Every Wednesday from here on out, we’re giving you a piece of our minds. Actually, more like five pieces. It’s a chance to get a deeper look into what makes the minds behind Kempt tick—you know, beyond the usual Internet handsomeness we’re serving up daily. So welcome to our most personal weekly feature: The Kempt Five.
It wouldn’t be Road Trip Week if we didn’t talk about the most important part of your road-worthy wardrobe: the driving shoe.
They come in many forms—some are more loafer-like, some are more moccasin-y—but they’re all united by two things: a buttery-soft leather construction and gummy rubber bottom (marked by a telltale matrix of nubs embedded in a double-thick leather sole).
They’re especially handy on a breezy weekend jaunt, because they’re handsome enough to wear to cocktail hour yet soft enough to loaf around indoors, once you’ve woken up the next morning at your destination. Meaning they’re the only pair of shoes you’ll need to pack if you’re not planning on anything too formal or a round of golf.
With St. Patrick’s Day coming up this Sunday, we’re reminded of one of the most sharply dressed men to hail from the Emerald Isle: artist Francis Bacon. (Even if he wasn’t the sort of Irishman to believe in his indigenous claim to luck.)
In fact, we’ll admit he might be our bleakest icon to date. The post-WWII artist—not to be confused with his philosophical ancestor—is known for his pretty-damn-creepy paintings of monster-like figures, friends, screaming popes and slabs of meat. Maggie Thatcher is quoted in his obituary as having called him “that man who paints those dreadful pictures,” and he was an unapologetic alcoholic, gambler and “optimist, but about nothing.”
You’d think a man like that would be pretty terrifying, but he actually kind of looked like your grandfather, only more stylish.
The saddle shoe used to be the typical back-to-school shoe for preps the nation over—and just in time, Alden, the venerable New England shoemakers, have unveiled a new pair, injecting a timely navy suede into the classic. They’re part of an exclusive collaboration with Leffot on preorder right now, so you’ll have to exercise some patience once you’ve put your 20% down payment. Consider it being in escrow.
The clock is winding down. Your white bucks are mere days away from retiring to the darkest corner of your closet to hibernate till the sun comes out next year. And right on time for a substitution are these handsome navy suede Allen Edmonds plain-toe oxfords that’ve landed exclusively in the heritage aisle of Lands’ End Canvas (hat tip). They’re handmade in Wisconsin and, as a #menswear-friendly touch, come with two sets of laces—lime green or alabaster, depending on what the occasion calls for. Plus you can get away with wearing them sockless for as long as your ankles can stand the dropping temps.
Last week it was the venerable trad standby J. Press hopping on the trend, and this week it’s the makers of the indispensable boot of the desert, Clarks. That’s right, camo suede. You’ve probably already got a pair in a dusty suede or waxed leather, but it might be time for an update. And there’s no denying the comforting feeling of wrapping your feet in crepe sole and suede as the leaves begin to turn. And for those still not totally convinced by the camo look, consider this dipping your toe.
Memorial Day means many things to many people. To all Americans, it’s a day to celebrate those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect this great land. And to most sartorial traditionalists, it marks the first day we are officially allowed to wear white shoes.
It’s a tricky move, especially when you’re trying to incorporate them into a more formal look. (Otherwise, grab a pair of white canvas sneakers and beat the hell out of ’em.) Herewith, your answer: these white suede loafers from Alden. They’re so pristine, you might shudder at just the thought of them touching city pavement, but with great risk comes great reward.
This will be the summer you learn to stop worrying and love the white suede.
We love fall, but it has a few drawbacks. For instance, it may be too chilly to spend Sunday afternoon barefoot. It’s a shame…but nothing a well-chosen slipper can’t solve.
Specifically, the most decadent piece of footwear known to man: the house shoe. If you’re indulgent enough to pick one up, it’s likely to be the most comfortable item you own—for the simple fact that it will never venture outside your house.
We’re not immune to a bit of shoe lust here at Kempt, and this pair of mocassins from Oak Street Bootmakers is easily our favorite of the summer. It splits the difference between our beloved Sebagos and something a bit more adventurous—and since the suede in question is from Horween, it’s likely to be one of the more durable items in your closet. Do your worst.
You can never own too much blue suede, especially when we’re heading into sockless territory. And if you want something more adventurous than a boat shoe, we may have a few ideas—starting with this moccasin.
It’s from Quoddy, the go-to for Americana-soaked moccasins, but the combination of that blue suede and the red brick soul bring it into more sophisticated territory. And no matter how pale your ankles are, they’re going to look pretty good set against that shade of blue. Just keep them far, far away from socks.
There’s plenty more to later-season style than work boots. This autumn-hued suede oxford, for instance, is a perfect match for just about everything you’ll be encountering in fall—from your moleskin trousers to the brown leaves underfoot.
Suede marks easily, so you’ll want to save it for days when you aren’t likely to run into much rain, or anything more challenging than city pavement. But provided you’re willing to take a little care, it’s one of the more dandyish items fall has to offer. And if you’re looking to dispel any professorial vibes given off by your tweed jacket, they should do the trick quite nicely.
The 70s were a pretty fantastic time for American film, but the style legacy has been a little more mixed.
This shot from the Black Sunday premiere circa 1977 should remind you why. (Cheers to WWD for digging it up.) Between the suede bomber, gloriously billowing pant legs, and omnipresent Italian boots, the disco era is certainly in full swing. That’s Sydney Pollack in the middle, with his shirt unbuttoned to the sternum, according to the custom of the time.