Whats On Your Feet?
The quality of your shoes reveals a lot in your appearance. Of all the items in a man’s wardrobe, shoes are the single most important element of style. Of course, if you are familiar with, or if you’ve ever noticed people checking out your shoes before their eyes rise to scan the rest of your look, then you already know this. The truth is that shoes make the man. If you’re a bit clueless in the shoe department, however, here is what you need to know.
How much is too much for a pair of shoes?
With shoes, you get what you pay for. Even when times are tough, you can still spend a little more on well-made shoes because you can make them last much longer than a suit or a cashmere sweater. In fact, if you choose a pair of shoes made with real leather, sturdy stitching, and solid soles, they will outlast almost all other items in your closet. You’ll be able to have them repaired over time at a fraction of the original purchase price, so spend as much as you reasonably can for a pair of shoes.
Getting the best fit for your feet
First, wear the same type of sock you plan on sporting with the shoes in question to the shoe store or at least bring them with you. Don’t rely on those stockings the store has in a box. You’re a man, and you don’t wear ladies' stockings with your oxfords, no matter what the clerk says. If it’s an unplanned purchase and you happen to be in your gym gear, buy a proper pair of socks off the rack to ensure a proper fit. With that said, try to buy your shoes later in the day, when your feet have swollen and spread a bit from walking or running. After lunch is fine, but just before dinner is even better. Your new shoes might feel a little loose in the morning, but you will soon notice that you can wear them all day as your feet expand.
The essential shoes for every man
Plain dress oxfords might seem boring or too conservative amid a rack of pick-stitched ankle boots and fleur-de-lis perforated wingtips but consider for a moment that you’re buying a pair of shoes that you will wear to work (and interviews), weddings, funerals, first dates, and everything else in between. A classic dress oxford — plain toe or cap toe — will get you through more moments in your life than any other men’s shoe to date possibly could.
Once you have a pair of dress oxfords in your wardrobe, you should invest in another masculine classic for less formal occasions. Enter the monk strap. With a simple buckle strap closure in lieu of laces, these are the best option when a loafer won’t do and a lace-up seems too fussy. Monk straps are perfect for casual Friday work attire or dinner dates on the weekend, and you can even wear them with denim. They can also be worn with a suit, provided the reason for the suit is work-related or a weekend event other than a wedding or funeral. Formal occasions require laces.
How to care for your shoes
Shoe trees are perhaps the least-used item by younger men, but they're most important when it comes to preserving leather shoes. Each pair of shoes in your closet should have a set of wooden shoe trees. They help maintain the shape and fit of leather shoes as they dry out from daily wear. You may not think you’re perspiring in your shoes, but you are, and even the least amount of moisture can do damage over time.
Polish your shoes regularly and invest in a home shoe polishing kit. Having it done while you read the paper in your office building or at the airport is fine, but a home kit pays for itself in just a few months. Also, you won’t always have time to sit and wait for a shine on the go.
One last bit of advice that every man should heed is this: You may feel compelled to break the bank on one pair of shoes. Don’t. Shoes last longer when you can wear them every other day. This allows the leather to rest. If one pair is all that you can do this month or this season, then so be it. In time, plan to buy a second pair that complements the first and rotate them.