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No Bluchers with a Business Suit

JLibourel

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In the course of scanning the interminable "Black Suit" thread, I noticed that Manton, in the course of declaring The Rules, stated the bluchers/derbies were incorrect with an in-town business suit. That one was a real shocker to me. Yes, I have been aware for some time that oxfords/bals were inherently dressier than bluchers. No, I wouldn't wear bluchers with a morning suit, but otherwise I always have assumed conservative, dressy bluchers are totally appropriate for wear with a business suit.

I note that a good many people who presume to give counsel on men's style and apparel are obviously a bit dim about the nice distinction between bluchers and oxfords/bals. Lloyd Boston, the ineffable Carson Kressey, the authors of "A Gentleman Gets Dressed Up," the authors of "Lands' End Business Attire for Men"--all of them use a picture of a blucher to illustrate "the oxford" [sic].

Not even as formidable a prescriptivist as "Master" Flusser states the bluchers are inappropriate for wear with a business suit. All this leads me to believe that this is one rule that is dead letter. Maybe it was cogent back in 1931...but it hasn't been for a long time. Anyway, I will throw the floor open to fellow forumites for their opinions on this matter.
 

RJman

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No. It is not dead.

But people have been flouting it for decades.

I also would hesitate to follow Carson Kressley's tips on proper business wear. That the guides you mention call such a shoe an oxford -- which is completely wrong -- indicates more their own shoddy understanding of business wear than the death of the no-blucher rule.
 

misterbowles

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I just can't see how they would look, well...presentable.

Also, I would second the tip about avoiding sartorial advice from Carson Kressley. That guy is a train wreck.
 

Manton

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[Clears throat.] Â Take a look at the catalogue of a good London bespoke shoemaker. Â You will see that they tend to categorize bluchers as "country shoes." Â I.e., fine with tweed suits and heavy flannels; not fine for worsteds and city flannels. You may be right that this rule is dead. Â I still follow it, however. Â Leaving the formality issue aside, there is also proportion to think about. Â The blucher is an inherently bulkier shoe; it needs clothes that are proportionate in scale and heft. Â Bluchers with smooth worsteds can make the silhouette look "bottom heavy." Yet I will wear a monk-strap with a worsted suit. Â Go figure. Â I never claimed to be pure. Â The monk is somehow sleeker than the tie blucher. Â (Also, I have authoritative support for this practice: it's depicted in many Apparel Arts illustrations.)
 

The_Foxx

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I would disagree with this rule-- to me, the only thing different about a blucher shoe and a balmoral shoe is the way the laces-portion of the shoe is done. as long as the shoe is dressy and well-made (and doesn't have a heavy sole, or rough-leather), it's my understanding it can go very well with a single-breasted suit, or sportcoat and trousers-- just not with a double breasted suit, as it is considered more formal.
 

RJman

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Caveat: the emergency shoes in my office -- which I keep along with the dodgy emergency suit -- are derbys. And I intend to wear my Cleverley-designed Poulsen Skones, which are suede two-eyelet bluchers, with a suit. I'm just saying it's not right. I speed, too, and sometimes just come to a rolling stop at stop signs.
 

AlanC

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I fear I must take the side of the barbarians on this one. I can't really see the problem, here. I do recognize oxfords as more formal, just that derbies seem acceptable (to me) in most settings these days.

By the way, the Brits also by and large consider brogues as country shoes as well (in keeping with their origins) but they are certainly accepted as business shoes in America. In many ways they are the quintessential American business shoe.
 

Manton

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By the way, the Brits also by and large consider brogues as country shoes as well (in keeping with their origins)
The Brits bent this one a long time ago. Oxford brogues (wing tips) on a slim, "town" last in black or dark brown are correct with city suits.
 

RJman

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Sooooo... I don't get 50 lashes with a wet noodle for wearing my suede bluechers on their slim town last with a suit?
 

Manton

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Sooooo... I don't get 50 lashes with a wet noodle for wearing my suede bluchers on their slim town last with a suit?
Take back 25, because they are suede. But they are still bluchers. Wingtip (full brogue) oxfords are ok.
 

RJman

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What if I wear them with my black suit?






Joke.
 

AlanC

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Some quotes from Bernhard Roetzel in Gentleman, pp 160-161 called "Formal shoes with open lacing":
This black Derby is a good alternative to Oxfords, although it is not quite as formal.
and
The Burford is normally available in black. This means that its shape - which is a blend of Derby and Oxford - clearly makes it appropriate with a business suit. The open lacing makes it rather less formal than Oxfords.
I concede (as above) the Oxford is more formal, but citing long standing usage and Mr. Roetzel, I will posit that a conservative derby is perfectly acceptable for most business settings, short of the most formal (if we can use that word in a business setting).
 

JLibourel

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Hmmm...for whatever it's worth, I just checked out the vintage illustrations in Flusser's Dressing the Man and did find some few examples of bluchers being paired with business suits. See pages 40, 54, 93, 96, 173. Evidently, this "crime" has been perpetrated for quite some time. Nowhere in these pages does "Master" Flusser see fit to rebuke this malpractice.
 

globetrotter

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sorry, Manton, I agree that this is the rule, this is a rule that I break (and I always feel a little guitly about it).
 

STYLESTUDENT

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I'm imagining the Brooks/Alden cordovan blucher. Can't imagine this with a dark worsted or any double breasted. Certainly can imagine it with a flannel, tweed, or plaid and, in a light suede, with a tan or olive wool or cotton gabardine. If you look at pictures of Astaire, he usually wore suede bluchers with flannels and captoes with pinstripes (which he wore infrequently in his movies).

Edit: After rereading this post and just know reading Manton's prior reply, it appears regrettably that I'm doing nothing more than restating what he's already said.
 

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