About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the heating and manufacturing industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, denim, and working on his
dad bod father figure.
For your Average Joe, a well-made pair of simple, classically styled suede bluchers should be considered essential and will be difficult to beat for the Most Versatile Shoe award. Finding that happy medium option between an uptight formal dress shoe and a casual sneaker can be a challenge for some. Personally, I find suede bluchers to be that Goldilocks option as they’re easy to wear, have a wide operating window for style success, and look better with some well-earned patina after a few months of regular wear and tear. Dress them up with a softly tailored Summer suit or dress them down with a knit polo and chinos. You can’t go wrong.
Traditionally, white nubuck “bucks” were a common fair weather fashion option for the upper-crust elites but became more of a style icon thanks to the prep and Ivy traditions of the 1950s. While that’s not the focus of today’s review, Simon Crompton from Permanent Style has a wonderful write up on how to wear pale white bucks. Personally, I prefer the tan or snuff suede offerings as I find them easier to wear in today’s smart casual world that’s chock full of casual button-down shirts, polos, chinos, and jeans. I find this style to be the perfect four season casual shoe. Luckily for us, Grant Stone recently re-released their “Dirty Bucks” version of a classic suede blucher in a warm shade of khaki tan. Let’s find out how good they are.
Although pristine looking, with a little wear and time these classically shaped bucks will develop their own patina.
The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)
- 5 – Excellent! No issues and highly recommended.
- 4 – Good. Above average, but not perfect.
- 3 – Average. Minor issues, might be good at the right price.
- 2 – Fair. Below average due to defects, flaws, or imperfections.
- 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price.
- Brand: Grant Stone
- Style: Plain Toe Derby
- Size: 10 D
- Last: Leo
- Construction: Goodyear Welted
- Upper: C.F. Stead Suede
- Sole: Rubber Micro-stud
- Details: Full leather lining, leather insole, leather midsole, leather welt, cork filling, etc.
- Extras: Lots! Shoe bags, spare laces, mini shoe horn, and a twill shoe care mat.
- Country of Origin: Xiamen Island, China
- Price: $328 USD
As is often the case with suede, these “dirty” bucks can seemingly change shade in different light.
My “Dirty Bucks” were ordered on a bright and sunny Monday afternoon in January via Grant Stone direct. They shipped out the next business day via UPS Ground and arrived on my doorstep two days later on a dark and cold Thursday evening hours before a massive cold front brought in a lot of ice and snow. You simply can’t argue with super quick, free shipping.
FYI: Grant Stone offers one free exchange within 15 days of ordering. That’s a tight window for most people as shipping and delivery can take a few days here and there and life is always busy with work, family, and friends. Direct returns within that 15 day window will set you back $15 when you use their prepaid UPS Ground shipping label, but this makes sense as boots and shoes are heavy and someone has to pay for the return shipping back to their Michigan HQ.
As an “Average Joe” consumer, I wish the return policy was longer or at least based on package delivery date instead of order date. As I said above, life gets busy sometimes and we tend to forget about packages that need to be returned. I would like to see that policy get an update some day.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Easy ordering, quick shipping, but a tight (non-free) return policy.
Grant Stone always hits the unboxing nail on the head.
We’ve reviewed a handful of other Grant Stone models in the past and as with those, this pair also arrived in the brand’s fantastic packaging. For those with discerning taste, the unboxing experience is downright delightful and showcases how well the Grant Stone team manages to conjure up the sense of luxury and sophistication within a simple box of boots or shoes.
Lifting the lid off of the understated shoe box allows one to marvel at the arrangement inside. A Tetris master has arranged this package so that the first item in your mitt is a hand signed thank you note. Tucked behind that is a color shoe care instructions card and a small hang tag denoting that these shoes are made from C.F. Stead’s Repello suede, which we’ll discuss later. Next up is a small cotton-like bag that contains a spare set of waxed cotton laces and a miniscule metal shoe horn that doubles as a bottle opener and an emergency ice cream scoop.
There’s also a set of cream Grant Stone branded flannel shoe bags and a twill fabric shoe wrap that helps to keep the shoes neat and tidy during shipping. I like to use this wrap as a tabletop polishing station; it helps keep shoe conditioner and polish off of our dining room table.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Grant Stone always delivers a top notch unboxing experience. A+
Fresh out of the box, you’ll notice that these five-eyelet, plain toe suede bluchers have a simple, yet classic design that will be extremely versatile with all sorts of business casual and smart casual outfits. They will work just as well with a pair of inky blue jeans (beware possible “crocking”) and a tucked button-down collar polo shirt as they will with wool slacks, a spread collar dress shirt, and softly constructed sport coat. Oh yeah, they’re called “dirty bucks” because they earn a lovely patina as you wear them and look even better with some everyday wear scrapes and scuffs.
The fine-napped calf suede covers a classically shaped toe on these bucks.
The uppers are made from C.F. Stead’s fantastic Repello suede, which is a fine-napped calf suede. This khaki or tan suede has a soft, velvety hand with just the right amount of textured nap to be noticeable from above. The Leeds-based British tannery uses ScotchGuard during the tanning and finishing process, which makes this specific suede more water and stain resistant than others. Don’t be afraid to wear your suede shoes; they’re tough and can take it!
