Online Shopping Picks: The Best Men’s High-Top Sneakers for Fall

Editor’s note: Click this link for more essential menswear shopping picks.
Seasonal style transitions can be awfully fun, right? There’s something exciting (at least for your Style Guide author) about stowing away certain #menswear pieces — like lightweight summer shorts or a short-sleeve chambray shirt — for more durable, rugged and hard-wearing items. However, there are still four-season pieces that you can make work in chiller temps — like the ever-crucial, ever-stylish, ever-so-retro high-top sneaker. Just like with a tough pair of chukka boots, the higher cut of a … high-top sneaker (get it?) lends itself to a look and feel that fits right in with fall. The right pair of high-top sneakers can be worn just as you would wear fall boots — so, think selvedge denim and henleys galore (plus, a classic crewneck sweater wouldn’t go amiss). It can be fun to keep high-tops in your footwear rotation before switching over to hard-wearing winter boots, too. And if you live in a warmer climate? High-top sneakers are still something you should have you in your rotation. Are you with me on that? I sure hope so, because what follows is — dare I say it — a rundown of the best high-top sneakers for fall. Chime in with more suggestions on Facebook, and get high-top sneaker styling tips from time to time on Instagram.
A much-needed way to ease the transition from summer to fall -- a great-looking chukka sneaker.

A much-needed way to ease the transition from summer to fall — a great-looking chukka sneaker.

If you needed another reminder that fall is perhaps the best time for menswear fans, look no further than these sneakers. A comfortable gum rubber outsole blends seamlessly with durable duck canvas and a classic SeaVees chukka silhouette for an immensely wearable fall sneaker. It’s the ideal blend of business-casual and well, regular casual in a sneaker — pair ’em with a fall blazer and a merino long-sleeve tee for high-low office style, or rock them with a tough chore coat for weekend explorations. Plus, the price ain’t half-bad either.
A very durable, stylish take on the high-top from an excellent collaboration.

A very durable, stylish take on the high-top from an excellent collaboration.

Who better to take on the classic high-top sneaker than a designer who constantly supplies great takes on heritage menswear? The latest iteration in the Todd Snyder and P.F. Flyers collaboration is a heck of a sneaker to buy now, wear now and keep in your rotation as long as you can. Featuring P.F. Flyers’ trademark approach to comfort and a durable 14oz. military-spec canvas upper, they’re easily wearable with everything from grey chinos and a twill shirt to dark blue denim — add a blazer or denim jacket as you please.
A touch of sports-inspired style mixed with premium materials -- you can't beat that combo for the price.

A touch of sports-inspired style mixed with premium materials — you can’t beat that combo for the price.

Brooklyn’s own GREATS has long been a Style Guide favorite for their premium approach to footwear that’s equally inspired by sports and tailored style. The GREATS Royale Court blends a bit of both, with full-grain leather in a stylish Graphite color atop a Margom rubber outsole. The result is a durable sneaker in a surprisingly sleek silhouette –they’re fit for wearing with a classic blue Oxford and dark denim, or an elbow-patch cardigan and slim tan chinos through the chillier months. And you might not get a better price for the quality, either.
 
#4. SeaVees Maslon Desert Boots — $108 (Available via East Dane)
A unique color for fall, with plenty of wearability in other seasons, too.

A unique color for fall, with plenty of wearability in other seasons, too.

Just as with the SeaVees Huckberry Chukka, this brand is one that can do more than just classic warm-weather kicks like the SeaVees Legend Sneaker. In this instance, the Maslon Desert Boot merges the brand’s laidback California cool with classic fall styling potential thanks to the higher chukka cut. The rich Army Green suede plays nicely off the contrasting leather heel cap, resulting in a sneaker that could team with everything from slim dark denim to navy chinos.  When cared for properly, you’re also looking at sneakers that could be worn through spring and summer with breezy linen chinos. Again, if price is a factor, these sneakers are also a great steal in that regard.

#5. Tretorn Leather Nylite Hi 2 Sneakers — $100 (Available via East Dane)

Super-crisp black sneakers for all sorts of style situations.

Super-crisp black sneakers for all sorts of style situations.

