It’s quite astonishing how many men still undermine the importance of shoes as a member of their day-to-day arsenal. Anna Dello Russo, editor-at-large for Vogue Japan once said, “I can be naked as long as I’m wearing the right pair of shoes.” Simple but profound words. The saying “shoes make the man” may be an overstatement, but nonetheless, a good pair of shoes does somehow transform your body language and attitude. It could lift you physically and emotionally.
Just as a police officer would need his gun & handcuffs, and a chef his/her knives, so should a man of style have an array of proper shoes to get him through his week, whatever it may throw at him. Fell free to think of them as sartorial gadgets/superpowers. The styles should generally range from the more formal Oxfords, to the very casual moccasins.
Below is a complied list of quintessential shoes (from the most casual to most formal), that every man should have in his closet for year-round wear. Now these shoes are not only functional, but also satisfying to the eye.
The White Sneakers
Simple, fashionable and never out of style. They simply just look great with a lot of your casual wear, even up to a little more dressy, outfits. Throw on a nice fitted blazer and some dark wash jeans with them and they’ll look amazing.
Now some will advise that under no circumstance should you wear these with a suit, and dumbing it down with sneakers is not doing the suit justice. As true as that may be, there are fashion houses that have continued to make quality sneakers with detailed aesthetics, and which has made sneakers with casual suits seem possible. It’s now cooler than ever to bring the trainers in action with a cool suit and a great tie.
Feel free to wear sneakers with suits for travel, or for walking long distances, or for when there’s no defined dress code in place (while also respecting each case by dressing for the occasion).
A quick note however, Air Jordan’s and Air Force Ones are not the in the same categories as sneakers to be worn with suits or blazes, simply because their shape and profiles are completely different. Jordan’s and Air Force Ones are chunky looking and have a very specific look that can only be pulled off casually.
Elegant and easy to wear, its hard to go wrong with loafers and it is a must have in a mans wardrobe. Versatile enough to dress up or down, the classic loafer – be it tasselled or penny, works just as well with a nice suit or with chinos/shorts and a polo shirt.
Here are some time tested brands who make quality loafers: G.H.Bass & Co, Churchs, J.M. Weston, TODS.
The Chelsea Boots
One my favourite picks right now is a suede Chelsea boot. They are the only boot style that one really needs to own. Gaining popularity in 1960’s England, and has since been attributed to the most stylish part of the menswear wardrobe.
The likes of Scott Disick, A$AP Rocky and Kanye West have made them even more famous while wearing them with high fashion street wear.
Whether brown, navy or black, you can never go wrong with a pair of suede Chelsea boots for those laid back, casual days.
The brogue has been for a long time the favourite shoe for all men. What sets it apart from other types of shoes is its versatility. The traditional design with the characteristic punch hole design gives a distinctive character that I’ve truly come to love.
Originally developed for outdoor use, the peculiar perforations on the shoe were designed to allow the drainage of water out of the shoes. The term “brogue” is actually more about the designs on the shoe rather than its cut (referring to the way that the surface is punctured and stitched to form a pattern).
They are easy to wear with anything. Anything at all. Throwing on a pair of jeans? Well, put them on. Are you in the mood for a suit, wear them as well.
High quality brogues are often associated with English brands such as Church’s and Grenson, and for good reason too; they have perfected the art of designing the classic shoe in a contemporary way (not to say that other brands don’t have high quality materials).
The Derby Shoes
This was a tough one for me, as it was either the Derbies or Oxfords. But the versatility of the Derbies won me over.
Originally created as a hunting and sporting shoe for country gentlemen, Derbies have since become one of the most versatile shoes in a mans wardrobe. They are good to dress up a pair of jeans, but they can also add a bit of fun to a suit. Personally, I’m not a big fan of Derbies with a rubber sole, but they definitely can become a handy dress shoe on a rainy day.
The Monk Strap Shoe
This is actually a personal favourite of mine (seeing as I own four pairs!). But as versatile as it may be, its not a necessity.
The monk strap shoe was designed as a dressier alternative to the sandals worn by European monks. The monk strap has no lacing but is instead closed by a strap and buckle, and is not as formal as a full Oxford, but more formal than a Derby.
Be it in Leather or Suede, and in whatever colour, you definitely can’t go wrong adding this to your wardrobe.
Yes sandals. Now don’t let the naysayers tell you otherwise, sandals work. In the wrong hands it could all go wrong, but the key is being simple with accessories – for, instance wearing a tie with a tailored suit on sandals is never a good look. For guys that live in tropical countries and for the summertime, sandals are a must have. Styling and pairing Sandals have been a tricky dilemma for men in the past, but its making a comeback in a major way. It could be paired casually with shorts, sportswear and even more formally with a lightweight linen, cotton or seersucker suit.
Now how many pairs of good shoes do we really need? Coming from someone with over forty pairs of shoes, I would say there’s no limit here. Own as many as you can possibly acquire. Collect them in styles! Collect them in multiple colours! Thrift stores, high street stores, high-end stores, go crazy! Just make sure to check with your significant other first.