A good pair of shoes is one of the most important things you need every day. It’s essential to know you’ll be comfortable while walking, regardless of the task or event. While many dress shoes are leather made, we wondered about the soles. When buying dress shoes, people often ask, “Are leather soled shoes better?”
Shoe soles are made out of many materials, depending on their purpose and type. Athletic shoes tend to have a different bottom than casual or dress shoes. You’ll find that some shoe sole materials work better than others, but it’s possible to find polyurethane, latex, rubber, leather, blends, and more.
The benefits of leather soled shoes are plentiful. If you’re not sure why you need leather soles, we’ll explain the many reasons to help you. Of course, it’s also essential to learn about the other dress shoe materials available and how to make sure the soles are leather.
Before the mid-20th century, people’s shoes were always made of leather. As technology advanced, shoemakers came to realize that other materials were cheaper and easier to manufacture.
Of course, the earliest leather shoes were just strips of animal hide wrapped around the feet and tied in an assortment of ways. With time, the shoe shape was born. Most people prefer the upper of the shoe to be made of the same material as the sole to create continuity.
The first rubber versions date back to the 1870s. Elite and wealthy people tended to use them for games of croquet because it didn’t do as much damage to the green. In the 1890s, Goodyear (USA) also started producing shoes with rubber soles.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that plastic and rubber soles slowly began to replace traditional leather. These materials eventually became the most-used products for shoe bottoms. As such, manufacturers also started doing away with the leather upper because there were alternative, often less expensive options available.
Since they were so cheap, they became highly popular. However, leather shoes are still essential for the industry and are now back on the rise. Primarily, people have come to appreciate that leather increases the quality of the footwear.
Leather Sole Shoes Benefits
Now that you have a bit of history about leather soles and why they’re coming back in style, it’s time to focus on their benefits. Of course, we’ll also talk a bit about when not to use leather, including a few drawbacks, so that you’re fully aware of all aspects of the topic.
1. Stiff but Flexible
When you have leather soled dress shoes, you may find they feel stiff on the feet. This is normal because for the material to hold its shape longer, it undergoes the process of curing. Nonetheless, as you continue to wear them, they become more flexible.
In a sense, the bottom molds to the unique contours of your feet. It can take up to a month, but once the soles have been broken in, you’ll get a more customized fit. That gives you better traction on smooth and wet surfaces.
The more you wear the shoe, the more it will adapt to your foot’s form. Stick with the initial brief discomfort until they feel as comfortable as it would be to walk barefoot or in memory foam. It will happen!
2. Are Leather Shoes Breathable?
While you wouldn’t think that leather is a breathable material, it is. Think about the animal from which the leather came. Air penetrated the creature to help keep the skin healthy and alive.
The same applies to your feet. When you wear leather shoes, your feet can still breathe. If you sweat often, you may find that your feet won’t feel as uncomfortable or wet throughout the day with leather.
3. Rubber Soles vs Leather Soles
Rubber soles tend to heat up faster than leather soles, which means your shoes will get warmer, especially if you’re on your feet eight to 10 hours a day. Your feet are going to feel a lot cooler and more comfortable regardless of what you’re doing when you wear leather.
Similarly, leather-soled shoes are also suitable for dry and warm climates. You may not feel the heat as much or have to deal with hot, achy, or itchy feet at the end of the day.
4. Reduced Risk of Odor and Infection
Since the leather sole is more breathable than other materials, you may find that your feet don’t develop infections caused by sweat or dampness. These include athlete’s foot and other unwelcome fungal diseases.
Odor-causing bacteria prefer damp, dark places. Sweaty feet are the perfect environment for them to breed, but you won’t have to worry about it with leather because your feet will stay dry.
Many people believe that leather-soled shoes are more hygienic than other shoe sole materials. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about embarrassing fungal infections and smells.
5. Glide Effect
While you don’t want to feel like you’re slipping and sliding, some people like the feeling of effortless walking. Your soles won’t stick to the floor, which means you’ll feel lighter. If you’re a dancer, you might like that feeling of gliding.
Most people believe that rubber and plastic soles can insulate you from making firm contact with the earth through the shoes or feet. If you feel this way, you might like to consider leather soles because they have a grounding effect.
Leather is also an insulator, but if your feet sweat or the sole gets wet, you get contact between the earth and the feet. To get the full effect, though, the shoes need to be worn and have absorbed moisture.
Grounding provides you with many benefits. You’re going to sleep better, reduce any stress, and become more focused.
7. Stylish Footwear Appearance
Leather shoes tend to look a lot better than rubber and other materials. They’re elegant and have a luxury feel about them. The same applies to the sole.
The material used usually determines their quality, and leather is the utmost of quality. Such soles can deliver the appearance of fine lines, a bottom that perfectly matches the upper, and the sleek design of the shoe.
8. Multiple Layers
In most cases, cobblers use extra layers of the material to craft a single sole, which means you have more durability and a stronger bottom. Most artisans use triple layers of leather, which can outlast any other material. It’s best to make sure your shoe sole uses multiple leather layers for you to get better quality and a more comfortable shoe.
