We're making a plan this year to invest in the best items we can. Value has always been something that we've prized here at Valet. That doesn't necessarily mean something has to be inexpensive. It means that the item is valuable—worthy of the cost. Because to buy well means that you've bought something that will serve you for years to come. Welcome to the “Ultimate Investments”, a week-long roundup of the best buys for 2023 and beyond. First up? Shoes.
The 10 Shoes Worth Splurging On
When it comes to cost-per-wear, a good pair of shoes has to deliver the most value of any item in a man’s closet. We can wear the same pair multiple times a week. A good shoe can last a man years—decades even, if he takes good care of it and employs a cobbler to refurbish and resole now and again. But you've got to spend your money wisely on the pairs that will work for you. Where do you start? Zero in on the brands known for their quality and choose from them, even if that means buying less. You will probably not need ever kind of shoe on this list, but there's no doubt a few could serve you well for years to come.
If you're going to have just one pair of dress shoes in your closet, you'll probably want that pair to be some oxfords. It's a straightforward style that can be worn with the most formal of outfits, but still be worn daily to the office or out on weekend dates. The simple yet sleek silhouette means you're going to look properly pulled-together for any dressed-up occasion.
$395 by Allen Edmonds
Chukkas, especially when cut from suede, can feel a bit casual and easygoing. That's okay. The trick is to focus on a streamlined silhouette and elevated construction. Which is why we prefer Astorflex to any other brand. The family-owned business has been making classically handsome footwear in Italy from healthy, eco-friendly leather and natural rubber for six generations.
$195 by Astorflex
There's really not a more versatile shoe than a loafer. They're at once classic and incredibly current. They can be dressed-up and dressed-down, worn with or without socks and look great whether they're worn-in or box fresh. And when it comes to loafers, there's no need to go fancy. Bass has been making their Weejuns since 1963 and they're still handsewn, still made using the same moccasin construction and can still be resoled over and over again.
$175 by G.H. Bass & Co.
The Cordovan Blucher
The Cordovan Blucher
When it comes to proper shoes, a classic blucher is a simple, straightforward shoe that will always ensure you're wearing the "right shoes." Perhaps that's why this is the most popular shoe of all time for Alden. And that says a lot for a company that's been crafting quality footwear since 1884. This pair is made from shell cordovan (the hardwearing leather from horsehide), so it's all but guaranteed to last a lifetime.
$894 by Alden
Here's the thing about boots: they need to be tough—you can't baby them because they actually look better with a few battle scars. Which is why you want to invest in a well-made pair that can take the shit getting kicked out of them. This pair, from Oak Street Bootmakers, is cut from natural Horween Chromexcel leather and deftly toes the line between bulky work boot and handsome dress shoe.
$462 by Oak Street Bootmakers
If you're looking for a dress shoe that can easily cross back and forth between the territories of formal and casual, pick up a pair of derby shoes. And if you want a comfortable pair that won't fall apart after heavy wear, these by Mr P. are set on rubber lug soles that provide plenty of support and traction.
$400 by Mr P.
Tricker's makes some handsome short-wing brogues, with a pointed, perforated toe cap that runs along the sides, ending at the ball of the foot. They're pretty much a classic that will never go out of style—although the slightly chunkier sole somehow makes them feel more substantial and modern.
$600 by Tricker's
Be careful to avoid the designer-white-sneaker trap. Many are wildly overpriced and won't hold up. The Samba was first made in the 1950s for indoor soccer training, and they've become one of the most iconic sneakers of all time. And it's not hard to see why. Smooth leather, signature stripes and an instantly recognizable rubber outsole come together in one streamlined look loved by everyone from athletes to actors.
$130 by adidas
The Hybrid Shoe
The Hybrid Shoe
Perhaps the wildest pair on this list, the Angler by Yuketen represents the hardworking boat shoe-meets-boot hybrids that we're seeing more and more of lately. Modeled after the classic New England sporting styles that anglers used to wear during the '50s and '60s, the hand-sewn textured-leather shoes feature reinforced arches for all-day comfort and substantial rubber-lug soles for exceptional grip and balance on any surface.
$649 by Yuketen
The WFH revolution introduced us all to the pleasures of slip-ons. Call them clogs, mules or your “house shoes that can leave the house,” the legendary Birkenstock Boston is definitely the leader of the pack. They get more comfortable with each day thanks to their signature footbed, which molds to your foot after several wears making them uniquely yours.
$155 by Birkenstock