Monday, 26 March 2012

Putting your foot in it - The casual shoe post

I often think that men in my life would delight in me being padlocked into a rather stiff neck-brace.  No, the male contingent of my circle of friends is not dominated by sickos with some spinal-injury fetish...well not completely.  Its because on an encounter with a person of the opposed-sex (not a typo); the most scathing style-scrutiny occurs when I look down...

Despite my ability to produce over 1000 words a month of hard (but just) criticism of the average-Joe’s dress-[non]sense, I should (lest there is a special section of  hell reserved exclusively for  insatiably cruel fashionistas) admit that some men seem to get it ‘right’.   However, before you exhale with relief; most of you are still fucking-up on the footwear front. Unfortunately, despite the fact that a few blokes are dressing in a manner that won’t completely alienate you from civilized society; most of you are still generally clueless when it comes to choosing the right covering for your wee tootsy-toes.  Yes, your choice of footwear is more often than not, a complete cock-up.

You know what?  I do understand the issue. 

Footwear is a tough one to nail; and unlike the fairer sex, men have an obvious disadvantage on being able to choose the right [stylish] shoes because: 
  1. you expect to be comfortable; and 
  2. you don’t think about shoes 70% of your waking hours. 
So I understand how you struggle to appreciate the dire need to be fashionable (and not necessarily functional/comfortable) from the ankle down.   Having a stylishly-adorned torso is pointless when everyone can tell by your white canvas; elasticised pull-ons that the cool outfit was a one-off fluke and the shoes are really the true reflection of the bogan-esque tone of your wardrobe.

Yeah, he's a wanker, but like the thongs.

*Ok, just because I’m really deep down a generous individual who wants to be nice to you;  before I begin my monthly style-bollocking I will say; I like thongs (flip-flops, jandals...).  Wear thongs!  They are the gravy-noodles with jeans, chinos and shorts.  They lace any outfit with a relaxed feel that can be sexy in an effortless ‘I-really-don’t- try;-chic-just-comes-naturally-to-me’ type of way.  And I think this is the essential direction we are going for with your footwear: Relaxed-masculinity. 
I can picture you there; mulling over this concept of ‘relaxed-masculinity’ as you ease back on to the couch with your hand down your pants.  However, before you decide that a transition into this fashion-concept will be a piece of piss because it doesn’t seem like a huge leap from ‘apathetic-masculinity’ which you have nailed; I have news for you...
Relaxed-masculinity in footwear means you are aiming for a look that is neat; adult; slightly sporty (in a skateboard-y type of way) and/or bohemian (in a arty or hippy-with-cash-and-a-concern-for-bodily-hygiene type of way).   So let’s look at some footwear that can’t be described in these terms and should be banished from that pile of shoes near the front-door (the footwear-storage method of choice for most men).  To speed this selection process up; I am going to put it out there that anything that Don Johnson would have worn in ‘Miami Vice’ DOES NOT fall into my version of relaxed-masculinity.  Footwear that looks like you would wear it:
  1. on a boat; or 
  2. as you lean against a beach-side bar whist sipping a daiquiri 
needs to be immediately culled from the shoe-pile.
In case we don’t share the same mental picture with from this description; what I’m talking about alienating from the world of your feet are e.g. white slip on canvas shoes; plimsolls or deck /boat shoes.  These are a girly, wussy and/or sleezy variety of footwear and should be avoided. 
Elasticised-pull-on footwear are for humans who are yet to master the tricky art of ‘tying your own shoe-laces’ or geriatrics who if they spend any amount of time groping around at their feet tying laces may never experience a vertical position again.   Those canvas pull-ons scream a very unattractive level of apathy for any seemingly able man donning these butt-fuglies. 
I also hate boat shoes.  I don’t care that they facilitate the otherwise impossible feat of walking on a boat; I am not convinced they weren’t created for the single purpose of making men completely undesirable.  Clearly they were designed by some covert government body to retard population growth because the wearer is never getting laid.  This ridiculously unsexy footwear is only surpassed by castration for instantly emasculating a dude. 
The term ‘plimsoll’ can cover a multitude of sneaker style’s, but the fuckers I’m referring to in my hit-list are the rubberised low-profile (low cut) sand shoe. They’re just so common.  ‘Common’ is in the same fashion-silage-tank as ‘comfortable’ in my opinion.  Plimsolls seem to be the mindless default for anyone attempting to be ‘hip’.  The mutha of fails in the category of plimsolls are the white, pointy-toe versions infesting the shoe-dept shelves of the Kmart nearest to you.  Come on, be men for fuck’s sake! Plimsolls make your feet look girly.
So now that I’ve pissed all over a couple of your favourite casual choices; lets start restocking the shoe pile(Note: the above mentioned should now been fuelling a hallucinogenic rubbery inferno in your backyard). 
Clarks Original Saddle-Leather Collection By Ronnie Fieg-Desert Boot
F-Troupe Crepe Sole Canvas Desert Boots (
Ok, well firstly I have a bit of a penchant for the old ankle boot/trainer.  No I’m not a spruiker for Clarks (creators of the desert boots), but, yes; I would pimp myself out to any label throwing some dollars my way.  The fact is I just like the way that adding an inch to a trainer/sand shoe etc, makes it a little smarter; more adult; more masculine and allows the shoe to even transcend into a smart-casual context.  So this style of shoe, doesn’t necessarily have to be a heavy boot, more suited to winter, but can also be a great lightweight, cool and casual accessory for summer.  Most of the examples I’m going to show you can be worn with a short; dress sock, or without, particularly the espadrille and moccasins can be worn, at the risk of a fungal outbreak, without socks and be a great substitute for the chunder-inducing boat-shoe. 


blue espadrille (

McQueen shoes by

McQueen shoes by

Northern Cobbler Dorab Suede Shoes (

River Island Chambray Mid-Top Trainers (

Jack & Jones Intelligence Danner Chukka Boots (Asos.c
For those who think the ankle boot or high-top trainer is a wee bit too  Dutch voortrekker or Flavor Flav;  I’ve also included some images of chukka boots, which are an even lower cut (but not quite a sand shoe) and can be worn with an ankle-sock or free-toeing.  On the topic of ankle-socks: avoid socks that are too chunky or have sports symbols on the band.  They detract from the shoe.  Your socks should be subtle to invisible; this is not an opportunity to promote the fact that you have successfully paired the elusive fuckers up post-laundering, and thus are domesticated/good-husband material. 

Romeo (

Lacoste Ampthill MB Leather Chukka Boots (
K3 (

9/65 bayside moccasin chukka boots (

Camper Classic shoe ROMEO (
The ‘sand-shoe’/trainers I’ve suggested as MenWTW-approved footwear are chunkier and rounder in the toes than your girly-boy plimsolls.  I’m digging the dressier trainers that look like a sneaker-brogue hybrid.  Once again they’re a bit more adult and could even be worn in the work place if you are a twatty-tosser creative-type e.g. a graphic designer or any occupation for which wearing chunky dark-framed glasses to assist with your 20-20 vision is mandatory.

Thrash Crepe Sole Shoe (

Madero (

Toms Desert Oxford Canvas Shoes (

Diesel Nora Canvas Trainers (

*Note:  shoes are a huge topic; so in this month’s post I’m just focusing on casual to smart-casual footwear.  I’ll endeavour to skinny-dip in the murky waters of formal footwear in next month’s post.