The tonal stitching throughout the uppers blends in well with the suede and doesn’t detract from the overall silhouette. The eyelets are cast in a warm bronze color and look proper against the warm tan suede background. The vegetable tanned leather welts are sourced from Barbour in Massachusetts and are finished in a very light caramel color that pairs well with the natural leather midsoles. The 360 degree Goodyear welt stitching is done in white, which provides just a touch of cool contrast to the much warmer upper. The thin, round waxed laces are a bit too thin for my taste but they work well with this design. If you don’t love them, it’s an easy swap.
Bright white stitching on the Goodyear welt provides a cool contrast to the warmer tone of the suede.
Like an expensive sports car, the interiors are lined in a buttery soft leather. This toffee colored kip leather is sourced from a tannery in Milwaukee and feels soft against your socked or sockless feet. Unlike cheaper brands, Grant Stone doesn’t skimp here and carries this leather lining from heel to toe along the back, sides, and tops of the shoes. Hidden behind the heel cups are full-grain leather heel counters. These break in and mold to your feet much better than the cheaper and more common fiberboard or plastic ones.
No skimping on the inside here. Leather lines the full upper interior,
and a full grain leather heel counter means these bucks will form to your feet with time.
For the footbed, you have three distinct layers that create support while adding cushioning for comfort. Starting at the top and working our way down, we have the kip leather heel pad which hides a small, squishy foam comfort layer approximately the size of an AirPods case. Vegetable tanned leather insoles are next and provide the majority of the supportive structure and comfort one finds in a well-made pair of shoes. These leather insoles have a cavity underneath that’s filled with granulated cork. Together, the cork filler and leather insoles (and ribbed steel shanks) wear in over time and mold to your specific feet. This creates a semi-orthotic fit that feels extremely comfortable. Finally, there’s another layer of vegetable tanned leather for the midsole that helps to seal in the freshness above and gives the outsole something to be stitched to.
The rubber micro-stud sole will help in inclement weather.
The rubber micro-stud outsole is a good hybrid design that straddles the line between slimmer, slippery formal leather soles and thicker, grippier casual lugged rubber ones. I’m glad that Grant Stone decided to skip the traditional brick red rubber outsole on these suede bucks and opted for a more usable shade of sangria or mahogany that blends in better with smart casual outfits. I also like the studs on this house brand outsole as they add a notable level of traction. These round dots are wide enough to work, yet are short enough to go unnoticed from the side view. Note that these can still slip and slide on icy sidewalks and wet concrete floors, so be careful!
Score: 5/5 Stars – Surprisingly nice for a simple pair of suede derbies. Very well made.
In terms of fit and sizing, I recommend trying a half-size down from your true-to-size Brannock measurement. I tried this pair in a 10 D and they feel like they fit well right out of the box. With my heel to the back of the heel cup, the widest part of my foot meets the widest part of the shoe and I have about a thumb’s width of extra space in front of my toes for some expansion throughout the day. The Leo last is very similar to Alden’s Barrie last in that both of them have a combination style fitting. The heel is a tad bit narrower to help lock your heel in place, while the toe box is slightly wider for some extra breathing room while walking. The rounded toe is neither too “almond-like” nor too bulbous and the waist area is slightly tapered. Note that Grant Stone is offering this style in D, E, and EEE widths for you fellas who need it.
Shape is great. Heel is a tad narrower to help lock your heel in place.
Toe box is slightly wider for some extra breathing room while walking.
Waist area is slightly tapered.
For size reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in most roomy dress shoes, including Alden’s Barrie last and Grant Stone’s Leo last. I take a 10.5 E in Allen Edmonds 65 last, as that last runs too narrow for me. I also take a 10.5 in Converse/Vans and an 11 in most athletic sneakers from Adidas or Nike. Have a size question? Email us!
Comfort is always subjective, but I find well made shoes like these to be very comfortable. Sure, they aren’t as squishy as a pair of trainers with foam outsoles, but the soft suede uppers, firm leather footbed, buttery soft leather lining, sturdy steel shank, and moldable cork filler all make for a comfortable and supportive environment. Over time, those layers will soften and mold around your feet, creating an almost orthopedic fit that gets more comfortable in time.
Score: 5/5 Stars – The Leo last fits well and feels supportive. A half-size down is right.
Grant Stone’s Dirty Buck is the perfect four season shoe for most guys not living in blizzard country. These bluchers are made well, use high quality components, and are styled neutral enough to be extremely versatile. Whether you dress them up with a smart casual sport coat and chinos or dress them down with a button-down shirt and jeans, they’re going to serve you well for years to come. Best of all, suede is hearty enough to be worn year round and looks even better with wear. If you’re in the market for a new pair of business casual kicks, I highly recommend these. Cheers!
Avg. Score: 4.75/5 – Highly recommended. These Dirty Bucks are a fantastic choice.
Business casual kicks that could outlast your job. Highly recommended!