You might not think it, but we’re nearly in May. The nice weather I’m experiencing as I write this is far too teasing for my liking – I’ll close my eyes for a second and when I open them it will be back to freezing winds and driving rain.

Planning for summer seems a bit foolish when you still find yourself in need of a winter coat. Although you know that if you don’t, the weather will change all of a sudden and you’ll be the silly idiot wearing jeans and a jumper whilst everyone else around you is in shorts and loafers.

I’ve always found summer footwear to be a particularly tricky facet of my wardrobe. Finding a versatile, comfortable and style appropriate all-rounder is something I’ve really struggled with, usually just resorting to my Vans or soft structured loafers. Sadly, neither of these fills the gaping hole in my footwear collection and the perfect crossover shoe continues to elude me.

However, I think I have found the solution. A shoe that fulfils all of my personal requirements and that I feel is also worthy of serious consideration by you guys. All the typical summer footwear: boat shoes, espadrilles, desert boots and sandals have their pros and cons, but I don’t think any silhouette adapts as well as the suede Derby.

A Good Foot Forward

For me the suede Derby is the perfect crossover shoe, serving both formal and casual styles in equal measure and looking just as good with a pair of rolled up jeans/chinos as they do with your tailored shorts. Suede is particularly good at bridging the smart-casual divide because it doesn’t have the rigid formal connotations of leather.

Suede is also much more temperature appropriate, being lighter and more breathable than leather. You should still invest in some invisible socks though – stinky feet are never attractive.

Couple all the above with the fact that you can purchase the suede Derby in a wide variety of colours and you’ve got yourself one extremely versatile shoe that will integrate flawlessly into your existing personal style.

However, bear in mind that not all suede Derbies are the same. The shape of the shoe will dictate heavily which end of the aesthetic scale they sit. Whilst more streamlined, sharper shapes will suit European, tailored dressing; the chunkier, more substantial styles might be more appropriate for the whole American prep/collegiate look. Both would be a fantastic investment but for maximum versatility you might want to look for something that offers a happy medium.

Whichever style you choose, below you will find a current lookbook and example outfits to give you some inspiration.

Suede Derby Lookbook

Men's Suede Derby Shoe Lookbook

perry ellis ss13ami ss13ami ss13strellson ss13club monaco ss13he by mango ss13ted baker ss13river island holloway road ss13strellson ss13diegel ss13percival aw13percival aw13
Look 1

I will always and forever maintain that it’s the simplest outfits that work the best: nothing fancy, nothing wild, just good solid basics, put together well. Our variable weather requires some clever layering and a casual sweatshirt under a denim jacket is a great place to start – it’s light enough to deal with a bit of heat but still warm enough to tackle the morning chill or the evening drops.

A pair of light coloured chinos are a wardrobe essential and will offer you more choice with your style of footwear. A pair of shoes in blue suede are almost as versatile as brown but, being a fairly underused colour, will help give your outfit a shot of individuality. Look for interesting details like the fluorescent soles on this pair from Topman or inject some colour via accessories:

  • Sunspel Loopback-cotton SweatshirtSunspel Loopback-cotton Sweatshirt
  • Asos Denim Jacket With Acid WashAsos Denim Jacket With Acid Wash
  • Allsaints Charge ChinoAllsaints Charge Chino
  • Topman Fluro Suede Desert ShoesTopman Fluro Suede Desert Shoes
Look 2

Never underestimate the power of a well fitting t-shirt and a good pair of shorts. Summer is coming and the temperature will rise – you won’t want to be wearing trousers all year round, so act now and find solid summer basics.

Neutral coloured shorts allow you to experiment freely with your upper half, and if you’ve invested wisely then you will find that it’s super easy to switch from structured and formal to relaxed and casual at the drop of a hat.

Navy chino shorts look great with a soft coloured tee and grey suede Derbies. As previously mentioned, be aware of the shape of your shoes – chunkier styles will look out of place because they will overwhelm your feet, making the outfit appear disjointed:

  • Ymc T-shirt With PocketYmc T-shirt With Pocket
  • Topman Indigo Chino ShortsTopman Indigo Chino Shorts
  • Asos Canvas And Leather BackpackAsos Canvas And Leather Backpack
  • J.crew Kenton Suede Derby ShoesJ.crew Kenton Suede Derby Shoes
Look 3

The bomber jacket is one of this season’s key pieces and suits a more subtle (perhaps more European?) take on preppy. Find one in a good anchor colour, like navy or brown, and you can wear it with pretty much everything and anything in your wardrobe without hassle.

This jacket from AllSaints pairs well with lighter coloured tailored trousers, creating an interesting mix of aesthetics, and is rounded off by a basic blue shirt and some statement green suede Derbies.

Keeping the outfit fairly muted allows you to play around with statement shoes, which can be a really good way of marking yourself out from the crowd. Whilst we are often inclined to stick to basic browns for our footwear, the more unconventional colours shouldn’t be completely discounted.

  • Allsaints Redondo ShirtAllsaints Redondo Shirt
  • Allsaints Kogan Bomber JacketAllsaints Kogan Bomber Jacket
  • Reiss Alsace T Cotton Linen Mix Trousers StoneReiss Alsace T Cotton Linen Mix Trousers Stone
  • Oliver Spencer Suede Contrast-sole Derby ShoesOliver Spencer Suede Contrast-sole Derby Shoes
Men’s Suede Derbies
  • Topman Ralphy Fashion Lace Up ShoesTopman Ralphy Fashion Lace Up Shoes
  • Sanders Dirty Crepe Sole Archie Gibson BootsSanders Dirty Crepe Sole Archie Gibson Boots
  • Topman House Of Hounds Tennison Derby ShoesTopman House Of Hounds Tennison Derby Shoes
  • Barbour Bolingbroke Derby ShoesBarbour Bolingbroke Derby Shoes
  • Topman Fluro Suede Desert ShoesTopman Fluro Suede Desert Shoes
  • Church Fulbeck Micro Derby ShoesChurch Fulbeck Micro Derby Shoes
  • Topman Burgundy Suede Desert ShoesTopman Burgundy Suede Desert Shoes
  • He By Mango Suede Derby ShoesHe By Mango Suede Derby Shoes
  • Gucci Suede Lace-up Shoes 147366Gucci Suede Lace-up Shoes 147366
  • Selected Theo Derby ShoesSelected Theo Derby Shoes
  • Mark Mcnairy Contrast-welt Suede Derby ShoesMark Mcnairy Contrast-welt Suede Derby Shoes
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Walterlight Suede Derby ShoesPaul Smith Shoes & Accessories Walterlight Suede Derby Shoes
  • Kurt Geiger Noah Derby ShoesKurt Geiger Noah Derby Shoes
  • Stitchdown Derby Bespoken BrownStitchdown Derby Bespoken Brown
  • Burton Grey Suede Desert ShoesBurton Grey Suede Desert Shoes
Final Word

So there we have a short round-up of the suede Derby, my personal choice of footwear for the spring/summer 2013 season. Such a versatile style would effortlessly integrate into any man’s wardrobe and they are definitely worthy of your consideration. When everyone else is pulling out their TOMS or boat shoes you can be confident in stepping out in something completely different, knowing that you’ve made a great choice.

As always I want to know what you think – are suede Derbies something you might consider?

Let me know in the comments section below…