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A word on footwear (a/k/a you really don't NEED black cap-toed balmorals)

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    A word on footwear (a/k/a you really don't NEED black cap-toed balmorals)

    I am a 36-year old attorney. I work at an amlaw 100 law firm, and have been at this firm for over 10 years. I recently "discovered" men's style. I also discovered all of the things I had been doing wrong, which I will probably post about in pieces. One prior error related to footwear-bicycle toe slip on dress shoes, square toes Balmoral shoes for court appearances, etc. I grew up in a blue collar family, and never learned about this stuff before starting in a business casual office. And most people just don't know how to dress. So my eyes were opened recently, and I went down the rabbit hole.

    I have since vastly improved my footwear with four pair of allen edmonds shoes, purchased in this order: bourbon MacGregor longwings, dark chili daltons, black Jefferson wingtip oxfords and dark brown strands. I just love me some brogueing I guess. But one piece of advice I kept getting when visiting forums, explaining my wardrobe and career (depositions and court multiple times per week) was that I absolutely MUST have plain black cap toes or punch caps (such as AE Park Ave or Fifth Ave) for serious meetings, court and funerals. Every time I'd ask "what shoes should I get next" I would get at least one response along the lines of "well, you know you need cap toed oxfords...." Websites on building a shoe wardrobe tell you the same thing. I started to question my choices.

    Well, I am here to say that this is simply not true. Here is why: no one cares if you have wingtips or full brogues or half brogues or plain cap toes as long as (1) they are "dressy" enough (2) they are well-polished and (3) you are otherwise appropriately dressed.

    I have been at depositions and in court in dark brown strands or black wingtip bals with a dozen high level partners from some of the largest law firms in the world, where I was the most junior attorney. I was not even remotely out of place because of my footwear. Quite the opposite. The shoe wear in this instance ran the gamut from beat up tassel loafers to rubber-soled derby shoes to my full brogues. And the best shoes? A kickASS pair of black cordovan wingtip tassel loafers. To put it simply: no one notices.

    Same goes for funerals. Maybe in a long ago age someone would sneer at a well-polished pair of wingtips instead of cap toe bals at a funeral. But in today's day and age NOONE would suggest or even think you somehow disrespected the dead or were otherwise dressed inappropriately if you showed up in a dark suit with a nice pair of black shoes with some brogueing.

    So to you younger lawyers, bankers, etc. out there, know there are options and if you like full brogues, wear them well and don't look back. Just make sure you polish them regularly and have the right style of shoe for your wardrobe. Then walk into that meeting, or courtroom, or deposition, with confidence.

    Then go home and polish them again. Seriously.

    #2
    I've worn my black cap tires once this year, to a fundraiser. I don't think they are necessary at all. They are nice to have just in case. But I wouldn't be caught dead in black dress shoes if the sun is still shining. After dark I'll make the seldom exception.
    My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSs1xkOEoJdPfZ4KRW575qA

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      #3
      I wear my black park avenues occasionally. I just wore them to a black tie event last week, and probably once every couple of weeks with a dark suit. I think they are nice option to have, but maybe not one of your first 5 shoe purchases. I probably should have bought some dark brown oxfords first but I needed some formal shoes.

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        #4
        Based on the "no one cares, you'll look fine" principle. I would argue, that you don't need to spend more than about $120 on shoes. So you don't need AE, Alden, etc. I don't own a single pair from those shoemakers. DSW is where most of my shoes come from, with some from good online deals from Barney's Warehouse. I have a pair of Steve Madden dress chukkas that I stripped and hand dyed myself because I wanted a pair of burgundy chukkas. I rotate and maintain my shoes and they hold up. Additionally, I frequently get compliments on my footwear. Most guys that I train constantly ask me where I buy stuff.

        The point is that, a post telling people what they do and don't "need" or should and shouldn't get misses the purpose of a community like this. A discussion about what a person likes or does not like has more value, in my opinion. It seems that more and more, threads pop up from guys asking self-appointed arbiters of fashion to validate their choices. More topics devolve into "I know you asked about [insert generic/lesser known item here], but what you want is [insert forum favorite brand here]." Style is, and should be, personal (for many reasons). Ideally, one should not tell another what that person "needs."

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by batkins9 View Post
          Based on the "no one cares, you'll look fine" principle. I would argue, that you don't need to spend more than about $120 on shoes. So you don't need AE, Alden, etc. I don't own a single pair from those shoemakers. DSW is where most of my shoes come from, with some from good online deals from Barney's Warehouse. I have a pair of Steve Madden dress chukkas that I stripped and hand dyed myself because I wanted a pair of burgundy chukkas. I rotate and maintain my shoes and they hold up. Additionally, I frequently get compliments on my footwear. Most guys that I train constantly ask me where I buy stuff.

