Photograph by Nigel Cox
Spring's arrival doesn't mean just a change in your clothing. What you wear south of your ankles deserves a seasonal update as well. Nothing says you're ready for balmy temperatures and cotton suits like a pair of refined suede shoes. Whether wing tips, cap toes, or unadorned lace-ups, suede shoes in earthy tones are a solid foundation for any warm-weather wardrobe.
Silhouette: Unlike the clunky white bucks favored by eighties prepsters, this season's suede shoes are streamlined and subtle. Be sure to choose a curved—not pointy—toe that follows the natural shape of your foot. And avoid a sole that is too bulky.
Color: Chocolate-brown suede wing tips are sophisticated and all-occasion-appropriate, while cap toes in khaki or ivory are ideal for a relaxed weekend at the beach or lake.
Socks: Stick with cotton socks in colors that are one or two shades lighter than your shoes. If you have the right ankles—youthful, trim, and slightly tan—then going sockless is an ideal option, with one caveat: When you sweat, the insides of your shoes absorb the moisture from your feet, causing the leather insoles to harden and buckle. If you perspire a lot, apply foot powder and have the insoles changed about once a month.
From back: Cesare Paciotti ($600), 212-452-1222. J.M. Weston ($595). Isaia ($795). Bally ($450), 212-751-9082. Z Zegna ($450).