In Person: J. Crew Kenton Suede Bucks

Hands on (feet in?) with J. Crew's Goodyear welted bucks.

J. Crew Kenton Suede Bucks – $198.00

For smart casual wear, it’s tough to beat a quality pair of bucks. They hit that sweet spot that can be hard to find between dressed up and dressed down. A can’t miss part of a wardrobe, wear them with jeans or chinos at a cookout or a lightweight suit at a summer wedding.

Suede of course requires extra care to keep it looking pristine, and even then it will eventually get dirty. Embrace this. I’ve been looking for a pair that can gradually get beat the hell up for the next few years and still hold together. The J. Crew Kenton seems to fit the bill.

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The details are spot-on: soft leather with a fine texture, Goodyear welted sole, and brass eyelets placed under the vamp. They still have the round toe and classic style (including the brick red sole) but J. Crew has made these narrower and sleeker than the usual buck.

Whether sneakers or dress shoes, I usually wear an 11, and I find these a bit on the small side. Perhaps it’s because of the slimmer style and narrower silhouette, but there was definitely some rubbing of the heel and tightness at the ball of my foot while breaking these in. You might want to size up half a size when ordering.

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The shoes here are their “natural” color. They also come in navy, dark pine, boulder, and sahara (blue, green, gray, and tan). At $198 and made in China, these are pricey shoes.  But the quality really does seem to be there. And with the periodic sales at J. Crew you should be able to snag a pair for under $150. If you plan to wear them often – and why wouldn’t you? – these are a worthwhile addition to the shoe rotation.

Shoes seem to be something many of you won’t go cheap on.  Would you drop $200 on a pair of well made bucks, even though they won’t be worn year round?  Or would you go with something cheaper like BR’s Owen/Jarret?  Maybe the just as inexpensive but still welted Archer from Lands’ End?  What about made in the USA Walkovers on LastCall or 6pm (hat tip to Matt for the style tip)? Leave your take, and your bucks of choice, in the comments.