It’s a quandary that most men face as the mercury rises; how to negotiate the heat in appropriate shoes. And it’s a point of broiling contention amongst the sartorially-minded; a well-heeled friend has a staunch ‘no toes in town’ policy, while another slips into sandals with his suit the moment sunny weather descends. So how to negotiate it with aplomb? Of course, no-one’s stomping across the sizzling pavements of central London in heavy-duty boots, but at the opposite scale, there’s a certain type of fellow for whom flip flops and other less substantial forms of footwear are for poolside only.
In this respect (as with so many other style-related matters), it pays to take a tip from our continental brothers. From the grind of Naples to the boulevards of Rome, Italian men tackle the heat while seamlessly looking pulled-together, and part of that is their reliance on driving shoes. Lightweight, pliable (and for holidays, easily packable), they’re a natural meeting point between smart and sunshine-appropriate. They’re more grown-up than espadrilles, but less structured than loafers, while details such as playful bows, contrasting stitching and subtle colours keep the mood light for summer.
The style evolved in the 1960s, just as Italy’s luxury carmakers were testing their mettle with era-defining motors and the international jet set were setting up camp in the country’s most picturesque destinations. The driving shoe evolved as their footwear of choice; soft-structure, easy but elegant in appearance. Constructed in supple suede, or occasionally more robust leather, and aping the appearance of a moccasin, they became a continental clime’s go-to. Gianni Agnelli was rarely without his, as timeless images of the style icon in Capri attest.
Of course, the Amalfi coast is somewhat different to the patrician uprightness of St James’, but driving shoes can be just as effective in an English setting, providing the weather holds and you aren’t negotiating murky puddles. Crockett & Jones’ British equivalent are the unlined loafers, whether the handsome Harvard in rich dark brown suede or the Richmond 2 in supple caramel suede. Our Unstructured Collection, too, has also been designed with summer sartorialism in mind, with focus on flexibility. The unique Superflex sole took 2 and a half years to craft, making it robust but extremely malleable.
There are some guidelines to follow in terms of how to wear driving shoes and loafers. Opt for darker shades of suede for a city setting; pastel hues are ideal for Positano sunsets, but will pick up the city grind easily. Secondly, consider what trousers to wear alongside; smart chinos and fresh whites are more appropriate in this instance than jeans or overly formal tailoring. And thirdly, do as our Italian brothers do and seek out a discreet line-up of ‘sockless socks’ - designed to fit snugly around the feet, they sit below the topline. Adding the vintage 1962 Ferrari 250 to go alongside is entirely up to you.