On most occasions any respectable gentlemen will go through the painstaking effort to look sharp, prim and proper, splashing out serious cash on nicely fitted shirts matched with a tailored suit. But one thing I always seem to notice is that although you may look on top of your game, all that effort is ruined by the lack of attention in your footwear.
You may think the pieces of leather and rubber devices on your feet go unnoticed – unfortunately that’s where you’ll be wrong. Donning that fine suit with black chunky Kmart specials only adds to the lack of foresight shown in the presentation department.
Remember you can still find the style that suits you best that adds to your overall presentation without breaking the bank account. Money doesn’t buy you style, but it will increase your chances of looking sharp.
The Oxford (English) or Balmoral (American) style of dress shoes is perhaps arguably the most popular style of men’s dress shoes that is available on the market. The style is characterised by its lace-up fronts with the laces closely aligned together, with the pieces of leather joining up the laces sewn to the bottom of the sole. Some style of Oxfords have a ‘toe cap’, an additional piece of leather sewn to the front section of the shoes to give the impression of a ‘cap’. If you are a man that likes to be understated and traditional without wanting to look too eccentric, the Oxford/Balmoral may be the style for you.
The feature that is most apparent with the Monk style of men’s shoes is its lack of a lace-up system. Instead in its place is a strap that is built into the overall piece of leather for the shoe construction and wraps around the top of the feet, with the ends being secured by a metal buckle. The Monk can at times have a top cap, similar to the Oxford/Balmoral and may be ‘Brogued’ (decorative perforations on the leather piece). This style is considered more casual than the Oxford/Balmoral, but more formal than a Derby/Brogues, so it may suit a man that likes to look modern whilst retaining a traditional stance on his footwear.
Based on the Oxford, the Derby/Brogues is characterised by its shoelace eyelets where the lace system is joined by the overall construction of the shoe. The lace position is also more openly stanced on either side of the lacing system, the opposite to the Oxford/Balmoral. Often the Derby’s features is amplified with perforated patterns pressed into the edges of the individual pieces of leather that makes up the overall shoe construction, with this being known as Brogues. The leather is usually highly shined and is of a tougher thickness and consistency. There are usually four top-cap style found with the Brogues (full/”wingtip”, semi-, quarter and longwing) and as well as four closure styles (oxford, derby, ghillie, and monk). This style will suit a man that prefers traditions – the manly man, one that wants to maintain a regal aura.
Don’t mistaken this style with the more casual ‘Moccasins’ drivers. Unlike the Moccasins’ obvious stitching of the toe box in the front of the shoes with soft suede leather, the Loafers/Slip-Ons laceless style is characterised with a more rounded toe-box top, that comes with matte or gloss leather. The more traditional Loafers/Slip-on can also come with tassels at the front or be embellished with a metal decorative piece. The Loafers/Slip-Ons style may suit a man that is more casual with his ways without compromising the sharpness of his style. A good combination between formal and casual with an air of American nouveau riche.
Another thing to keep in mind is don’t be afraid to deviate from the black and blacker colour for any of the above mentioned styles. There are many shades of brown and maroon that you can choose from. Or if you feel like being a little extroverted, be daring and try non-traditional colours such as green, white, etc. And gentlemen, please, polish your shoes.
Remember, looking sharp means the full package, shoes and all!
‘Till next time,