Clarks’s marketing pitch: A lightweight shoe that absorbs shock and returns energy.
Upper: Leather exterior with mesh and leather lining. Folded tongue flap.
Midsole: Single-density EVA foam with a plastic shank.
Outsole: EVA foam, hard rubber insert along the transition path.
Insole/footbed: Removable dual-density Ortholite insole with arch support. Leather lined.
Country of origin: Bangladesh, Asia.
Waterproof: No; for use in dry weather only.
Airport-friendly: No, the upper has metal eyelets.
Weight: 326 gms/ 11.3 Oz for a half pair of Men's US 9/UK 8/EUR 42.5/CM 27
Widths available: D - regular (reviewed)
Traditional dress shoes are usually uncomfortable.
Most high-end leather footwear relies on vintage construction techniques that seldom utilize foam as a cushioning material. The soles are made mostly of leather, and even the heel is produced using stacked leather.
Even as a soling material, rubber rarely makes an appearance. If it does, it’s usually a thin insert under the forefoot or heel for functional grip. Ironically, the higher the price, the more uncomfortable dress shoes become.
While the upper of such products use Aniline leather of exceptional quality, the hard soles make the feet tired after a long day.
We’re in the 21st century, so there’s no reason why we should be wearing uncomfortable dress shoes.
Thankfully, many brands marry the conservative styling of dress footwear with the comfort of a sneaker. We recently wrote about such products in our buyer’s guide for comfortable dress shoes.
On the same list, the Clarks Un Tailor Tie occupied the top spot. In our informed opinion, the Un Tailor Tie hits the sweet spot between dress shoe sensibilities and sneaker comfort.
The foam midsole and performance insole add all-day comfort, and the clean leather upper is a good fit for most formal workplaces. It helps that the tonal visual scheme of the midsole matches the black leather upper.
Within the sub-$200 dress shoe segment, the Clarks Un Tailor Tie makes a convincing case for itself. If a plain toe design doesn’t appeal to your tastes, a Cap Toe variant is available too.
THE SOLE DESIGN AND RIDE COMFORT
Here, the midsole design is simple as it gets. The Un Tailor uses a single-density EVA foam midsole under a fabric Strobel board – just like how running shoes are made. Neither stitching, welting, or direct injection are involved here – this is a cold-cemented or glued shoe.
Though the midsole is made of EVA foam, it isn’t soft, but rather firm. Nonetheless, what gives the Un Tailor its noticeable ride comfort is the high-performance Ortholite footbed.
The removable dual-density insole cuts no corners, and is packed with numerous performance benefits. This blown foam sockliner is the thickest under the heel and tapers towards the forefoot.
It also has a firmer section of foam under the arch; that’s the orange-colored section in the picture above.
If that wasn’t enough, the top of the footbed is lined with soft leather for a smooth ride experience. The serrated edges are a nice visual touch too. The contoured shape conforms to the natural shape of the foot.
Most of the comfortable ‘squish’ is delivered by the insole and not the EVA foam stack.
The insole is thick enough to be replaced with an Orthotic, but the question is – why should you?
The stock insole inside the Un Tailor Tie (and Cap Toe) delivers superlative comfort and support, so there should be a very convincing reason to replace it.
The firmly cushioned midsole acts as a supportive base. A stiff plastic board or shank can be sensed under the midfoot; it’s component that adds torsional rigidity. The rear midsole has a proper heel, so that helps make the shoe supportive.
The forefoot has excellent flexibility. The EVA foam midsole and the fabric Strobel have low resistance to bending, so it flexing the shoe doesn’t require much effort. The midfoot is inflexible because of the shank, and that’s a functionally desirable aspect.
Rubber is used on the outsole, but only partly. A thin strip of hard-wearing rubber extends from heel to toe.
In other words, the rubber is placed along the transition path and follows the loading pattern of the foot. In a normal gait cycle, the foot lands on the outer edge of the heel before transitioning towards the inner forefoot.
