Men’s Shoes 101


The rumour that there’s less to say about men’s shoes than women’s simply won’t go away. Yet it’s far off the mark. Men may not want a new pair of shoes for every new outfit they own, but they at least want to have the right pair for every situation. And they want to know what they’re talking about.

A fixture in every man’s shoe cupboard is a pair of black Oxfords (calf leather, closed lacing, thin sole) – the classic for confidently stylish business appearances. Men look a bit more relaxed in Derby shoes, which come in a range of styles. You can identify full or semi-brogues by the number of decorative perforations along the seams. Apparently, the style started with shepherds who drilled holes into their shoes. Not as decoration – the purpose they serve today – but so that the water from the wet meadows could drain away. The Budapester shoe should be familiar, especially in Vienna, which is a shoe style that resembles full brogues but uses a straight last and has a rounder toe.

For less formal appearances, men also need slip-on shoes, better known as loafers. It depends on the season and mostly on the playfulness of the wearer as to whether or not they have tassels. One shelf is of course reserved exclusively for sneakers – the epitome of the leisure shoe, and even office wear in the creative industries, where they can even be combined with a suit. The Norwegian style of Derby shoe is rather more robust. Because being waterproof is more something that is taken for granted than a distinctive feature, they are better described by their appearance: they have a raised vamp seam around the toe.

Buying your shoes

When going shopping, you should always wear the socks that you intend to wear with that style of shoe in future. We’ll take it for granted that you’ve heard the advice about wearing any colour other than white and that they should be long enough to cover every inch of skin and every single hair – even when your legs are crossed. Instead we’ll share a tip that you’ll be pleased to hear if you’re not a morning person: you’re more likely to be happy with shoes that you tried on late in the afternoon. Why? Because feet grow over the course of the day, which means that you’ll choose the most comfortable pair later on. General shoe-buying wisdom: men with large feet should pick thin soles. They make your feet look smaller.

Caring for your shoes

It may sound like something your grandparents might have said, but there is truth in it: care for your shoes well and they will last longer. Which means: treat your shoes with a spray (full-grain and smooth leather) or a polish (smooth leather) before you wear them for the first time. Then clean and polish your shoes regularly. Boring it may be, but it needs doing – and that includes treating and storing them well. A shoehorn will prevent the counter (heel area) from going loose and baggy, while a shoe tree will make sure that they keep their shape.

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