Suede for Spring: 16 Picks You'll Want to Wear Right Now
Spring is here, and unless you’re in an area that gets late snowfalls (…sorry, Rochester) you’re more than ready to ditch your winter-proof boots, puffy jackets, and heavy-duty cold-weather gear for something that fits the promises of gentle breezes, warm sunshine, and outdoor brunches and happy hours.
After months of flannel, fleece, and wool, it’s time for something light and airy, yet still sturdy and rugged. Something that can be dressed up or down, worn for work or play, and is available in a variety of colors and styles.
It’s time for suede.
Originally known as “gants de Suede,” or “gloves from Sweden,” after a type of very soft leather glove (from Sweden, naturally), suede refers to a specific finish of leather. Instead of having the classic leather grain, suede is often made by splitting the hide to reveal the velvety texture within.
Not quite as casual as canvas, nylon, or denim, suede is a luxurious-looking option that dresses up sneakers and jackets. And while it's more delicate than full-grain leather, it's a handsome choice for boots, and adds visual interest to everyday accessories. One caveat: suede requires a little more maintenance than regular leather. Invest in a suede care kit, do some weatherproofing, and avoid wearing during a downpour unless you’re intentionally open to giving it a worn-in look.
We've rounded up a variety of options to suit most styles and budgets, so you can work one (or more) into your existing wardrobe without feeling too far out of your comfort zone.
Orient Bambino Version 4
Featured as one of Primer’s best affordable watch brands, Orient Watch Company specializes in versatile, classically handsome watches that are well made and well priced. As reliable as its parent brand, Seiko, but a little more under the radar, Orient has perfected casual elegance. Here, the steel and rose gold accents of the case and face contrast against the cognac suede band, for a timepiece that would be suitable for all but the most formal occasions. Named one of the best watches under $200 on our list.
Clarks Desert Boots
A Primer favorite for more than 8 years, the Desert Boot was made to help you put your best foot forward in the warmer months. Filling the space between sneakers and dress shoes on the casual/formal scale, desert boots are similar to chukkas and just as versatile. With the crepe sole and suede upper of the original, or the rubber sole of the Bushacre 2 shown here, they look great with jeans and chinos alike. If you don’t want to sacrifice style for comfort (or vice versa) when swapping out your favorite brown winter boots for the warmer months, desert boots are a great choice.
Cromwell Olive Suede Penny Loafer
A thoroughly underrated style, penny loafers have a reputation for being the official shoe of pretentious preppies. But they add polish to an outfit without reading as overly dressy. Here, olive suede adds color, and reduces the prep factor; it also adds texture to warm weather outfits that can’t rely on layers for good looks. Try these with a variety of colored chinos or collared shirts for a subtle way of bucking a dress code while still looking sharp. (Pro tip: we like these with no-show socks in the warmest months.)
Suede Trucker Jacket
There’s no shame in the discount fashion game — not when paying full retail for a suede jacket means dropping $600 or more on a single garment. Here, the classic trucker jacket style is reimagined in buttery-soft suede that melds rugged with refined. The look is even a fave of a certain galactic rogue.
A “casual dress shoe” may sound like an oxymoron, but it makes sense when you check out the smart “dress it up/dress it down” styling on a pair of bucks (so named because they were originally made out of buckskin). This is an intentional choice — one that splits the difference between too-rough boots and not-refined-enough sneakers, and stands out in a sea of traditional leather shoes.
Swapping out more familiar fabrics for suede is just one way of staking out your own unique style, having fun with the “rules” of fashion, and dressing to suit your tastes. So toss a suede bag over your shoulder, lace up some desert boots, and get out and enjoy that sunshine.