Balmoral is a general term for a closed laced shoe, but I think it can also refer to the wingtip Will describes. But we all know not to wear those. Pumps with the grosgrain bow are one of the only classic clothing items I'm not comfortable wearing. I guess I'm just not man enough. I recommend a highly polished black shoe with closed lacing - no broguing etc. Something with a slim toe shape is much preferred. While on the subject, I have a question about my tux shoes. They are a plain black Polo/C&J Handgrade oxford, with ribbon laces. They almost appear patent, but are "black boned calf". Anything special involved in the care of these shoes??
I used to wear a pair of Brooks plain cap-toe balmorals, shined to perfection, but recently bought a pair of nice patent leather opera pumps with grosgrain bows. They do look a little effete. But I think I can pull them off for the opera this season. On ask-andy site, someone mentioned that highly polished calf is preferable to patent leather, at it is older. Patent leather is reputedly a Victorian invention. It was explained that a gentleman used to have his shoes shined by a valet; and with the decline of those able to afford service, patent leather became popular. I have a pic. of my grandfather (certainly a gentleman) wearing a patent leather with black-tie in the 30's. It would be interesting to a) hear more people weigh in on the debate. b) confirm or dispute the contention that was on askandy.com that polished calf opera pumps are preferable to patent leather, c) give us a history of patent leather, and d) tell us how to properly care for patent leather.