          The point is that, a post telling people what they do and don't "need" or should and shouldn't get misses the purpose of a community like this. A discussion about what a person likes or does not like has more value, in my opinion. It seems that more and more, threads pop up from guys asking self-appointed arbiters of fashion to validate their choices. More topics devolve into "I know you asked about [insert generic/lesser known item here], but what you want is [insert forum favorite brand here]." Style is, and should be, personal (for many reasons). Ideally, one should not tell another what that person "needs."
          He didn't say what you need,though. He said what you don't need. I could come up with a whole laundry list of things you don't need. Need is a strong word. You need pants, a shirt, and shoes. The details are optional.
          My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSs1xkOEoJdPfZ4KRW575qA

          Comment


            #6
            I appreciate the challenge to the traditional ideology that black cap toes are a must. I agree with the OP, that they aren't as necessary as some people have been programmed to think they are. However, I'm still glad that I own a pair of black cap toes because there's a time and place where they make sense for me.

            Originally posted by Midlife crisis View Post
            To put it simply: no one notices.
            While it may be true that most people don't notice, you've just proven that some people notice. Some would argue that these days the general trend is towards paying more attention to attire rather than less (y'know the whole #menswear thing). I think the reason why the traditional rules on footwear have been loosened is more due to the general casual-ification of America.

            Originally posted by Midlife crisis View Post
            as long as (1) they are "dressy" enough
            IMO the busyness of brogueing is inherently less dressy than smooth leather. In a conservative setting, I'd feel more comfortable wearing a dark brown or burgundy captoe rather than a half/full brogue black shoe. But to each his own!

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by thecharlesg View Post
              He didn't say what you need,though. He said what you don't need. I could come up with a whole laundry list of things you don't need. Need is a strong word. You need pants, a shirt, and shoes. The details are optional.
              You should really re-read the first sentence of the second paragraph of your quoted post.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by batkins9 View Post
                You should really re-read the first sentence of the second paragraph of your quoted post.
                You should reread the last sentence of said paragraph. Look, I don't want to get in a pissing match with you. I was just stating that he didn't tell anyone what they needed and making some commentary.
                My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSs1xkOEoJdPfZ4KRW575qA

                Comment


                  #9
                  I've worn my pair of black cap-toe bals twice in the past year. One was for a job interview. The other was because I thought I should give them some love, so I wore them to the office and they felt way too formal. I'm just happy that I was able to get a great deal on them, so it's not a big deal that I don't wear them often.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    This argument involves a whole lot of personal preference. Sure I can get by with rubber sole pleather dress shoes from Payless, but damn I love my (insert nice shoes of choice) and I feel like a million bucks when I wear them. I think personal style is an act of balancing necessity, frugality, and preference. Everybody has a place on that radar plot that they shoot for, and there's nothing wrong with that.

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by batkins9 View Post
                      "Ideally, one should not tell another what that person "needs."
                      Unless that person is your boss! No brown shoes with Navy suits in my office.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by thecharlesg View Post
                        You should reread the last sentence of said paragraph. Look, I don't want to get in a pissing match with you. I was just stating that he didn't tell anyone what they needed and making some commentary.
                        Definitely not telling anyone what to wear or to not wear. My original post was in response to the message I was receiving (sometimes implicit, sometimes explicit) that appropriate dress in a formal business setting in America would require plain cap toed oxfords, and I should own a pair. And I can say from personal experience that that is not the case. If you are more comfortable in plain cap toes, then have at it. But in my experience--in meetings and depositions at the biggest Manhattan firms and in State and Federal courts on cases worth billions-- they are not required and no one will think negatively of you if you wear something that, traditionally speaking, might have been considered slightly less formal.

                        As far as what to spend, I agree that a well taken care of pair of cheaper shoes, in a timeless style, can and do look great.

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                          #13
                          Originally posted by smbixby View Post
                          Unless that person is your boss! No brown shoes with Navy suits in my office.
                          What type of office?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by smbixby View Post
                            Unless that person is your boss! No brown shoes with Navy suits in my office.
                            Huh? Navy and brown are a perfect match.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by julius12 View Post
                              Huh? Navy and brown are a perfect match.
                              I've had older (50+) people with traditional style (meaning plain white shirt, navy suit, and plain cap toe's all the time) question the match. He was not being critical. He just said that he did not understand when that became the style. I raised my foot and showed him how beautiful it looks. He agreed.

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