Like most wise financial decisions, the purchase of a wallet should be a long-term investment. The question to ask yourself is not so much how it looks now, but how will it age? More than a suit or trousers, a wallet should get better with time, as the leather conforms to your body and softens to fit your seat.
When buying a wallet, craft is just as important a consideration as style, shape and label. Look at the wallet and ask yourself: How are the pieces cut? The seams should be clean and flush. The stitching should be consistent all the way through; this is where the skill of the maker is present. If you’re making an investment-grade purchase, look for an elevated attention to detail. Neatly finished seams and stitches are the calling card of quality; they set the good above the bad and the ugly.
Since wallets are, at the end of the day, not that different from saddles, shoes or any other leather good, pay attention to your hide. You want to pick a leather with a good texture (soft and pliable) and coloring that will improve with age (rather than yellow as it gets older). Feel the leather: It’s a natural material, so it’ll have slight imperfections that give it character. If it looks totally consistent and feels like vinyl, it probably is.
My preference is a Flap Wallet from Makr Carry Goods in Orlando, Florida. It’s big enough to hold all of your cards, cash and credentials, but not so big as to resemble a tumor on your hindquarters. It’s made of shell cordovan from Horween tannery in Chicago. People refer to cordovan as leather, but it’s not leather in the traditional sense. Cordovan is made from a very specific (and small) section of a horse’s hide and it ages differently than cowhide. It’s softer and smoother and conforms more to your shape. Additionally, the process to make shell cordovan takes about six months, which makes the material very expensive. But, if you ask me, there’s no better place to put your money.