Saturday, February 7, 2009

Belgian Shoes: Man-Up

As one person so aptly said about Belgians….

“The brilliance of the shoes was how they resembled a simple pair of penny loafers, but instead of a slit to hold Lincoln's copper likeness; there was a tiny leather bow. So elegant, so correct, and so very desirable.”

I still have my Bass Weejuns …penny loafers from college. Two pairs actually. The standard brown pair that everyone had as well as the coveted navy blue Weejuns. (You don’t remember navy blue Weejuns and I’m sure you’d argue whether or not they were ever coveted by anyone) The navy blue ones were the sh_t when I was in undergrad….amidst the Preppy resurgence of the late 70’s-early 80’s. So, I suppose that I’ve always had an appetite for loafers…they are the man’s no brainer shoe right? I wear every version of them….Alden variations being the prevailing choice these days.

I also suspect that part of my affinity for “go to hell” clothes comes from living in a southern fraternity house …four years of blurry nirvana. We were obnoxious in most ways but especially in that southern preppy madras-seersucker kinda way. My confidence in wearing GTH clothes…patch madras pants... and navy blue Weejuns was well entrenched before I emerged from my teens.

Now I’m not saying that Belgian Loafers are necessarily GTH shoes. What I would posit is that if you think them too effeminate…if you feel tentative about wearing them…then don’t buy them. You have to have a healthy dose of don’t give a sh_t to wear them with the elan and confidence that should accompany them. I love ‘em and wear the heck out of ‘em year around…comfy wool socks and Belgians in the winter and sockless during the summer. I can also wear Stubbs and Wootons while voraciously remaining inextricably hooked on the opposite sex.

I read a few posts from somewhere a few years ago where guys were kinda checking in with one another about whether or not to buy Belgians and/or how and when to wear them. The posts included the predictable responses of… “I wear them as house shoes….I have black ones that I wear with a dinner jacket” …etc. Then there was a guy who said that the little bows were too effeminate so he removed them with nail clippers! Geez…spend close to four hundred bucks for a pair of Belgians and then perform some kind of “reverse neutering” on them? … As if THAT’s gonna make them more of an Alpha Male’s shoe. If you are that kinda guy…just take a pass on the option of being shod in Belgians.

Belgian Shoes…like a bowl of biscuit batter in the South or a hanky about to be inserted into a breast pocket …can smell fear a mile away. They all have strong characteristics that must be dealt with confidently. You’ve gotta step up to all three with the same approach…treat ‘em like you own the hell out of ‘em…let ‘em know who’s boss…handle them with strength and aggression or the outcome will be embarrassing. They’ll walk all over you.