Ever since I caught the menswear bug, I’ve been in love with shoes. As a younger man my affinity for them was always there, even if my knowledge of quality and construction wasn’t.
Many years of working for a major footwear retailer in the U.S. taught me a lot about how shoes are made and how to tell a well-made shoe from a cheaply-made one.
I also ended up having a sixty-something strong shoe collection, nearly all from one brand. I’m not complaining, but you have to branch out every once in a while.
My birthday recently passed and I was very generously gifted not just one, but two pairs of Westlake button boots from J. Fitzpatrick. You may have heard of the brand via the blog The Shoe Snob.
In a nutshell, these are gorgeous boots. They’re well-constructed and handsome as all get-out. See my full review below.
J.Fitzpatrick Westlake Button Boots Review
You know how you can tell a house will be nice on the inside by its outward appearance? The same can be said of these shoes.
The box itself is sturdy and well-made, indicating that the maker really cares about the contents inside.
Not only are the boots given flannel shoe bags (excellent for travel as they protect your clothes from the shoes and the shoes from each other), but there’s even additional packaging for protection, as you can see on the left.
The Westlake boot is made in various color ways each season. I was fortunate enough to be gifted Mustard Medley Tweed on Tan Soft Grain leather and Denim on Dark Brown Museum Calf. Current colors are available here.
*NOTE* Please be aware that any wear marks you see on the boots were made by me and were NOT present right out of the box. I saw awesome shoes and had to put them on my foot immediately, review be damned!
The Materials – Tweed, Denim, & Leather
The biggest reason I fell in love with these boots on sight is the unorthodox pairing of materials. I’m not typically a fan of mixed media, but it’s done extremely well here. Interestingly, the light brown and tweed boot has a rubber sole, whereas the denim and dark brown leather have a full leather sole. The signature on the leather sole is a very thoughtful touch. See below:
The pebbling on the tan leather is absolutely exquisite. In my experience, pebbled leather tends to hold up better against a light rain than smoother leathers. Don’t take this as the go-ahead to wear these as rain boots, but rather as a go-ahead to not freak out should you briefly get caught in the rain in a pair of these.
Also, note the gracefulness of the perforations at the toe of both boots. This is one of my favorite shoe details, and it’s beautifully done here.
The dark brown calfskin leather already has natural highs and lows, which is the defining characteristic of museum calf. These will only increase and improve with wear, but only if you’re diligent about using cedar shoe trees.
How The Westlake Boot Is Constructed
The Westlake boot is constructed with a Goodyear welt. This is a classic construction method for high-end shoes, and it makes them very easy to resole and reheel time and time again. If you want a shoe that you can have for not just a couple of years, but decades, look for Goodyear welt construction.
Another important aspect of these boots in particular is the buttons themselves. As they’re under a fair amount of consistent pressure from your feet and ankles bending, they must be robustly made. These did not disappoint.
As you can see, these are not show buttons, they’re actually functional. Note that the stitching on the buttons is present across all four directions on the button. This will enable the button to last longer without the need to be resewn.
Also present is the “Gentleman’s Notch,” a classic detail on the heel of men’s dress shoes. It’s also referred to as a “Gentleman’s Cut.” It’s said that this is to prevent trousers from getting caught on your shoe heel, but that would require some awfully long trousers. Another use is that it helps avoid clipping your shoe heels on foreign objects.
Note the tacking in the heel as well. This is another detail of a well-constructed shoe.
Finally, it’s lined with leather and has a leather insole. You’ll see that its country of origin is Spain, which has a rich heritage in leather that’s often overlooked for Italian leather.
How Comfortable Is The Westlake Boot?
These boots are built on a relatively narrow last, giving them more of an Italian feel. As I have a small foot, this is perfect for me, and the tapered toe box lengthens my short frame.
With that said, I have a confession: I take a US 7, but these are a US 7.5. I knew they’d be a bit big when I saw the box, but this issue was easily remedied by a $5 pair of insoles.
They’re extremely comfortable!
The only issue I have is that they’re a bit of a chore to get on the foot without a button hook. To be fair, the company offers this on their website at the point of sale, and I would have selected this had I made the purchase myself. That said, after a couple of tries, you get it down to a science.
J.Fitzpatrick has a couple of helpful videos for getting button boots on with your hands and also with a button hook.
Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars
These boots are fantastic on many levels. They’re comfortable, well-constructed, and unique. I highly recommend these boots to anyone who already owns a few pairs of black or brown chukkas and chelseas and is looking for something different to add to their collection.
"These boots are phenomenal! The construction is excellent, the materials are high-quality, and the look couldn't be more handsome. Highly recommended."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★
Such amazing boots Michael. You captured the looks really well.
If only he made them in a 14 WIDE!
I’ll just have to live vicariously through you…
I’d let you try on my size 7.5’s but I don’t think that’d end well for anyone…