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Carets FER 4.2 Cap-Toe Initial Review

Feature Highlights:
Hollow Zero-Drop Heel
Flexible Polyurethane Sole
Leather Footbed with Thin Poron Cushioning
~8mm Stack Height
Chrome-Tanned and Veg-Tanned Full-Grain Calfskin Leather Upper
Moderately Wide Toebox
Weighs ~10 oz Per Shoe

*I was not paid for this post and purchased the shoes myself. I do use affiliate links and receive compensation if you buy from their store through my link, which helps support the blog!

A beautiful oxford dress shoe, achieving a timeless oxford silhouette from every angle without compromising its barefoot shoe features. The hollow heel and extra length at the front allow your feet and toes the same room as a typical barefoot shoe, yet maintain the tapered front expected of a conventional dress shoe. They balance style and function in a truly ingenious way. Its only downside, a visual size increase for your feet, which may look quite exaggerated in larger sizes. The length at the toe hasn’t gotten in the way of me walking around and taking stairs, but it requires a little finesse when salsa dancing, as is my plan for my black Outlet Store pair! Overall, they’re extremely comfortable out of the box, and relative sizing matches my Lems and Xero Shoes quite well.

Doctors, pilots, financial workers, lawyers, any career demanding a high level of professionalism in your dress code, this is the most stylish barefoot footwear option in the US. If you simply want to look properly dapper at a wedding or formal event while in comfort, these are a standout choice as well.

Left: Carets FER 4.2 Cap-Toe, Cacao ($250 Covid sale). Right: same shoe in black (Outlet Store $100 sale)

One obvious downside to these shoes is their high retail price. $350 is steep if you don’t need these to meet dress code in your career field, and bundle sales aren’t helpful for your average guy who only needs one pair for infrequent formal social gatherings. The branded shoe trees, shoe bags and additional waxed laces are quite premium. The return policy is also exemplary. However, the unique Chronology patented soles are cemented to the upper and likely can’t be resoled with an equivalent design by a standard shoe cobbler if Carets is unable to fulfill their resoling program. In terms of finishing, the stitching and chrome tanned full-grain leather look and feel excellent, but the adhesive from the cement construction is visibly higher than the outsole by a full millimeter on the inside of the right shoe along with imperfections in the edge of the outsole, with less noteworthy but still visible adhesive in other spots around the seam. While they don’t feel cheap, I expect finishing details to be essentially flawless for such a high asking price, and the outsole on my new pair have some flaws.

A closeup of the cement construction, showing the millimeter wide line of visible adhesive and some imperfections in the edge of the outsole

However, as of writing (applicable to every price listed below), they are on a Covid sale for $250, shipping included! While still a premium, this feels much less out of reach for myself and, I’d expect, many others. I feel that price is easily justified by the materials, accessories, stitching and unique design alone. Complimentary shoe trees are being phased out with the price drop however, so you aren’t guaranteed to receive those. DaVinci’s dressier boots are the only other sartorial competition I see in this price range. Other derby and oxford shoes look off without the hollow heel, an issue boot styles seem to escape in my eyes. It’s much easier to recommend the Carets oxfords at this price point, and I’m hoping their sales figures will point them towards maintaining this price in the future.

Their new outlet store is even more exciting for us frugal fashion types! They have $100 oxfords with only mild wear and defects, which I’ve found to be imperceptible on their black oxfords! Only under extreme scrutiny do the 3 minor marks on my pair become visible! Here’s hoping I don’t triple those markings when I take them dancing, post-Covid.

The most affordable tier on their Outlet Store comes with a few subtle marks, but for 60% off an already lowered price, it’s very reasonable

These aren’t your only options either! For $160 you can get a pair guaranteed to have no markings beyond mild flexpoint creases, and for $200 you get a new pair that simply has damaged packaging from shipping. You can even exchange the $100 irregular shoes for the $160 flexpoint and only pay the difference, or get store credit for a different option instead. I believe free returns with a full refund are only available for their full retail shoes.

Unboxings and extra lookbooks on @FootFriendlyFashion

In Summary

There are no other barefoot dress shoes quite like it. There’s a lot to love about the Carets FER 4.2 Cap-Toe, with a few hiccups and design limitations that are easily overlooked at a price point of $250. Of course, we all have our own budgets and value assessments, which is why I’m loving the Outlet Store options. Unfortunately, with Covid around, it’ll be a while before I put these to use, but I’m happy to have invested in these for my future self, whether he needs them for jobs and interviews, formal events, weddings, or maybe a simple night out dancing and a date night here and there.

My old VIVOBAREFOOT Ra next to my new Carets FER 4.2 Cap-Toe

I did not receive these shoes for a review, and purchased them with my own money. However, I am signed up for the Carets affiliate program and can receive a commission of sales if you purchase them through my affiliate link. *You can find the shoes discussed above, or any of their other dress shoes on the Carets website. The wingtips are an excellent alternative if you want something more fun and less formal.

The Primal Professional

From the Carets store product page: Perfect for the office or happy hour with friends, our cap-toe Fer Oxford is a beautifully versatile dress shoe. Thanks to a healthy, zero-drop design, you won’t mind walking from work to dinner in these minimalist Carets. Cacao brown can help you stand out more than traditional black oxfords. It goes especially well with grey, dark brown, and navy suits. On the smart casual side, our cacao also goes well with khakis. The Fer’s cap-toe appears to cinch the toe box, giving it a sleek appearance. Like all Carets, these shoes provide a comfortable feel and classic style. 

Barefoot Shoes Lookbook #1 – Lems Chukka (Lionsmane)

First in a series of lookbooks for all my favorite barefoot shoes! Follow to catch the rest of the lookbooks if you’re new here. Outfit details and style tips below the inspo gallery.