Tretorn is another brand that might turn some heads when it comes to fall sneakers — after all, they’re perhaps most well-known for classic styles like the Tretorn Nylite Canvas. However, the Tretorn Nylite Hi 2 is every bit as ready for fall as any of the other picks on this list, with a  sleek black color and an even sleeker silhouette to boot. A terrycloth sock liner should add to the extreme comfort of these sneakers, which you could seamlessly team up with black denim and a chambray shirt to wear to your next rock concert — or to the office with garment-dyed chinos and a slim crewneck sweater.

Buck Mason - Timeless Design. Made in America.

In the way of high-top sneakers, as long as you emphasize affordability, durability and style, you should be well-set for the season ahead. When paired up with similar cold-weather style staples — particularly items from your Fall Style Wish List — sneakers are every bit as versatile as your favorite pair of fall boots. And given that plenty of designers are emphasizing tough materials like canvas in their uppers, plus thick rubber outsoles, the right pair of high-top sneakers should last you through this season and into next spring … and summer … and fall. Whether you reach for a pair from a more established designer like Mr. Snyder, or a classic warm-weather brand like SeaVees, you should be set for any #menswear situation you can think of. Got questions or additions to this list? Drop a note in the comments, or catch up with yours truly via Twitter.
Until we meet again — stay stylish,
-Beau

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Style Pick of the Week: Danner x New Balance miUSA 585 Sneakers

Editor’s note: Expect these posts weekly detailing one standout item coveted by yours truly. Sometimes, these fit within budgetary restrictions and other times, they’re expensive splurges worth saving for. For more Wish List items from Beau, head here, and to see other Style Picks, head here.

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Contemplating the weekend in NYC’s Bryant Park — during a Friday lunch break. miUSA 585 Sneakers from the Danner x New Balance collab. Cole Bomber Jacket by Beckett Simonon. Cove Shirt by Life/After/Denim. Slim black selvedge by Todd Shelton. Waterbury Chrono by Timex x Red Wing Heritage. Colorblocked socks by Richer Poorer. Glasses by Frameri.

Perhaps it’s been the slightly breezy, fall-esque weather in Brooklyn, but durable, premium footwear is certainly something that’s been on the mind of your Style Guide publisher, editor and writer as of late. Although we just covered the excellent SeaVees Huckberry Chukka in last week’s Style Pick of the Week post, we’re back at it here with a pair of footwear that’s every bit as perfect for fall style — and quite a bit pricier, if we’re being honest.  Yes indeed, the Danner x New Balance miUSA 585 is quite the sneaker, blending the ingenuity and technology of New Balance with the quality and craftsmanship of Danner. Oh, and it’s made in America at New Balance’s Maine factory. Sounds too good to be true, ehh? Not so fast, my friend. Having tested out these sneakers, I can tell you that they’re the real deal — and then some. The Danner x New Balance miUSA 585 takes advantage of the best of the best that these two Portland-based companies have to offer (that would be New Balance’s roots in Maine, and Danner’s home base in Oregon). It’s part of the American Pioneer Project, and that partnership also features the Danner x New Balance Light, an outdoor boot that merges hybrid style and performance. The 585 is a bit of a different look from your classic boot or sneaker, though. The 585 takes New Balance’s traditional outdoor trail silhouette, and merges it with the sort of durable touches found on Danner boots, like rich Horween leather. Boot laces give these sneakers a sporty-yet-versatile look, and ballistic nylon found on the upper also gives it a ton of durability, as does So is it a sneaker? A boot? How do you wear it? All crucial questions given the price tag ($359.99 ain’t exactly cheap, fellas).

