Bulcher / Derby with suit?

Discussion in 'Menswear Advice' started by jrcampbe, Sep 25, 2016.

  1. jrcampbe

    jrcampbe Member

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    Gentlemen,

    This is my first post after reading the site voraciously the last several weeks. I'm delighted to have found the forum and have learned a lot. I've used search and find conflicting answers to this question:

    When is it acceptable to wear a blucher shoe with a suit?

    I am a fat man with a EEE wide, high-volume foot. I wear an AE Leeds in 9.5EEE. Until reading SF, it never occurred to me that this might not be an acceptable shoe to wear with a suit, even a very conservative solid navy or charcoal.

    Is the "correctness" of a balmoral meant for tuxedo or dinner suit only, or business suit as well?

    I wear calfskin Leeds in black, shell cordovan in burgundy, and just special ordered a pair of dark brown in shell cordovan. I'm not buying any more calfskin shoes after having worn these shell Leeds in burgundy, except for casual shoes. I'm a shell cordovan man now, spoiled for life.

    I hope you all will set my mind at ease that this shoe that I love, and perfectly fits my stupidly shaped feet, is acceptable for CBD.

    Thank you!

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016


  2. Steven Cash

    Steven Cash Senior member

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    Bluchers and Derbys will almost always be less formal than oxfords though certain suits are less formal than others and as such are an ideal combination.

    Patterned tweed would be an ideal pairing with most open laced shoes as they are both on the rustic side. Cordovan is not a smart material for shoes but again is perfectly suited to open laced shoes.

    There are some smart derbys such as Corthay's Arca but typically they are in the middle ground between casual (loafers and the such) and formal (oxfords).

    Not sure how much that helps but pictures of the shoes and suits would probably garner more advice from more knowledgeable members than me.
     


  3. jrcampbe

    jrcampbe Member

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  4. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    The doctrine that bluchers are unacceptable with a suit seems to be confined exclusively to the Internet menswear forum subculture. I have never seen this statement in any of the many published works on style and menswear that I possess or have consulted. They do ratchet the formality of the suit down a bit--somewhat similar to wearing a button down collar with a suit. However, neither is in the least inherently "wrong," at least in my opinion.

    I am sure your A-E Leeds will serve you well in almost any situation that you may wish to wear a suit. It is certainly infinitely better than many of the rubber soled atrocities that I see paired with suits. The A-E #1 last is a little "blobby," but frankly, given your fairly short and very wide feet, shoes that presented a look of sleek elegance would be difficult to come by. Please do not think I am patronizing you or putting you down in any way. At least you can buy quality shoes at reasonable cost. Consider my poor brother-in-law: He is a size 15AA and has the very devil of time getting shoes that are even halfway presentable.

    P.S. Many men of taste and discrimination swear by shell cordovan, much preferring it to calfskin for most applications. My father in law--a graduate of Phillips-Exeter and Harvard, Class of 1940, where he was a close buddy of that American style icon, Jack Kennedy--loved shell cordovan shoes. He had some pairs of Brooks-Alden cordovan shoes that gave him good service for over 40 years. In fairness, some others think shell looks "plasticky."
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016


  5. jrcampbe

    jrcampbe Member

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    I absolutely don't take it the wrong way. I'm 5'8" and 300 lbs. with a 29" inseam and EEE feet. I know I'm not going to look like I just jumped off the pages of GQ. But I absolutely believe it's possible for a big man to look better than we usually do.

    I used my frequent flier miles to fly to Hong Kong and have suits made. I didn't go crazy with WW Chan or something, because I use these clothes for work and travel and they take a beating. I haven't been excited about clothes for many years when I was in good shape. But having some suits and shirts that fit me properly is awesome and I'm very excited now to be doing more.

    Thanks for the honest feedback.

    Jim
     


  6. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    ^ I would hardly consider patronizing W.W. Chan "going crazy," considering that I have six suits and 17 jackets acquired from Chan over a period of nine years. Seriously, good workmanship and sturdy fabrics ought to be the best guarantors of durability under extended use, and you certainly can get both from Chan. However, if you are content with what you've got, that's perfectly fine, too.
     


  7. jrcampbe

    jrcampbe Member

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    I guess it's more about the money. I felt I needed 6 suits and 2-3 spoetcoats ASAP. I went with Edward Tam at E. Italian and I am very happy with the results. I am going to add WW Chan suits when I can arrange to get fitted. He needed nine days and I was only in Hong Kong for four days. Edward Tam got me a nice fit and I'm happy with the results for about $750US per suit with full canvassed construction.

    I plan to figure out how to get fitted with WW Chan the next time he is in the US.

    No offense intended.

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016


  8. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    ^How could any offense have been intended unless you knew I was a Chan fan, which considering how recently you joined the forum, seems unlikely?

    If you're interested in Chan, go on their website to see when their next U.S. tour takes place. I believe it's in November. I think W.W. Chan himself must be dead by now. If he isn't, he well into his 90s. The man you would see is Patrick Chu, a capital fellow whose services I can recommend most highly.
     


  9. jrcampbe

    jrcampbe Member

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    Lovely! Thank you!
     


  10. jrcampbe

    jrcampbe Member

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    Ok, here's another question about WW Chan. Can one get properly fit on one visit during the tour? If so, I'll make a San Francisco date work!

    Thanks again,

    Jim
     


  11. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    Some men here will advise you to get a basted fitting. The way this works with Chan is that they will send you the basted garment, you bring this to them on their next visit and they note necessary adjustments. You then ship the garment back to Chan, and they will send you the completed garment. This adds considerably to the time and expense, and based on my experience, I don't think it's really necessary. The first suit I got from Chan could have used a little more waist suppression, but otherwise it fit perfectly. There was nothing I could fault in the fit of all the subsequent suits and jackets they made for me. Not long ago, I had a local alterations tailor increase the waist suppression on the first suit I got from them, and I believe the improvement is noticeable. I am told that with any tailor, even the elite of Savile Row, subsequent efforts are going to be better than the first. This is why it is inadvisable to order multiple garments at your first dealing with a bespoke tailor.
     


  12. Steven Cash

    Steven Cash Senior member

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    Purely from the point of view that cordovan is a more causal 'leather' (though admittedly I have never seen black as per your link which in my opinion defeats the object of cordovan) in the same way that scotch grain leather or suede may also be seen as less formal. Doesn't make them wrong though plain calf is widely accepted as being more formal if not somewhat boring. A lot of the exotic skins are (again IMO at least) inherently less formal but I would most definitely wear them with a suit so it's all down to your preference at the end of the day.

    As I say, the combination in which they are worn is the important thing and certain styles or materials in isolation though possibly wrong could work very well together. Experiment with what suits you and if those shoes fit you that is the most important thing.
     


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