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Leather or rubber soles?

post #1 of 171
Thread Starter 
Here are a few things I have been wondering about regarding leather shoes and soles. Some of the questions are probably a bit noobish, so please bare with me. So, here we go: 1) Which soles are considered the most formal? (I assume leather) 2) Which soles are best for walking/most comfortable? (I assume rubber) 3) Can/should leather soles be used in the winter (i.e. subzero temperatures and snow)? 4) Can/should leather soles be used in the rain or when at risk of walking through water (i.e. after rain)? 5) What are "double leather soles", what is their purpose and how noticeable are they compared to regular leather soles? (I assume last longer but looks more "clunky"/less formal) By the looks of them (i.e. very flat/slippery) leather soles don't seem suited for walking on ice/slippery surfaces. Should I rather get shoes with rubber soles for winter/outdoor use? In conclusion, what this sums up to is whether I would need to get two sets of shoes, one with rubber soles for use during the winter and on rainy/wet days I usually only wear dress shoes when temperature is below -1C or when there is no snow/salt on the streets (i.e. in the spring/summer/fall). In typical "slushy" conditions (i.e. +1-5C or snow/rain) I usually wear boots. However, considering that winter and "rain seasons" is about 4-6 months of the year where I live, would it be stupid to only get shoes with leather soles (because they would wear out much faster)? Also, I'm thinking walking on leather soles in the winter might be a bit dangerous, considering walking on ice in the winter is pretty much unavoidable during the course of a day. Note that I don't wear a suit on a regular basis (usually jeans and dress shirt), but I would like to be able to use the shoes also with suits without looking out of place. Anyone else living in similar weather conditions willing to share their experiences with these issues? EDIT: 7) Will wearing leather soles in subzero temperatures (assume no snow or salt, just ice and a lot of gravel/pebbles/sand or whatever it's called--the stuff they put on the streets to prevent old people from breaking their hips) cause them to wear out fast (i.e. does the temperature affect the leather)?
post #2 of 171
I'm in Toronto and have slowly started to accumulate shoes with rubber soles that I envision wearing solely in the fall/winter when the ground starts to get wet/slushy/icey/snow-covered.

Is this just an excuse for me to buy more shoes? Probably.
post #3 of 171
I live in Michigan so we have similar weather conditions.
I try not to wear leather soled shoes in the winter or when it rains. I have a few dannite soled shoes for bad weather conditions.
post #4 of 171
Leather soles are the only proper soles for formal/dress shoes, but leather soles will wear out much much faster than rubber, and leather soles are slippery in snow or ice, and eventually soak up some water in rain and need to dry. So, for a place where it rains or snows a lot, the best choice would probably be 1) dress shoes that have partial rubber soles (JM Weston has some for instance that have rubber in the middle of the soles but leather around it, so still looks formal) or 2) shoes with rubber soles but that still look dressy from the normal vantage point (for instance, many of C&J rubber soled shoes, like the Tetbury).
post #5 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by nordicstyle View Post
Here are a few things I have been wondering about regarding leather shoes and soles. Some of the questions are probably a bit noobish, so please bare with me.

So, here we go:

1) Which soles are considered the most formal? (I assume leather)
2) Which soles are best for walking/most comfortable? (I assume rubber)
3) Can/should leather soles be used in the winter (i.e. subzero temperatures and snow)?
4) Can/should leather soles be used in the rain or when at risk of walking through water (i.e. after rain)?
5) What are "double leather soles", what is their purpose and how noticeable are they compared to regular leather soles? (I assume last longer but looks more "clunky"/less formal)

By the looks of them (i.e. very flat/slippery) leather soles don't seem suited for walking on ice/slippery surfaces. Should I rather get shoes with rubber soles for winter/outdoor use? In conclusion, what this sums up to is whether I would need to get two sets of shoes, one with rubber soles for use during the winter and on rainy/wet days

I usually only wear dress shoes when temperature is below -1C or when there is no snow/salt on the streets (i.e. in the spring/summer/fall). In typical "slushy" conditions (i.e. +1-5C or snow/rain) I usually wear boots.

However, considering that winter and "rain seasons" is about 4-6 months of the year where I live, would it be stupid to only get shoes with leather soles (because they would wear out much faster)? Also, I'm thinking walking on leather soles in the winter might be a bit dangerous, considering walking on ice in the winter is pretty much unavoidable during the course of a day.

Note that I don't wear a suit on a regular basis (usually jeans and dress shirt), but I would like to be able to use the shoes also with suits without looking out of place.

Anyone else living in similar weather conditions willing to share their experiences with these issues?

