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Tuxedo Shoes

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
Was following with some interest the thread from the young fellow about tuxedo clothes and had a few questions about proper footgear for the tuxedo. I never have occasion to wear black (or white) tie, but it looks as if my stepson may be doing so a fair bit during his college career, so I want to give the dear little lad the best counsel I can about the subject. I will encourage him to the best of my ability to wear pumps. I am equally sure he will balk at them, at least those displaying a satin bow. He might go for the more stylized kind with just a band of ribbon across the instep. I like to encourage him by telling him that pumps date from an era when taunting another fellow was likely to get you a sword through the guts. However, I get the impression that patent leather pumps are really not right for white tie (not that this will concern him) although I don't recall what the proper material is supposed to be. Are the common patent leather pumps also second-rate for black tie? Does anyone make the better style of pumps at reasonable cost? There seems to be a substantial faction that regard patent leather as garish and tacky-looking, period. Are highly polished plain-toe calfskin oxfords an acceptable alternative, or will they always be second rate? What about wholecuts? The thought occurs to me I could special order one of the Allen-Edmonds wholecut styles without the unsightly brouging they put on them for an extra hundred bucks (I think). Any other recommendations in a plain-toe oxford calfskin for less than, say, $350? Why does Allen-Edmonds make their only patent leather lace-up, the Spencer (I think it's called), configured as a plain-toe blucher? Is this acceptable or does it merely reflect a lack of sophistication on the part of their design/management team? If it is acceptable, could I get the boy a pair of their plain toe calfskin bluchers, the Harrison, and put a high wax shine on them, which would certainly be the most economical and versatile solution? Thanks for any help on this.
post #2 of 46
Traditionally, evening pumps were calf or patent, lace-up shoes (always plain-toe oxfords; a blucher is seriously not right for a formal shoe) were patent. You can indeed wear the pump with white tie. Some authorities consider it to be required, or at least prefered, because it is a vestige of court dress, and therefore the most formal shoe in a man's arsenel. In no contemporary (1930s) source that I have or have seen have I found a mention of plain leather lace-up formal shoes. I know some people hate patent; I'm not saying my word is dispositive (see below), just reporting what I have found.
post #3 of 46
Quote:
Traditionally, evening pumps were calf or patent, lace-up shoes (always plain-toe oxfords; a blucher is seriously not right for a formal shoe) were patent.  You can indeed wear the pump with white tie.  Some authorities consider it to be required, or at least prefered, because it is a vestige of court dress, and therefore the most formal shoe in a man's arsenel. In no contemporary (1930s) source that I have or have seen have I found a mention of plain leather lace-up formal shoes.  I know some people hate patent; I'm not saying my word is dispositive (see below), just reporting what I have found.
Manton -- I have pictures, which I believe are from the 30's, but I will check (perhaps from the 40's) -- of relatives of mine in patent leather laces ups and white tie dancing at a ball. In fact, a few are in my hallway now. (pictures that is). You'll have to take my word for it, as I ain't posting them. But I'll make some calls and check the date. Of course, the dancers pictured could've blundered horribly in the realm of sartoria, but that's another point, I would think. JLib: we've followed with interest your attempt to aid your young charge. We know you'll not fail him here. Perhaps you can convince him to wear highly-polished calf pumps -- maybe Grensons from Bennies in his size? I occasionally wear highly-polished Brooks Peals, black, unadorned (save a minimum of cap-toe brogueing) balmorals. A crime I know, but knowledge of the crime, I would hope, alleviates me of some of the blame. H
post #4 of 46
Horace: to clarify: either the pump or the lace-up is correct with either black or white tie. Some authorities (not me) say that the pump is required with white tie.
post #5 of 46
There is a practical consideration. Pumps are really uncomfortable to walk in for any distance-- ask a woman. Given that your stepson might be doing a fair bit of schlepping to and from his dinners, glee club concerts, or whatever, he is likely to prefer patent leather oxfords as a first pair.
post #6 of 46
Lace up patent leather shoes are definitely more practical for a college student.
post #7 of 46
Much as I prefer the look, pumps are better worn at home, yours or someone else's, or at a gala when you're driven to the entrance. Same goes for velvet slippers. Patent oxfords are better for walking as well as dancing the night away.
post #8 of 46
I would recommend either pumps like these Grenson for Paul Stuart ones. They are classic and for the life of me, why are the youth of today afraid to wear them? I wore mine at age 22 and got nothing but compliments, even from guys. Another option - silk crossgrain loafer with a pattern across the front (Cole Haan), insides are red quilted silk. Anything but patent leather. They look to similar to those god awful rental shoes.
post #9 of 46
Quote:
why are the youth of today afraid to wear them?
