Recognizable due to their sleek and streamlined appearance, wholecut dress shoes are made using a single piece of leather stitched together at the back of the shoe. Interestingly, wholecut shoes are actually a type of Oxford. However, the wholecut style can almost be put in its own category as they are a breed of their own.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about wholecut shoes such as:
- Best Wholecut Shoes
- What Is A Wholecut Shoe?
- Why Are Wholecut Shoes Unique?
- How To Wear Wholecut Shoes
Either scroll down to read the guide in its entirety or use the links above to jump ahead!
Other Dress Shoe Guides
Related Shoe Styles
- Color: Black, Bordeaux, Tan, Oak, Brown
- Material: Argentinian Calfskin Leather
- Pricing: $200 [Buy From Beckett Simonon]
We’re extremely fond of our wholecuts by Beckett Simonon. These beautifully handcrafted wholecuts offer outstanding value for money as they’re made from Argentinian calfskin with a Blake stitch construction. Enjoy using our exclusive 20% discount with the code “BU20” during checkout.
Read More: Beckett Simonon Valencia Review
Cobbler Union was founded by the former CEO of a bespoke shoe manufacturer who sought to take the most critical aspects of bespoke shoemaking and make them accessible via a direct-to-consumer model. While maintaining the highest standards for materials and construction methods, Cobbler Union has accomplished its mission, now offering bespoke-inspired shoes for less than $500.
The wholecut oxford silhouette is perhaps the best shoe style to exhibit the premium Italian leather employed by Cobbler Union’s Spain-based artisans. Additional bespoke elements found here include a fiddleback beveled waist, calfskin leather lining, closed-channel welts, and a quilted heel cup. All-in-all, the Miquel possesses seemingly everything a bespoke shoe does except for the exclusive price tag.
These utterly breathtaking wholecut shoes by Paul Parkman are a true work of art. Featuring rare side-laces, their hand-painted finish is simply mesmerising with notes of green, yellow and brown. Even if you’re not a fan of the style, you can’t help but admire the craftsmanship.
While we believe that Beckett Simonon offers better value for money, the Massimo Matteo Ponte Vecchio Oxford Wholecuts is an excellent option in its own right. Very classic and simple in design, they exude all the hallmarks of a wholecut shoe.
Notably, the Ponte Vecchio oxfords are offered in more unique leather tones that you can’t necessarily obtain at this price point with other brands. They’re also Made in Italy and boast leather uppers, linings, outsoles, and insoles, much like the most premium pair of dress shoes do.
If you’re looking for a formal wholecut that truly stands out, check out this more understated approach by Paul Parkman. Featuring some subtle perfing around the throat and leather-wrap laces, they’re truly stunning to admire. The snipped toe adds a flare of elegance and these would work nicely with a sharply-cut tux.
The Magnanni Crucero is a shoe that we’ve featured extensively throughout our website, as they are an exceptional pair of shoes that exude class. However, with this particular wholecut model and its cognac suede upper, Magnanni is able to set itself apart from the rest of the styles on this list.
It is rather uncommon to encounter a wholecut shoe with a suede upper, yet Magnanni has accomplished it here and to the highest degree. Aside from its classic design elements and construction, the Crucero is also equipped with a cushioned footbed and rubber sole pad that guarantee lasting comfort while you’re wearing this sleek pair of shoes.
If you enjoy the Crucero’s look but would rather have a more traditional leather upper, then black, brown, cognac, and blue calf leather options are available as well.
What Is A Wholecut Oxford Shoe?
A wholecut shoe is defined as a shoe that uses a single piece of leather for the upper. Most commonly, they are made as low-cut shoes, but there are high-end makers who craft wholecut chukkas and Chelsea boots as well.
They’re available ready-to-wear or bespoke and in a wide variety of colors and materials, and are generally more expensive than an oxford that’s otherwise the same.
Technically, a wholecut is a style of oxford shoe because it utilizes a closed-throat lacing system. Basically, wholecut shoes are oxfords made from one piece of leather.
