Spring is in its full bloom and summer is just around the corner, so this is the perfect time to talk about very popular footwear, especially here in Europe. The driving shoes.
Admit it or not, but driving shoes are the perfect summer footwear. Not only they look beautiful they are really versatile, but before we talk about style let’s go back in time and see where do they come from.
History of driving shoes
Back in 1963 Italian company Car Shoe was founded and they patented this innovative shoe. At first it was a shoe for the rich, because not everyone could afford leather shoes just for driving.
Driving shoes purpose was to replace traditional shoes while driving. Since wealthy gentlemen did not want to wear the soles of their shoes and sometimes normal shoes can be cumbersome for driving. Anyone with larger feet will agree with this. Myself included. I wear 46 (US 11.5) and if I wear some boots or brogues I don’t feel too comfortable driving. Either my shoes are too big for pedals or the soles are too thick so there is not enough sensitivity in the foot for driving. Driving shoes are ideal for this purpose.
The Cars Shoe brand soon became known for its signature moccasin with rubber pebbles. Since we mentioned, driving shoes appeared to be luxury item not many could afford, but Diego Della Valle, owner of another famous Italian brand, Tod’s saw an opportunity to sell soft, comfortable shoes to the masses.
Instantly these shoes were a huge success. From that point on, driving shoes have become fashionable item available to everyone. Even if you do not own or drive a car you can wear them because they are ideal shoes for hot weather.
Another beauty of the driving shoes is that they come in almost any color imaginable. Of course there are expensive models, and there are affordable ones, so there is nothing stopping you from owning several items.
Since they come in so many colors you can pair them with almost anything. You can wear them in casual occasion or in more formal ones.
For casual styling you can pair them with a shirt and pants. Chino pants, white pants, jeans, even suit pants. You can show some of your ankles by folding your pants a bit. Of course they go great with short pants.
For more formal occasions you can wear them with your linen or cotton summer suit. They will look great. If you want to be a bit more noticeable by showing your sprezzatura style you can buy them in some really bold colors. I for example have one in purple and they really look great. Turquoise color is also great option for driving shoes. It is bold color and it is the perfect summer color.
For more formal occasions you can wear black or brown ones but I prefer them in brighter colors. Beige color is also popular and it looks great on white shirt and light gray trousers.
One thing is a must with driving shoes and that is not to show your socks. Some will say that you should not wear socks at all with driving shoes, but I don’t like to be barefoot in any kind of shoes.
If you are OK with it, then by all means wear them barefoot because that is the proper way to wear driving shoes, but as I mentioned I always wear socks with any kind of shoes.
For this purpose you should wear no show ankle socks which are cut even deeper than ankle socks. No show ankle socks are cut so deep that they cover only the top of your toes and just the bottom back of your heel. In this way your feet will stay protected from the leather and sweating and the driving shoes will stay protected from the sweat. Not to mention that the shoes will be free from unpleasant sweat odor.
Buying driving shoes
There are two versions of driving shoes. Smooth supple leather and velvet looking suede ones. I myself prefer suede ones. They just look better in my opinion and they feel less casual than the supple leather ones, and casual feel and look is the main purpose of the driving shoes, except great feeling they provide while driving, of course.
Styling wise there are models with tassels, with faux shoe laces and penny loafer looking ones. I prefer penny loafer ones. Tassels are a bit too much for me, but it is just a matter of preference and style. Both are looking great.
Because driving shoes are made of one layer of leather they feel really soft but if they are not made of the best leather, read expensive, they are not long lasting. Although you can find cheaper ones that will last a few seasons at least.
Top brands to consider are the two above mentioned manufacturers but almost every shoe and clothing brands have loafers in their portfolio so I am sure you will be able to find the ones that suit your budget. I can recommend Leffot brand but their price is a bit higher, around $300US.
If this is too much, you can find great driving shoes for less than $120US. In this price range I can recommend French Bobbies. Mass market brands like H&N, Zara or Massimo Dutti have them for less than a $100US so you can buy few pairs. If you buy these cheaper ones do not expect them to last but driving shoes are not something you will take care about that much so it is OK to change them every few seasons. In my opinion they are like sneakers. Tear and wear them, buy few different colored ones and just enjoy them as long as they last.