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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.