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POLL: Brown shoes and dark suits in ENGLAND - CBD? UCBD? Heresy? - Page 5

Poll Results: Are dark brown shoes acceptable with dark suits as appropriate professional dress in ENGLAND?

 
  • 24% (15)
    Never
  • 41% (26)
    Yes - but not as CBD
  • 29% (18)
    Yes - but not as UCBD
  • 4% (3)
    Yes - even as UCBD
62 Total Votes  
post #61 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oleg View Post

This will be terribly frustrating to the average Style Forumite, who will be desperate to show off their collection of brown shoes which they've worked long into the night to perfect the antiquing on, along with their odd jackets, solid grenadine ties, beaded bracelets and 'exploding paint factory' effect pocket hankie but that's life.

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post #62 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oleg View Post

On the tieless shirt, it's pretty much the uniform in the political world these days: it's rare to find a lobbyist or think tanker in anything else.
As you say, this look is a uniform. The tie would immediately make it less so, with its colourfulness and resulting individuality.
Edited by williamson - 8/30/12 at 1:54pm
post #63 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by R.O. Thornhill View Post

I find it funny how SF obsesses so with shoes - objectifying them outside a worn context. On this I guess I am more Brummell than Castiglione Also contextually, brown shoes in the City of London do draw attention to the wearer, given their relative rarity

Correct. What the people "defending" brown shoes don't get is that dress is not simply a matter of aesthetics. How you choose to dress sends a social message as well. In many parts of the world, the nuances that can be conveyed by tailored clothing have been lost. But they still exist, to some extent, in London and especially the City.

So it is not that brown shoes look awful or that they "scream," except in context. It is that people have been trained to notice them, sometimes subconsciously, and pick up on the cues they send. Think of it as sartorial body language. A slight narrowing of the eyes is pretty subtle but it communicates quite a lot and people will pick up on it quite easily.
post #64 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bounder View Post

Correct. What the people "defending" brown shoes don't get is that dress is not simply a matter of aesthetics. How you choose to dress sends a social message as well. In many parts of the world, the nuances that can be conveyed by tailored clothing have been lost. But they still exist, to some extent, in London and especially the City.
So it is not that brown shoes look awful or that they "scream," except in context. It is that people have been trained to notice them, sometimes subconsciously, and pick up on the cues they send. Think of it as sartorial body language. A slight narrowing of the eyes is pretty subtle but it communicates quite a lot and people will pick up on it quite easily.

And what social messages do brown shoes send? That you aren't color blind? That you are more interesting? That you don't need to wear the same "uniform" as every other london banker or lawyer?
post #65 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post

And what social messages do brown shoes send? That you aren't color blind? That you are more interesting? That you don't need to wear the same "uniform" as every other london banker or lawyer?

Yes, basically.

But you've spun it in quite an aggressive way, to suit your hostility to something or other (black shoes? conventional-mindedness?). Another way of putting it would be: a good pair of brown shoes in a conservative City law firm send the message that the wearer either doesn't know the conventions, or that he knows, but wishes to subtly flout, them.

You seem to think it is a good thing to reject the uniform of one's peers. A perfectly legitimate thing to think, and to some extent I agree with you. But you seem bewildered that anybody would think differently to you, which surprises me. Unspoken rules of dress which allow one to to be one of the boys, as it were, are a fact of life in Manhattan, not just London.
post #66 of 76
Sigh. I always end up contributing to this issue when it recurs in different threads. So here is a long contribution.

No-one here - I think - is saying that brown shoes are aesthetically wrong with a suit.

Some of us are saying that in Westminster/Holborn-Chancery Lane/City (the traditional centres of government/politics, law, and finance) in London, black shoes are ubiquitous to the point of uniformity. Go to where the hedgies, ad men, magazine journalists, artists, academics or whoever work, they are not (but you'll see precious few suits).

In the last few years, I've spent a lot of time in similar places around the world. And it is my experience that the prevalence of black shoes with dark suit is very strong (though less so in London) in similar environments in similar major cities, whether Beijing, Paris, New York, Washington DC, Tokyo. Or any of the probably 90 countries I've been fortunate enough to visit in my longish life.

The fact is there is a strong global convention, probably strongest in London, that CBD involves black shoes. Non-black shoes are more a statement than (especially in London) pocket squares, braces, coloured or striped shirts, "interesting" socks, distinctive ties etc. Wear a dark suit with black shoes and a pink checked shirt and a loud purple tie in London and you are within the convention, even if horribly dressed. Wear perfect CBD with brown shoes and you aren't.

This thread, as started, is not really about whether the convention has aesthetic merit. Rather it is a reflection on the apparent oddity that the convention, which seems more appropriate to the 1950s or 1850s, still holds in 2012. Which, objectively, it still largely does.

To answer an earlier poster (Jermyn I think), it's not so much that my father "taught" me this, as that I absorbed it from him. For much of my youth, my father worked in the City. He went to work each day wearing a dark Chester Barrie SB suit, a Hilditch and Key shirt, a tie, an occasional pocket square, and always black shoes. So - with variations, but never on shoe colour - did everyone he worked with, and all the fathers of my friends who worked in suit-wearing professions.

