Over and Dover Again - Splitting the Hairs on the Edward Green Dover in Three Materials
I'm a big lover of the Dover. I've previously reviewed a pair of Edward Green Dovers in an unusual Lavagna Suede and Dark Oak leather makeup and I've done a piece on alternatives at some slightly less aggressive price-points.
This article will contrast that pair with a pair on the 202 last in EG's much under-appreciated Nightshade antique calf, and a much more casual all-suede makeup on the 606 last, and reflect on the differences that a change in material can make.
My opinion can be suede
As their most popular shoe design, the Dover is always available in an array of material and colourway options. Browsing the collection of Dovers is a good way of getting an overview of the continuity and new leathers EG is working with for the season.
The all-suede pair were listed on eBay as "Mushroom" suede, which is the closest colour match I can find on EG's site. The actual shade in real life has a distinctly olive-tint to it though - it's not unattractive by any stretch, and frankly the greeny tones add some variety to an otherwise very brown shoe collection.
The most obvious effect of suede uppers is a greater sense of softness - not just the physical softness of the material to the hand, but a visual "blurring" of the design created by the natural nap of the suede. As a specific example, characteristic design details like the split-toe are much less clearly defined on the suede, appearing as just a slight dimpling in the suede whereas it's a clear line in the calf leather.
An aside on the formality spectrum
We can generally assign clothes a rough place on the "formality spectrum" by looking at a couple of factors:
- Simplicity - formal clothes are less "fussy" and have a sleeker appearance, and tend to have fewer discrete design elements
- Shade - formal clothes are darker shades like black or navy
- Pattern - formal clothes are plainer and tend to be unpatterned
- Texture - formal clothes tend to be matte
This logic is slightly upended when applied to footwear, however. The most formal shoes are black patent leather Oxfords, which while very simple in design and plain in pattern are most assuredly not matte in texture. After black, dark brown is the most formal colour.
The calf and suede pair pictured here are an unusual pair - grey suede in particular has very formal, Victorian associations.
So where do purple shoes fit into all this?
"Purple" is maybe an exaggeration - Nightshade is, to quote EG "A dark and sophisticated aubergine for a chic sartorial style".
It's not the kind of colour I'd recommend for someone's 4th or 5th pair of shoes, but for a wardrobe already overflowing with browns and blacks, it adds some welcome variety. It's certainly not a garish or particularly intense purple, and in all but the most formal settings would be very at home with a suit.
Worth noting that your choice of soles can have an influence on how practically formal a pair will be. I'm not one to inspect the soles of men as they pass by, but rubber soles are always going to be better for inclement weather or outdoor wear - I particularly hate leather soles on grass.
Of these shoes, the nightshade calf and olive suede have rubber soles; only the suede and calf combo has a leather sole.
Last (but not least)
Very much a personal taste, but I think the Dover looks most attractive on the 202 last (as with the Nightshade calf pair). The rounded toe adds a bit of sleekness that balances the visual bulk of the apron stitch around the top of the foot.