The answer to the first of those two questions would be that, yes — it’s a sneaker. But it can wear like a boot. The higher heel prevents you from rolling your ankle, critical whether you’re dashing to the subway or the plane — or stepping out of your favorite pub (right? Right??). It’s fit for casual Friday pairings aplenty, as you can see above — try it with a beautiful Beckett Simonon suede bomber jacket, a patterned shirt (the one at the top is from Life/After/Denim), and slim black Todd Shelton selvedge. Now, you’ll have to wait for that bomber jacket, but the good news is that you can pick up these sneakers, and wear them, right away. The rich Horween leather gives the Danner x New Balance miUSA 585 a dressier feel than most kicks — given the price tag, you’re going to want to get as much wear out of them as you can. Just be sure to keep them nice and cleaned up (soap and water on a cloth is a quick way to keep the heel and sole scuff-free). The Horween leather should develop a nice patina over time, too. And lest we forget, the combination between sporty and casual style means you can team them up with a lightweight navy blazer and dark blue denim at the office, and they’re absolutely perfect to wear with a slim cardigan and a classic Taylor Stitch chambray shirt for a sharp weekend coffee run. The difficult thing is going to be resisting the urge to wear them into winter — these are sneakers that should be stored for a  bit, then broken back out in the spring. In the meantime, the Danner x New Balance miUSA 585 will look plenty handsome on your shelf.

While you mull that sneaker purchase, follow along with The Style Guide on Facebook.

Style Pick of the Week: Reebok x JackThreads Daily Classic Nylon Sneakers

Editor’s note: Expect these posts weekly detailing one standout item coveted by yours truly. Sometimes, these fit within budgetary restrictions and other times, they’re expensive splurges worth saving for. For more Wish List items from Beau, head here, and to see other Style Picks, head here.

Reebok JackThreads Sneakers

JackThreads updates a classic — with very pleasing results. Photo courtesy of JackThreads.

What’s a guy to do when he feels like he’s got the basics covered? We’re talking classic pieces you can rotate in and out, and wear every day. In the footwear game, that could mean everything from leather loafers for spring to classic white sneakers to durable fall boots. Every once in a while though, you get the itch to switch things up a bit — but not too much. That’s where a collaboration effort that’s at once classic and style-forward makes perfect sense. And that’s where today’s Style Pick comes from — the Reebok x JackThreads Daily Classic Nylon is firing on all cylinders; believe me, these sneakers are certainly worth your time.  Although some aren’t into the retro style of these kicks, there’s no question that as far as trends go, this silhouette manages to be of-the-moment without going too far off the beaten path (that’s why they’re a good pick to switch up your footwear closet). The overall feel and look is sleek and well-composed. Both Reebok and JackThreads have teamed up admirably on a stylish runner that blends premium pigskin suede with rich leather accents and a durable nylon upper — the combination is pleasing to the eye, and quite high-quality. And for just $75, you’re getting a heck of a sneaker.

Take your pick between White or Navy -- neither can go wrong. Photo courtesy of JackThreads.

Take your pick between White or Navy — neither can go wrong. Photo courtesy of JackThreads.

Either the White or Collegiate Navy option are going to take care of business for you — after checking out the White pair for just over a week now, they’re a winning pick in my book. In fact, they worked very well on a trip back to Michigan when paired with a slub polo and shorts, yet they also would’ve stylishly complemented some slim sand chinos I brought with me. And that attention to detail in design & execution extends to the small touches that make these kicks unique to JackThreads — we’re talking orange-tipped laces, an orange shoe lining and an orange outsole on the navy pair. Despite those pops of color, these shoes aren’t too ostentatious at all — the retro silhouette manages to feel streamlined and understated. Even when worn for long periods of time, these sneakers feel comfortable and bounce back nicely. If properly cared for with the right suede-cleaning tools and other spot touch-ups, they could reliably work in spring, summer and early fall. The versatility is such that you could try pairing them with, say dark khaki corduroys (almost sold out now, but sure to be restocked soon!) and a classic crewneck sweater when it gets a bit chilly in early fall. And right now, you should definitely break them out with everything from slim chino shorts to light wash denim. The only doubts you should have are whether to buy these in White, Navy — or both.

Style Pick of the Week: GREATS Royale White Sneaker

Editor’s note: Expect these posts weekly detailing one standout item coveted by yours truly. Sometimes, these fit within budgetary restrictions and other times, they’re expensive splurges worth saving for. For more Wish List items from Beau, head here, and to see other Style Picks, head here.

Classic, reliable, wearable with anything, and a bit dressier than the classic canvas sneaker.

