White Nikes

2013 10 12 11.28.35 1024x768 White Nikes Ah white Nikes, so fresh and so clean.

I think that a pair of white athletic sneakers are really an essential to every man’s wardrobe. There’s something about the color white that just does well at the feet (though a pain in terms of maintenance) and usually a pair of Nikes does the trick.

Thought I’d share with you a couple pictures of my new Nikes I bought from J.Crew. Gotta love those J.Crew in Good Company deals; they really curate some awesome stuff from outside companies.

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Nike Killshot 2 Sneakers

Pair ‘em with sweats, shorts, jeans, chinos…. Whatever the case, you’ll be styling and comfortable at the same time. Enjoy.

Throwback classic sneakers

In the last several years, classic sneakers from Nike, Adidas, and New Balance have been hitting the shelves with high velocity. We’re talking throwback sneakers from the 70s and 80s, looking a little something like this:

new balance 1300 classic steel blue 01 Throwback classic sneakers

Source: Solecollector

Cool huh? The moment these things started to show up on peoples’ feet around town, I knew that I needed to get myself a pair or two. What I like about them is that they retain the comfort of a running shoe, but still remain fairly appropriate as casual street-wear. They can even be dressed up a bit, maybe worn with an oxford cloth button down, some dark denim, and a jacket. Hell, magazines these days are pairing these types of sneakers with suits (not recommended).

I got myself a couple pairs (New Balance & Nike), both in suede, and I love ‘em. They’re especially great for me because I recently got a new day job at an office with the slickest floors I’ve ever walked on. So leather-soled shoes out, fashion sneakers in.

suedeshoes1 1024x682 Throwback classic sneakers suedeshoes2 1024x430 Throwback classic sneakers suedeshoes3 1024x606 Throwback classic sneakers suedeshoes4 1024x682 Throwback classic sneakers suedeshoes5 1024x682 Throwback classic sneakers suedeshoes6 1024x522 Throwback classic sneakers suedeshoes7 1024x599 Throwback classic sneakers

Nike Vintage Pre-Montreal :: New Balance 565

I love the suede sneaker look, as I feel the fabric/material really classes up a shoe that we normally would not wear to most places outside of the gym. Now, you can pair these types of sneakers up with some denim, a casual shirt, and a crewneck sweater, and still be styling all fall.

Boat shoes and socks

A question I constantly get is this: Can I wear boat shoes with socks?

oak street bootmakers boat shoe natural chromexcel 02 1 Boat shoes and socks

Source: Independencechicago

Up till recently, my advice has always been to wear boat shoes without socks, as that is the “right” way to wear them. I mean, boat shoes were originally designed to be worn on a boat, so wearing socks would be downright absurd when there is water constantly getting on your feet.

Well, today, I’m here to tell you that I’ve had change of heart when it comes to this particular question. I’ve begun to realize that indeed, socks look pretty great when paired with boat shoes.

Let me make sure I cover all my bases here. First off, this really applies to when one is wearing pants with boat shoes, not shorts. I say stick to no socks when wearing shorts. Also, this is not to say that boat shoes shouldn’t be worn without socks. They most certainly should. However, there has been a situation or two when I’ve wanted to wear my boat shoes, but opted for another pair of shoes instead because I was wearing socks at the time. Damn first world problems.

What I realized is that as long as I’m not wearing white socks or ankle socks, I could still look pretty good. I especially like it when my sock color complements other parts of my outfit, and the boat shoes help showcase them. Wacky, bold colored socks also look pretty cool, as they add that extra spice to the fairly conservative boat shoe design. Kind of like I paired them here:

DSC 1004 1024x682 Boat shoes and socks

So the next time you put on your cool looking socks and head to your shoe rack, don’t dismiss your awesome Quoddys or Sperrys. They might very well look good with your excellent socks.

 

Colored shoelaces

First off, I want to say sorry for everyone who’s wrote into me this last week and a half. Been pretty slow in replying back. I hate to give this generic reasoning, but unfortunately I’ve been super busy as of late.

Anyhow, I did get one question that I wanted to share with you all and elaborate on a bit. It has to do with colored shoelaces:

tumblr m1tm0pzzp91qbfs96o1 500 Colored shoelaces

Source: Tumblr

I’ve been noticing colored shoelaces on black or brown oxfords from time to time. I’ve searched your blog for your opinion on the matter, but don’t seem to have found anything. What is your take on this trend?
 – Jon

Great question Jon. Personally, I am a fan of this colored shoelaces trend. Spices things up a bit, but does it subtly, unlike say… bright yellow chinos. However, I will say that you should reserve contrasting/colored shoe laces only for specific situations (read: more casual situations). In my opinion, wearing hot pink shoelaces on a black oxford shoe at a client meeting is both unprofessional and obnoxious. However, if you’re wearing purple shoelaces with your Clarks Desert Boots during a casual night out, then I’m all for it.

