Suede can seem a bit precious. If it gets wet, it’s ruined (remember Seinfeld’s jacket?) If it gets stained, it’s ruined. If it gets scuffed, you need a special brush to fix it.
You basically need a full weather report and hazard breakdown before stepping out in suede.
With all this drama, why would anyone wear suede at all? Much less on their feet?
Bootmakers Have Cracked The Suede Code
In the last 20 years, bootmakers have dialed in how to treat suede so that it’s more like regular leather: water, stain, and scuff resistant.
Suede, in fact, has gotten good enough it no longer deserves its reputation for being the most fragile of leather goods.
This is great news. Why? Because suede boots look freakin’ great.
Here, we’ll show you.
Why Wear Suede?
At Primer, we love a clean, understated outfit built from simple elements. Adding an interesting texture like suede to the mix can be the secret sauce that takes a look from plain to incredible, without adding flashy colors or intricate patterns.
Here are five looks to upgrade your shoe game, featuring some picks from the Thursday Boot Co suede series, as well an expensive alternative if you’re ready to make an investment.
These range from rugged to classic; there’s a little something for everyone.
1. The Classic
When you think of suede boots, you think of the chukka, whether you know it or not. This boot is the perfect combination of a Chelsea and a standard lace-up boot. It can go very casual or more dressed up at the switch of a pant.
The relaxed lines make the material the star of the show. There are only two eyelets high on the vamp, which also adds to the super clean presentation.
Here, the olive suede gives a hint of decorum to the denim shirt in an otherwise downplayed getup.
Our Affordable Pick: Thursday Boots Scout
Our Expensive Pick: Tod's
These are an interesting take on a chunky boot that almost leans into combat boot territory without losing a sense of refinement.
With the suede and an outsole that’s not quite bulky enough to be military-grade, they stay this side of sociable.
You might be thinking, “Why would I ever wear suede boots for any kind of adventure?” But remember, these are weather-ready for impromptu antics right out of the box, so strap on your cramp-ons. Or your seasonally appropriate chinos.
Our Affordable Pick: Thursday Boot Explorer
Our Expensive Pick: Moncler Egide
3. Casual Rider
In this case “riding” doesn't mean motorcycles – the history of the Chelsea boot stretches back further in time to when people used horses for their Tinder dates. Their creation is credited to Queen Victoria's shoemaker, and were originally coined the “J. Sparkes-Hall's Patent Elastic Ankle Boots.”
The Cavalier boot takes a British classic and makes it indispensable. These are as easy to slip on as they are to wear all day, all year.
We especially like the dark gray for fall because they can be worn with gray slim fit chinos or jeans for a monochrome work look that transitions straight into evening drinks or shenanigans.
Our Affordable Pick: Thursday Boots Cavalier
Our Expensive Pick: Carmina Shoemaker
4. The New CEO
This take on the derby shoe is essentially a buck derby. These shoes are called the Statesman for a reason: they project seriousness with a dash of roguery.
Like chukkas, these can easily be dressed up for meetings with investors or dressed down for meetings with your one employee. Either way, they communicate intentionality.
Our Affordable Pick: Thursday Boots Statesman
Our Expensive Pick: Allen Edmonds
5. The Throwback
If you were impressed by the history of the Chelsea boot, strap in. This style is literally medieval (straps predate laces) but modern details keep them current here. The cap toe gives it the high/low tension that Thursday is so good at.
Monk straps as dress shoes were prevalent in the early 20th century and have become mainstream again among well-dress gentleman in the last twenty years.
We especially like the dark olive because it reads as somewhere between dark brown and grey, but subtly richer than either.
The double monk strap style is at home with a suit, but work equally well at a concert or bar with dark tapered jeans.
Our Affordable Pick: Thursday Boots Saint
Our Expensive Pick: Tod’s
Wait, Why Does Suede Look Like That?
I had the same question.
Suede gets its signature “napped” appearance from having the top grain sanded away to reveal the soft underside of the hide.
This is also what makes untreated suede more vulnerable to damage from moisture and stains.
Good thing Thursday Boot Company’s pretreated suede series is ready for the elements…
Rain No Longer Ruins Suede
Waterproofing technology has matured in the last twenty years, but until recently it’s largely been something that you do at home with a spray can. The problem with waterproofing at home is that it almost always changes the color and texture of the leather that you spent some serious coin on.
Enter the pretreated suede shoe. Thursday Boot Co has engineered a line of weatherized suede footwear that hit the sweet spot of durability without compromising the look and feel of natural suede.
What Is This Waterproof Witchcraft?
Thursday Boot Co created WeatherSafe suede, which uses a blend of natural oils and hydrophobic compounds from the very beginning of the tanning process that slowly – over time – permeate the leather.
The end product is a shoe that you can put on without checking your weather app.
What Should You Look For In Quality Suede?
This is an oversimplification, but there are essentially two big factors in the quality of suede: the type of animal hide, and the age of the animal.
The softest (and most delicate) comes from young sheepskin, while the toughest (and roughest) comes from an elder pigskin. Most suede shoes, however, are made from cowhide because it strikes a pleasing balance between toughness and softness.
The highest quality cowhides come from Tier 1 USA cattle, which generally come from cattle that are under 2 years old. Opt for Tier 1 USA leather and you’re guaranteed a quality boot.
Thursday Boot Co has you covered on quality – all their suede boots are crafted from Tier 1 USA leather.
We continue to work with Thursday Boot Company because we honestly believe they offer something pretty special: investment-grade boots that boast all the features of long-established top-tier brands without the markup.
At least one member of the Primer team is wearing Thursday boots every day. Heck, I got married in mine!
The suede series offers a new textural option with the same quality leather, Goodyear Welt build, and solid customer service we’ve come to expect from Thursday.
Ultimately, suede’s unique characteristics transfer to whatever outfit you’re rocking – why not give suede a second chance?