You can’t go wrong with Connaught, that most indispensable of toe-cap Oxfords. The backbone of every well-dressed man’s footwear collection, the Connaught has been a signature style at Crockett & Jones for almost 60 years.
Connaught first arrived in 1961, set on last 215... Yes, not 236! 215 was a fairly odd last which our current Managing Director took a disliking to... As Jonathan says himself, "the fitting was poor, the back-part too wide, the vamp was short and the toe too narrow"... Not a great start for our friend Connaught.
In fact, to say Connaught first arrived in 1961, is not strictly true. What makes Connaught the icon that it is today, is that it was the first Oxford in the history of Crockett & Jones to be adorned with a name. 1961 was the year that saw Crockett & Jones adopted its current naming system and so the tale of The Connaught began...
Oxfords have always been developed with formal business-appropriate wear in mind. Oxfords were of course nothing new and Connaught derived from the many Oxfords that preceded it. Fast forward from a solid 17 years of producing Connaught on 215 (between 1961 and 1978), Jonathan Jones, set about re-organising the product development department, dropping Connaught from the range altogether! Alas!
The company continued with two other Oxfords: Chairman on the 224, "Another last completely unsuitable for Oxfords" says Mr Jones, and another named Aldwych... "a touch better" he adds.
It wasn't until 1984 that Connaught was brought back to life on a new last that Richard Jones, Jonathan's father and Managing Director at the time, had developed. A young Jonathan found the model in his fathers office and immediately set about pulling over their most successful pattern, The Oxford. Last 236 brought a modern day toe shape to a classic style and was a roaring success straight of the bat, still in the collection today, simply remarkable!
Today, Connaught (on the 236 last) is the only style we make on this last with its classic blunt-round toe. Rather than simply discard this original style, we have recently updated it once more, creating Connaught 2 (which should arguably be no.3!). This newer version is distinguishable by its City rubber sole and the slimmer back-part of our new 379 last, offering a slightly tighter fitting heel. The Connaught (1 or 2) is as recognisable, elegant and as classic as a Crockett & Jones Oxford can be.
Its smart looks lend themselves to formal wear, but that’s not to say Connaught can’t be dressed down. In Dark Brown or Chestnut Burnished Calf, it’s a truly versatile shoe suited to semi-formal, casual and even weekend wear, as well as for the office. As always in this Icons series, we look to our stylishly shod clients to prove our point.
First up, @sacamozzo perfectly demonstrates how Dark Brown Burnished Calf Connaughts suit pale chinos. He’s paired his C&Js with dark green ribbed socks, set against stone coloured chinos with generous rolled up hems – the best way to wear cotton trousers by all accounts. A simple piqué polo or maybe a chambray shirt on top is all that’s needed to set off this tried and tested casual look. It’s a similar story with the Connaught in Chestnut Burnished Calf, @tskimshoes has opted for classic navy chinos and dark socks to set-off his warm, reddish-brown Oxfords.
We find that Chestnut Calf really sings against navy, and this is a colour combination that would work just as well with a crisp navy blue suit. Speaking of which, @sartorialwatchmaker (a craftsman after our own heart) has paired his Dark Brown Connaughts with tonal navy checked trousers and emerald green socks – a combination that’s formal, yet fun. Green socks and dark blue trousers never fail to lift brown shoes.
Then of course, we look to the Connaught in its most timeless form: polished Black Calf. A shoe like this needs little by way of introduction and many of our readers will be familiar with the appeal of black Oxfords, worn to work or on smart occasions. @naniwaboss has clearly taken excellent care of his Connaughts, which bear a toe-cap shine you could see your teeth in. Moreover, @migumdr wears his Connaughts to formal perfection with a dark pinstriped suit, white double-cuff business shirt and sharp-looking dress watch on-wrist.
We’ll all be heading back to our offices before too long, and whether Chestnut, Dark Brown or classic Black Calf, the Connaught is the shoe to wear as you return to your working routine.