Classic, reliable, wearable with anything, and a bit dressier than the classic canvas sneaker.

So, we’re back at it again on The Style Guide with a pair of classic white sneakers, just as we covered off a few weeks ago. But there’s something different about the GREATS Royale White Sneaker. What’s that, you ask? Well unlike the SeaVees Legend Sneaker (a highly versatile set of kicks in its own right), the GREATS Royale is just a bit more premium and just a bit more fashion-forward, crafted from a premium Italian leather that makes it endlessly wearable all through summer. And if you follow this blog at all, you know I’m a sucker for great footwear (wink, wink) — that goes for everything from the GREATS Wooster Slip-on to the brand’s Navy Rosen Runner. And in this instance, the GREATS Royale is yet another excellent example of why it’s so essential to have a stylish pair of summer sneakers (or two, or three, or five) in your wardrobe rotation. So that’s why, in a nutshell, we’re covering off on a great pair of white kicks. With the casual versatility that’s permeating the #menswear world today, white leather sneakers are a reliable stand-in across at least three seasons (yes, even in fall). But when the weather’s warm out, they’re a great go-to. They add a crisp finish to simple rolled denim and a short-sleeve henley, they bring an air of sporty cool to slim tan chinos and a classic polo , and they work very well with linen khaki shorts and a striped tee (check out this Instagram post for an example of one way to style white sneakers). And that’s not even covering off on the ultimate way to style these guys…

GREATS starts with details like rich full-grain Italian leather, and builds silhouettes that are affordable and high-quality.

GREATS starts with details like rich full-grain Italian leather, and builds silhouettes that are affordable and high-quality.

That, my friends, would be with a more daring combo — think rocking these guys with a textured blue chambray suit and white OCBD, or alongside some light grey chinos and that same blue chambray jacket for a great mix of tailored style. And when you mix and match other separates — like swapping in a white polo over the suit’s blue chambray trousers — you get an even more summer-ready combo; it’s not often that you find sneakers you can wear to brunch or the office, but these are just the ticket. Crucially, you get all this versatility for just $159 from GREATS, and the brand (if you’re unfamiliar) brings its knowledge of craftsmanship and quality to the table from start to finish. We’re talking full-grain Italian leather and waxed cotton laces, for starters. And if the GREATS Royale is anything like its other sneakers, it should be ridiculously comfortable, fairly easy to clean and long-lasting. You can’t ask for much more than that, can you?

Do you own the GREATS Royale? How do you like ’em, and how would you wear them?

Buck Mason - Timeless Design. Made in America.

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Online Shopping Picks: The 5 Best Spring Sneakers to Buy Now

Editor’s note: For a plethora of pertinent seasonal style picks, head this way.

Sharp white sneakers -- like the GREATS Brand Wilson -- make spring style all the easier. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Short-sleeve gingham shirt and shorts by Banana Republic. Sunglasses by Tom Ford. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

Sharp white sneakers — like the GREATS Brand Wilson — make spring style all the easier (even with a sunburn). Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Short-sleeve gingham shirt and shorts by Banana Republic. Sunglasses by Tom Ford. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

We’ve been talking a lot here on The Style Guide about how to transition your style seamlessly between the seasons. That includes the essentials, like a stylish spring jacket or a lightweight spring sweater, and it goes on all the way down to footwear. Be it an especially sharp pair of Jack Erwin loafers (as in a recent Style Pick feature), or something more spring-friendly, don’t leave out that part of the equation. Now, we covered off on great men’s sneakers last spring, but there’s no time like the present to deliver an update on a pair of footwear that’ll be in heavy rotation for the next four or five months  (if we’re lucky). With that being said, let’s dive right into the below #menswear picks — if you see any brands missing, let me know on Facebook!

#1. The Hill-Side Pale Indigo Washed Denim Low-Top Sneakers, $175

The same fabric that goes into your favorite denim makes up these stunning sneakers.

The same fabric that goes into your favorite denim makes up these stunning sneakers.

