Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(Oxy)moronic Dressing

Like so many things in life, dressing well requires an understanding of the big picture, the reasons for wearing the things we wear. If you lose sight of the sartorial message you're trying to send, you will ultimately look foolish. This, for example, is why wearing socks and sandals looks ridiculous. The entire point of wearing sandals is to enjoy socklessness, so why the hell would you wear socks with them? All you end up doing is demonstrating that you've completely missed the point. It's a sartorial oxymoron.

I witnessed a similar situation a few days ago when I saw a man wearing a black peacoat, oversized charcoal grey pleated dress pants, and a pair of black Adidas Sambas. Sadly, this guy had no idea what the hell he was doing and looked like a retarded man-child as a result. Forget about the fact that his clothes fit him like hell; he was wearing dress pants and sneakers, which completely dilutes the meaning of both.

I believe it was back in 2009 when GQ openly endorsed wearing suits with sneakers. In their defense, they only gave the green light to sneakers with minimal detailing and slim proportions, but I still think the advice was misguided and overly trendy. This was one of the first times I'd ever read the magazine and disagreed with the sartorial advice it's offered, and seeing it in action (though the execution was particularly poor) made me assess why I think it looks so foolish. Suits are a modern Western man's way of dressing up, and sneakers are a modern Western man's way of dressing down. While this blending of the high and the low can sometimes work (dress shoes with certain jeans, button-down collar shirts with some suits), pairing sneakers with a suit just looks silly, no matter how cute your girlfriend thinks the guy from Entourage (pictured above) is. If you want your feet to be comfortable, finding comfortable dress shoes is totally doable if you, you know, try on more than one pair. If you want to take some of the stuffiness out of the suit, I suggest that you either:

a) ditch the tie, or
b) consider wearing something besides a fucking suit.

Remember, this suits-with-sneakers trend is just that: a trend. It'll be gone sooner than we know it, and you don't want to be the guy reworking his whole wardrobe just because GQ told you to.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Thing About Suede

As far as spring footwear goes, you can't really beat a well-worn pair of light-colored suede shoes. Also known as "reverse-calf," suede is actually a type of leather made from the underside of the calf's skin (hence the aforementioned term), the right style can dress up or down very easily. Casually they look fantastic with khakis or jeans, while the Duke of Windsor himself was the man who popularized wearing chocolate suede shoes with a grey suit, a look that's still regarded as smart, as evidenced by Prince Charles in the photo above. Additionally, the material is extremely pliable, meaning you spend less time breaking them in and more time enjoying comfortable, good-looking shoes.

As you may already know, however, suede is a delicate material. In a rare instance of poor planning on my part, I was caught in the rain this morning wearing my light brown suede bluchers. All it took was walking a total of seven or so city blocks before they got soaked, and I was pissed at myself for allowing such a thing to happen. Here's what I did to (successfully) bring my babies back from the dead:

1. Spray those jawns. Many shoe stores offer protectant sprays on the cheap. They're not bullshitting you when they try to sell you on it, so pick some up and spray your suedes before wearing them, and then periodically after that.

2. If they get wet, let them air-dry. Do NOT set them next to a heater or something like that to try and speed up the process. It'll do more harm than good. Keeping shoe trees inside them will help them dry even better.

3. Use a suede brush to restore the nap. Once the shoes dry, they'll still be spotted. Most water spots can be removed using a suede brush; try it in a couple of different directions for thoroughness and you should be good. Remember, though, that they won't look brand new after doing this; once suede is worn, it starts to look, well, worn, and there's nothing bad about it. It's just the character of the material, and if you get them stained or wet, you're just gonna have to learn to love it.

4. Don't get caught wearing them in the rain again, you dumbass. If they get seriously stained and you can't do anything about it yourself, drop them off at a reputable cobbler and have them cleaned professionally.

Next time it's warm enough, try out a pair of suede shoes with khakis, a polo, and no socks. You'll look good as a result of this alone, and if your shoes are worn in but cleaned, you'll have achieved summertime baller status.