Shoe Revolution PT. 2

Now that you know the 5 main categories of men’s footwear from Shoe Revolution PT. 1, you just need to know what to wear, when, where to get them & how to care for them.

What to Wear & When-

You need a minimum of 5 pairs of shoes:

1. Black Oxfords or Loafers

2. Brown Oxfords or Loafers

3. Sneakers

4. Flip-flops

5. Slippers

Brown & black for any formal or social situation. Sneakers to work out and run errands in. Flip-flops for beach, river or BBQ. Slippers for lounging. You can definitely have more for more specific hobbies, i.e. hiking boots, running shoes, but the above should be the minimum. This will make it so you are never under dressed.

I firmly believe any social situation (besides a backyard BBQ or trip to the beach/river) deserves a nice grown up pair of shoes. Think about this, even a modest example, you have a man wearing dark jeans and a V-neck shirt out to dinner. Now picture him with tennis shoes, what does he look like? A high-schooler? Maybe. A college kid? Probably. A man who doesn’t care? Definitely. Now think of the same guy with a pair of loafers or nice leather shoes, what does he look like? A grown-up! You may not believe me but that’s the way women see it.

Another problem men may have to buying nicer shoes, is that they aren’t comfortable. If you think that, you need to stop paying $50.00 for a pair of shoes. Nice shoes fit great & are super comfortable. Look at shoes as an investment, not ‘if these $50.00 shoes last 6 months, it will be a good deal.’ That is false, because you are not calculating loss of confidence, respect and care from yourself and others into that equation, which is important in a recession. You need to think ‘If I have 5 nice pair of shoes and take care of them all, they will all last much longer than 6 months and I will definitely look good for the next two years’ plus the immeasurable profit of high self-esteem & self-worth.

While the tradition of men’s footwear states that the simpler the shoes, the more formal, we Portlanders laugh in the face of tradition. The biggest fashion faux pas in Portland is, obviously, to conform. We don’t even use umbrella’s when it rains. The worst nightmare of a true Portlander is to look like a tourist in his own city. Tourists use umbrellas, so we don’t.

So here is how to not conform with shoes:  Instead of wearing Oxfords  to work or with a suit, try Loafers, mainly monk straps. Get Oxfords in a color besides brown or black to make them less formal. Instead of wearing sneakers to a bar, try Oxfords. They all go great with fun socks. These shoes will pair well with your jeans, chinos & khakis.

Outside of work, you can always find me in a pair of single or double monk strap shoes. And they never fail to impress.

Where to get Them-

There are 3 stores I love to shop for shoes in Portland.

The 1st is Nordstrom Rack. They are hit & miss & you have to do a lot of searching and trying on, but sometimes you can score there with big discounts. When a nice pair of $200.00 shoes are marked down to $120.00, it’s hard to say no.

2nd, Aldo in Pioneer Sq. Mall is a great place for cheaper very stylish shoes from $70-$90 with sales, you can also get some great deals here.

Johnny Soles downtown also has a good selection, I can always find something there I like. They have limited amounts and have nicer shoes so are more spendy, but locally owned which fills my Portland pride.

Honorable mention for Banana Republic, I have a pair of brown single monk straps and I love them, & I think they are coming out with a double soon, and you can get sales there too.

Care-

If you invest in new leather shoes and plan to run around town in them, puddle-skipping and such, I recommend going to Derek’s Shoe Repair and he can put toe & sole protectors on. This way the shoes won’t let water in and the toe will be protected for $28.00. Not always necessary for every shoe you get, but if you have made an investment in a more spendy pair, I highly recommend it.

Get your shoes shined. I go to Nordstom (sans Rack) to the shoe section and you can get your shoes shined like a boss for $5 (that includes tip, but make sure you have cash). You can also do it yourself if you want, I may get into that someday, but I don’t know how & there are tons of tutorials online to find out how to do it you can find if interested.

Advertisements

Shoe Revolution PT. 1

Men need a shoe revolution. Or dare I say evolution? I’ve read that most men can be happy in two pairs of shoes, but that is BS, those men have no idea what happiness is. Shoes make the man, it separates the boys from the men. Many of what are refered to by the layman as “dress shoes” are “shoes” from here on out, so don’t get it twisted. The sneakers you wear to the gym are not the shoes you should wear to a club, let alone to dinner with a date & god forbid a wedding. If you only have two pair, I can think of an easy five situations that will leave you looking like a Neanderthal. Now is the time when you throw out any pairs you own which resemble duck bills. Now is the time where you toss any shoe that mixes brown & black above the sole. Burn anything created by Steve Madden. Shoes should fit like any regular clothes: sleek, slim and form-fitting. You do not want big bulky shoes. They should also match what you wear above them, which is why I will never understand neon orange sneakers with purple, black & white trim, WTF do you match to that with? NOTE: If your answer to that rhetorical question is “tie-die,” do the world a favor and hang yourself… Okay, I just found out I’m pretty emotional about footwear. (Que: The More You Know theme music) (Que: G.I. Joe sound bite: Knowing is Half the Battle)

But on some real levels, men’s shoes is actually a very large, historic subject. There are many categories & sub categories of men’s shoes. I will try to simplify the subject for you. So lets just get into it.

First we will break down what I think can be the 5 main categories of shoes: Oxfords, Loafers, Sneakers, Boots & Sandals. Outside of genre-defying mash-up projects, all shoes can fit into one of these categories.

