Selvedge Style Vol. 2: Perfect Below-the-Cuff Pairings for Selvedge Denim

Unlike any other fabric, selvedge denim upends our style. Not only does it move denim to the centre of our personal style, it also changes what we wear both above the belt and below the cuff. In Selvedge Style Vol. 1, we looked at shirts that pair well with selvedge denim. Now it’s time to look below the cuff, at the footwear that will elevate your denim-based look.

When considering the options below, keep in mind that these are only the most popular footwear choices for denimheads. You might not find cowboy boots, combat boots, or sandals on this list, but that doesn’t mean that we are suggesting that you should steer clear. If they are a cornerstone of your personal style, keep on keepin’ on. 

If, however, you are open to upgrading your footwear and elevating your selvedge style, the six styles below, ranging from casual athletic shoes to top-shelf leather footwear, will be an excellent place to start. 

Six-Inch Lace-Up Boots

**Photo by Lucas Botz**

The force is strong with this one. Once you’ve got the jeans, the pull towards similarly rugged footwear is almost irresistible, and nothing pulls quite as hard as six-inch boots. If you’re relatively new to the selvedge scene, it’s only a matter of time before you add a pair of six-inch boots to your shoe rack. 

While boots from makers like Viberg, White’s, and Grant Stone are the enthusiast’s boots of choice, Red Wing’s Iron Ranger is far and away the most popular boot in the scene. It has earned uniform status on the back of its ability to combine durability, stylishness, and value like few other boots on the market.

**Photo by @yonagrinberg**

Six-inch lace-ups are by far the most adaptable form of footwear on this list. No matter how you like your jeans to fit or where you like to cuff them, these low-cut boots will never let you down. They will pair perfectly with all our cuts, and like our selvedge, a well-made pair of boots made from full-grain leather will just keep getting better and better with age.

Moc Toes

Moc toe boots may not be everybody’s cup of tea. When fresh out of the box, they look as big as canoes on those with double-digit shoe sizes, and plenty of folks prefer leather soles and stacked heels to the look of flat-bottomed crepe soles. That said, the Red Wing 877 was the boot that kickstarted the heavy-duty heritage revolution in Japan. Their connection to well-made selvedge has deep and unbreakable roots.

With wear, the comfortable toe box wraps around the toes, making them look considerably smaller. Keep this in mind when trying them on. Also remember that those who swear by moc toes claim that the combination of the high-walled toe box and the crepe sole make these the comfiest boots that you’ll ever wear. Red Wing’s 877 and 875 remain the most popular moc toes, but Grant Stone’s version tends to come out ahead in boot showdowns. Be sure to compare them before buying.

Especially for those with bigger feet, moc toes tend to look their best with a bit of room at the opening. Skinny fits like our Skinny Luke or dramatically tapered ones might not work exceptionally well with this boot. Slide into a comfortable fit and the moc toes will be in their element.

Engineer Boots

**Photo from Himel Brothers**

When denim started to become a fashionable fabric in the ‘40s and ‘50s, the engineer boot (due to its association with motorcycle-riding rebels) became a crucial component of the look. Helped along by heartthrobs like Marlon Brando, the simple combination of leather, denim, and the white tee became the bedrock of perpetually youthful American style. Like rock and roll, the style has demonstrated exceptional staying power, ensuring the engineer boot’s continued relevance in scenes where denim and leather mix. 

**Motor Engineers**

If you’re considering adding some engineers to your arsenal, look for makers like Wesco, Viberg, or John Lofgren. If you’re looking for a solid entry to the market, the Red Wing 2268 will be a good choice. If you want the best, look for Japanese brands like Clinch and Motor. The premium bootmakers are not cheap, but the engineer boot is often the flagship in their line-up. Expect to pay a premium for bona fide leather artistry.

Be aware that, thanks to their wide shafts, engineer boots will not fit inside slim tapered or skinny fits. For best results, stick to wide-legged cuts that recall vintage denim. Our Loose Clark, Classic Fit, and Relaxed Ralph will do the trick. 

Sneakers

While leather and denim go together like coffee and cake, sneakers and jeans make stranger bedfellows in adult styles. However, with the growing preference for casual looks both at home and at work, denimheads are discovering that a fresh pair of sneaks can pair perfectly with selvedge and can, in some settings, even be more appropriate than scuffed up boots. 

The key to pulling it off is to leave the dirty old trainers in the gym bag. Reach instead for something sharp and clean. For lace-ups, New Balance’s 996 are a favorite, as are the ever-popular Chuck Taylors. There’s also significant overlap between selvedge fans and Nike collectors (with Air Jordans and Air Force Ones being popular choices). For slip-ons, Vans lead the pack. To break with convention, try something from Shoes Like Pottery, PRAS, or Armando Cabral.

 

**Picture from James Dant**

Low-top sneakers look their best when you flash a little ankle, so pick from one of our tighter or tapered fits like the Skinny Luke or the Slim Darryl and roll those cuffs high. 

Penny Loafers

If none of the options above catch your fancy, and especially if words like rugged and casual are anathema to your personal style, consider the loafer. Smart and elegant, loafers will be just the ticket if you regularly pair denim with anything that needs to be ironed. Look for something a little chunky with a round rather than a pointed toe. For a way-back throwback, go with white socks. Our preference, though, is for bare ankles. 

**Picture from Okayama Denim**

Horsebit and tassled loafers will add a bit of flash, but the king of the category is the penny loafer. H.G. Bass can call their Weejuns the original penny loafer without blushing, and they are remarkably affordable considering their pedigree. If the slip-on shoe will be a cornerstone of your style, look to top-shelf makers like Alden, Crockett & Jones, and Allen Edmonds.

The look will work best with your most thoroughly faded pair. Slimmer cuts like our Skinny Luke and Slim Darryl will pair effortlessly with loafers. Cuff them high to show off the ankle. If you’ve gone with an extremely chunky loafer, you can experiment with wider cuts like our Tapered Jeremy or Loose Clark.

***

They say that the shoes make the man. This doesn’t mean that you must throw a month’s salary or more into a pair of good shoes—expensive shoes aren’t necessarily stylish ones. It does mean, however, that what we wear on our feet speaks volumes about us, and the right shoes or boots make all the difference. With any of our recommendations above, you’ll be stepping out in the right shoes and the right direction.  

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