The Buck Starts Here.

I don’t get why the white buck is not the second thing you buy if you are building an Ivy wardrobe.  First of course is the WOCBD.   But as you are walking out of the store, or back in your house from the mailbox depending on how you shop, look down, and ask yourself.   What else can I buy that goes with almost everything, is versatile, has historical precedent, and has the added benefit of being comfortable?

Blah Blah Pat Blah Boone.  Although I did pull one picture, to make a point.  Here.

Look at how dirty those shoes are. THAT, my good friends, is Ivy.

You are supposed to get them dirty.  Could anything be more anti-establishment than shoes you are supposed to make dirty?  I used to make fun of people who cut off their jeans.  Ok.  I still do.  But it is from a lot lower high ground.  If this is more than your third time reading the site, you know the drill.  Everybody thinks Ivy is uptight elitist East Coast class-signaling.  We wear shoes, the point of which is to get them dirty.   What is more egalitarian than that?  I mean, even Pat Blah Blah Blah Boone.

More than that.  The White Buck is versatile.  The history of the White Buck varies.  Fashion writers are not known for their pinpoint research, so it is hard to tell what’s up.  You get stories about Elvis’ blue suede shoes, you get stories about saddle shoes.

I did my own origin story.  Elvis’ blue suede shoes and saddle shoes having an albino baby.

Back to versatility.  Here is an early photo from the White Buck Family Album.

The Dancer.

One theory that makes a ton of sense to me about how the Buck gained popularity is the whole this-is-when-started-to-really-dance theory.  If you haven’t worn authentic bucks (I have a pair I bought in the 90’s from Brooks and I tell you, they are still holding up), they have a rubber sole.  And a suede top.  They are made to move in.  Didn’t Pumas have a rubber sole and a suede top, pre-Clyde?  See what I mean?

Are you a person of action?  These work.

But that isn’t to say you cannot dress them up.  Look.

Ok, this doesn’t have much to do with my argument, but the idea of Ankle fashioning as a marketing slant is hilarious. Try these on. How do the feel at the ankle? They are “Made by Salaried Craftsmen not hurried pieceworkers.” I am going to find a way to use that phrase. Maybe, “You threw dinner together like a hurried piece worker.” Or, “You make love like a hurried piece worker.” Something.
No debating the Ivy-ness here. And this gentleman is not dancing, either. “The shoe with the open collar feeling” is also something I gotta work in somewhere. “Your comment has an open collar feeling”

So, historical precedent.  Versatility.  A bit of The Classics Are For Everyone.  And I can attest, they wear well without socks.


41 Comments on "The Buck Starts Here."

  1. JB brings the hyperbole again to make a point. (okay).

    After a pair of penny loafers, #2 is good Oxford shirt. “White Bucks,” including, depending on context, jackass connotations (sorry but yeah) are way, way — way, way down the list.

    #3 is good pair of khakis.

    • John Burton | May 18, 2022 at 9:43 am |

      You get I am a writer, right? :). You gotta put oxford above penny loafers. If only for the versatility.

    • Remy Fontaine | May 18, 2022 at 8:28 pm |

      Amazing discussion therein. I’m a tried and true white buck wearer that’s confused why someone would use a chalk bag. My father (late 80s now)still uses a chalk bag. He used to get upset when I’d wear Jack Purcells and no socks to Sunday services. I feel that like desert boots, white bucks are made to be worn.

  2. assuming the person already owns a good calfskin belt and boxers, #4 is a good natural shouldered navy blazer.

    I could do this all day. I won’t. Eager to see where this discussion (Nubuck vs. suede anybody??) goes.

  3. “You make love like a hurried piece worker” is solid gold.

  4. It’s funny to me that white bucks are perceived as “uptight elitist East Coast class-signaling.”

    Inexpensive suede shoes with crepe soles made by “hurried piece workers” used to be called “brothel creepers” in the ivy heyday.

  5. Hardbopper | May 18, 2022 at 9:59 am |

    “I don’t get why the white buck is not the second thing you buy if you are building an Ivy wardrobe.” Same old story…because they just don’t make ’em like that anymore.

    Me, I’d go for genuine Nubuck and keep ’em clean. Wear with a seersucker suit and a bow tie.

