boots In Black
  • Allsaints Noble BootAllsaints Noble Boot
  • Asos Desert Boots In LeatherAsos Desert Boots In Leather
  • Topman Bertie Chelsea Boots Topman Bertie Chelsea Boots
  • Mark Mcnairy Pebble-grain Leather Desert BootsMark Mcnairy Pebble-grain Leather Desert Boots
  • Ps By Paul Smith Falconer Chelsea BootsPs By Paul Smith Falconer Chelsea Boots
  • Ben Sherman Black Qaat Desert BootBen Sherman Black Qaat Desert Boot
  • John Lobb Misty Leather Chelsea BootsJohn Lobb Misty Leather Chelsea Boots
  • River Island Brown Clarks Originals Leather Desert BootsRiver Island Brown Clarks Originals Leather Desert Boots
2. Burgundy Footwear

In last summer’s alternative footwear article, we recommended branching out from the traditional black and brown colour palette by investing in a pair of navy shoes. This autumn/winter we’re encouraging you to diversify further by adding a seasonally-appropriate burgundy pair to your collection.

Over recent years burgundy has forced its way into the modern gent’s wardrobe, cementing itself as a new ‘neutral’. As versatile as other traditionally masculine hues such as grey and brown, it also looks superb combined with blue/navy, as proven in our AW14 colour combinations article, which means a pair of burgundy shoes should slot seamlessly into your current style.

It’s this versatile nature that makes burgundy footwear a year-round option. A superb and striking alternative to your ubiquitous tan brogues, they will help separate any smart-casual or formal look effortlessly. Combine with your grey suit, tweed trousers, twill chinos or indigo jeans – they are able to adapt to almost any scenario or dress code.

In terms of silhouette, we would highly recommend a pair of rich oxblood brogues or double-monks. Both of these designs have the ability to be dressed up or down for the occasion, ensuring you get more wear for your money. Alternatively, why not consider a Chelsea boot and nail two of our alternative styles in one swoop?

Tip: Look out for designs with a black burnished toe (or ask a professional to do it for you). The colour contrast looks superb and this added detail will help inject character and personality into any look.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Burgundy Shoes and Boots Autumn/Winter Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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Key Styles
  • Topman Burgundy Dylan Leather Toecap BootsTopman Burgundy Dylan Leather Toecap Boots
  • Topman Brompton Monk Burgundy Leather Oxford ShoesTopman Brompton Monk Burgundy Leather Oxford Shoes
  • He By Mango Brogueing Leather BootsHe By Mango Brogueing Leather Boots
  • Asos Brogue Shoes In LeatherAsos Brogue Shoes In Leather
  • Aldo Scottie Toe-cap ShoesAldo Scottie Toe-cap Shoes
  • Grenson Monty Tassel Loafers 212383Grenson Monty Tassel Loafers 212383
  • Okeeffe Manach Pebble-grain Leather Monk-strap BroguesOkeeffe Manach Pebble-grain Leather Monk-strap Brogues
  • Ted Baker Fortscu Leather Derby ShoeTed Baker Fortscu Leather Derby Shoe
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories High-shine Leather Derby ShoesPaul Smith Shoes & Accessories High-shine Leather Derby Shoes
3. Penny Loafers

Let’s start by addressing the obvious: loafers in winter? No we’re not mad, and yes it can be done well.

Although it might not be the first shoe that springs to mind as the weather worsens, the timeless penny loafer definitely deserves consideration this autumn and winter. Of course, we’re well past the point of going sockless, that would just be daft. No, it’s time to winter-proof your traditionally warm-weather slip-ons with some seasonally-appropriate socks.

Chunky, textured versions are the perfect partner to this silhouette, helping insulate your feet and turning them into a genuine year-round staple. Alternatively, a considered pop of colour or print introduced via your socks makes for a great expression of individuality and allows you to really own this look.

Of course, choosing practical hard leather over suede is key to getting the most out of your loafers during the colder months. In terms of design, keep it minimal and sophisticated – we want to be able to dress it up or down, so go back to basics with a clean silhouette and quality construction. It’s pretty hard to look past the original Bass Weejuns as a prime example of what a good penny loafer should look and feel like.

Wear yours with everything from cords and jeans to a flannel suit – just bear in mind our recent advice on how to match your socks to your outfit and consider expanding your footwear colour palette with a shot of burgundy.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Leather Penny Loafers Autumn/Winter Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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Key Styles
  • Asos Loafers In LeatherAsos Loafers In Leather
  • He By Mango Leather LoafersHe By Mango Leather Loafers
  • Bass Weejuns Larson Loafers In BurgundyBass Weejuns Larson Loafers In Burgundy
  • Reiss Leather Penny Loafers BlackReiss Leather Penny Loafers Black
  • Topman Selected Homme Sel Loafer Navy Leather Smart LoafersTopman Selected Homme Sel Loafer Navy Leather Smart Loafers
  • Churchs Pembrey Leather Loafers 191796Churchs Pembrey Leather Loafers 191796
  • River Island Black Slip On LoafersRiver Island Black Slip On Loafers
  • Quoddy Crepe-sole Leather Penny LoafersQuoddy Crepe-sole Leather Penny Loafers
  • J.m. Weston 180 The Mocassin Leather LoafersJ.m. Weston 180 The Mocassin Leather Loafers
Final Word

It can be all too easy to get stuck in a rut during autumn/winter, wearing the same comfortable pieces day in, day out – and that includes footwear. Something as simple as subbing your brogues for a pair of Chelsea boots or veering away from the traditional colour ways can make all the difference to how you both look and feel.

The three alternative picks above may not be at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to choosing a pair of shoes just before you leave the house. But despite being a little bit offbeat, they all retain a timeless quality and would make a worthy addition to any autumn/winter shoe collection.

But what do you think – are you a fan of the footwear options showcased today? What is your go-to winter shoe? How do you ensure your footwear stands out for all the right reasons?

Let us know in the comments section below…