By : Juhi Bansal
People may not judge a book by its cover but you may definitely be judged by the shoes you are wearing. Especially when you’ve seemingly spent a fortune on your attire but missed out on according the same favour to the footwear. Or, if you did manage to buy a pricey pair, it’s unpolished and scuffed-my advice, you may want to relook at your collection and their upkeep.
Now, what you must understand is while women are spoilt for choices (we have a hundred types of heels and our colour palette goes much much beyond the dozen or so colours you know about), men have their tasks cut out for them. While the style and colour range for men’s footwear is slowly expanding (we do love a man who experiments!), if you get a few basics right and stock your shoe-rack accordingly, you are set for years.
There are two basic categories in men’s footwear- lace-ups and slip-ons. The constituents of each of the two categories are many with a slight change here and there. I’ll try and introduce the most basic and commonly available/useful types to you. If you would like more details, please feel free to write in to me personally.
For the time being I will exclude Sneakers from the list and only discuss the most basic formal and semi-formal lace-up shoes with you.
This is as high as you can go on the formal-ness scale in shoes for men. They are perfect for your extra formal office setting and client meetings. They normally come with a toe-cap and have eyelets caps stitched inside the vamp so only plain holes are visible from the outside. I would advise against wearing them with jeans or semi-formals very frequently.
Fun Fact: Balmorals are nothing but Oxfords in the US
Some confuse them with Oxfords but they are definitely not the same. The difference lies in the placement of the eye-let for the lace. The eyelets are stitched above the vamp and you can see the flaps. They may or may not come with toe-caps. These are much less formal than the Oxfords but may still be good for everyday office wear especially if it’s not a very formal environment.
Fun Fact: Bluchers and Gibsons are other names for Derby
Again they are often confused with Oxfords but they are semi-formal at best. Brogues are differentiated by the etchings or perforation on the toe cap. They may not be a good weekday wear at work but are definitely worth the investment for weekend work attire and even otherwise. The designs and colours that Brogues come in these days make them one of my favourite pair of men’s shoes available. Brogues are available in various styles like Oxfords, Derbys and even Hybrids. More on it later!
Fun Fact: Depending on the etching and perforations on the toe-caps, Brogues can be Wingtips, full, semi, quarter and Adelaide! Phew!!
Slip-Ons are generally considered semi-formal but more and more enterprising men wear them with formal suits as easily as with jeans.
A monk shoe is a style of shoe with no lacing, closed by a buckle and strap.
It is a moderately formal shoe: less formal than an Oxford but more so than a Derby. It is fast gaining acceptance in business settings. It is available in single and double straps. They go very well with semi-formal attire as well specially the Brogue styles but they may turn out be a little overwhelming for first timers.
These are the only dress shoes you can dare to wear without socks and not look over pretentious. They come in various styles like tassels, plain toe or penny. There was a time when Loafers were considered blasphemy if you wore them to work but with the introduction of less chunkier and slimmer versions, they are becoming a favourite across board rooms.
They are mostly popular in suede and are out and out casual. They go well with jeans, shorts, cargoes etc. Moccasins are available in a plethora of colours and are mostly slip-ons but sometimes come with “show” laces.
Wow! Was that confusing? I don’t blame you! My head’s spinning too with the information overdose :). More than that, I am sure you are confused as to how many shoes you need to stock up to be called “well-dressed”. Worry not guys! The next edition will have a list of five must have shoes compiled specially for Indian men. Once you get the hang of it, you can go ahead and compete with your better halves for some shoe closet space 🙂
Stay Handsome 😉