SHOE FOR MENsculpere@june2020
It’s often said that the first time you meet someone, you’re judged on a number of factors – with three of the main counts being your hair, your handshake and, arguably most importantly your footwear.
Whether it’s job interview or a first date, if you’re hoping for approval from a prospective employer or potential love interest, you’re probably not going to get it when they glance down to see a rather sad-looking pair of battered old winkle pickers.
“But there’s too much choice!” therefore we have categorised down the bulk to seven essentials.
There is no golden rule or set formula for building the ‘perfect shoe collection’, as tastes are bound to differ. However, it pays to be ready for every eventuality, and that includes ones involving suits. In which case you’ll need a black leather Oxford.
“An Oxford should be worn with grey or black formal trousers,” says fashion expert. “Make sure the toe shape is right. Too pointy and you look like a spiv, too round and they look clumpy. A nice almond shape is what you’re looking for.”
It might seem like a needless thing to point out, but the lacing system is what gives the Oxford its snug fit and clean finish, making it the most formal shoe type of all.
2. THE BROWN LEATHER BROGUE
The perforations, which come in several different designs, were originally designed to let water out while the wearer. But here’s where things get complicated: because broguing is a technique rather than a shoe itself, Oxfords can be brogues, as can Derbies and wingtips.
As a rule, more holes equal more casual. So, if you’re looking for something which will take you from the boardroom to the bar, opt for a semi-brogue, which lacks the Wing shaped toe design.
“Brown brogues are a true British classic and every wardrobe should have a pair,” says Sculpere expert. “Look for a round toe on a chunky sole to wear with jeans, or a more elegant almond-shaped toe with a leather sole to wear with a suit.
“Tan is the classic colour, but if you want to be more discreet, try a darker brown. Look for leather that appears burnished as it looks more luxurious and will get better with every polish.”
3. THE SUEDE LOAFER
Complete with a round toe-shaped cut-out, the classic apron loafer has survived almost unchanged since then, alongside smarter tasselled and horse-bit versions. Though leather is a common choice, soft suede is arguably the more versatile option.
4. THE BLACK MONKSTRAP
Black monkstraps are classic yet semi formal at the same time. You can pair them with chinos or your denim to upgrade your casual look.
Sitting somewhere between an Oxford Shoe and a loafer, the monk strap has the DNA of a slip-on, while retaining the tongue and vamp commonly found on its lace-up cousins.
Similar in appearance to the plain-toe Oxford, the classic monk strap features minimal detailing, with the only stitching tending to appear between the vamp and the quarter, and down the heel of the shoe. This creates a smooth, uncluttered appearance, making the classic monk strap the most formal of them all.
4. THE TAN SUEDE WINGTIP DERBY
On an Oxford, the space between the eyelets tab – that’s the strips of leather either side of the tongue, with holes punched through for the laces – will be sewn shut at the bottom; on a Derby, they’ll flap open when the laces are undone.
It’s a subtle difference, but one that speaks volumes. An Oxford is, literally, strait-laced. It’s rigid and formal, smart but safe. Its cousin, the Derby, is open. It’s loose, fun and is happy to slum it with slim jeans or sit beneath a three-piece suit.
Most brogues or wingtip are Derbies because the informal punched holes lend themselves better to casual styles. Be wary of anything too detailed, as it can make a versatile shoe feel ostentatious.