A beautifully-constructed pair of leather dress shoes, belt, or briefcase can be a smart investment. But figuring out how to be a smart shopper when first venturing into the world of leather accessories can seem daunting. So read on for the fourth installment in our series on how to shop for the perfect leather accessory.
It’s best to go with a top-quality leather when shopping for a wallet. And on a wallet, you’re really going to see the worth of that investment. Full-grain leather starts out with unique character left over from the scratches, marks, blemishes, and brands on the original hide. While pieces made of high-quality full-grain leather are generally expensive, they’ll look better and better with use, and while you may be surprised to see a few scars on a new briefcase or wallet, they’ll just lend character to the piece as it breaks in. For both aesthetics and durability, full grain is always a better choice than corrected grain, especially for a product that you’ll have in your pocket and in your hand day in and day out.
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The wallet you carry is a very personal choice, and one you’ll have the opportunity to either regret or congratulate yourself on each time you remove the wallet from your pocket or replace it there. So it pays to think carefully about the kind of wallet you want to carry. Many guys, especially those who prefer a debit card to a cumbersome wad of cash, can simply carry a card case, like this style from Rag & Bone, which is a streamlined wallet designed to accommodate an ID card, debit card, credit card, insurance card, and not much more. This beautiful cordovan version from Brooks Brothers demonstrates the appeal of a card case; it can fit into your front pocket if necessary, and won’t be obvious when carried in a coat.
Bifolds, like this polished style from Paul Smith, are a better choice for guys who want to keep cash in their wallets at all times. They’re, by definition, bigger and bulkier than a card case, but well-made ones will still be trim and streamlined, whether they’re slick and classic like this can’t-miss Brooks Brothers option or when they have a rugged look like this Frye style. Top American-made choices include J.W. Hulme’s bifold and Lotuff Leather’s unique, natural vegetable-tanned bifold. Even a filled bifold shouldn’t be difficult to stuff into your pocket. Speaking of which, if you’re wearing a blazer or a suit, it’s aesthetically preferable to carry your wallet in your jacket pocket. Even a front pocket is preferable to the back pocket, as you’re likely to need to move your wallet to sit or drive comfortably if you insist on carrying it in your back pocket.
The choice or your wallet’s color and material should take cues from the shoes and accessories you use the most, as well as your general style proclivities. Options run the gamut of refined to rugged, and many choices in both camps are durable and well-constructed. Regardless of the specific look you want, remember that it’s best to keep things simple. After all, your wallet needs to withstand the action of tugging cards in and out, as well as the constant wear of going between your pocket and your hand.