The outsole grip is average. It’s good for regular pavements, even damp ones – as long as there is no dust or slush involved. Within the hierarchy of outsole grip, an EVA sole usually occupies the lowest tier.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that EVA foam stiffens in the cold, and that further reduces the traction. So the Clarks Un Tailor Tie is a dress shoe for the summers and mild winters where the temperatures run well above zero degrees Celsius.
So why use EVA outsoles, then?
That’s because it drastically cuts down on weight and increases ride comfort. Even with a full-leather upper, the Un Tailor Tie weighs less than 12-ounces. That’s very respectable for a leather dress shoe.
An EVA foam midsole, such as the one used here, also eliminates the break-in process that is typical of stiffer soles.
The durability looks good so far. Firm EVA soles are quite capable of handling abuse, and the rubber-reinforced transition area helps distribute the wear and tear. That being said, users above 200 lbs should opt for a shoe with a TPR or PU sole instead. We’ve listed alternatives at the end of this page.
THE UPPER DESIGN, MATERIALS, AND FIT
This is the plain toe version of the Un Tailor Tie, and we prefer this over the Cap toe version due to the cleaner design.
When viewed from the outer side, the forefoot vamp and midfoot quarter forms a seamless, one-piece panel. The seam is on the other side, and thus hidden from plain sight.
A large heel overlay covers the sides, so the back is free of distracting clutter. Small lacing panels blend in with the upper, and the invisible eyelets are a nod to traditional dress shoes. But don’t worry, the reverse side is strengthened with metal grommets.
The waxed laces are an elegant touch; they stay tied and appear crisp instead of looking droopy.
Clarks uses a corrected top-grain leather that is soft and supple to the touch. The last used for the Un Tailor silhouette creates a true-to-size and accommodating interior that will take most foot shapes. The forefoot fit is just right; it’s neither too tight nor too loose.
The lining is part leather and part mesh. The forefoot is mesh-lined to make the area soft, pliable, and less stuffy, whereas the midfoot and heel use a combination of smooth leather and suede.
The tongue flap is soft with a folded edge for comfort. The base of the tongue is leather-lined, and the foam quilting is effective at filtering the lacing pressure.
For an upper that’s glued to the foam midsole, the finishing is impeccable. Glue marks and other imperfections are absent on the shoe, thus elevating the overall aesthetics.
Even though this shoe costs less than $200, it pairs well with a suit that costs several times as much. It looks premium and not out of place at all.
The heel collar is lightly padded for comfort and does a great job at keeping the foot locked in. However, there is a break-in period involved, as the firmness of the heel edge is noticeable in the initial stages of ownership.
PROS AND CONS
Most wearers will find the Clarks Un Tailor Tie to be a versatile product that delivers a balanced mix of sneaker-like comfort and proper dress shoe character. The Ortholite insole offers a cushioned underfoot experience and arch support for long periods of walking and standing.
The upper is well finished, uses premium materials, and has a smooth interior that is comfortable and fits true to size.
Though the EVA sole creates a superior cushioning experience and reduces the weight, its grip isn’t the best on dusty or slushy surfaces. It also hardens during under freezing temperatures, a property that isn’t amenable to the traction quality.
SHOES THAT ARE SIMILAR TO THE CLARKS UN TAILOR TIE
The Un Tailor Tie is not weatherproof, so the Clarks Whiddon Vibe is a waterproof alternative in a similar plain toe silhouette.
Florsheim sells the excellent Midtown plain toe with a heavier, but more durable and gripper TPR sole. Like the Clarks shoe, the Ortholite insole adds a lot of comfort, and the leather upper looks and feels premium.
Florsheim sells another shoe called the Medfield Cap Toe that shares the TPR midsole with the Florsheim Midtown. A thermoplastic rubber outsole is better suited for higher body weight than EVA soles.
The Rockport Total Motion Dressport Plain toe is somewhat similar to the Clarks shoe. Under its leather upper resides an EVA sole with a TPU midfoot shank, and there’s a performance insole for step-in cushioning and support.
From the house of Ecco, we recommend either the CityTray Cap Toe or the Melbourne Tie. Both use a PU (Polyurethane) midsole and outsole with premium leather uppers and removable insoles.
The Clarks Un Tailor Tie was purchased at full retail price for our review.