I had always read that the first thing a woman notices about a man is his shoes. It wasn’t until my own significant other confirmed this that I actually believed it.
“If you’re wearing white Jordans, you better look and act the part.”
As someone that spends three days per week on a college campus, I see hundreds – if not thousands – of different people each day. Most people don’t take pride in their appearnce, which is unfortunate, as a college education is something to be taken seriously. There are a few people who attempt to make an effort in presenting themselves well. However, the quickest way to ruin an outfit is by wearing the entirely wrong footwear. Covering your feet with the appropriate shoes is the best way to improve your entire look, so here are a few basic pointers:
1. Gym shoes belong in the gym – that’s about it. A few weeks ago, I saw I student wearing a blazer and jeans with New Balance running shoes. I don’t care how comfortable you are in them, if you’re wearing the wrong shoes in the wrong context, it will ruin your entire get-up.
2. Match your shoes to the rest of your clothes. I will almost always advocate brown (or other colors) over black dress shoes – black is too played out (and often entirely too formal). Stick with brown unless the rest of your outfit is predominately black.
3. Familiarize yourself with different types of shoes. There is nothing more masculine and demonstrative of confidence than a guy who not only looks good, but knows he looks good, and is comfortable in what he’s wearing. And since shoes are the first thing a woman notices about a man, it is important to know your different types, as well as when to wear them. Each shoe severs its own purpose, and should be worn accordingly.
- Boat shoes (Sperry, Sebago, Dockers) have roots in boating and marine activities, and are regarded as one of the most casual loafer-style shoes. Wear them with just about anything, except a suit. As any fraternity guy can tell you, you simply don’t wear socks with these shoes. If they begin to smell (which they will), put them in a grocery bag and store in your freezer overnight. This will kill the bacteria which causes the odor, and your shoes will be good to go (although probably cold).
- Oxfords/Wingtips/Brogues (Bass, Allen Edmonds, Florsheim) can be worn with just about anything, from jeans to suits. From suede to full grain leather, wearing these is a great way to dress up any outfit and set yourself apart from the guys rocking their running shoes with their jeans.
- Driving moccasins (Aldo, Sperry, Ralph Lauren) were designed for driving a car, as their name implies. If you look at the bottom, you can see how the sole is broken up into individual pads which are designed to give the driver more feeling for the pedals. These look great with shorts in the summer, and depending on the size of the shoe, go well with khakis and jeans. Like boat shoes, these are not meant to be worn with socks, and the same treatment method can be used to get rid of odors.
- Loafers (Bass, Allen Edmonds) were once considered too casual for office wear, but are now a staple in the wardrobes of many corporate employees. They’re a great for both work wear and casual attire. Putting the penny in the tongue is optional.
- Boots – If you live in an area where snow is common throughout the winter, having a study pair of boots is invaluable in getting through the season. Look into Frye and Red Wings (Iron Rangers are a good start) – they carry a somewhat hefty price tag, but they’ll last forever and only improve with age.
4. No white dress shoes, under any circumstances. For one, they get dirty very easily. Two, they only look good if you’re a Cuban drug lord by the name of Tony Montana, or one of those clowns from Jersey Shore.
5. Regarding socks – they’re important in most cases, but in others you can do without them. I typically recommend wearing them based on your outfit as a whole. Job interview? Definitely. Dressing casual? No. And definitely not with Sperrys. If your shoes start to smell, wrap them in a plastic grocery bag and throw them in the freezer over night. When you take them out the following morning, they’ll be fine, albiet a little frozen. However, when colder weather arrives, socks are a great way to add some individuality to what you’re wearing. Target and Gap have some interestingly colored and patterned socks that are usually inexpensive. Pick up a few pairs next time you’re there.
There’s a reason the saying goes, “G’d up from the feet up.” Your shoes are the foundation upon which you stand, and looking good starts from the ground up.