It’s possible to find wholecut shoes with broguing details and other decoration, though one could make the argument that this defeats the purpose of a wholecut, whose lines are supposed to be ultra-clean and sleek.
Why Are Wholecut Shoes Unique?
First, we need to quickly define the word last as we’ll use it here:
last (noun): the wooden form on which the upper of a shoe is shaped. Also refers to a shoe’s silhouette (e.g., “a sleek last”)
last (verb): to manipulate shoe leather around a last so that it can be sewn to a welt or a sole.
With that out of the way, let’s proceed.
These shoes tend to be higher quality than the average oxford (and thus more expensive) for a few reasons:
- The leather must be of higher-than-average quality because you can’t sew pieces together strategically to hide imperfections. The entire piece must be flawless or discarded.
- They’re harder to last, taking more time and requiring more shoemaking expertise.
- Because they’re harder to last, they’re more common with higher-end ready-to-wear and bespoke makers. As you can imagine, this drives the price up.
It can’t be overstated that the wholecut is the most difficult style of shoe to make. Because it’s (mostly) seamless, it doesn’t have as much give when being pulled by a last machine. It’s hard to get it to lay flat on the last itself without over-stretching the leather, and it’s easy for the shoe to lose it’s shape during the lasting process.
If you appreciate workmanship, a wholecut should be the first shoe you consider.
Wholecut Shoe: Seams Or Seamless?
Though they’re all made from one piece of leather on the upper, not all wholecut oxfords are alike. Some of them have vertical seams running the length of the heel counter, and some don’t. What’s the difference?
- Wholecut oxfords with seams are more common and less expensive than their seamless cousins. These can be lasted by hand or by machine, but it’s always in a larger-scale manufacturing scenario.
- Seamless wholecuts can only be lasted by hand. They are of the highest quality, are quite rare, and are often found only by bespoke makers.
How Do I Wear Wholecut Oxfords?
Formality – Keep Wholecut Shoes Formal
Many menswear and shoe bloggers will say that if you had to own just one pair of shoes (a fate worse than death, we argue), a wholecut should be it. While we get where they’re coming from, we’re not sure that we agree.
Simplicity is synonymous with formality, and wholecuts are as simple as it gets. Even in their more casual versions, they look better dressed up as opposed to dressed down. Below, we provide a few examples of how to wear them for different levels of dressiness:
- Suede (light or a non-standard color, such as blue): Casual trousers, denim
- Leather (black or brown calfskin, exotic hides, with or without broguing): Suits, business professional dress codes
- Black patent leather: Tuxedo
It’s worth mentioning that a black patent wholecut oxford with a tuxedo is rare, extremely chic, and to quote Outkast’s Big Boi, “cooler than Freddie Jackson sippin’ a milkshake in a snowstorm.”
Seasonality Of The Wholecut Shoe
These shoes are available in a wide range of colors and materials. As such, they can be worn any time of year. We give some of our favorite examples below.
- Spring: Light-colored suede or calfskin with lots of highs and lows in the color
- Summer: Beige or light tan calfskin
- Autumn: Black, brown, or burgundy leather
- Winter: Chocolate suede, black patent for evening
Final Thoughts On Wholecuts
If you are in the market for a unique dressy shoe that works wonderfully with fun suits, a business professional dress code, and evening wear, the wholecut is for you.
If you’re just starting your shoe collection, however, we advise you to hold off on buying a wholecut until you’re seven or eight shoes deep. A plain-toe or cap-toe oxford will be a more versatile option than a wholecut and we suggest starting there.
Now that you have learned about wholecut shoes, check out some our related footwear guides for men:
- Oxford Shoe Style Guide
- Derby & Blucher Shoe Guide
- Best Dress Shoes For Men
- Most Comfortable Shoes For Men
- Men’s Shoes Homepage
"A great guide, I appreciate the effort! Was looking for regular oxfords originally but this guide drew my attention to the beautiful silhouette of the wholecut oxford shoe."
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