What makes a perfect summer shoe? Well for starters you probably want something that’s not incredibly heavyweight. Also flexible? Sounds very appealing. No socks? No problem! (Unless you like socks which is totally cool still, promise) Light to light-ish in color? Not totally necessary but yeah sure that feels summer. Easy to get on and off? Once again, not required, but darn nice. Because last I checked, the summer is for minimizing effort.
In an attempt to minimize your effort while searching for your next pair of summer shoes, we’ve put together a rundown of some of our favorites, in a range of styles, constructions, leathers, outsoles, and more. Enjoy!
Oh and always feel free to email me with any questions on sizing or anything else…
Already one of the best value shoemakers you could find anywhere, Grant Stone’s very classic Dirty Buck is also its most affordable model. The Dirty Buck lineage stretches back well over a century, but the general idea is this: take a simple derby shoe, make it out of a light suede, often pair it with a red brick sole, and then wear the hell out of it in basically all situations through spring and summer. And there it is: Dirty Buck.
These Vibergs look pretty straightforward, but it’s actually one of the crazier leathers I’ve seen in terms of rapid patina and aging. And the Rigdeway sole is amongst the best for versatility, extending their life usage well beyond just the summer months. But get these Division Road guys out in the sun, maybe on a trail, and just watch what happens. Promise.
I have these boots. They’re fantastic. Absolutely dialed-in olive suede color, as precise a simple stitchout construction as you’ll find, and one of the most perfectly sculpted round lasts I’ve ever seen—simple, not flashy, but oh so good. Can confirm they work great sockless! Also available in tobacco, sand, and navy suede. But these are the ones you want (maybe).
Handsewn moccasin construction and nothing between you and the street than a bunch of leather and a bouncy Vibram handsewn wrap sole; I wouldn’t recommend doing a 10k racewalk in them, but what could be better for general hanging-out responsibilities all summer? I’ve built and rebuilt and re-rebuilt these in Quoddy’s custom shoe visualizer for over a year now (which lets you mix and match between nine leathers), and for some reason just haven’t pulled the trigger. You maybe should.
Another handsewn, this one from another Maine stalwart, Rancourt. There are few leathers that offer more pliable lightweight comfort than kudu, and this shade is just low-key perfection. I asked Kyle Rancourt a while back what some of his favorite leathers were; this one was right at the top of his list. Easy to see why.
Shoe leathers come in different weights, or thicknesses. Some use 4oz, others 6oz. Heavier duty work boots—from makers that don’t exactly make a ton of “summer shoes!”—tend to clock in at 8oz. For these Slip Mocs, Oak Street deploys a simply silly 12oz Horween Chromexcel unlined leather upper, which is prepared to figure out your foot and duplicate its every curve with enough wear. Just a simple, beautiful summer shoe. No socks allowed! Limited sizes remain!
Viberg’s slippers have become a summer staple since their release a few years back, basically taking a house slipper and making it something that can, you know, leave the house. And go pretty much anywhere. These reverse kudu, leather-soled numbers are without question a lightweight (but sturdily built!), highly forgiving archetype of the form.
And Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome sponsor Withered Fig has a similarly impressive example in a heavier duty smooth leather, olive latigo horsehide from Japan’s famed Shinki Hikaku tannery. Just look at how they age…
To my mind, Alden’s LHS is one of a VERY small handful of perfect loafers that have ever been created. Unlined + single flex leather sole = summer, but these can certainly pull duty in just about any season that doesn’t involve frozen water falling down from the sky.
Meermin is another of the best value shoemakers in the world, and is proving it again with these sub-$200 unlined suede loafers with luscious Du Puy leather, a handsewn apron, and ultra-thin insole. About as light a Goodyear welt construction shoe as you’ll ever wear.
Summer isn’t fun unless you make it so. These two-tone Richmond 2 pennies will pretty much handle that with their combo of snuff and camel suede. Northampton legend Crockett’s also got a few other multi-color makeups in them too…
While these will be a least slightly chiller than DR’s Tannino Vitello derbies, Horween’s Essex leather is veg-tan that’s notorious for looking more and more beautiful with each wear.
Ok we’re getting funky now. Some Yuketen shoes are quite straightforward, content to leverage the brand’s insanely upticked approach to construction and materials. I like the ones that look more like this—THAT’S a Yuketen to me. Who needs two-tone when you can have three??
And finally, if you feel the need to chonk year-round, 1) bless you, and 2) Paraboot Reims are your answer. How do I not have a pair of these yet.