The Hill-Side has earned its stripes since launching in 2009, what with a dedication to exceptional fabrics, neat takes on classic silhouettes and a stellar GAP Capsule collection as part of the GQ Best New Menswear Designer in America collection. It’s no surprise, then, that these pale indigo washed denim sneakers look extraordinary, crafted from 100 percent Japanese cotton in a heritage sneaker factory and assembled by hand. These are casual enough to rock with dark denim and a slim T-shirt, but they’d add a heck of a lot of cool to a slim khaki blazer and grey chinos.

#2. GREATS Royale Court in Graphite — $199

Back again, and ready for spring.

Back again, and ready for spring.

These sneakers first appeared on this blog way back in October, but lest we forget that spring can be a time of transition, they’re back. The excellent thing about picking up these sneakers now is that they add some visual interest — and a heck of a lot of sturdy high-top construction — to laidback, casual outfits (like lightwash jeans and a rugged short-sleeve henley, for example). Plus, you can safely rock them into fall and winter. Oh, and if you fancy yourself heading to a lot of summer music festivals and want a sturdy sneaker that’s still right for the occasion, the Royale Court would be an outstanding pick.


#3. SeaVees Army Issue Sneaker — $98

An sneaker with military roots, and the specs to prove it.

An sneaker with military roots, and the specs to prove it.

SeaVees is a brand that knows what it does well and sticks to it. In this case, that’s channeling a combination of West Coast vibes and classic East Coast styling — and the resulting SeaVees staple, the Army Issue Sneaker, is a nice result. Crisp white sneakers like these can be styled all kinds of ways, from rocking them with a lightweight sweater and chinos (as in this post) to pairing them with dark denim and an unconstructed navy blazer. For under $100, the full-grain leather, suede toe cap and cotton canvas lining can’t really be beat.

#4. Todd Snyder x P.F. Flyers Nubuck Rambler Low — $199

Just one of several ideal spring sneakers, built with quality and style in mind.

Just one of several ideal spring sneakers, built with quality and style in mind.

When this year’s version of the Todd Snyder x P.F. Flyers collaboration launched in February, it was a welcome addition to one writer’s Style Wish List. And now that spring is creeping its way forward (for some of us), there’s no better time to hop on board with ’em. Todd Snyder’s taken the same classic, heritage-inspired styling principles that have made his own line a hit, and pumped them into a solid take on a versatile sneaker that would look excellent with slim lightwash jeans and a stylish spring polo.

#5. Rancourt & Co. Court Classic Low Sneakers — $260

A low-top in navy leather that changes the pace from regular white sneakers, with a ton of quality built in.

A low-top in navy leather that changes the pace from regular white sneakers, with a ton of quality built in.

By far the most expensive sneaker on this list (for good reason), Rancourt turned its attention last year to sneakers with the same attention to detail as its renowned boots. And that’s a very good thing for all of us #menswear fans. The Court Classic Low features a stunning full-grain navy leather upper that’s a nice change of pace from solid black or white sneakers, and it’s made in the USA — 100 percent! The Vibram sole should be exceedingly comfortable, meaning you can rock ’em with a slim chambray suit for high-low style, or a laidback tee and summer shorts.

It was quite tough to put together this list — after all, even brands that made the cut (like The Hill-Side or GREATS) deliver all sorts of exceptional sneakers for a variety of price points. If you’re looking for a super-simple style that certainly won’t break the bank, the GREATS Wilson is the way to go. Premium retailers like J. Crew also offer a heck of a lot of sneakers picks (as detailed in this site’s Sneaker Style Upgrade piece). And of course, it’s worth checking out Converse for its classic Jack Purcell Sneaker alone. With that being said, the awesome thing about today’s menswear world is that a great pair of sneakers can take you a ton of different places — spring, summer, and beyond. Not a bad deal to me!

What’s your take on the above picks? Are there certain brands you’d add? Let me know!

Style Pick of the Week: Todd Snyder x P.F. Flyers Rambler Sneakers

Editor’s note: Expect these posts weekly detailing one standout item coveted by yours truly. Sometimes, these fit within budgetary restrictions and other times, they’re expensive splurges worth saving for. For more Wish List items from Beau, head here, and to see other Style Picks, head here.

A great new sneaker release from a much anticipated spring collaboration.

A great new sneaker release from a much anticipated spring collaboration.