When pairing contrasting laces with dress shoes, keep things as casual as you can. Try to avoid wearing green laces with conservative cap toes/plain toes, but instead try them on wingtips, brogued shoes, or other more casual offerings.

When looking at casual leather shoes, go wild. Just make sure the colors work somewhat cohesively. Just because you add some loud color to your black shoes doesn’t mean it looks good.

Hope that helps!

Shell Cordovan: The Story

cordovan1 1024x682 Shell Cordovan: The Story

Boots: Peal & Co (Crockett & Jones)

Excuse my French for today, but these… are my ass boots.

Yes, ass boots. Why do I call them that? To clear up any confusion, it’s not because they get me a bunch of ass. It’s instead because these boots are literally made of leather from the rear quarters of an animal, also called shell cordovan.

Here’s the story as I’ve heard it.

Apparently in the early 1900s, shoemakers were tired of making shoes that did a poor job of shielding feet from harsh weather conditions. They wanted shoes that were weatherproof, durable, rock solid. Unfortunately the material they were using, calfskin, just wasn’t up to the task. As some of you may know, calfskin shoes generally stains and loses its shine after a night in the rain or snow.

As a result, people started to look in every which direction to find leather that could ultimately handle the elements, while at the same time still look shined and spiffy after a downpour.

They search high and low, wide and far, but just couldn’t find anything that was strong enough, until they tested the hide from a horse. At first the hide was nothing special- no better than calfskin. They almost tossed it away, but then saw that the butt region of the horsehide was actually a little different from the rest.

Yes, they realized that the butt region of a horse is actually one of the strongest leathers on earth, and thus started to build shoes out of it. It’s true, you can basically make 1.5 pairs of shoes per hide! If you own a pair of cordovan shoes, you basically are wearing the entirety of a horse’s rear quarters.

cordovan2 1024x682 Shell Cordovan: The Story

The good news is that cordovan shoes look amazing. They always look shined, and never crease (though they do suffer from what’s known as “rolling,” look it up). They are also expensive. Almost unjustifiably expensive. You probably can’t get a pair of shell cordovan shoes for under $350 unless you find them used or defective in one way or another. However, remember that they are shoes that are meant to endure plenty of hardship before retiring. I could argue that cordovan shoes can last you an entire lifetime, if well taken care of! So, maybe that can help you justify the price a bit.

My favorite brands that carry cordovan shoes (and there aren’t that many of them) are Crockett & Jones and Alden.  These two makers actually rebrand their shoes through other retailers as well. All Brooks Brothers’ cordovan shoes are Alden, and Ralph Lauren cordovan shoes are C & J.

Definitely not a necessary part of anyone’s wardrobe, but worth a thought if you have the money. They look glorious, and really are one of the highest points of men’s shoes, period.

 

Wingtips

alden brown 1024x682 Wingtips

I think every man should own a pair of wingtips.

For those of you who do not know what wingtips are, the picture above should give you a good idea. Basically, it’s a shoe that has a wing-shaped design on it that creates a sort of “W” on the front of the shoe. Most wingtips end near the ball of the foot, but there’s also a version of the wingtip known as the longwing, where the “wing” circles around the entirety of the shoe.

Anyhow, I personally think wingtips are awesome. They’re classy, but not boring. They walk the line perfectly between formal and casual. Basically they are versatile shoes that can add that much-needed spice to your potentially boring solid black and brown shoe collection.

Personally, my favorite wingtips are made by American shoemakers Alden & Allen Edmonds. The Allen Edmonds McAllister is a fine choice, and can sometimes be found on sale at Nordstrom, and the Alden Long Wing Blucher is also a classic that will likely never go out of style. I know, they’re expensive, but I personally splurged on a pair and have zero regrets. Perhaps you’re contemplating doing the same?

Suit & shoes color coordination

A couple days ago, I ran across an infographic regarding suit/shoe color combinations that I was quite impressed with. It was made by a guy named rootb33r on reddit, who wanted to inform others on the versatility of certain suit/shoe combinations, and also what occasions they were most appropriate in.