EDIT:

7) Will wearing leather soles in subzero temperatures (assume no snow or salt, just ice and a lot of gravel/pebbles/sand or whatever it's called--the stuff they put on the streets to prevent old people from breaking their hips) cause them to wear out fast (i.e. does the temperature affect the leather)?

Hi,
Here are some answers to your questions:

1) leather
2) leather
3) rubber, preferably 'commando'
4) yes, can be used in the rain. Think of people in London !
5) Thicker soles, last longer, often chunkier, still formal.
6) yes, leather soles are slippery, even more slipepry on ice.
7) definitely yes for leather soles, no for rubber soles.

Hvor bor du i Norge ?
post #6 of 171
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Siggy View Post
Leather soles are the only proper soles for formal/dress shoes, but leather soles will wear out much much faster than rubber, and leather soles are slippery in snow or ice, and eventually soak up some water in rain and need to dry. So, for a place where it rains or snows a lot, the best choice would probably be 1) dress shoes that have partial rubber soles (JM Weston has some for instance that have rubber in the middle of the soles but leather around it, so still looks formal) or 2) shoes with rubber soles but that still look dressy from the normal vantage point (for instance, many of C&J rubber soled shoes, like the Tetbury).

So, if I'm getting this right, the only reason to have leather soles is because it's "what you are supposed to have", etiquette/style-wise? There are no practical reasons for choosing leather over rubber (assuming aesthetics are similar)? If I wear shoes with rubber soles that look nearly identical to leather ones, how would anyone know? By the sound they make when I walk? Can people actually see it without studying the shoe in detail? Only thing I have noticed is the color and how they feel when I touch them/walk on them.
post #7 of 171
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mimile View Post
Hi,
Here are some answers to your questions:

1) leather
2) leather
3) rubber, preferably 'commando'
4) yes, can be used in the rain. Think of people in London !
5) Thicker soles, last longer, often chunkier, still formal.
6) yes, leather soles are slippery, even more slipepry on ice.
7) definitely yes for leather soles, no for rubber soles.

Interesting. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mimile View Post
Hvor bor du i Norge ?

Oslo.
post #8 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by nordicstyle View Post
So, if I'm getting this right, the only reason to have leather soles is because it's "what you are supposed to have", etiquette/style-wise? There are no practical reasons for choosing leather over rubber (assuming aesthetics are similar)? If I wear shoes with rubber soles that look nearly identical to leather ones, how would anyone know? By the sound they make when I walk? Can people actually see it without studying the shoe in detail? Only thing I have noticed is the color and how they feel when I touch them/walk on them.

Well, what is the reason for wearing a suit instead of jeans and a sweater? Probably no real practical reasons, but rather because a suit is what is proper for the situation. Same with leather soles for dress shoes. That said, if you are not in a dressy environment, there is no reason to choose leather over certain rubber soles, such as those on the shoes I mentoned earlier, for example. BTW, when you sit in a meeting people sometimes look at your shoes, and if you tend to cross your legs, the sole of the shoe might be plainly visible. It comes down to what are your requirements and what is your environment.
post #9 of 171
So, here we go:

1) Which soles are considered the most formal? (I assume leather)

Leather

2) Which soles are best for walking/most comfortable? (I assume rubber)

See above

3) Can/should leather soles be used in the winter (i.e. subzero temperatures and snow)?

Leather, with overshoes

4) Can/should leather soles be used in the rain or when at risk of walking through water (i.e. after rain)?

See above

5) What are "double leather soles", what is their purpose and how noticeable are they compared to regular leather soles? (I assume last longer but looks more "clunky"/less formal)

Exactly as the name implies

By the looks of them (i.e. very flat/slippery) leather soles don't seem suited for walking on ice/slipp

See answer to 3
post #10 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by nordicstyle View Post
3) Can/should leather soles be used in the winter (i.e. subzero temperatures and snow)?



One of the main causes of casualties for the German army on the East Front. Leather absorbs cold, it does not repel.
post #11 of 171
Have you given any thought to overshoes? They look pretty awful during my commute, but my leather soled shoes looked pretty good at work today despite the bad weather.
post #12 of 171
I prefer leather sole oxfords, but walking to work wearing such footwear in Oslo today is suicide. The ice is now covered with snow, making it extra slippery, especially downhill. I have a few pairs of shell boots with commando soles for this purpose.



I'm also having one of my oxford pairs resoled with similar soles for the rainy days during spring/summer/fall.

If you treat your leather soled shoes well, the soles are quite durable, and you won't need to resole them for a very long time. That is, don't wear the same pair two days in a row, don't jump in puddles, let them dry slowly if they get wet, use shoe trees, polish them properly, &c.

