I've never been a big spender on, or big collector of, shoes. Throughout college and much of grad school, I was a sneakers-and-jeans kind of guy (though at least my New Balances were classic suede throwbacks rather than the Seinfeld or Steve Jobs variety). Even when I wore "nicer" shoes, they were usually a pair of ugly brown square-toe Sketchers or an equally square pair of black dress shoes. At some point I discovered suede chukkas and never looked back. The sheer versatility of chukkas and desert boots makes a big difference.
Anyway, owning chukkas, as well as my efforts to construct a leaner wardrobe, made me wonder: what is technically the lowest number of pairs of shoes a man can get by with? If you think about it, even the style-conscious man with a shoe collection has far fewer pairs than the ladies. We can simply get away with less. Out of curiosity, I decided to try to figure out this number and possibly stick to it. What numbers would you guys come up with? Here's my list for a mid-Atlantic, 4-season climate:
- Slim black round-toe lace-ups (probably cap-toe)
- Brown boots (probably suede chukkas/desert boots)
- Brown loafer (could be drivers, boat shoes, or other loafer)
- Running shoes for running/workouts only
And that's it. Seems severe, but I think an average guy in a temperate climate could get away with four pairs. I know I will catch a lot of heat for lack of brown dress shoes, but if you think about it, black dress shoes will cover gray, navy, and black suits...basically everything but a brown or olive suit, which isn't a necessity for the average office worker or professional. Brown boots, especially suede chukkas, can be dressed up or down as needed, and the loafer comes in for its convenience (and because it is better with shorts than sneakers).
I guess the one weakness in this list is that a suede chukka or DB, while great in 3/4 seasons, might not be so great for cold or snow. I'm biased toward the DB, but I guess you could swap it out for a rugged leather boot, since a good moc or loafer can handle the warm weather needs.
What do you guys think? Are these shoes so versatile that an average guy can get by with 4-5 pairs?
Someone please say 8-10 so I don't feel bad hah. The only Brown I have is a strawfut too :P
I'm going to say this again, toss running shoes and buy some solid sole sneakers or whatever which can be worn casually as well. Anything with all that padding/"shocks" in the heel is bad for your knees running. Also if you're weight training, squats + those knee wrecking shoes is just...bad.(If you say you weight train and don't do squats just because...I keel you!)
Shad0w, I don't know if my collection (7) is considered *lean* but they all seem pretty essential: walnut wingtips, dark brown captoe, black captoe, brown suede chukkas (these 4 all AE), tan suede bucks, boat shoes, brown boots. And I honestly need more pairs of boots.
I guess if you really want to be reasonable and relatively set for any occasion and outfit, I think 8-10 would be a good number. 2 pairs for fall, winter, and Spring/Summer. Plus a pair of black dress and runners. And maybe an extra shoe just for kicks.
I would say a pair of chukkas and dark brown oxfords would be fall-ish. Loafers and a pair of light brown oxfords for spring/summer. Heavy leather boots and maybe a dress boot or chelsea boots for rain in winter. Along with a pair of black dress and runners, I think think those would be good enough for almost every occasion.
Well, based on my own lifestyle, here is the minimum I could do without compromising on versatility:
1 pair black dress shoes (oxfords)
1 pair brown dress/casual shoes (bluchers or wingtips)
1 pair casual boots (chukka or workboot)
1 pair casual sneakers (Chucks)
1 pair water sandals
1 pair hiking shoes
1 pair running shoes
1 pair winter pac boots
So, 8 altogether. 4 if you exclude the shoes geared toward outdoor activities. You can probably get away with fewer depending on what you do. For example, replace the two pairs of dress shoes with one if you don't make a lot of formal appearances, or replace all the athletic shoes with a single pair of hiking shoes or running shoes if your lifestyle is not quite as active. I'm a courtroom litigator-to-be (well... that's not quite true... I already appear in court on a regular basis as a student attorney) and an avid outdoorsman, so I need some heavy lifters in those areas.
The absolute minimum a stylish man would need, in my opinion, is three. One dress shoe, one casual shoe, and one athletic shoe.
1 pair brown dress shoes
1 pair black dress shoes
1 pair casual shoes (chucks for me)
1 pair running shoes
1 pair rainbow sandals (I live on the beach)
And that's it. For a bare minimum. Then go from there. Add a pair of casual boots, then different colored dress shoes, loafers, etc. As long as you have at least 1 pair of shoes for the situations you find yourself in, you should be good to go.
of course now I probably have 20 pairs of shoes which seems ridiculous.
Here in TX with a 7-month summer, here are my essentials:
1. Mid/dark brown brogues or bluchers
2. Casual chukka (Clark's)
3. Suede buck
4. Running shoes
1. Black dress shoes: The only time I would get close to needing black dress shoes is with a charcoal suit for a funeral or formal wedding. My workplace and friend group is so casual that any good-looking dress shoe is suit-worthy. Hence, I'd pick brown brouges/bluchers first, as I'd be able to wear them casually.
2. Sneakers: There are no instances where a suede buck wouldn't be able to take the place of a canvas sneaker.
3. Boots: Texas.