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. 

Published by serzari

An audio engineer and social media coordinator balancing form and function in all aspects of life.

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