9. Less Cracking
Rubber soles tend to crack without reason or cause. It can happen if the rubber gets too dry, which is a possibility if you leave the shoes in a sunny spot or next to the radiator or vent. Once cracks start to happen, they’re going to spread and won’t stop.
Leather is much different because it can absorb water through a busted seam or tiny crack. When that happens, you let it dry, and it compresses and retakes its original form. You get more longevity from the shoe as a result.
10. Save Money
If you’re like most people, the thought of saving money makes you intrigued instantly. It’s in our nature to want to spend as little as possible to get what we want.
Yes, leather shoes with the same sole material often cost more to begin with, but they can be re-soled and repaired. Of course, high-quality products are designed well enough to give you many years of comfort without appearances failing.
Leather shoes tend to look better and better as time goes on, but the sole is going to get damaged with time. It’s usually easy to find a reputable cobbler who can re-sole your shoes at a reasonable price. It will cost less than what it would be to replace the footwear, and you’ll get many more years of use with the new sole.
11. Environmentally Friendly
Almost everything can be recycled nowadays; rubber and synthetic materials usually aren’t. When the shoe fails, it inevitably goes into the trash can, which, in turn, goes into the landfill.
Since you can repair and re-sole leather dress shoes, it keeps them out of the landfill for a more extended period. When you do have to throw them out, leather is biodegradable and natural. It will disintegrate and become part of the earth once more, though the process does take time.
12. Clicking Sound
If you purchase a quality dress shoe, you’re likely to hear an audible click sound when you walk on concrete, tile, and other hard surfaces. It’s a pleasing sound, and many people like it compared to the squeak of rubber soles.
13. Will Leather Soled Shoes Mark Floors?
Many times, rubber can leave ghastly black marks across the floor. It’s possible to remove these markings, but it isn’t easy to do so. Some synthetic materials can also leave divots in some flooring, such as wood.
You’ll never have to worry about leather-soled shoes marring any surface. Just take them out of their box and wear them on tile, laminate, stone, wood, and other flooring styles without fear of marking floors.
14. Lightweight Dress Shoes Feel Better
Leather-soled footwear is also lighter than those with rubber bottoms. The sleek and slim design of a stacked leather sole allows it to have better performance than thick rubber. You also get a better feel overall.
Good quality dress shoes should be lightweight so that you can wear them for extended periods without tiring the legs or putting stress on the knees. You might not feel as though you're walking on air, but you’ll feel a bit lighter. If you don’t believe us, consider wearing heavy or steel-toed boots for a few minutes, and you’ll notice the difference.
Places You Shouldn’t Wear Leather-Soled Shoes
While leather soles are impressive and can do many things, they aren’t suitable in some situations. For example, you need bottoms with a grip when you’re performing exercises, such as running or walking. Plus, you need extra support in the feet that leather usually doesn’t provide.
You can wear leather-soled shoes for office wear, to the grocery and department stores, and anywhere else with a smooth surface. Nevertheless, be cautious when walking as some leather soles are slick on various flooring styles. Take small steps and test your weight before walking in a full stride.
Limitations of Leather Soles
Since leather soaks up water, it’s usually not a good idea to wear them in the snow and rain. If it’s just a sprinkle and the walkway is damp, it might not be an issue. If there are puddles of water, though, it’s likely your socks will get soaked.
Of course, leather will dry and go back to its original shape, but too much water can break down the sole prematurely. You can fix this problem easily by wearing overshoes or rain boots when outside. Take your expensive shoes with you and change at work.
Drawbacks of Leather Soles
It’s important to understand that thinner soles (fewer layers) will equate to fragile footwear. You can go through the top brands of shoes within months if you don’t have triple-layer bottoms.
While more about appearances than anything else, the sole has to be cut tight to fit the upper snugly. Otherwise, it looks out of place and messy. If you’re going to spend top dollar for leather shoes or soles, you want them to look elegant and formal.
One Last Point
We didn’t feel this feature was a pro or a con, but rather, it was a fact. You can coat the leather sole with a thin bit of rubber. While some people believe this to be a blasphemy that negates the advantages of leather soles, we don’t feel the same.
The insulating coating is thin and doesn’t affect the sole at all. Plus, it adds a touch of slip resistance to an otherwise slippery bottom. If you consider this option, make sure you wear your shoes in for a good three weeks before applying the rubber coating for the best results.
It’s important to know what you’re buying as a consumer. You need to ensure you pick footwear that’s comfortable, safe, and appropriate for the occasion. When you’re looking at leather shoes, it’s essential to consider the bottoms.
You’ll find many leather sole dress shoe benefits, which can help you make an informed decision. Knowing why they’re beneficial, when to wear them, and what kind of drawbacks you’re likely to experience can help you ensure you’ll wear them correctly. We hope you now pay closer attention to the product descriptions to make sure your high-quality leather shoes use the same material for the sole.