"I don't care about my shoes..."
...was the punch line of a joke I heard in the army but can't remember. Rule eight of shoe care in, Handmade Shoes for Men by Laszlo Vaslo, advises, "If the shoes are not to be worn for an extended period, a thin coating of cream should be applied, a textile bag obtained from the shoemaker, and the shoes placed inside their original box, standing on their soles." I care about my shoes...but not that much.
Despite not creaming, bagging and boxing, my shoes have done pretty well. My only rules are brush shine and shoe trees. Any of those in the window are fine as Selling Shoes. Again, we're not talking personal statement here but a situation where discretion, understatement and local customs are key.
The Brooks Brothers cordovan wing tip in the foreground screams old man or 2o year old hipster. I've mentioned these 25 year old shoes before. They had an overhaul from Alden three years ago and have always been my choice whenever meeting with lawyers. Why? Because they're usually wearing the same shoe. A Brooks salesman I worked with suggested polishing these occasionally with black Kiwi for a deeper cordovan color. It really works.
Next are Purple Label oxfords made by E. Green secured in the Michigan Avenue Polo for half off. They hurt like hell but man do they look good. Consequently, I wear them rarely, briefly and only around magazine editors I pitch stories to. These meetings never last very long.
The side gusseted Poulsen Skones are very much under the radar because they look like normal cap toe shoes until you cross your legs. Keep them a secret... or not. They are the lightest and most comfortable shoes I've ever owned and perfect for standing in the queue at an underwriters box at Lloyd's. Hard to find and expensive when you do but easily worth four pair of Nancy Belgians.
The Monk Strap is from Lobb via the Hermes store in Chicago. Clean, subtle and, I understand from the NYC manager, no longer offered. She thinks it's a classic and one of their better designs -- which is why it's no longer offered. The more I lean about retail, the more I'm convinced it's very much like the army. Popular among side vented museum curators from Nebraska who picked up English accents after a year in London.
The Alden Tassel, or slipper, as they call it in Europe, is the most versatile shoe you can own. You can wear it with anything. Suits, khakis, cords, shorts, even pajamas. They go anywhere and only offend those few who unfairly associate them with northeastern, repp tie, Mercedes station wagon, Ritz cracker, crackers. The Brooks catalog is from 1985. Mine are from 2001. Best worn with terry cloth bathrobe while being interrogated by security in Drake Hotel lobby after halon fire extinguisher is discharged in your room by drunken friends.
The last pair are black calf Allen Edmonds. The last is less clunky than the Alden/Brooks and cheaper too. AE also offers rehab for troubled shoes. How these guys make a shoe in the US for the price they do is a mystery to me. You could do a whole lot worse and most men do thinking AE's are for granddad.
Worn to 1985 job interview with gray suit, white shirt, Courchevel tie and knock off Burberry trench. Was introduced to the receptionist, "This is Carol. She did undergrad at Yale, speaks fluent French and is working on her master's dissertation at Columbia. Where did you say you went to school?"