Perhaps it’s the recent influx of sunshine (however brief and chilly) here in NYC, or maybe it’s a sudden flurry of new spring arrivals hitting many a Web site, but I’ve definitely been doing some seasonal “planning-ahead” as far as #menswear goes. Do you find yourself in the same boat? With that being said, the forecast still calls for more chilly weather. Even still, the latest iteration of the ongoing Todd Snyder x P.F. Flyers collaboration is absolutely a winner, and it takes the cake as this week’s Style Pick of the Week —  particularly the Nubuck Rambler Low as seen here. A great pair of crisp, clean and classically inspired white sneakers is a style essential nearly all year-round — even into the chillier days of fall. And although the Nubuck Rambler Low is a spring release, it’s a pair of sneakers you could match up with all kinds of outfits through the spring, summer and on into Labor Day. They incorporate all the elements you’d expect in a great pair of white sneakers, with a few added touches.

A slim toe shape and the captoe detailing make these suitably dressy for pairing with a blazer this spring.

A slim toe shape and the captoe detailing make these suitably dressy for pairing with a blazer this spring.

For one, the contrasting gum sole is a welcome design elements that’s popped up on lots of sneakers as of late. The captoe detailing and open-lace stitching are also nice touches that make these the ideal dressy or casual sneaker. They’d be the perfect pairing with some olive chinos and a navy polo when it gets warm out, and they’d even work now with slim dark denim and a navy bomber for a welcome shot of contrasting color. Plus, these guys would go great with an unconstructed blazer and lightwash jeans for a great Casual Friday look (the Perforated Rambler High would also work in this regard, but spring seems better suited for low-tops anyways). The Todd Snyder logo at the nylon heel tab is a cool touch that lets you know the type of designer quality you’re getting, as well. On that note, for a name brand collaboration like this, the price isn’t terrible, particularly when you consider that you can rock ’em more like dress shoes than sneakers. And the construction should definitely be solid — P.F. Flyers has decades of experience doing that.  It’s also part of a welcome series of collabs the lauded American designer has launched in recent years — look for some great new footwear on the dressier side of things from Todd Snyder’s partnership with Cole Haan later this spring. For now though, it’s sneaker time. Sadly, warm weather is likely a ways off for most of us. But hey, a guy can dream of spring, and these sneakers, and a spring style wish list … right?

Until Monday,

-Beau

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The Product Review: Reef Outhaul Lux Chukka Sneakers

Editor’s note: For a wide range of product reviews on everything from watches to jeans, click here.

Styling black chukka sneakers for travel. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Grey shirt-jacket by Addict UK. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Black rubber strap watch by Stuhrling.

Styling black chukka sneakers for travel. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Grey shirt-jacket by Addict UK. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Black rubber strap watch by Stuhrling.

The great thing about personal style is that it’s always changing and developing, shifting according to your tastes, your lifestyle and current trends in the marketplace. This has been no more true than for yours truly across the past few weeks – namely, in my footwear preferences. I love a great pair of boots, and I certainly love sporty sneakers, too. But in the midst of that, I’ve found myself drawn more and more to black footwear – be it side zip or moc toe boots or, in the case of this post, black sneakers.

Perhaps it’s NYC starting to rub off on me, but there’s something quite crisp and sleek about black footwear – and it’s a trend that’s been coming back in a big way in recent years. Witness Bond himself rocking several pairs of expensive and sleek black footwear in the latest franchise installment. And in turn, this has brought me to another style crossroads –wearing and styling black chukka sneakers (not as fancy as what 007 wears, admittedly). There’s an unexpected brand that’s doing a nice, comfortable take on the sneaker, and it’s one you should consider when you fill up your shopping cart next time.
Ben Sherman US

Now before a few weeks ago, I wasn’t familiar with Reef as either  a surfwear brand or an apparel brand, period. But when I got the chance to check out a pair of the brand’s sneakers thanks to the brand’s great PR team, I took the opportunity to dive in headfirst. And like the brand’s apparel (particularly a new workshirt from a collaboration with Lee Jeans), I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality, comfort and durability of these particular sneakers – the Outhaul Lux in Black, to be specific. It’s a style that’s been a remarkably hot seller from the brand’s fall line, too – Amazon does have a better range of sizes available as of post time, though.

