Shoes are a perilous slope in men’s fashion. Balancing the perfect fit, colour and price has many men avoiding the shoe issue altogether – until it’s too late, snapping up a ‘looks-good-online’ pair of leather lace-ups for a ‘bargain’ price, and when they arrive in the mail the look and plastic smell of the shoes is vile.
For others, horrible shoes have become their forte. Unashamedly rocking square-toed lace-ups to weddings and pleather loafers to summer parties, these men are the worst fashion offenders, often set their in ugly footwear ways. Until now, that is.
The following five men’s shoes need to be extinguished from the daily shoe collection. Identify as an offender? All judgment has been revoked. Just so long as you dispose of the evidence quickly, garbage bag or better yet – flame torch – at the ready. The latter being the best solution, ensuring no other poor fool picks them up, and starts wearing them.
#1 The ‘White Wedding Tapper’
Prolific in the Nineties, the ‘wedding tapper’ still shows its ugly head at today’s wedding celebrations and inner city night clubs that are open mid-week. The white slip on type tends to be the the footwear of choice for wannabe Italian style gents – though we don’t know remember seeing white shoes in Florence this spring at Pitti Uomo.
Sentence the ‘wedding tapper’ to death, along with the gel-spiked Beckham mohawk, and chalk-stripe pants – and that glaringly fake luxury belt buckle that is more bling than style.
Fans of white coloured shoes should look to a tan leather Derby or a sandy-hued suede brogue instead – but with laces and a round toe. White isn’t always wrong, but it’s certainly the hardest dress shoe colour to pull off. So maybe look elsewhere, if you’re not new to having great shoe-game.
#2 The ‘Square-Toe Business’ Shoe
It’s laughable that the ‘square-toe business shoe’ even had a fashionable moment (well, come to think of it the year was 1995 and three-quarter pinstripe shorts and blue-flame wrap around sunnies were also trending). In terms of aesthetic, the square-toe shoe looks like a boat trawler – an oblong body with a blunted end. Even worse, is when ugly shoes are paired with a chic business suit.
While other trends – wide-legged pants, Birkenstocks and rollnecks – have returned for another day the season, the square toe business shoe is easily done and dusted. Unlike the other renaissance items, there’s nothing retro cool or vintage charm about square-toed, anything.
Opt for a double-strap monk or wingtip Derby, the width especially appropriate for the gent who likes a meatier shoe with his business suit.
#3 The ‘Fat Skater’
The ‘fat skater’ shoe should conjure up memories of angst and hating the world. And awkward fashion moments when you had no idea how to dress your pubescent skinny frame. Yes, those teen years. Enter modern times, and the sneaker is experiencing a fashion renaissance. But, not of the ‘fat skater’ shoe kind.
For the sneaker freaker, look to lean and flat silhouettes instead of the ‘fat skater’ shoe, sticking to retro-inspired styles (well before the Nineties) that come in neutral hues such as clean white sneakers, monochrome black or tan.
#4 The ‘Canvas Karate’
A relatively new shoe – when compared to the previous bevy of shoes which hail mostly from the Nineties – the ‘canvas karate’ has fast become the casual shoe of choice for hipsters and hippies. And the odd karate kid.
Practically speaking, these samurai shoes fall apart after a week’s wear (so we’ve witnessed) and with all that canvas, no-sock nonsense, the smell (which we have actually experienced as bystanders) that the ‘canvas karate’ gives out is putrid.
Want a summer kick? Stick to the classier, longer lasting (and far more breathable) boat shoe or leather loafers. And wear a sockette, if you’re inclined to sweat. Please.
#5 The ‘Lad-ish Loafer’
Speaking of loafers, this one’s a doozy. A bogan’s (redneck or chav for our American and British readers) attempt at class, the ‘lad-ish loafer is recognised for its plastic-y leather, Frankenstein stitching and rubbery sole that is supremely unstylish.
It gets around with muscle-tight polos (with the collar popped) and knee-length boardies or cargoes – all making for a dire attempt at summer smart casual.
Look to the classic driving shoe in soft calf leather and minimal stitching. Suede is a sophisticated summer option too, and then play around with colour; bright driving loafers are an easy way to add some spark to neutral-heavy outfit.
Shoes are the first thing people notice at work, in the street and make (or break) your arrival on a dinner date. So choose, and invest, wisely. When making the transition from ugly to nice, buy a few affordable, foolproof dress shoes for men, trying out different silhouettes and shapes before you invest, in the best.
Then, play around with coloured dress shoes and luxury dress boots. The men’s shoe market has so much to offer this season, so there’s no reason to be repping the Nineties anymore. Square-toed, white slip-ons, be gone.