Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shoes You Don't Just Wear

They say a woman first looks at a man's shoes and is able to tell a lot about him from his footwear. I don't know if this is true or not but I like to assume that it is. Better safe than sorry, right?

Maybe that's part of the reason I like shoes so much. Or maybe it has more to do with the idea of encasing one's feet, not really the prettiest part of the body, in something that's enjoyable to look at.

But it seems nowadays fewer men enjoy shoes; shoes are more or less utilitarian in this day and age. Men: if you're wearing shoes right now or have a pair laying around nearby, take a look at them. Are they pleasing to the eye? Do they make you happy (or as happy as shoes can make someone)? Are they stylish and classy? Hopefully you answered 'yes' to these questions.

If you did, you are one of the lucky few who get a small amount of joy out of wearing good quality, stylish footwear. Why the joy? Because stylish, comfortable, quality-made shoes are so hard to come by anymore. They can stand out from a crowd, if anyone's looking. And that's the point: the things that make nice shoes nice are in the details and will be lost on the average observer. Part of enjoying good footwear is the secret knowledge that your shoes are better than those worn by everyone else. Smug feet.

Check out the pair of shoes below.
They're vintage Stetson (no ties to the hat company) shoes made of alligator leather.

click images to enlarge

Very rare, very well made and a perfect fit for my large feet.

The patterns, colors and textures are something to behold. And they shined up like no other pair of shoes I've seen before, even better than true patent leather. You should have seen them when I first bought them: tossed away, scuffed, horribly creased, dusty, dirty, a price tag stapled through the side. Discarded.

I consider the shoes above to be wearable works of art. They were constructed decades ago by a skilled craftsman using some of the best materials and techniques available. Time, experience, sweat and maybe even some blood went into making them. That is something worth valuing and maintaining.

If a famous piece of artwork like "The Starry Night" is stolen, damaged or lost people around the world would rightfully be aghast. It's the same way with me when a pair of shoes like these are thrown out, left to rot or not cared for.

These aren't shoes you just wear. These are shoes you wear. You don't wear alligator shoes to go to Wal-Mart, you don't throw them on for a trip to the laundromat. You probably don't even want to wear them to church very often. These are special shoes mainly for the special occassions. Like that dinner suit in your closet or those special cufflinks in your drawer: you only break them out to celebrate.
The occasion makes the shoes special and the shoes help make the occasion even more special.

I guess that's why I like nice shoes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

WIW: Plaid

I felt sporty today so I went with an ascot.

It's also Autumn, therefore I decided to wear my red plaid jacket for the first time.

I've been contemplating what to wear with this jacket for quite some time. It's a mid-1960s wool jacket that was most likely half of a suit at one point in time. It's very well made and fits me like a glove but the wild plaid pattern to it doesn't lend itself to coordinating very easily with other pieces. For that reason it's been in my possession for at least a year now and hadn't been worn until today.

click images to enlarge

Paired with gray flannel trousers, brown suede shoes, a pale green shirt, vintage blue and yellow ascot and vintage Hollywood-style fedora, I'm pretty happy with the results.

In the past loud plaid patterns have routinely fallen in and out of favor through the years. The Duke of Windsor, for example, often enjoyed a loud plaid suit as his tartan lounge suit below illustrates (in America tartan is one form of plaid).

And to further emphasize plaid's waxing and waning popularity throughout recent sartorial history, the Duke's tartan lounge suit was originally made in 1897 for his father, George V and then slightly altered for the Duke, who wore it with such success that is helped create a plaid craze in America during the 1950s.

There's nothing wrong with wearing loud plaids as long as the accoutrements compliment without adding to the loudness. At times this can be difficult but if done well it is very rewarding.


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