  6. Hardbopper | May 18, 2022 at 10:34 am |

    Ivory would be better than white, in my opinion, and would look great with khaki, madras, tropical wool, linen…

  7. I also place white bucks far down the list of menswear necessities, but this is a timely post and discussion for me as I’m considering a pair this summer for my seersucker suit and odd trousers, with which I’ve previously worn taupe Bass bucks. However, finding any suede oxfords – white or dirty – with traditional features is challenging so far this year. Do others have sourcing recommendations? Also, thank you to the sites’ past and present contributors and readers for many interesting articles and discussions over the years.

    • John Burton | May 18, 2022 at 11:38 am |

      Agreed, kinda. I mean, there are very very few menswear “necessities.” If you don’t get some sources, I will dig around for you 🙂

    • William C Kazak | May 18, 2022 at 7:36 pm |

      Church’s Shoes have them on their website. I have their previous model. The soles are different on the new ones.

  8. Looking forward to breaking mine out shortly! The supposed desirability of street dirt aside, does anyone actually use the chalk bags?

  9. I don’t have much to say about white suede bucks, but I am getting a good kick (yep, meant it) out of all the euphemisms for them being thrown around here.

    One thing I can say about them is that I very seldom see them in the wild. This is, of course, due in large part to casualization, but also perhaps to the fact that I’m on the west coast and that the shoes associated with elite “white shoe” law firms (and the firms themselves, whose attorneys almost certainly no longer wear such shoes) are all on the east coast. But I dunno.
    Any recent brothel creeper sightings out there? (In Portland, that expression would more readily refer to a guy lurking around on a certain somewhat notorious street late at night.)

  10. Too many years ago to count (where did time go?), I wore a pair of Bass white (suede) bucks. USA-made and inexpensive. My father wore them with a navy blazer of worsted panama/tropical and (light worsted wool) “gray bottoms,” so I followed suit, so to speak. Always liked that look (better than seersucker). But then, he wore white flannels in the fall and spring with a lightweight worsted navy blazer.
    ‘Ah, bygone days. {deep sigh}.

  11. whiskeydent | May 18, 2022 at 12:35 pm |

    I grew up in a USAF home and will thus not shod my ginormous feet in anything similar to the USN’s white shoes. Besides, I think they’re ugly too. So go ahead and torpedo me or something.

  12. Bruno "79 | May 18, 2022 at 1:14 pm |

    I have two pair, one from the 80’s and a second pair purchased around 2005. I like to keep the newer pair clean to wear with my collection of seersucker suits. I purchased both pairs from a small bootery in Massachusetts called “A Proper Fit”. Dick Johnson is the proprietor and his number is 508-672-0334. Dick also has a connection to the Alden plant in Middleboro, MA. I get all of my shoes from him.

  13. Bruno "79 | May 18, 2022 at 1:36 pm |

    The Pat Boone photograph for the album cover must have been taken when he was an undergraduate at Columbia. That’s the Low Memorial Library in the background.

  14. Bruno "79 | May 18, 2022 at 2:17 pm |

    The shoes or A Proper Fit? Give Dick a call. He’s a great salesman and a Trad at heart.
    He still wears bucks in the winter with gray flannels. he likes to wear them when it snows as it keeps his shoes clean.

  15. Ricky Roma | May 18, 2022 at 2:39 pm |

    I like my filthy white bucks but I heard an ad on the radio for Wolf and Shepard Crossovers. When I saw them on line I felt I had to get a couple of pairs.

  16. Charlottesville | May 18, 2022 at 2:50 pm |

    Bruno – You raise a good point about Pat Boone’s Ivy connection. He graduated magna cum laude, too. My wife and I saw him once walking alone on M street in Georgetown in the late 80s or early 90s, but didn’t want to bother him so kept our respectful distance. Hard to believe now, but he was at least as popular as Elvis back in the late 1950s, at least judging from pop hits and polls of the era, and was still performing live and on TV up into the 80s at least.

    ETW – A chalk bag came with my white bucks and I still use it from time to time. They are still available: .

