The ultimate men shoe guide according to a Prince.
Our guest author is a German Prince, who has fast cars, good shoes and luxury watches as his hobbies.
One of the oldest premises in men’s good dressing codes is that a good pair of shoes can make a lousy suit look good, while a bad pair will have the exact opposite effect.
Knowing this, the only part remaining to clarify now is...what exactly is a good pair of shoes.
As in most cases, when in doubt, look for the classics. There is little you can do wrong when sticking to it.
Therefore, let’s check here the classic models that are a must in every men’s wardrobe (later we’ll talk about quality).
To begin with, the indisputable king of shoes, the Oxford.
The black cap toe shoe is the indispensable piece every man must-have. It is the after 19:00 mandatory shoe, but that works during the day as well, with grey or blue, plain or striped suits. There is nothing you can do wrong with this classic.
There are some variations of the model, like the whole cut Oxford (constructed from a single piece of leather), but it is an option for when your budget is more favourable to little extravaganzas.
Very close to the Oxford, and also a must-have, is this sportier model to be worn during the day; the Derby (called in the German-speaking area - and more accurately - the Budapester, since it was invented there). The Half Brogue is a close relative as well. As a rule of thumb this shoe is brown, and since the Prince of Wales (later Duke of Windsor) introduced it in the 1920s, in combination with a dark blue suit (to the horror of his father King George V) it has become tremendously fashionable and an acceptable city garment.
The Monk Strap was, according to legend, invented by monks in the 15th century, but for a fact, this model has been for some time a much-liked item by the elegant gentleman in southern Europe, mainly the Italians and French. In recent years the Monk Strap has grown in popularity around the world too. It exists in two variations, with single and double straps, and is wonderfully versatile, since it goes equally well in a formal as well as casual attire.
The Loafer. Introduced to the gentlemen wardrobe by Norwegian students in the early 1900s, who first saw local fishermen using it, and adopted the model immediately because of its comfort, this shoe found its way into the US shortly after. And the rest is history; The Penny loafer has become one of the most liked shoes available, an allrounder that has gone from college kids to Wallstreet and back and can be used with practically everything. But, alas, here is where attention is required…the loafer has suffered such quantity of “interpretations” and alterations that most of them are to be described as abominations. With loafers, again the old premise, stick to the original classic design and nothing else (only exception being; the tassel loafer).
Just to make it very clear, the only acceptable black-tie shoe is out of patent leather, and the most common model these days; the oxford. But for the very confident and courageous among you gents, there is the formal pump, also known as the opera pump. First introduced in the 18th century, it is probably one of the few garments that haven’t changed since being launched almost 300 years ago. They look smart, incredibly sophisticated and elegant.
And since we have weekends and holidays, the elegant man needs his informal shoe wear as well. Here again, …stick to the classics; do not wear strange stuff like Flip-Flops, Sandals, Crocs etc. Car-Shoes, Boat Shoes, Espadrilles and Supergas are all you need.
And last but not least, the slippers (or pantoufles) for your Pajamas. Just because you are home, doesn't mean you can wear Dr Scholl’s or wear only socks.
So, now that we established the Kind of shoe let’s talk about quality. And if you have by now (I really hope so!) decided for the classic shoe, a piece of excellent news, you won’t be needing to worry about fashion anymore because they don’t go out of style. And since they don’t go out of style, you can spend a little more on it, as they will last longer. And here another piece of good news; a more expensive shoe will always look better, always! Because the leather, the sole, the stitching, the finishing are better, and in a shoe you see it. No doubt, a win-win!
Here some good addresses:
But if you want shoes that say you are the boss and that your grandchildren will still wear, these are the places you want to go:
Nota Bene: Scheer and Materna are among the last shoemakers that still do the sole in the old Austro-Hungarian wood-pegged fashion (vs the usual hand welted). A shoe that besides being glorious to look at and to wear, is not to beat in quality. It is already an experience just to visit them.