The Shoe Snob Blog

April 5, 2010

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5 Rules For Buying Men’s Dress Shoes

As a heads up to those that don’t know what to look for when getting a pair of dress shoes I thought that I would put a list together of what DEFINITELY not to do, but also paired with options that would be more favorable. There are certain rules to adhere to, in order to maintain a healthy and respectable look, when it comes to purchasing dress shoes especially when considering all of the factors that play into it. Here are my five rules of what to do and what not to:

1. Leather Quality

What Not To Do: Never, ever buy that high-gloss leather that looks like patent but is not. You will know the one that I am referring to if you touch it and it feels like plastic and usually it is pretty close to being that. You see Kenneth Cole and brands of that price point using this type of material and it is crap. It wrinkles very easily and stays that way forever and also cracks very easily due to it’s lack of quality and the fact that it is super rigid. Another thing to look out for are leathers that smell like chemicals. The only things a leather should smell like are it’s own aromas or the polish that the people at the factory gave it before it was shipped to the distributor.

What To Do: First thing is: always ask if you are not sure of anything! But what you should look for in a superb leather is something that is supple yet firm. A French calfskin is usually the most popular with the upper end shoe brands and is so because of its durability but also of it’s quality to feel like silk on your feet after broken in. Stiffer leathers like cordovan and that of Church’s leather also tend to be of higher quality but will definitely be much harder to break in but once they are you can believe that you will have a shoe that you feel completely supported in.

What To Know: Leathers are not indestructible!! They will crease and will crack if you do not treat them properly. NO LEATHER IS WRINKLE FREE!!! IS YOUR SKIN???? NO!!!! Use shoetrees and get regular shines or polish them yourself once every other week.

2. Heels

What Not To Do:Unless you are below 5 feet tall you should not be wearing heels that are much higher than 3cm or 1.2in. You will look like you are wearing boots and it just doesn’t correlate with the look of dress shoes, it just throws them way off. If you are unsure of how to tell take a measuring tape with you but in all honesty, it’s not hard to see the difference and below I will post two pictures of what is right and what is wrong.

                                                               too high by Saion

                                          just right heel height by Anthony Delos

While the shoe on the top is still a beautiful shoe is just looks funny to me and would look even funnier on someone who was wearing them with a suit. While it’s only a slight difference in terms of measurement, it’s difference on the eye is immense.

3. Toe Shapes

What Not To Do: Anything too extreme is just not attractive by any means. A shoe should never be too square, too pointy or too round. It just doesn’t look good and I know I have said this before and believe me I will say it again because it just doesn’t seem to get through. Leave the corner kickers to the elves, the guillotine-toed shoes to the douche bags and the shoes that have a toe that looks like a perfect semi-circle to the old people with pancake feet. (Refer to Our Toe Choices-What A Shame)

What To Do: Avoid anything super symmetrical and choose something that has elegant curves that compliment each other to create a shoe that resembles the silhouette of your foot. However, since some of our feet are a little blunt looking, a little elongation in your shoe’s toe box never hurts as long as it is not too extreme. (Perfect example below by Gaziano & Girling)

4. Silhouettes

What Not To Do: Pair shoes and suits that do not compliment each other. What I mean by that is: don’t buy shoes that are slim looking but you tend to wear suits that are a little more baggy looking i.e. not slim fit. And vice versa, do not buy thick ass shoes with bulky ass soles if you are someone who always wears skinny suits. I know this was a Thom Browne look but to me it is just silly looking, you might as well buy a Neil Barrett suit and strap some bricks on your feet if you like this look but to me it is just too disproportionate and is not eye catching nor elegant. But please, more than that, DO NOT wear baggy suits with sleek shoes, it just looks terrible and better yet just don’t buy baggy suits, wearing baggy things should have ended for you at 20. Not saying wear things that are only slim looking but wear things that actually fit the silhouette of your body and feet and keep them correlating with each other; slim suits with slim silhouette shoes and more gracious suits with heavier looking shoes.

What To Do: Get a second opinion from a trusted expert if you can’t fathom what I am telling you! Here is an image of a good makeover, take notes!

5. Take Good Advice

What Not To Do: If you are out of college and at the point where you need to start making decisions for yourself then what you should definitely not do when looking for dress shoes is ask your father what he thinks, especially if he is wearing baggy suits, old man loafers and is the type that has worn the dark suit with black shoes for 30 years! The only exceptions to getting his advice if he has a tailor (or at least has his suits altered more than at the sleeve and cuff when buying suits), wears brown shoes with suits and thus plays the part of a smartly dressed individual. Other than that, take his money but leave him at home!! While I am sure that there are many stylish fathers out there, my issue is in having seen far too many times young men shop with their fathers and the father is trying to turn his son into a mirrored version of himself (when the father is not stylish). It’s sad and we will never grow more stylish as men if we are just emulating our father’s dated style sense, especially when it comes to the more conservative old man that still believes “no brown in town.”

What To Do: Find the most stylish looking person in the store and ask their advice!!!

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