Like Balf, my non-CBD, casual Friday and smartish weekend wardrobe usually involves an odd jacket and an open-necked shirt. With brown shoes. The quip is "no brown in town", which dates from when a suit was, in today's terms, casual "streetwear". What we are really discussing is whether brown shoes are acceptable CBD in central London during the working week. On which both convention and current practice say they are not. You will not these days get ostracised, blackballed, or refused entry to a restaurant, but they are not. Current practice is eroding the convention, but only remarkably slowly: 99% of the goofs I see wearing the vile no-tie crumpled suit "dress down" get-up are wearing black shoes, usually horrible ones.
post #67 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post

And what social messages do brown shoes send?

post #68 of 76

"Conservative" business dress, as I was trying to suggest earlier, often has no correlation with aesthetics or even quality.

 

A first year accountant straight out of university turning up to work in England in a pair of four year old £39.99 Clarks black square toed lace ups would look and be considered much more conservative than one of his peers who decides to accompany his navy suit with some beautiful anqitued brown Edward Green derbys.

 

If colleagues/senior office workers were to make any remarks to either individual (or even unspoken internal thoughts), it would certainly be the latter brown shoe wearer who attracts more comments/thoughts in relation to his unconservative footwear. I imagine the black shoe wearer might be told once or twice (and it would be more often thought than voiced) that it might be a good idea to get a second pair of shoes, or something similarly understated, but that wouldn't be because his dress isn't conservative enough, simply because he may look a tad school boy-ish and could look more refined with a smarter pair (of black shoes, of course). Anyone telling him to get a new pair of shoes would do so nevertheless with the knowledge that the black shoe wearer is trying to be conservative, and while succeeding at being conservative, may have overlooked aesthetics and/or quality on this initial black pair.

 

If the above scenario had "England" replaced with, say, "Chicago" or "Berlin", it could be an entirely different situation.

post #69 of 76
Why do you all find brown shoes more aesthetically appealing?

Aside from being more correct, black just looks better. Especially since black shoes look good with a shine, while brown looks better when the surface is matte (IMO).
post #70 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by hendrix View Post

Why do you all find brown shoes more aesthetically appealing?
Aside from being more correct, black just looks better. Especially since black shoes look good with a shine, while brown looks better when the surface is matte (IMO).

I think that your question probably deserves its own thread.
Personally I much prefer a museum calf in shades of brown as opposed to black because it looks like a cloudy sky.
I also prefer flecked donegal tweeds and linen blend jackets to plain worsteds.

Once you enter the realm of single colour aesthetics (as opposed to the aesthetics of proportion) positions tend to be resolutely held.
Perhaps on a deeper level, they are an expression of ones upbringing, desires, disposition etc.

As evidenced, to a certain extent, in this thread.
post #71 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post

And what social messages do brown shoes send? That you aren't color blind? That you are more interesting? That you don't need to wear the same "uniform" as every other london banker or lawyer?

It sends the message that you are not PLU. You may be PLU but consciously rejecting the affiliation or you may be a clueless foreigner. We check your tie to figure out which.
post #72 of 76
I would be careful with equalizing "most people in the city wear black shoes" and "dark brown shoes would not be acceptable". My observation is that most people who do not care about such things, i.e. the majority, only wear black dress shoes.
post #73 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bounder View Post


Correct. What the people "defending" brown shoes don't get is that dress is not simply a matter of aesthetics. How you choose to dress sends a social message as well. In many parts of the world, the nuances that can be conveyed by tailored clothing have been lost. But they still exist, to some extent, in London and especially the City.
So it is not that brown shoes look awful or that they "scream," except in context. It is that people have been trained to notice them, sometimes subconsciously, and pick up on the cues they send. Think of it as sartorial body language. A slight narrowing of the eyes is pretty subtle but it communicates quite a lot and people will pick up on it quite easily.

Again - if you stroll through the City on a weekday you see plenty of people without ties, with no cuff showing, with their coats unbuttoned. The idea that someone in a smart well-fitting navy or dark grey suit is going to be considered poorly dressed because they have a pair of chocolate brown oxfords is simply not true anymore.

 

Also, the thread asked about England, not just the City of London (which is itself only a small minority of the London business world). If the thread was "are brown shoes considered conventional in London banking or legal circles" then you would be correct, but it wasn't.

 

Finally, since the term UCBD was used, this means that CBD must be a bit more casual than UCBD. If CBD is only black cap-toe oxfords and dark solid suits, then UCBD has no meaning (since more formal wear - bowler hats, 3-piece suits with pocket watches etc, would become costume). Therefore 'CBD' must extend beyond this narrow ultra-conservative definition.


Edited by cosmic - 9/2/12 at 2:20pm
post #74 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cosmic View Post
...

Also, the thread asked about England, not just the City of London (which is itself only a small minority of the London business world). If the thread was "are brown shoes considered conventional in London banking or legal circles" then you would be correct, but it wasn't.

 

...

Just to be clear, opinions on what is appropriate in both England generally and the City specifically are welcome. 

 

Legal and City circles were actually specifically mentioned in my OP, so it is entirely within scope to offer views on what is appropriate here.  They are also very good examples of where Conservative Business Dress may be necessary.

post #75 of 76
Would a black cap toe oxford in shell cordovan be considered CBD in the City of London? Or does the way shell wrinkles make it inappropriate?
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