Another casual way to wear these sneakers -- with a sturdy workshirt, slim denim in a fall-appropriate shade and a nice watch cap. Workshirt by Reef x H.D. Lee. Slim Travel Jeans by Bonobos. Merino watch cap by American Trench. Glasses by Warby Parker.

Another casual way to wear these sneakers — with a sturdy workshirt, slim denim in a fall-appropriate shade and a nice watch cap. Workshirt by Reef x H.D. Lee. Slim Travel Jeans by Bonobos. Merino watch cap by American Trench. Glasses by Warby Parker.

I definitely love a great pair of sneakers, especially from a brand like Brooklyn’s own GREATS, but now there’s some competition in my closet. Reef has been known more in the past for its surf-focused offerings, but they’ve certainly done a nice job with these sneakers. I’ve worn them to work with a plaid shirt and grey crewneck sweater, and I’ve also thrown them on to do quite a bit of exploring across travels to Grand Rapids and Washington, D.C. these past two weeks. Thankfully, they’ve been up to the challenge.

Crucially for sneakers, the first noticeable thing about these guys is the comfort level – the outsole features solid traction, something tough to get in a black leather sneaker on occasion, and the injected molded insole adds another layer of cushion and durability. For being a chukka sneaker, they’re quite light – that’s another positive that’s made these a solid choice for lots of walking.

One way to style these sneakers -- with a solid baseball jacket (via Grayers), a vintage ballcap (via Goorin Brothers) and a dependable weekender bag (by Navali).

One way to style these sneakers — with a solid baseball jacket (via Grayers), a vintage ballcap (via Goorin Brothers) and a dependable weekender bag (by Navali).

The premium full-grain leather upper makes for a pretty slick look and decent styling potential, too. As you can see from these photos, I opted to style them in two casual, rugged get-ups – notice my love of grey workshirts and henleys, namely. So they’ve been a very solid casual sneaker. Granted, they’re not as dressy or quite as versatile as a shiny black leather sneaker, but the monochrome color still makes them quite sharp. The nubuck leather is of good quality, too – it hasn’t shown that much wear and tear or creasing, a factor that’ll allow them to be worn in more high-low situations (think a navy blazer and slim khaki chinos plus these sneakers).

A closer look at the diagonal stitching that runs up the side of these Reef chukka sneakers.

A slightly closer look at the diagonal stitching that runs up the side of these Reef chukka sneakers, which some might not like.

However, just as they’re not as dressy as a black leather sneaker, the slightly rounded toe makes them less sleek – and thus less versatile. But, they’re definitely still able to function as a business-casual sneaker, albeit in a bit more unique fashion. The chukka-style cut is a nice change of pace from lower-cut sneakers. Those types of kicks definitely have their place in spring and summer, but a chukka sneaker screams fall style to me – perhaps it’s the shifting weather or the switch back to higher-cut boots as the temps drop and leaves fall, but a chukka sneaker is a lighter way to convey a similar style. The padded ankle makes these more comfortable than boots, too (as it should be with sneakers!). Plus, the higher cut aligns well with slimmer pants that have minimal break, creating a nice silhouette. And again, that sleek black color is probably best to wear casually at first — rotate them in as you might a pair of suede chukkas, or regular low-cut sneakers, and more styling options will definitely start to open up.

The one thing some might not like about these sneakers is the diagonal detailing stitched onto the side of the sneakers. It’s an almost tribal-like pattern but as it’s done up in black stitching, it doesn’t detract from the sneaker too much for me. Elsewhere on the shoe, waxed laces that have some nice stretch are a welcome touch.

The price on these is pretty solid, too – at $95, it’s always refreshing to see a good sneaker sold for under $100. GREATS and more classic sneaker brands like Vans might have them beat price-wise, but for a company known for its surfwear offerings, this is a solid sneaker effort that’ll continue to get good wear through fall and into the early part of winter.

Have you picked up sneakers from Reef? What’s your take on the black chukka sneaker in general?

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