    I had pair of white bucks from Bass that I bought in the 80s, and they developed quite a dingy patina over time but eventually fell apart after 20 years or so. My newer ones from Brooks Brothers are probably nearly that old now. I like them with seersucker, but also with cream linen, khakis and even gray tropical-weight wool trousers, as suggested by S.E. They also work with a tan poplin suit and no-doubt many other warm weather standards.

    I also have Peel & Co. wingtip bucks (not Nubuck) from Brooks and even a pair of brown and white Peel spectators, both bought new in the 90s as a lark, but I think they would be a bit much these days, at least outside of the Chap Grand Flaneur Walk (

  17. I appreciate some of the leads and other discussion above. Doing more research on my own earlier sourcing question, Haspel and Ben Silver at least have them.

  18. Rancourt & Co make their Rockland Blucher in a white color with a red bottom. Not sure if it counts as a “true” buck.

  19. elder prep | May 19, 2022 at 6:14 am |

    My suede shoes are tan and a darker shade. Still can’t bring myself to wear the white version.

  20. @Charlottesville–
    Dirty (white) bucks with tan poplin suit — very W&L/HSC. “Old Hunton & Williams”/Commonwealth Club vibe.
    Ah, more good ole days.

  21. malcolm Wolcoltt | May 19, 2022 at 12:07 pm |

    At the boarding school I went to, we had to wear the white bucks in a parade every year along with white ducks at graduation and other events. They were from the old A.G. Spalding Sporting Goods Company and had their logo on the bottom near the heel. A fitter would come out to fit us from Boston every year from the store

  22. Charlottesville | May 19, 2022 at 12:55 pm |

    S.E. Those allusions ring true. All of those places were still pretty old school Virginia in the 80s and 90s. Although I did not attend Hampden Sydney, I went to W&L and recall the Commonwealth Club in Richmond where a local banker from Jefferson National would take me to lunch. The club is still there on Franklin, not far from the Jefferson Hotel and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, but the bank is long gone, merged and re-merged into other banks. W&L and I think the CC now both admit women, but HSC is still an all-male institution the last I heard.

    I interviewed with Hunton & Williams. One of the partner’s wives drove me around and pointed out the neighborhoods where my wife and I would likely be living at different points in my career; I hope they no longer do that. I decided to take another offer in Washington.

  23. Ricky Roma | May 19, 2022 at 1:32 pm |

    Charlottesville, the Richmond firm sounds very Bendini Lambert and Locke.

  24. Charlottesville | May 19, 2022 at 3:42 pm |

    Ricky Roma – Perhaps there is something to that; John Grisham lives in Charlottesville, after all. Although, of course, he wrote The Firm before he moved here so I guess my theory breaks down.

  25. White shoes not out yet | May 20, 2022 at 6:40 pm |

    Elon Musk just tweeted on this topic: “Looking for hardcore streetfighters, not white-shoe lawyers like Perkins or Cooley who thrive on corruption.”

    I’m not convinced that is the correct use of the term “white-shoe lawyer.” ???

  26. I’ve been watching this transition to new as John has taken over. I’ve been both pleased and dismayed but more the later as it seems the topics are not as interesting any more.
    I want to let you all know that the last few and subsequent posts (and banter) have been more to my liking and I’ll be sticking around. I lurk, mostly, but wanted to post this just to let John and all know I will be sticking around.
    On a note more related to this post, I just bought a pair of white bucks on eBay for $30…I think I lucked into this sale. I am pleased and will be more pleased if they arrive and perform as advertised.

  27. Charlottesville | May 25, 2022 at 4:28 pm |

    Broody – Sorry to add this so late in the game, but O’Connell’s has White bucks (or at least white Nubucks):

  28. Jeans Lauren | June 14, 2022 at 8:59 am |

    White bucks are agressive shoes, there’s not much else to say about them. They’re basically the early to mid 20th Centuries version of a white canvas tennis shoe which is also “meant to be worn dirty”, or at least most lazy people won’t clean them…

    Richard Press wrote an article on this in his book Threading the Needle. As a clothes enthusiast I’m sure the author of this website could benefit from having a read through that book if he doesn’t already own it.

  29. I dumped most of my shoe collection which included a pair of white bucks from Cole Haan (1985,USA made) when I retired. Regretting every day, such a move,now considering a pair from Rancourt after reading this article.

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