Because, to the untutored eye, they look like girl shoes. Some tastes have to be acquired.
post #10 of 46
Quote:
I occasionally wear highly-polished Brooks Peals, black, unadorned (save a minimum of cap-toe brogueing) balmorals. A crime I know
I would hardly call this a crime - or the sartorial jail would be bursting at the seams... For all the talk here about 'rules' and such, I rarely fit a true formal shoe anymore. And, frankly, I suggest plain calf or kangaroo options to those that request one, as I think it is a much more versatile option - and money well spent. A plaintoe calf or even a skin-stitched captoe in calf or kangaroo is perfectly acceptable in my book. Of course, my book has no chapters dedicated to the Anglophialic 'rules' I have read about here so, it might depend on where you stand on these 'rules' as to whether this is appropriate or not.
post #11 of 46
I have a pair of Mezlan plain toe patent leather lace ups that have served me well for about five years, and are still going strong. I believe they cost less than $300. They look great and are extremely comfortable. Keep in mind that most of us will have the opportunity to put on a tux at the most three or four times a year (either that, or I never get invited to the good parties ). Because of this, when dealing with patent leather shoes, I recommend getting something of decent quality, but not something in the upper levels of quality due to price (unless money is truly no object). I'd rather save my money to purchase a higher end shoe that I can wear more than three times a year. Just my .02 cents. Jeff
post #12 of 46
Quote:
Was following with some interest the thread from the young fellow about tuxedo clothes and had a few questions about proper footgear for the tuxedo. I never have occasion to wear black (or white) tie, but it looks as if my stepson may be doing so a fair bit during his college career, so I want to give the dear little lad the best counsel I can about the subject. I will encourage him to the best of my ability to wear pumps. I am equally sure he will balk at them, at least those displaying a satin bow. He might go for the more stylized kind with just a band of ribbon across the instep. I like to encourage him by telling him that pumps date from an era when taunting another fellow was likely to get you a sword through the guts. However, I get the impression that patent leather pumps are really not right for white tie (not that this will concern him) although I don't recall what the proper material is supposed to be. Are the common patent leather pumps also second-rate for black tie? Does anyone make the better style of pumps at reasonable cost? There seems to be a substantial faction that regard patent leather as garish and tacky-looking, period. Are highly polished plain-toe calfskin oxfords an acceptable alternative, or will they always be second rate? What about wholecuts? The thought occurs to me I could special order one of the Allen-Edmonds wholecut styles without the unsightly brouging they put on them for an extra hundred bucks (I think). Any other recommendations in a plain-toe oxford calfskin for less than, say, $350? Why does Allen-Edmonds make their only patent leather lace-up, the Spencer (I think it's called), configured as a plain-toe blucher? Is this acceptable or does it merely reflect a lack of sophistication on the part of their design/management team? If it is acceptable, could I get the boy a pair of their plain toe calfskin bluchers, the Harrison, and put a high wax shine on them, which would certainly be the most economical and versatile solution? Thanks for any help on this.
Call me crazy, but I just had an epiphany -- a double vented tuxedo with a saber tucked at your side might be the most elegant thing a man could wear. I think you are referring to my thread discussing patent vs. calf. I ended up finding a pair of Mezlan patent leather and it set me back $100. I personally think that highly polished calf is fine, so long as it is in the proper plain toe balmoral style and doesn't have a prominent outsole.
post #13 of 46
The rule about wearing patent leather with black tie is one of the rules I break. I agree that patent leather is the traditional choice. However, for some reason, I just can't bring myself to wear patent leather shoes. To my eye, they look cheap (even the nice ones.) With my black tie clothing, I wear plain-toe Bal Oxfords in black shell cordovan, shined to a very high sheen.
post #14 of 46
Any comments as to wearing gucci loafers og velvet slip-ons?
post #15 of 46
This is one of the rules I have consciously decided I will break. Since I very rarely have the opportunity to wear semi-formal dress (a tuxedo), I can't really justify buying patent leather shoes. So I bought a pair of black Grenson Stowe wholecut bals ($150 from www.shoe-shop.com) with the intention of wearing them with suits and, highly polished, with a tuxedo (I _will_ make the sacrifice of buying silk laces to wear with a tuxedo). I would think a college student would also want footwear with maximum versatility. I would never wear bluchers, Gucci loafers (unless I wanted to make a "kiss my a$$" statement), shoes with any broguing, or a captoe with a tuxedo. As it is, my wholecuts are only marginally acceptable.
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