We consider the merits of one of our favourite styles of footwear.
The Norwegian split toe may look a little unusual at first glance, but it is one of the most elegant and versatile styles one can own. More rugged than a plain toe, but less fussy than a longwing, the Norwegian split toe is distinguished by its raised, hand-stitched apron, with a vertical ‘split’ running down the tip of the shoe to meet the welt. Norwegian in name, the style is most likely Italian in origin, though it has been taken up by many nations over the years, not least the USA. New England’s premier shoemakers – Alden – produce a particularly handsome iteration of this style. Cut from their signature Colour 8 burgundy cordovan leather – a deep, rich and endlessly useful colour for footwear – the Alden split toe blucher is a thing of beauty. Its sleek, gently pointed silhouette allows it to pair effortlessly with tailoring, while the stitching on the upper provides a textural counterpoint to the smooth shine of the leather, and a note of ruggedness that suggests more casual combinations, too.
Which brings us to the versatility of the split toe style. As mentioned, these shoes look elegant worn with tailoring (separates or even a suit), but offer just a hint of the unconventional as well, adding to their appeal. Equally, they feel at home with denim or chinos. And it’s not just what you can wear them with, but when you can wear them: the cordovan split toe is something of a year-round shoe. No doubt comfortable and appropriate for the warmer months, they come into their own with the arrival of autumn. Imagine these paired with some corduroy trousers and a Shetland knit, or with some nice flannel strides, and you’re getting the picture.
Truly an investment piece if ever there was one, in terms of quality and wearability it’s a shoe you can’t go wrong with. To paraphrase our friend G. Bruce Boyer, paraphrasing a Chinese proverb, ‘buy the best and you only cry once.’ For our money, the Alden cordovan split toe is hard to beat.