These classic suede desert boots are the Lems Chukka in lionsmane. My style tips are to balance the saturated color with the other elements of your outfit so they don’t clash. You’ll usually want such intense shoes to be your pop of color with maybe one other pop of color, although you can pull off more color if you pick up the yellow or orange tones, or stick to monochrome colors that pair well with tans and oranges, like light blue. Earth tones are another fantastic option for barefoot shoes in this color range.

Express dress pants, Old Navy button-up shirt, Land’s End flannel button-down shirt. A striking smart casual outfit, mixing the formality of beige dress pants and a white button-up with rugged suede desert boots and a fitted button-down flannel as an overshirt. The yellow details pick up the warm tones below and help to keep such a colorful outfit feeling cohesive.

Levi Performance 511 Slim Jeans, Uniqlo Supima Tee, Guess casual button-up shirt. A rugged casual outfit with slim jeans, a black t-shirt and a subdued grey and navy plaid casual shirt worn open. Very Americana workwear outfit.
Faded Glory black jeans, Uniqlo supima v-neck t-shirt. As simple as it gets, jeans and a t-shirt. The fitted v-neck supima tee in a wine color has a lot of personality and elevates the outfit.
Faded glory black jeans, Paul-Smith cognac brown overshirt, Spalding hoodie, Bella Canvas white tee. A strong autumn streetwear outfit, dressing up jeans and a hoodie with an embroidered overshirt and chukka boots. Sub in chinos for a smart casual alternative.

Faded Glory black jeans, Old Navy linen button-down shirt, Uniqlo supima v-neck tee. A streamlined casual outfit with black and charcoal grey underneath a linen shirt worn open. A good outfit for breezy summer nights.

American Eagle extreme flex jeans, Alfani faux leather jacket, Uniqlo crewneck pocket tee. Classic blue jeans with a heather dark grey t-shirt and black leather jacket. A nice early spring outfit.

American Eagle Extreme Flex jeans, Express button-up shirt, Uniqlo supima tee. Blue jeans and a white tee are a staple outfit and a great base for layering, such as this statement piece purple and magenta plaid shirt. When kept to subtler details and patterns, it’s quite easy to incorporate less common colors in menswear!

Physique and Fit

Pull-ups are one of the most effective compound movement exercises for your upper body!

Showcasing the difference physique has on fit! In my #beforeandafter images below, I put on 20 lbs doing pull-ups, push-ups, step-ups and glute bridges. Most of the change came from 18 workouts, only a month and a half of #bodytransformation in March and April, followed by maintenance workouts at least once a week. I’ve grown out of some of my clothes, but I fit many clothing items much better! Big thanks to @calimove for the amazing resources on their YouTube channel!

Wide lats create a flattering V-taper and make your waist proportionally smaller for both men and women

No tailoring has been done, my lats are simply wider, and my arms, shoulders and legs are larger. My trapezius muscles are a little behind, but I’m quite happy with the progress! The most interesting change to me is how sleeves sometimes fit shorter now, despite my arms being the same length.

4 examples of my 6 week fitness progress before-and-after and how it changed the fit

*Affiliate links are used when possible, meaning I may get a commission of sales that supports the blog when you purchase shoes through links on this page.

Shoes from left to right: Lems Chukka, *VIVOBAREFOOT Geo Court, *Xero Shoes Pacifica (currently discontinued).

As Nature Intended Black Vegan Leather Sneakers Review

Company History

The very first ANI brand sneakers were successfully crowd funded on Kickstarter in 2012 to produce a minimalist, contemporary-styled vegan and eco-friendly canvas sneaker for the barefoot shoes market. They’ve been dedicated to their product ever since, and have recently shifted their market to a more premium vegan leather sneaker, taking the original styling cues from their original flagship design.

ANI Black Vegan Leather Low Tops

I believe the brand has always offered free exchanges and returns in the US, and I have to thank them again for going above and beyond to ensure I got the best possible fit. Pictured are mens sizes 9, 9.5 and 10. I kept the size 10, which is larger than my standard sizing in other barefoot shoes. The ANI sneakers come in regular width, while most barefoot shoe brands have additional width as a default option. Keep that in mind if width is one of your key features. My feet are 10″ long and 4″ wide without socks for reference.

Styling and Comfort

These sneakers match perfectly with black jeans, and are a stylish option for achromatic outfits or all black looks. I’ve worn them to dance classes, and I’ve taken them through an entire night of dancing kizomba, salsa, bachata and merengue. They’re quite comfortable! They hold onto my ankles well through spins and turns despite being larger than my regular size, and the extra length has been surprisingly unnoticeable. They still look brand new so far. The cushioning inside the ankles feels just right, and the ground feel is amazing. My only critique, the width is very close to being an issue for me.

I notice slight pressure on the sides of my feet towards the front of the shoe, especially the left shoe, due to my left foot being slightly larger. It doesn’t cause any real discomfort fortunately, and in all other metrics these are so comfy. I wear them without the insoles so I have a little more room inside the toebox. I would have more of an issue with the width if these were trainers, but for a casual sneaker I don’t personally mind. They have a timeless and contemporary style for a barefoot minimalist shoe, and their balance of comfort, ground feel and style is hard to beat at this value.

These sneakers can be found at ANI’s website for $115 at the link below (as of Feb. 19, 2020).

PS, although I feel the amount of shine on these is fine, I was told the company is thinking of manufacturing their vegan leather with a more matte finish if they do a second production run to make these subtly more casual in styling.

Foot Friendly Fashion Blog

Hey there! This is a supplementary blog to my Foot Friendly Fashion Instagram. I’ll post more in-depth editorials on barefoot shoe fashion, style guides and lookbooks, reviews with a fashion focus, and affiliate links where you can find featured clothing brands and shoes while supporting my content.

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