Gentlemen, if you're reading this I assume you are here to up your foot game; which is a good thing. According to Esquire and GQ magazine, you should get your cash ready, because apparently, you need at least ten pairs of shoes to get through your incredible, amazing life.
But you and I live in the real world, where there is this little thing called “money.”
So as a member of the Real Gear for Real Guys family, we are going to bring that number down to a reasonable 5 to 6 pairs of shoes. (Though you don't have to stop at 6; I know I didn't.)
The first thing we need to do is put our shoes into two categories: work and chill.
With work shoes, you want to have a couple of colors and styles available and at the ready.
Colors: Your blacks and browns are in play here, and there is no need to overthink it.
Material: A leather shoe here is essential and one that you can shine up to a very high gleam. A well-shined shoe is everything and a critical component of your gear every day.
Cap Toe Oxford:
In black or brown, you can’t go wrong with your basic CAP TOE OXFORD. Great, conservative, timeless. They will never go out of style. An excellent choice. If you get them in black, you can pair them with any dark colored suit and even that gray pinstripe you have been thinking about buying. The only thing you can't do is wear them every day.
The second pair of shoes you need in your “work” category is a nice pair of BROGUES, sometimes referred to as wingtips. These shoes have their origin in the Irish countryside and were initially a working man's shoe. Initially, the dotted pattern around the toe were holes that allowed for water to drain out of the shoe when trudging through those Irish bogs. Now they are not holes, and you would never wear a pair of Allen Edmonds Brogues through the mud. These are fantastic shoes that work well with any suit, khakis, or even jeans. Just don't rock them with a tux or a formal black-tie event.
If you're wearing slacks, khakis, or even jeans with a blazer, a pair of brogues will maintain the right level of style and class that is just right for the office.
To round out your selection of office shoes, I would go with a pair of MONK STRAPS. The monk strap has been around for quite a while and comes in two basic flavors, single strap and double strap. The single strap is deemed more formal, while the double strap is considered a bit more chill. You can also get these in a boot. And they will look fantastic! Again, your color choice will dictate what suit colors will work.
Now that we have covered your time at the office lets proceed to what we're wearing for our evening activities.
I would start with a pair of slip-on CHELSEA BOOTS like this pair from Kenneth Cole. These boots are going to be comfortable, and the no lace casualness means they can work at the kid's soccer game, grabbing some pizza and a movie with that special someone, or hanging with the fellas at your favorite bar. Super comfort, easy on/off and they go with anything - what else can you ask for in a casual shoe?
The second weekend go to shoe is a pair of BASIC LOAFERS, nothing too fancy. Leave the tassel variety on the shelf and stick to the essential loafer in leather or suede. If you are a bit on the preppy side (you know who you are), you could sub in a penny loafer, which would work just fine.
Lastly, a CASUAL SNEAKER is needed to finish off your starter collection of shoes. I am not talking your latest Air Jordans but a nice pair of white, cleanly styled sneaks. Think Stan Smith or Cole Hahn or a variation on that theme. Sneakers are always comfortable, and if you're just hanging with some friends, it's a good bet these will be fine and go well with jeans or khakis. You can also pair them with a casual cotton suit. It's a great way to dress up a bit but not take yourself too seriously.
As a Real Guy, I'm not trying to pay $300 – $400 bones for shoes. You can buy quality shoes that look great at reasonable prices. Look around and comparison shop online. Amazon, Zappo, ASOS carries a lot of the same brands and selections as Nordstrom’s, and Macy's just at way better prices.
Well there you have it, your RealGear4realGuys Starter shoepac. Enjoy!