June 8, 2009  ·  style

Brown Cap-Toe Oxfords

If winter's finally, really over, and if it's OK with everyone, we'll finally move some non-black items into the rotation. Brown cap-toe oxfords are a great staple that you can wear with everything from denim to suits, so we reviewed three options, ranging from dark and simple to light and detailed.

1. Cole Haan Air Carter | $182
We are big fans of Cole Haan, and the shoe made a great first impression, coming out of the box with a rich mahogany colour and an almost patent-like shine. But it became apparent almost immediately that the construction was not up to par with the others reviewed here. The leather was thin and brittle, and the shoe not particularly comfortable. The cap seam is subtle, maybe too subtle. Almost defeats the purpose of having such a detail.

2. Johnston & Murphy Vester | $134
The most comfortable of the three shoes we evaluated. Seriously, it wasn't even close. We also loved the great stitching and thick sole. A truly versatile rich brown colour, neither too light nor too dark, that would go great with pretty much anything other than charcoal or black. Also a phenomenal value for the money.

3. Allen Edmonds Clifton | $230
Sometimes you get what you pay for, even though in this case you pay less than you might usually—AE shoes are normally $300+. The Clifton is extremely nice, with a lighter chestnut tone that draws a bit of attention to itself. Great old-world punch detail on the cap seam and again on the quarter. The tannish colour makes it just a bit less of a universal match than most browns—it won't work with every navy or grey trouser—so you might not want this to be your only pair of brown oxfords. But a beautiful and all around well-made shoe.

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