And my tenth article is going to be about my favourite topic.
No, that is not my floor – that is actually the bedroom of a sapeur .If you don’t know what that is, they are a group of people in DR Congo that dress up in fancy suits as after-work leisure activities. I used to think owning 18 pairs of shoes is excessive: Apparently not.
This collection of shoes is far greater than one a university student could afford. In my opinion, footwear under £25 should not be considered as a pair of proper shoes. That includes most of the flip-flops out there, Toms and Crocs. You shouldn’t really be wearing those anyway.
That means you will have to make your choice of shoes very carefully; as a young male, you have limited funds, finite amount of space, and pressure from various societal norms, which judge you mercilessly if you possess one too many pairs of footwear. You have to make your shoes count.
First, go classic.
Classics are never wrong. Of course, there are new classics, and some fantastic old classics, but they are always a safe choice as long as they are recognisable. Here is a brief list of classic shoes that should make it to your collection:
Famous skate shoes including Vans Era 59, Supra Skytop and Nike Blazer Mid (of course, you can also play basketball in these bad boys): they are simply effortless to wear. Yes, they do sometimes come in funny colours and patterns, but in my opinion, they are probably not the ones you want to invest in if you want them to last. We will discuss more about that below.
The new wave of Nike Air Max, Reebok Classic Utility, New Balance 999 and Adidas ZX700 are also easy to wear, but in totally different ways. I cannot remember when this whole vintage renaissance came by, but I can tell that they often come in funny colours (90s, get it), and I think they are actually the ones you want to get if you want to have fun. Again, we will expand on that later.
Nothing is more iconic than a pair of Clarks Originals Desert Boot. Designed in 1949 and initially made for off-duty military officers, the suede footwear has risen to prominence over the years. Suitable for all seasons and easy to style, it has been reproduced by many high street retailers and fashion brands.
Both of acquired tastes, Red Wing Classic 6’ and Dr Martens 1460 are stuff of wonders. Designed in 1907 and 1945 respectively, they have transformed from steelworker and mailman footwear to recognised icons. That is of course especially true for the latter as they were affiliated with the skinhead movement, which spread like wildfire across Western Europe.
There are many more I have not mentioned: such as Onitsuka Tiger, Adidas Gazelle, Sebago to name a few. Dress shoes are also not in here; we can come back to that in five years, when we can afford a good pair of Alden, Churches and a shoe tree for each of them.
And yes, I know, Converse is not up there. I just never really felt the same about them after everyone went through the phase of drawing on their white All-Stars.
Now you’ve got your shoes at the ready, you have to learn to style wisely with your shoes. It is easier said than done, and the age of casual/comfort chic is gone and in fact, it never existed.
Reveal your shoes, by all means. You don’t want to let you trousers or jeans cover half of your Red Wing, which you have purchased for over £200. If you are wearing skinny stretch jeans, it is easy, but even if you aren’t, it is still a no-brainer: roll them up. Levi’s 511 are not quite the skinny chinos, but when rolled, the inner seams are surprisingly glamorous. Remember the selvadge denim I once talked about? Same story. Cuff jeans have their haters, but they are best for showing off your new NBs.
Socks, or whether they should be there at all, is nonetheless a tricky one. Much like your pants, they don’t often go on display, but once the jeans got rolled up it is a totally different ball game. The tacit rule about socks is let the colour follow that of the shoes’, not that of the bottoms’. For example, a minty pair of Nike Blazers go with emerald socks, if not neutral coloured ones, like grey.
But for trainers in general, leaving the socks out would be ideal. Your skin colour should fare well in joining the colour of your shoes with that of your bottoms; for when one is wearing boots, socks would provide another edge – and it is advisable to fold the socks in order to give them shape and character.
Eventually, let your shoes shape your wardrobe. As mentioned earlier, skate shoes and retro trainers are cool in different ways – and your preference would define the dynamic of your wardrobe. Skate shoes – most come with relatively less distinctive colour options – are complimentary to the rest of the outfit; on the other hand, Air Max and the likes are designed with more outstanding colour details and they function as the centrepiece of the outfit, thus you should fully exploit that.
In simpler words, when you are wearing colourful kicks, let them take the lead and keep other things as simple as possible. One vivid example is the trend of black leggings with trainers amongst girls in Exeter: as much as it is under scrutiny, it is probably the best way to wear them. Slowly, your collection of clothes would match up seamlessly with your kicks, just like the way it should be: no matter whether you turn out to be a NB man, an Airmax follower or a desert boot fanatic, you are going to be cool.
by Justin Chan, Razz Fashion Correspondent