Are you a shoe-in?
Shoes are not only the most functional item in any man’s wardrobe; many also consider them to be an accurate indicator of his sense of style and social position (just compare vinyl zip-ups with wing tip brogues).
The overall style and weight of your shoe should be in harmony with the clothes you wear. For example, fine lightweight Italian loafers work well with the sleekness of European suits, but look way too light weight when worn with unstructured American styled suits, which call for a plain, straight tip or Oxford lace-up, and these look dreadful when teamed with jeans.
Shoes must always be comfortable, and that means from the first moment you put them on. Some men believe that shoes need to be broken in. This may have been true a century ago, but today there are too many styles, sizes and brands to select from to ever make this even remotely so.
While in the store and before you purchase anything, try both shoes on. Most men and women have one foot larger than the other, so it is wise to buy to fit the larger foot. Keep in mind that the softer the leather is, the more it will stretch, so a little snugness is acceptable, even advisable (shoes such as loafers can stretch up to a half size). However, snugness doesn’t hurt. If the shoes hurt when you try them on, leave them and search for another pair. Once the shoe is on, you should be able to wiggle your toes without feeling the top of the inside of the shoe and your heel should sit snugly against the back.
The most versatile colour for business shoes is black because it teams so well with black, charcoal and navy suits. They should be worn with either black, charcoal, navy or gray socks. I recommend brown shoes to be worn only with brown or earth-toned suits, while cordovan can be worn with charcoal, navy or gray suits. Avoid business shoes in navy, gray or any 'trendy' colours.
You should own at least three pairs of business shoes and several that are casual. This will give you the ability to rotate your business shoes and allow them time to rest. Believe it or not, resting shoes does make a significant difference to how long they will last. Leather absorbs moisture, and a day of rest allows them to dry out and return to their original shape. By wearing the same shoe day in and day out, the perspiration will build up and rot the shoe from the inside out. Shoe trees can increase the life of your shoes by up to two years. They not only assist in the drying out process, but also maintain the correct shape of the shoe. Leather shoes require regular polishing and if also waxed they will be more resistant to water damage. Keep a wary eye out for signs of wear and tear, and have your shoes repaired well before the problem becomes urgent.
On this point all you have to keep in mind is, you never get more than you pay for. Higher priced shoes are typically made of superior quality leather and manufactured to meet more rigorous standards of style, comfort and durability.
Without doubt, leather is the material of choice for quality shoes. There are several leathers most commonly found in shoes: calfskin, cowhide, kidskin, suede, patent leather and cordovan. As the name suggests, calfskin is from calves; it is very soft, lightweight, supple and unblemished. Calfskin is most used for business shoes. Cowhide is tougher, stiffer and heavier, which makes it more appropriate for casual shoes and boots.
Kidskin is from young goats and it’s light-weight, soft, and easily marked which makes it best used for formal wear and slip¬ons. Suede is leather that has been treated and finished on the flesh side to produce the rough surface. The best suede is made from buckskin (the hide of male deer). Patent leather is calfskin that has been treated with a synthetic surface and polished to produce the shiny surface. Cordovan is from the rump of a horse and is characterised by the red-brown colour. It is the most durable of all the leathers and the colour coordinates well with most suit colours.
Sole and Heel
While soles and heels can be made of rubber or leather, leather offers many advantages over rubber. Rubber soles and heels cause the feet to become hot and uncomfortable on lengthy walks due to the friction it has on contact with the sidewalk, while leather slides over the sidewalk resulting in less friction and cooler feet. Thick rubber soles also seriously detract from a professional appearance and can rob the wearer of his credibility. Leather inner soles give the shoe greater structural support, insulation and greatly add to the shoe’s longevity.
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