A reader over at my tumblr asked…“Speaking of shoes, I don't see you wearing many lace-up shoes. (other than white bucks) Is it because you don't hang with the suits? I gather from many of your comments that you are often the most dressed up guy in the room- and that usually means you are That Guy With That Thing Around His Neck. But, if you were in serious banking or, God forbid, law or finance, would you wear oxfords, wingtips, captoes- blucher or otherwise? Special bonus question: where do you stand on wholecuts?” So I decided to answer the question over here.
Lace-ups? Your observation is correct. They aren’t a huge part of my lineup anymore mostly because suits are such a rare part of my kit these days. The classic Brooks Brethren wingtip above is indeed just that--classic. But it isn't relevant to me anymore. And when I do wear suits, monk straps seem to be adequate. Suits in general and the dressiest most elegant versions especially, might deserve a dressier shoe. Trust me, I know the rules and at one time in my life I used to abide by them rather faithfully. I’m on the record having posited that the world, sartorially and deportment-wise, is already at the bottom of the slippery-ass slope. So when I put on a pair of not-dressy-enough monk strap shoes with a suit, unfortunately, I am by default, better dressed and shod than 89.3783% of humanity. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not better than or earlier in the queue for heaven than 89.3783% of humanity. I come in at about 47.8765% on the former and 22.2232% on the latter. (We don’t round our numbers here. Shut up.)
And yes, I am usually "The Guy With That Thing Around His Neck."
I worked for a very strict and culturally rigid pharma organization for thirteen years. And during those years it would have been career suicide to wear 90% of what I swath and shod in today. My work wardrobe was suits only—no sportcoats, white or blue solid dress shirts, maybe a basic stripe thrown in if my most recent performance review was stellar. And shoe-wise, I wore two lace-up variations exclusively...all-day every-day--for thirteen years. The black cap-toe Allen Edmonds example above represents what was on my feet probably four days a week for thirteen years. Maybe that’s why I have an aversion to black shoes today.
When I was away from the Corporate Colon in New Jersey or Basel, either working in the field or working out of one of the regional offices, the most ambitious I’d ever get, shodding-wise would be a suede cap-toe with a bit of punching/brogueing similar to the above. I’ve often said of my corporate years, before the business casual boondoggle, that I was one of the best dressed guys you’d ever see, Monday through Friday and at best on the weekends…Preppy Homeless. And it was true. After being cinched up...suiting swathed and cap-toed all week, I’d have on a pair of beat-to-shit khakis, Alden tassels or Bean bluchers—no socks of course unless it was snowing…a popped collar knit shirt in the summer or a Shetland crewneck sweater in the winter. Underneath it all however, was always LaPerla.
I’m not anti-lace-ups per se but it seems that in our slovenly world and in my now more casual phase, monk straps are my alternative to a slip-on. But here’s a bit of an update. Be patient and I’ll let you peek at something…probably mid-October. The boys at Cleverley are working on a mongrelized two-eyelet lace up for me. I’d ask that you “picture this” but a healthy mind probably can’t. The shoe above? That’s an Edward Green classic that I literally wore till it could no longer be refurbished—recrafted—resurrected—resuscitated or re-anythinged.
So I’ve re-imagined my old Edward Green shoe but with fuzzy mongrelizations that are gonna make most traditionalists harrumph and cause more ardent devotees and adherents to hurl. Instead of brown suede I’ve opted for a suede color that has slightly more yellow in it than the tobacco or snuff colors that are so beautiful and therefore so ubiquitous. The Cleverley name on the swatch I selected is Brass. To further bastardize standard time-tested models and shapes and colors, I’ve requested an Algonquin split-toe, raised stitching, Cleverley suspiciously square-ish toe, Dainite bottomed assemblage to finish this monkey off. Oh, and with tassels on the laces of course. Picture the Edward Green Leffot shoe above but with the aforementioned tweaks. That’s the best I can do to create a remotely relevant example of how to help your normal mind get a read on what my beautiful mind has con-shod-ulized. Shut up…at least for now. You can howl at me in October when I show you the mess-in-progress.
And I was asked about wholecuts. Bottom line…they are tricky. The very thing that defines the shoe also sets the stage for its rapid…and I mean Astroglide rapid descent down the slippery slope towards Pimp-Disco. Wholecut above? ADG no likey.
The wholecut paucity of line…the sports car prototype sleekness of design are just two things top of my mind that stand me in awe, yet on the cusp of ugh. And any shoe maker will tell you that the skills involved in making a wholecut properly is a high calling. Go here to see evidence of what I speak. Wholecut above? ADG could probably grow to likey. If you gave it to me.
But man oh man…wholecut slippers? Loafers? It’s a whole ‘nother fuzzy thang. Go here to see The ShoeSnob’s post that offers a nice representation of ‘em. If you can’t see art and God and beauty in the manifestation above, I feel sorry for you. And so does Gaziano and Girling, the inceptors and creators of this stronger than nine-rows-of-spring-onions example.
I’m broke. Seriously. But in doing some gandering around for examples to augment this story, I’ve happened upon the Bamford by Edward Green pictured above, courtesy of Leffot. And I think I'm gonna have to Bam!
Folks, this is bigger than me…bigger than all of us. This is girlie-slipper-Belgians-ADG fuzzy all to be damned. And how would I wear it? Just like the proprietor of Leffot is preening it above…but without the Sandra Dee jean cuff. Oh, and I’d wear it with Marcoliani socks from Will or Kabbaz and gray flannel trousers or linen togs with no socks. Hell, if I can ever get Roxanne Burgess back over here, I’d wear the darn things nekkid.
When I finish this post I’m gonna cull the requisite number of antique lead soldiers from my shelf, arrange a sale to my go to collector-buyer that I swap such goods with, and take the dosh to Sky Valet and commission the Bamford today—before I go and get my former daughter LFG from dance. But what hide? Have you ever seen the Edward Green swatch book? I only have a zillion choices. Help me. Would you go with suede? EG only has fifty colors. What about shell cordovan? Talk to me.
Onward. Broke. Bespoke. And shod all to be damned…but only in Belgians this morning. ADG II and soon, but for only a night; the only thing that makes my heart come back alive, one Miss LFG.