The short-sighted man drops his entire autumn/winter wardrobe budget on an overcoat, but shuns his feet. After all, it’s tricky to layer below the belt, and soaked socks mean a miserable day. To give you clearance from the puddles, you need some bulk. Enter the chunky sole.
Chunky-soled footwear is not only practical, it also lends whatever you’re wearing a sense of ruggedness, and a handy extra vertical inch or two, without the ignominy of platforms. So this season designers have taken soles once restricted to army boots and applied them to, well, everything. It’s time to fall in.
Brogues have a natural heft that stems from their origins wading through bogs. But where the original design was to let water out after calf-deep immersion – hence the holes punched in the upper – modern takes stop the damp getting in in the first place.
The classic silhouette has been amped up this season, with brands like Grenson giving the already solid sole a dose of steroids. Its signature Archie model now boasts a triple welt, for optimum puddle clearance, matched by oversized eyelets. But take care that your tailoring follows suit.
“Balance them with the cut of your trousers or jeans,” says Thom Scherdel, buyer at The Idle Man. That means avoiding wide-legged styles, which can make your entire outfit look overgrown. “Slim your trouser shape down, but don’t go super-skinny. Otherwise it will exaggerate your feet.” Clown shoes are a step too far.
Farrell x Primark AW15
2. Oxford/Derby Shoes
Traditionally slim and slick, your office shoe has also stepped up for the season. “It’s a natural progression during the cooler months for shoes to become heavier in their design,” says David Morris, shoe buyer at Mr Porter. Dropping temperatures mean bigger outerwear, and your feet need to match.
But since the oversized sole is a statement, keep the upper smooth, to ensure your chunkier shoes swap straight in for your usual nine-to-five footwear.
“I don’t think that there’s one rule when it comes to chunky shoes, except of course, moderation,” Morris says. “Don’t go too chunky. It didn’t work for Emma Bunton and it won’t work for you.” Baby steps.
3. Hiking Boots
Unless you’re actually tackling the Matterhorn, your hiking boots should steer classic everywhere except the sole. Modern detailing looks nerdy on the upper – steer away from space-age materials towards metal and leather – but chunky soles not only pop, they’re functional where it counts, says Ludwig Reiter CEO Till Reiter. Because you’re just as liable to stack it on mud or wet marble.
To keep this chunky style looking as sleek as possible, the fastening is key. “Do not, under any circumstances, fail to tie up your laces,” says Scherdel. “Tie them up nice and tight and let the shoe do the talking.”
Mango Man AW14
4. Sneaker Boots
Come winter, the streetwear man fancies a quandary. Practicality dictates it’s time to stow his sneakers, but he can’t bring himself to step out in anything that doesn’t float on a cushion of air. Enter the sneaker boot, a trainer/hiker hybrid that crafts a sneaker’s upper in something more robust, and bolts it to a wet-weather sole.
While the final effect may lack elegance, so does rushing for cover every time a shower threatens your pristine kicks. “By their very nature they are built for purpose,” says Scherdel. “Generally they have reinforced sole units and a technical upper to provide some shelter from the elements.”
Just be sure to treat it with a protective solution such as Liquiproof before you step outside, to quell any panic of ruining your new kicks in a day.
Nike Air Max 90 Sneakerboots
5. Desert Boots
The traditional desert boot is already well-endowed – the crepe soles are built to withstand hikes through rough terrain – but this season they’ve bulked up further still. And in a nod to the rain missing from their original haunts, the suede upper switches out for easier-to-clean leather.
“They’re rugged and perfect for the inclement British weather,” says Ben Reynolds, Founder of LDNfashion. “Wear them with a crisp pair of denim jeans – Nudie or Edwin would be ideal.”
We’d suggest a slim, cuffed option. You don’t want to drown your boots, or risk your hems soaking up what’s on the pavement.