1. Oxfords

Image

This is your standard formal shoe. See above, the Oxford is literally defined by the fact that the piece of leather with the eyelets is sewn into the vamp at the throat. See below.

Image

Okay, now I know what you are thinking, & yes this shoe is very boring. But nonetheless, this is what people will expect you to wear to formal events around the world. Thank god we are in Portland, because we don’t conform to those rules.

Before we move ahead I would like to go over some terms in the first picture above:

Toe cap: the purpose of the toe cap is to minimize the wear & tear of the place where the shoe bends. I also believe it makes the shoes cheaper as you can patch them together with smaller pieces of leather.

Broguing: This is a design in the leather, either where two pieces meet or just in a flat area. See below, this is a toe-capped, Oxford with broguing. Officially, worldwide broguing makes the shoe less formal, but I think it makes it much more stylish, which means better.

Image

Also, in the Oxford catagory, I have lumped in the Derby/Blucher. I put it in the same catagory as the single, literal difference is that the piece that the laces go into are not attached at the throat. See below.

Image

This is a beautiful casual Blucher, notice it is not sewn into the vamp at the throat, the laces are open. Also on these are wing tips. That is the “W” piece at the front. If these were my shoes I would swap out the gray laces for a matching banana yellow set & these things would be perfect. Disclaimer: If you call these Oxfords, it’s okay with me, but if you do that at a shoe store you may have a sniveling hipster correct & laugh at you, as these two sets, Oxfords & Bluchers, are usually completely different categories. But I think they are so similar, they should be in the same category.

2. Loafers

Loafers are simply shoes without laces. These are my favorite and always have been. In the Loafers you have the Monk Strap, the most stylish, elegant shoe on the market now. See Below.

Image

That is elegance! Traditionally less formal than anything in the Oxford category, I think these are the best shoes for any formal or social engagement. Straps are the rich man’s velcro, say “shoelaces are for chumps, but style is my forte” with these.

Other Loafers are defined by the stitching along the toes on the vamp, along with the shallow vamp. See Below.

Image

These are considered less formal, but in Portland, that is a good thing. I’ve been rocking the Grandpa style with these tasselled loafers since 2003 (Yes, way before Macklemore). I believe tassels are a must on Loafers for Portlanders.

Also, you have the Penny Loafer in this category, but they are played out for now, especially because you can’t even put pennies in them anymore! But I’d give props to anyone with real pennies in their loafers.

Moccasins fall in this category too. They are a niche item, mainly taken over by slipper makers, but I’ve always wanted a pair of white moccasins or mock-moccasins.

3. Boots

This is not my style personally. I see people pull it off fantastically, but I’ll leave the street-kid-chic to others, I’m a grown up and want to look like one. So find a different blog if you are looking for boot advice, except this: Don’t wear hiking boots downtown, wear them on hikes.

4. Sneakers

This is not my specialty, but if you have running shoes, wear them running, basketball shoes are for basketball, etc. While there are nice sneakers, all in all they are overused by most men & mismatched dreadfully to the point of protest by me. Show me someone who thinks all their clothes match their one pair of sneakers & I will show you a colorblind. Break out of the box, wear shoes besides sneakers. But when getting sneakers try to keep it simple & clean. Your sneakers shouldn’t have more than 3 colors, and its main color should be a normal color, not hot- or neon- anything. Try the new Stan Smith ’14 next year, that’s a sneaker.

5.Sandals

Never ever, ever wear mandals! Ever! Unless you are trying to kill the sex drive of all the woman around you while concurrently closing out yourself from the rest of the world by your so clear hate & disdain for yourself proven by your so obviously oblivious sense of style. If you have ever left your house in mandals, and are single, the reason why you are single is because you left your house in mandals. If you own mandals you honestly have some soul-searching to do, this is not sarcasm. With or without socks doesn’t matter, all mandals.

Flip-flops. This isn’t California (thank god) so keep the flip-flops at the beach, you live in Portland, you don’t surf.

If you really want sandals, go the Italian route, they know what’s up. But honestly, for summer, just get some sick loafers & some Goldbond & rock that shit sockless.

More to come in Part 2.

BCS

Fun Socks!

happysocks_fall10_1

This is the easiest way to show your individuality & spice up your wardrobe. Instead of rocking a mohawk, use fun socks to show your wild side. While in the laid-back business scene in Portland these may not be 100% professional to the more traditional businessmen, but even haters have to respect your rebellious side. The mix between subtlety & craziness is a perfect blend of Portland cool. White and black socks are played out, it’s a fact, unless they are black & white frozen yogurt swirl with a waffle cone pattern on the toe & heel. Swag.

Breakdown

Where to get them – Nordstrom Rack downtown. You can find them almost anywhere these days but The Rack has the walls of selection for the right price.

Cost – $4-7/pair. You can find them cheaper & can spend $20 on a pair. That’s why The Rack is the best place, they are usually $4-7/pair, but you will see some for $9 there. Now, you may be thinking “$5 for a pair of socks?” Yes, they are totally worth it. They are of high quality & since they are so bright, hard to lose. $35 makes you a new, much more interesting man for all seven days of the week.

When to wear – Casual, business casual, business & formal. Always. If you are wearing socks, they should be fun!

How to wear – There is only one trick to fun socks, it is that you cannot try to match them. WRONG: If you are wearing a red shirt, don’t wear red socks. The problem is that the shades always seem off or it looks like you’re trying too hard. Fun socks are an accent, so they should be an accent color. RIGHT: Blue/white pin-stripe button up with light grey pants with red socks & either brown or black shoes.