Friday, May 30, 2008

Shoes come in 2s, so have more than one pair

The fundamentals of a man's wardrobe start with shoes. They likely will be the first items noticed by others who may "size you up." The color and style can reveal a lot about a man's purpose with respect to whether he's headed to work, a social event or the gym.

Men who own multiple pairs of shoes are not necessarily fashionistas who have a compulsive need to accessorize their outfits. A practical reason is that each pair of shoes you own will not wear out as quickly if they're worn on a rotating basis. If anything, sneakers should wear out faster than any leather-soled shoe, but I'll come back to them later. Let's get down to basics:

  • A pair of black leather shoes is the start of any man's wardrobe. What follows are black socks, a navy suit and a white shirt. This outfit means business at the workplace. It is appropriate for weddings and funerals. It is acceptable anywhere American Express/MasterCard/Visa is accepted. But I digress.

    There are numerous variations of black shoes, from lace-ups to loafers, Bluchers to semi-brogues. I would start with any of the lace-ups first.

  • Next, I'd recommend a pair of burgundy loafers, another traditional shoe that has a versatility similar to that of black shoes.

  • For those who own a tuxedo, it is imperative to have patent leather pumps or lace-ups. The tuxedo is the only uniform where shoes that are not patent leather would be uncivilized.

  • Chances are that before the shoes mentioned above are established in your closet, sneakers are the footwear of choice. We grow up with having them on to play sports at a moment's notice. They are the most comfortable for walking. And, for the most part, they are affordable.

    If you wear sneakers like I do, they likely will be replaced more often than leather shoes. I try to have at least two pair of sneakers (one for running/aerobics, one for basketball/tennis/whatever). If you're on a budget, I wouldn't get too much into the minutia of having a pair of sneakers for a specific sport, nor would I spend more than $50 per pair. For sports that require a spiked shoe (golf, baseball, football, soccer, etc.) be sure you expect to wear them enough wear to justify the investment.

  • A pair of sandals is a practical option, especially if you go through airport security. Like sneakers, sandals are inexpensive and are easy to put on and take off.

  • When rain and/or snow comes down, a pair of rubber boots is the way to go for your first pair. After that, leather construction boots bring a practical function and a blue-collar style to the table.

  • Once the basics are in place, you can methodically branch out to other shoe styles. Choosing shoes that can be resoled also will save on compulsive purchases in the long run. Comfort is always key. Rubber or Vibram soles help reduce shock when walking for extended periods.

    Your first step to a sound wardrobe starts with your shoes, so keep it simple. The rest will follow.

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