Thursday, 16 September 2010

Shoes and faux pas

Flickr: Most Comfortable Shoes
I was watching one of those Mary Portas programmes a while ago - you know the ones, retail giant Mary Portas goes and visits a small shop, tells the owner off and they all live happily ever after. She was critiquing some of the outfits people had put together to retail, and one of the things she didn't like was formal shoes with jeans.

I do agree - but only up to a point. I couldn't help noticing when I was browsing through brogues on  that many of the tan brogues were being modeled with jeans. And they looked damned good and of course I'm going to go and get some.

I'll happily wear them with a suit - tie-less, open shirted blue suits actually look more relaxed and less formal with brown shoes - and of course with jeans. Try it, mix and match a bit - you can look pretty good without going all mid-life crisis. Says the bloke who's started a style blog at 45, I know. Black brogues or semi-brogues like the ones in the picture are less successful with the informal approach I find - well polished with a suit and tie combo and I feel like a million dollars (if I'd spent it on inexpensive clothes and got lots of change).

The only snag is that the whole ensemble looks better with a matching belt and this is where the brown brogue thing can come a bit unstuck. All the style mags and catalogues tell you to buy matching belts and shoes to co-ordinate the look, but when I searched the My-Wardrobe site for matching belts to go with the tan brogues, you've guessed it, I came away empty handed. I used Twitter to ask Austin Reed about matching and they suggested I stuck with black - I suppose that's intended to be helpful but it didn't feel it.

The obvious choice for jeans is of course the trainer. Two thoughts here. First, don't cut costs: I went to a discount store a while ago, got some nice looking trainers and had sore feet within a couple of weeks. I bought a pair of Nikes for twice the price and what do you know, they've lasted better, the feet feel better and I'm confident that per-wear they're already cheaper than the avowed discount store offering.

Second, you might want to look at the shiny "work trainer" offered by a number of shops. These look OK with jeans but are really intended as a substitute for office shoes. The snag is that the soles and particularly heels are slightly flatter than formal footwear so if you have a suit that normally fits properly the bottom of the leg will probably start dragging along the ground and get badly scuffed.

Which is fine if you're in jeans, it's accepted, I keep telling my wife (who never believe me). A sharp suit, on the other hand, will be completely ruined in a few days.


  1. Jeans with a jacket... and now trainers with a suit!? How about a bobble hat with a dinner jacket?

  2. Nope - I said it didn't work, although Jamie Oliver/David Tennant fans will disagree.


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