Rubber soles in itself isn't a guarantee for durability. There's vast differences in quality between different producers. While the rubber soles pictured above are almost bullet proof, a cheap pair of topys I had were worn out in just a couple of months.

Whatever shoes you go for, make sure they are Goodyear welted. That will allow you to easily resole your shoes when needed instead of throwing away the whole shoe. My old Norwegian army boots were impossible to repair when the soles were worn out. A pity, really, considering in how good shape the upper still was.

Note that there aren't many decent shoe stores in Oslo. I suggest you drop by Skomaker Dagestad in Josefines gate 2 to check out his selection. He carries mostly Italian brands, but also Alden, and really knows his trade.
post #13 of 171
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Siggy View Post
Well, what is the reason for wearing a suit instead of jeans and a sweater? Probably no real practical reasons, but rather because a suit is what is proper for the situation. Same with leather soles for dress shoes. That said, if you are not in a dressy environment, there is no reason to choose leather over certain rubber soles, such as those on the shoes I mentioned earlier, for example. BTW, when you sit in a meeting people sometimes look at your shoes, and if you tend to cross your legs, the sole of the shoe might be plainly visible. It comes down to what are your requirements and what is your environment.

Now that I am aware of the difference I have started to notice how "odd" a lot of people's shoes look with rubber soles, so maybe I should stick to leather after all... When wearing them is not a health risk that is (see below).

Quote:
Originally Posted by completelyclueless View Post
Have you given any thought to overshoes? They look pretty awful during my commute, but my leather soled shoes looked pretty good at work today despite the bad weather.

No, not really. I don't like how they look and I think it's impractical. I have noticed a lot of people walking around with brightly colored galoshes these days, so I'm guessing the overshoes are "in vogue" this season. I also noticed a collection of shoes with "embedded" galoshes on them (i.e. you get both when you buy the shoes, and I'm not certain they are actually possible to remove).

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilhelm View Post
I prefer leather sole oxfords, but walking to work wearing such footwear in Oslo today is suicide. The ice is now covered with snow, making it extra slippery, especially downhill. I have a few pairs of shell boots with commando soles for this purpose.

I haven't been able to find any oxfords with rubber soles. In fact, I have only been able to find a few pair of oxfords in total (all costing $400 and upwards). Resoling with rubber once the leather wears out seems like a viable option though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilhelm View Post
If you treat your leather soled shoes well, the soles are quite durable, and you won't need to resole them for a very long time. That is, don't wear the same pair two days in a row, don't jump in puddles, let them dry slowly if they get wet, use shoe trees, polish them properly, &c.

Yeah, my plan is to have enough shoes to wear a given pair only one or two times per week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilhelm View Post
Whatever shoes you go for, make sure they are Goodyear welted. That will allow you to easily resole your shoes when needed instead of throwing away the whole shoe. My old Norwegian army boots were impossible to repair when the soles were worn out. A pity, really, considering in how good shape the upper still was.

How can I see if a shoe is Goodyear welted?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilhelm View Post
Note that there aren't many decent shoe stores in Oslo.

Yeah, I have noticed. Ferner Jacobsen has a couple of Church's and L'Escalier had a pair of Crockett & Jones (on sale, 50% off ), but that's pretty much it as far as I have been able to dig up. Grensen (in Grensen) also carries Paul Smith and Lotusse, but I don't know about their quality (I just know they are expensive brands...) Bianco Footwear have some nice designs, but the quality seems to be "one season only". Common for all stores is that they have a very narrow selection of shoes from any given brand or in any given style. For example, it's almost impossible to find brown wingtips anywhere as most "dress shoes" are only available in black. I guess Norwegians are really traditional when it comes to dress shoes, it's either black or black.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilhelm View Post
I suggest you drop by Skomaker Dagestad in Josefines gate 2 to check out his selection. He carries mostly Italian brands, but also Alden, and really knows his trade.

Funny you should mention that. I was just at his store today, but it wasn't open. Going back there tomorrow if I have the time. I was told he also carries Allen-Edmonds, but maybe they mixed the name up with Alden?
post #14 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbris1 View Post
So, here we go:

1) Which soles are considered the most formal? (I assume leather)

Leather

2) Which soles are best for walking/most comfortable? (I assume rubber)

See above

I like how you wrote 'See Above' here. You were just too cool to write leather again.
post #15 of 171
I have C&J Pembrokes that have rubber soles and look great with a suit. Some of the tile sidewalks in the vicinity of my office are like ice when they are wet, and the Pembrokes are perfect for those conditions. I always wear leather-soled shoes when it's dry.
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