You Can Judge a Man by His Shoes
They reveal whether he takes pride in the little things. If he throws on a nice suit and pairs it with cheap, clunky lace-ups, he’s not what you’d call a detail man. And if he leaves his pricey wingtips scuffed and unpolished, he may not be the closer you’re looking for.
There are numerous styles of shoes out there, but what’s great about being a man is that you can do perfectly well by sticking with just a few. You don’t need to maintain some Carrie Bradshaw–esque obsession about the latest and coolest. If you invest in a handful of sensible (and stylish) pairs and take care of them, you’ll be set for years. You just need to take that first step.
1. Don’t Be So Damn Square
Before we start talking about styles of shoes, let’s talk shape. If you’re still walking around in square-toe, rubber-soled lace-ups—the kind you buy on the cheap and that make you look like you’ve got platypus feet—grab them from your closet and toss them.
Seriously. your shoes should be as streamlined as the rest of your wardrobe. That means a slim contour (but not painfully skinny) and a rounded (but not sharp) toe. They’ll look stylish, tasteful, and masculine. And that’s all you can ask for.
2. Leather Soles? We Like ‘Em Extra Chunky
Some guys think leather soles mean hard and uncomfortable. Not true. If the shoes are well- made, they’ll mold to your feet and serve you just fine. True, they won’t be as cushiony as a pair of New Balances, but if you want real dress shoes, you want leather soles. Period. Now you’ve got two choices: There are those slim, contoured kinds that exude elegance and go great with a luxurious custom suit. And then there are the heftier lace-ups with chunkier soles. They’re what we show a ton of in the magazine these days. They go great with skinny jeans or trim-cut suits. And if you take care of them (see number 7), they’ll last you a lifetime.
3. Join the Rubber Revolution
Let’s say you’re insistent on extra padding for your lace-ups. The good news is that there are now plenty of stylish, wonderfully made dress shoes with full rubber soles, or at least rubber inlays. They’re great for crappy weather and for comfort. But keep in mind that once full rubber soles wear down, that’s it for them. Replacing the heels (or protecting them with taps) isn’t a viable option as it is with leather-soled shoes.
GQ design director Fred Woodward on how to do it yourself (better)
There was a shoeshine man who used to make the rounds at 745 Fifth Avenue, the building where I worked my first year in New York. He was fond of saying that a true gentleman didn’t feel properly dressed unless his shoes were freshly shined every morning. I always liked the sound of that—even if it did feel more than a little self-serving—but after he borrowed $50 from me (and countless other soft touches throughout the building), never to be seen again, I decided that shining my own shoes once a week was gentleman enough.
5. Lose the Laces, Gain Some Style
“The penny loafer’s got a fusty reputation, but so many designers these days are doing it in this modern, streamlined shape; instead of making your feet look stubby,a loafer by Bass or Prada will actually make them look longer. And a black penny loafer takes on the character of any outfit—when you’re in a business suit, it’s formal; when you’re in a polo and jeans, it’s casual. Consider it the perfect in-between when you don’t feel like putting on a pair of sneakers or dressy lace-ups.”—Jim Moore, GQ creative director
6. The Sneakers That Suit You
Pairing sneakers with a suit is a move we love and a smart way to reinvent a suit you already own. But you do need to tread carefully. Consider the following advice.
• Unless you are Kanye West, stick with no-frills sneakers in muted colors—black, gray, white, etc. If worn correctly, they’ll take off more years than Botox.
• This isn’t a conventional nine- to-five look. So go with a slim suit (cropped relatively short) or a loose-and-easy one. Just not your basic business suit.
• Finally, low-tops, please. High-tops are for ballers and serious fashion junkies.
7. Sock It to ‘Em
If you’re sitting at your desk reading this, stop for a second and cross your right leg over your left. When your pant leg rides up, exposing some dress sock, ask yourself this: Do you like what you see? You should. Your socks should have as much personality as—if not more than—the rest of your outfit. You’ve got two ways to go.
8. Show Some Ankle
Going sockless is a quick way to invigorate everything from a trim suit to short-cropped khakis. But there’s a sensible way to pull it off. Do you really want to walk around all day not wearing socks with nice leather shoes? Thought so. Besides talcum powder, consider loafer socks—they’re so low-cut they’re essentially invisible. We like the ones from Bananarepublic.com. Buy a bunch and wear them all summer long