Bucs, or bucks, were rubber-soled shoes whose uppers were made of suede or buckskin, a pliable leather with a soft, brushed surface. They were styled after the classic oxford shoe, which laced over the instep, or the upper part of the foot that is curved and that lies between the ankle and toes. The soles of the shoes were either red rubber or blackened rubber. First popularized in the 1920s, white buckskin shoes were worn throughout the 1930s by the most fashionable men at vacation resorts and sporting events. Another popular color for Bucs was dirty Buc, so-named because the light tan color blended with dirt. In the days when men regularly polished their shoes, Bucs were an easy-care item. If they showed any discoloring from grime, all their owners had to do was quickly brush them. Bucs were marketed in the United States by G. H. Bass, a footwear manufacturer.
The popularity of the Buc may be directly linked to Great Britain's Edward (1894–1972), the duke of Windsor. Edward wore suede shoes with sporty suits at a time when it was considered a fashion mistake to wear casual shoes with suits. The duke even initiated a controversy when he donned brown suede shoes with a dark blue suit, which was considered an inappropriate match. Combining the two was eventually accepted, however, because Edward was considered a fashion trendsetter.
During World War II (1939–45) Bucs went out of style because the leather and rubber required to produce them were needed for the war effort. When men exited the military at the end of the war, they longed to return to the comforts of civilian life. This yearning for informality resulted in more casual clothing styles and the renewed popularity of the Buc. The shoe was more comfortable than the traditional 1930s stiff leather business shoe, even though it basically was the same cut, or the rigid standard-issue low leather military boot or blucher that soldiers wore throughout the war. During the postwar years Bucs became fashionable casual shoes. While formality still ruled in the workplace, men occasionally wore Bucs in darker colors for business purposes with woolen worsted, a lightweight wool, or tweed suits.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Pratt, Lucy, and Linda Woolley. Shoes. London, England: V&A Publications, 1999.
Schoeffler, O. E., and William Gale. Esquire's Encyclopedia of 20th Century Men's Fashions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973.