Shoe Basics for Men

Guest blogger Krystyn offers her thoughts on shoe basics for men:

In comparison to their female counterparts, men do not necessarily have the passion (in many instances, though certainly not all), or the colorful liberty of choices for shoes. Mens shoe styles, while available in a range of colors and textiles, predominantly gravitate toward classic/simplistic and capitalize on neutrals.

A man with a shoe fetish is nothing to scoff at. Women can, and do, appreciate a man with a sense of style, especially where shoes are concerned. However, it is not necessarily a deal breaker if his shoe collection does not rival our own, as long as what he does showcase is worthwhile.

Personally, I find the basketball sneaker obsession wildly over-hyped. Colorful, flashy, and obnoxious designs are vied for among “sneakerheads,” to the extent that a black market exists wherein shoes that might sell in stores for $160 will sell between individuals for upwards of $300 or more. If they are a “retro” style, or even a re-release, this price could escalate into the thousands. Considering Nike is the most prominent retailer for these styles, the price is insanely inflated for the quality and longevity of the shoes in question.  In addition, retailers sell clothes intended to match each style of shoe, so the result is an overall outfit that is entirely too “matchy-matchy” and ultimately appears as though the man cannot be trusted to put together a tasteful ensemble himself, thus putting all of his effort (and cash) into collecting pieces made to reflect a single color palette. It’s just too much, and honestly very juvenile.

By all means, if a man wants a pair of basketball sneakers, or Nikes, regardless of color or style, have at it! But this should not comprise your entire repertoire. It has been done. Over…and over…and over again. Let’s imbue some originality into the next generation of gentlemen, shall we?

As a grown woman, with grown woman tastes, I enjoy a man who can choose shoes that have character, but that are modest and classic. Business and casual should have their own separate spaces in order to extend the life of your investments, although there are more loafer styles currently that can allow for some flexibility in those categories, without sacrificing much in the way of cost.

Brogues are a wonderful addition to any professional wardrobe, as they are classic, and traditionally made to last in leather with hard, thick soles. Wingtip brogues are my personal favorite, because the design alludes to a generation in which craftsmanship meant a connection to the cobbler himself, and well-made shoes were symbolic of status and personal pride. Simple and plain styles are universally flattering as well, and still maintain a character all their own, that will surely compliment any suit or dress slack/shirt combination. Pebbled leather variations are hot this Fall, but perhaps not as universally applicable as they possess a more rustic or relaxed aesthetic. If paired with the correct suit and accessories to play up the quality, rustic can be charming and high-end in a corporate atmosphere, but it must be done with intent.

For a flexible (casual and professional) option, consider a leather loafer in black or brown shades. The shape mirrors that of a traditional dress shoe, while the slip-on style and cut allow these to be worn effortlessly with jeans or shorts and mimic the boat-shoe vibe that still persists among younger groups. The loafer takes that essence and matures and refines it for a more focused demographic of aspiring professionals. Cole Haan, Sperry, and Ralph Lauren have excellent variations on this style, as pictured below.

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Pictured top to bottom:  Cole Haan Howland Penny; Sperry Gold Cup Bellingham ASV Penny Loafer; Polo by Ralph Lauren Wes Driving Moc; Polo by Ralph Lauren Arkley Penny

Essentially, women want a man whose style comes from within. How bright, or expensive, or new an item is, has no bearing on the style character of the man wearing it. It is always in the way that the man wears what he chooses, that speaks volumes. Likewise, a man who takes care of himself, will take care of his clothing and shoes, and will likely take care of another person in his life. Women seek quality, responsibility, confidence, and stability, and looking the part can often help lead us in the right direction!

For more on men’s shoes and style, follow @SterlingGent