When it comes to the construction of a shoe there are many variations available. The first consideration is how it is actually built or stitched. We will cover two of the most popular stitch techniques, the Blake stitch and the welt.
The Blake stitch construction involves attaching the upper and insole of the shoe to the last without the use of a ‘welt’, and then gluing the sole on. The final step of the process is to create a single row stitch using a machine to attach the insole, upper, and sole. On Blake stitched shoes you will notice the soles are cut much tighter to the shoe itself because no stitching is required on the edge of the sole. Overall it makes for a lighter shoe versus one that is welted, but it is a shoe that is not nearly as durable or resistant to elements such as water.
Welted shoes are those that have a strip of leather, also known as the welt, which is stitched to the insole of the shoe and the upper. The fact that the insole and upper are stitched together and not glued allows for some very positive effects on the shoe. The first is that the leather retains its durability, the construction allows for good insulation and breathes, the shoe remains flexible, and the shape of the shoe is better retained. Shoes with a Goodyear welt, can be worn for many years as the soles on the shoes can be fairly easily replaced by stitching the new soles in place of the old. Welted shoes typically cost more than similar style Blake stitched shoes because of the additional process involved in the construction.
In addition to the manner in which a shoe is constructed, the actual leathers used in the production of a shoe are extremely important when it comes to choosing the right footwear. The range of leathers offered from designer shoe manufacturers is wide, and includes calfskin, deerskin, suede, exotic leathers such as crocodile and alligator, and cordovan leather. The more exotic or hard to find leathers are of course more expensive, but usually make for a more unique shoe that will allow the discerning man to stand out from the crowd.
Another important factor when choosing the perfect dress shoe is functionality. Shoes that are to be worn daily should be more comfortable, while shoes only worn on special occasions can sacrifice a little comfort for style. Typically dress shoes are produced with either a leather or rubber sole, and in some cases a combination leather and rubber sole. For a more refined and dressy look the leather sole is preferable. The right leather sole with a comfortable shoe insole can be worn all day at work or on the go, but this is not always an easy find. Typically, the more formal the shoe, the more likely it is to have a leather sole. A dress shoe with a rubber sole sacrifices the dressiness of the overall look, but can make up for it in spades with the extra comfort it provides. The right dress shoe with rubber sole can cause you to forget your even wearing shoes at all.