I don’t think the suggestions on here are necessarily hard-fast rules, but it’s a good starting point, and I agree with most of it. I’m a little skeptical about his thoughts on the charcoal suit (I personally think charcoal suits are extremely versatile), but otherwise, it’s pretty solid. Check it out below:

42f81e1242580accaa1c51fc80bc4ee6 Suit & shoes color coordination

Some wicked shoes

wooster mismatched shoes 0 Some wicked shoes

At first glance, these shoes look pretty normal, albeit stylish. The grainy leather, the deep brown color, and the solid design all combine to make a pretty beautiful shoe. But as you look at each shoe individually, you’ll notice that they’re actually different designs! One is a wingtip, the other is a brogue captoe. Had me doing a double (or triple) take.

Turns out these are legitimate shoes, purposely mismatched by Tricker’s x Engineered Garments.  Don’t see myself pulling these off anytime soon, but thought it would be fun for you guys to check out.

Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Once in a while, I’d like to review a product for you guys on this blog. Sometimes, it might be my initial reactions towards a product I just purchased, and other times I’ll go over something that has been part of my outfit rotation for some time. Today, I’ll start with a fairly new purchase: a pair of shoes by the famous American shoemaker Alden.

Alden is one of the few remaining true American shoemakers. They manufacture in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and have been at it since 1884. The pair I got is one of their most classic designs, known commonly as the long wing blucher (LWB). The design is fairly similar to that of a normal wingtip, the only difference being that the wing design extends from the front of the shoe all the way to the back. Here are some pictures below:

alden lwb4 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Alden Made in the U.S.A.

alden lwb1 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

See how the wingtip design extends all the way throughout the shoe?

alden lwb2 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

You can tell the stitching on the welt ends at a point near the heel.

alden lwb3 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Black leather sole with rubber at the edge of the heel.

alden lwb5 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Wearing the shoes around the house.

alden lwb7 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

You can get these in many shades of brown as well.

alden lwb8 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Pretty handsome shoe in my opinion.

alden lwb6 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Outfit I’m wearing with the shoes.

Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Sweater: Old Navy | Watch: Omega

Bracelet: Unbranded | Jeans: Tellason | Shoes: Alden

Okay, so let me go into the review.

Construction: These shoes are solidly constructed. First off, all Alden shoes are Goodyear welted, meaning that the upper portion of the shoes are sewn onto a welt that also attaches to the sole. This is definitely one of the highest forms of shoe construction you can find, and Alden’s been doing it brilliantly for generations. The other great thing about Goodyear welting is that it allows you to easily resole the shoes when your soles start to fall apart. Alden has a great policy where you can send in your old shoes to them, and for around $100, they can refinish the entire shoe, get you a new sole, and have them back to you looking altogether brand new.

Another thing to add is that the attention to detail is top notch, probably because these shoes are hand-made domestically. I can’t find any flaws in stitching, lining, broguing, or just about any other construction element of the shoes. Suffice it to say, I’m happy with the overall quality.

Comfort: Comfort is surprisingly good. When comparing these to my Allen Edmonds, the Aldens are actually more comfortable even out of the box. I do believe they still require some breaking in of the sole, as the sole is a bit stiff from the get-go, but for the most part I think comfort isn’t going to be a problem. Might also have to do with the fact that the last (the shape/mold of the shoe) is a bit roomier than my other pairs of shoes.

Design: Truth is, I don’t think these shoes are very sleek or sexy. The last that these shoes are on, called the Barrie last, is slightly chunky, and the longwing design takes a bit of getting used to at first. For that reason, some might consider the design to be too old or boring. However, I don’t think these shoes are trying to be some sort of modern chic cocktail-hour shoe (like many English or Italian shoes might be).

They’re designed to be a daily workhorse of sorts, with a signature American look & feel to them. The chunkier sole helps support your foot better, the rock solid leather defends your foot from the elements, and the long wingtip design is a classic design that’s been loved and worn for ages. I personally love the look, hence me purchasing, but can see why others might feel like the shoes aren’t handsome enough to buy.

Material: The materials used are very high in quality. I can already tell that the sole and uppers feel hefty by touch, and will stand up to daily wear and tear with ease. Good news is that leather is still soft, despite being so durable, making the shoes a pleasure to wear.

Price: The price of most Alden shoes will be between $400 and $600 (when made with calf-skin). Clearly, they’re expensive, and not something to be taken lightly. To add, Aldens don’t go on sale. I was lucky enough to find a loophole and get some on sale via some menswear forums, but I likely won’t have an opportunity like that again. So the question begs, are they worth the asking price?

