In (whispered) truth, men’s fashion is just jackets and trousers. You can elongate things and trim bits off and turn things on their heads, but it’s all tops and bottoms in the end. Coats are just overgrown jackets, shorts are just junior trousers, and the boiler suit is just greedy, really.
What we put on our feet, however, varies wildly from season to season. For a while, the runways of London, Milan, Paris and New York were downtrodden with trainers. Trainers that got more and more vast and ridiculous with every round of fashion shows. Thankfully, that cup-soled dystopia seems to be on the wane, and many storied fashion houses have returned to making interesting leather and suede shoes and boots, rather than competing with the likes of Nike and Adidas, who still produce the best trainers anyway – they’ve been making them for over 100 years between them, after all.
Shoe-wise, the key word this season is ‘heft’. The Ermenegildo Zegna Couture, Louis Vuitton and Bottega Veneta shows all featured oversized, military-style boots. (Bottega’s were especially gargantuan, to the point of steampunk excess). And further commonality came in how they were styled: most of which were worn with black tailoring – powerful in its simplicity, but perhaps not a pairing you’d wear to the office. A pair of black bovver boots should be your first investment for the season ahead, but I would err on the side of ‘satisfyingly chunky’ rather than full Mad Max.
In that mean but-not-too-much category, I’d point you in the direction of the Coniston toe-cap derby boots from the second edition of Crockett & Jones’s The Black Editions collection. The brand’s iconic boot has been toughened up with a cleated rubber sole and black ‘rough-out’ suede uppers. A material that C&J’s James Fox told me could ‘take a battering’, and that’s always heartening to wear in winter.
The new run of The Black Editions also features an especially mega loafer. The Henley III in glossy black cavalry calf leather, beefed-up with the requisite rubber sole, is indicative of another autumnal trend: Teddy Boy style. Inspired by Frankenstein and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Miuccia Prada sent models down the runway in black drainpipes and short lapelled, three-button jackets, while at Celine, Hedi Slimane paired narrow club ties with dark separates, white socks and brothel creepers or tasselled penny loafers (or chunky black boots, for that matter). I’m happy to report that the Teddy Boy energy was purely sartorial, and that hair – or those sideburns – are yet to return to the cutting edge of men’s style.
Finally, there is good news: the beaten-up country brogues you already own are back in vogue. Kind of. The Autumn/Winter 2019 collections were peppered with bookish overcoats, billowy shirts and Harry Potter-esque scarves. All quite Bloomsbury, with lots of tweed and dusty green and pleats. The de-facto footwear for such a vibe has to be a well-worn pair of brown lace-ups, preferably something in grain leather, like the trusty C&J Pembrokes you’ve doubtless owned and cherished for years. Wear yours with quietly cropped mid-blue denim. Poetry anthologies optional.