We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You fall in love with a pair of solid Goodyear-welted shoes, give them a quick try-on, and in the throes of credit card fuelled passion you buy them on the spot.
Thrilled with your purchase, the very next day you wear them proudly to the office, stride in feeling 10 feet tall and by 11am your feet are in agony; rubbing, straining and chaffing against the side-walls of a last that definitely wasn’t meant for your feet, after all. Certainly, that’s happened to me more times than I’d have liked – partially because I’ve got awkward fitting feet, and partially because I’ve got arthritic joints (I’m a right barrel of fun, me).
Thankfully, that’s yet to happen with my Crockett & Jones shoes. I own three pairs of C&J's, and the first (true to my ever-practical approach to wardrobe building) are a pair of handsome hand-grade Charlton Balmoral boots; a contemporary take on the Edwardian suede-and-calf Oxford boot, cut in glorious Dark Brown Suede and Antiqued Chestnut Calf leather, with gorgeous chiselled toes and narrow waists. Crockett & Jones's Hand Grade shoes (as I’ve mentioned before) are made without compromise, using superior leather and painstakingly developed lasts for a superb fit.
I owe my love of these shoes entirely to C&J’s Jermyn Street flagship staff, who rather than rush me into the boots, let me take my time to get the fitting right. From personal experience I maintain that it’s important to try on any new shoes a half size up and down from your usual size – just to be sure you’re getting it right. You might well be a size 9 on some lasts and an 8.5 in others, for example. C&J's staff were only too happy to oblige, and to offer their own thoughts on the size I should walk out with.
That was just over a year ago, and since then I’ve been consistently impressed with my Charltons. Not only are they striking to look at, but the leather is really quite special. I’ve owned considerably more expensive shoes than these, which are less comfortable to wear and haven’t broken in as easily, either. The secret behind this painless process is C&J’s Hand Grade Calf; it’s surprisingly supple and soft with a fine break. It has tremendous structure and takes the shape of its last beautifully. The fine calf leather holds its form where it should, but has moulded to my arthritic lumps and bumps without fuss! The hand-burnished finish on the leather is also delightful – it comes up beautifully with even a cursory polish.
C&J's Hand Grade shoes are made without compromise, using superior leather and painstakingly developed lasts for a superb fit.
Now, for those reading this and scoffing at my faux-Edwardian tastes, Balmoral boots really needn’t be as intimidating to wear as you might think. They’re a sharp choice to pair with suits on dressed-up days, and with jeans and blazers on the weekends, too. I like mine with good navy or grey flannel double-breasted suits for work, but often dress them down in fine weather with my go-to Hiut denim jeans, a merino roll-neck and checked tweed sports coat out-of-hours. And thanks to their distinguished looks they draw no shortage of admiring comments, too.
Whether you’re looking for some boots that will make a statement, or to move up into Crockett & Jones' Hand Grade Collection, these really should be at the top of your ‘try-on’ list this or any other season.