Well, it depends. To some, the price increase from a pair of Allen Edmonds might not be worth it. They’re constructed similarly and might even source their leather from the same place. I do know they use the same cordovan leather. However, I do think that the attention to detail on these shoes is much higher than any of my Allen Edmonds. The shoes feels sturdier, and thus, looks like they’ll last longer. They’re also more comfortable. So to me, the increase in quality is evident, and sometimes I’m willing to shell out some more dough as a result.

Just be aware that the law of diminishing returns is certainly playing a factor at this point. Let’s say these were almost two times as expensive as my Allen Edmonds. Are they two times as good? No. Are they, in my opinion, maybe 10-20% better? Probably. So the question really becomes, are you willing to pay double the price for a slight increase in construction and quality (and design for those who like it)?

Conclusion: Overall, the shoes are constructed with the highest quality materials, feel rather comfortable even from the get-go, and are clearly strong enough to be in the game for the long haul. The look of these shoes can take a little getting used to (as I had to), but they are a classic Alden design- something that will likely never go out of style. The asking price is steep, but could be worth it for some of you. For those who need to save some money, stick with Loake, Charles Tyrwhitt, or Allen Edmonds. If you like any of their designs and have the money though, I highly recommend a pair of Aldens. You’re guaranteed excellent quality and construction.

Here are some links if you’d like a pair for yourself:

Unionmade

Alden of Carmel

J.Crew

Dress Shoe Makers

First off, Merry Christmas Eve my friends. Hope you’re enjoying a nice day off.

tumblr li8svxTHNc1qgbkfmo1 1280 Dress Shoe Makers

Beautiful John Lobb captoes. (Photo credit: dieworkwear)

A couple people have been asking me about what dress shoe brands I like. Well, here’s a quick list I put together for you all. It’s certainly not exhaustive, but hopefully it helps you guys familiarize yourself with some premier shoe brands. Just FYI, most of these shoes are quite high-quality, so they’ll probably be much more expensive than shoes at your average Kenneth Cole / Calvin Klein level.

Dress Shoes

Edward Green $$$$ : Stunningly amazing shoes, but will easily cross the $1k mark. Not for the light-hearted… or light-walleted.

John Lobb $$$$: Also extremely amazing shoes, and a direct competitor to Edward Green. Will cross the $1k mark easily just as well. The finish on these bad boys is second to none.

Gaziano & Girling $$$$: Okay okay, I’ll stop with the $1k+ shoes here. G&G is also one of the premier makers of ready-to-wear dress shoes, just like John Lobb and Edward Green.

Crockett & Jones $$$: A solid shoemaker from England that makes some of my favorite shoes in the world. Great design, high quality construction.

Santoni $$$: Pure Italian designs using extremely supple, high quality leather. Comfort and design in one.

Tricker’s $$$: Pretty innovative company getting press for doing some cool collaborations recently, but ultimately they are pros at their craft in their own right.

Alfred Sargent $$$: Quality English shoemaker that gets a lot less attention than they deserve.

Peal & Co. $$$: High-end Brooks Brothers brand name, but they’re actually Crockett & Jones or Alfred Sargent shoes, depending on which one you get.

Ralph Lauren $$$: I’m talking about their “Made in England” shoes, as they’ll be constructed by Crockett & Jones. This applies to POLO Ralph Lauren shoes as well.

Church $$$: Solid company, with a solid reputation. Amazing quality and attention to detail, highly recommended.

Alden $$$: One of the last standing classic American shoemakers. Quality of their stuff is absolutely rock solid, but a bit more bulky in design than, say, an Italian shoe.

Tod’s $$: Never really tried these on, but have heard rave reviews about them consistently. Might want to find them on sale though, as value isn’t the best.

Allen Edmonds $$: Best bang for the buck high quality shoes. Made in the U.S. and is probably the standard in American-made shoes.

Loake $$: Another nice shoe maker that I respect quite a bit. A very good alternative to Allen Edmonds.

Meermin $$: Simple shoes, made with very nice attention to detail. Harder to get, since I believe they’re in Europe, but worth a try.

Florsheim by Duckie Brown $$: Duckie Brown makes some interesting designs, but I’ve been a fan of his partnership with Florsheim. Pretty good quality stuff and you can find it on sale often.

Charles Tyrwhitt $: Follows very classic designs, and provides pretty high quality shoes. Good news is they often go on sale as well, thus giving them one $ sign (still will cost you over $100 though).

Johnston & Murphy $: Solid entry level brand for shoes just as well. Don’t expect these to compete with most of the above brands though.

There you go! Get yourself a pair of dress shoes. They are investment pieces, so I’ll say this again… they’re worth the extra buck or two.