A Man’s Guide to Boots and Shoes
Over 70 years ago, archeologist Luther Cressman discovered perhaps the world’s oldest footwear in Central Oregon. The sandals were dated to be 10,000 years old, were made with intricate weaves that indicated they were not only functional but also stylish in design. From our tribal days to modern times, men have searched for and valued footwear that both looked good and got the job done.
Man’s Guide to Boots and Shoes – Why care about your shoes?
A man should care about his footwear if for no other reason than it is the very foundation he stands upon. On an average day, your shoes will absorb the force of your weight 3000+ times; a poor choice here can lead to not only discomfort but injury.
Then there is the appearance aspect. Shoes are a visual endpoint and receive a disproportional amount of attention; despite covering only 5% of your body they can make-up more than 30% of the visual judgments we make when sizing up a stranger.
Ideally, you want to choose footwear that is both functional and stylish–by following these footwear selection principles this goal can be easily achieved.
Man’s Guide to Boots and Shoes – Four Footwear Rules
- Wear the right shoe for the occasion – this is the most common mistake men make when it comes to footwear. Wearing shoes outside their prescribed function is fine as long as they are still appropriate.
- Invest in quality – Not every man can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on his shoes. However, low-quality footwear constructed of cheap raw materials that do not age well; you will save money long term by buying more expensive shoes that will last longer.
In order to buy quality, many men will have to save and budget for the purchase.
This can instill a respect for the quality of the product and encourage you to take better care of them. Assuming you can find a pair of quality shoes that fit you well, you can send them back and take advantage of their re-crafting and re-soling service – a new pair of shoes for a fraction of the cost.
- Never sacrifice proper fit and comfort – buy the right shoe size, even if this means paying a bit more and purchasing your shoes at a real store vs. the lowest price online.
Pay attention to shoe width. Men with extremely wide or narrow feet learn about this early in life. Look for variations in arch support and toe structure as well
- Take care of your shoes – Learn how to waterproof your shoes and then learn how to shine your shoes.
In addition, rotate through a few pairs to allow them to dry between wearing and ALWAYS use wood shoetrees that will quickly soak up perspiration. This is especially important for leather shoes, as the interior of a dress shoe has often not gone through the harsh chemical treatment of the upper and is more susceptible to rot.
Common Footwear Terminology
Sole – commonly referred to as the bottom part of the shoe or boot and can be further divided into the outer sole, mid-sole, and insole depending on the type and quality of the shoe being discussed.
- Upper– A general term that refers to the part of the shoe above the sole
- Brogueing– a form of ornamentation in which tiny holes are carved into the shoe’s leather
An important point to remember is that the more decoration on a shoe the less formal it becomes.
- Open Lacing– One of the two lacing systems used in oxford shoes; the open lacing system delineates the shoe in question to be a blucher. The shoe’s tongue and vamp (parts of the upper that cover the top of the foot); are cut in one piece with an open throat.
- Insole– As mentioned above, a subsection of the general term sole; the inner sole is the layer of the sole upon which the footrests. A quality insole can mean the difference between a shoe that will last 5 years and one that will last 25.
- Heel – The back portion of the shoe that comes into direct contact with the ground and gives elevation to the foot; when the shoe is worn
Heels often built from 2 to 4 pieces of leather called lifts and reinforced with rubber or metal.
- Laces– The choice usually round or ribbon; with round having the advantage of being stronger and more formal; thanks to their core while ribbon laces come in a variety of colors and are more elastic; making them a good choice for athletic shoes or hiking boots.
General Rules for Men’s Shoes
- Try to pick a shoe that matches, or is darker than your pants.
- Socks do not need to match your shoes. Instead, think of your socks as you would a tie – items that can bring the whole outfit together.
- If wearing a belt, try to match your shoes to it, unless of course, your belt is some multi-colored striped thing.
Men’s Shoes for Jeans
You can wear almost any color or style of shoes to wear with jeans. But avoid very shiny shoes that obviously intended for dressier outfits.
For example, a sporty, polo shirt might work with a loafer; t-shirts go well with sneakers or retro-style shoes; long, artsy button-downs work well with sandals or contemporary styles.
Man’s Guide to Boots and Shoes for Casual Pants
Let the ornamentation and style of the shoe guide you towards the look you’re trying to achieve.
For example, a tassel or a buckle is a little more on the dressy side. While a woven pattern or heavy stitching is a little more on the casual side.
Man’s Guide to Boots and Shoes for Dress Pants
With dress pants, shoot for the same type of shoe that you might wear with a suit. Shinier materials usually indicate a dressier shoe, as do less bulky heels and soles. Choose a shoe that is the same color or darker than your pants; and if wearing a belt, match your shoes to it.
Color Matching for Men’s Shoes
- Black shoes work well with navy, grey or black pants.
- Brown shoes are best suited to tan, brown, beige, greens, other darker earth tones.
- Burgundy shoes work well with khaki, lighter browns, blue and grey.
- Tan shoes look great with lighter earth tones, blue, beige, lighter tan or white.