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Five Shoes for a Versatile Wardrobe

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by TheloniusDrunk, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. TheloniusDrunk

    TheloniusDrunk Senior member

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    Because I, like many others, particularly like shoes, and because shoes are - barring suits - generally the most expensive investment one is likely to make in a wardrobe certainly at least when building a wardrobe, I have sought to make a thread dedicated to seeking out the five best shoes types to make for the person constructing their wardrobe. Now, because I have said that these shoes are for the person building their wardrobe and this wardrobe is supposed to be a versatile one, it is important to get Aristotelian and define, or at least shed some light on, what I think is versatile and for what wardrobe type this is to be.

    Given that I personally see myself going into a field for which the dress code is more relaxed (business casual or lower) that will be the starting point for this discussion. However, given that I also want a versatile wardrobe, I feel like this wardrobe should have the ability to combine elements to become at one moment business formal (CBD) and at the same time be able to be worn in a strictly casual sense (though I likely myself wouldn't go much less formal than business casual due to personal preference). This means that there can't be any one item that fills a niche role so specifically it can't really be also worn in other circumstances. For example, if you wanted to get as formal as possible and get some white tie/black tie appropriate pumps, those wouldn't really be able to be worn with much else in a congruous manner in my mind. These type of shoes for specific (usually niche) purposes just aren't too versatile. So the shoes must be able to be worn in a majority of settings (casual, smart casual, business casual, CDB).

    Furthermore, it seems important to consider the climate in which one lives in order to properly construct any wardrobe, and certainly to discuss the footwear for said wardrobe. I'll confine my climate to one that gets your traditional four seasons - though not necessarily the extreme harshness of one season over others. To give some sort of definitive reference just assume a climate like that of the Middle Atlantic region of the US up to the Northeaster region of the US. There is a summer, which can sometimes be muggy and hot; there is a winter, which can sometimes get extremely cold and snowy/wet; and there are most any conceivable middle grounds in between.

    You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned another important concern when discussing building a wardrobe: budget. This is mainly because I only want to discuss type of shoes, restricted to style and color (e.g. a brown suede chukka, a black cap-toe oxford), rather than recommending a specific shoe. The decision of how much a person wants to spend on their particular shoes is personal, and I'll only give provisions for what type of shoe I think should be bought.

    Finally, as an aside, I quite like boots, and as such I haven't limited my "shoes" to be only shoes and without boots. I'm a fan of shoes in general and I would love for this to spur discussion both in relation to my needs or goals outlined here, and for others to construct versatile shoes for different wardrobe types (e.g. a lawyer usually only found wearing CBD). So if in the discussion we want to try and make a wardrobe of only shoes or only boots, I'd be happy to join in and help. As of right now, there can be shoes and boots in this wardrobe.

    So, in summary, the versatile wardrobe I'm building for will have to accomplish:

    • Run the gamut between CBD and strictly casual (though average/predominantly business casual)
    • Fit a climate with extremes at either end, typical of the mid-Atlantic up to Northeastern US
    • Be versatile enough to combine with most elements in the wardrobe (i.e. no opera pumps to fill that black-tie niche)


    In no particular order here is what I would think would give me a versatile wardrobe:

    1. Black cap-toe oxford

    I feel like this shoe is necessary as it allows me to get up to CBD, and is really the only shoe I'll include that can do that for me. It is still casual enough that it can be paired with most anything else - even jeans, though it probably is a little out of context in strictly casual (jeans and a t-shirt) settings. I also feel like it can be formal enough for a black-tie setting, though I'm aware that technically in black-tie one is supposed to have a sleeker shoe, so the captoe is a crutch in that regard.

    2. Dark brown suede chukka

    This seems to me to be a staple of any versatile wardrobe. It looks excellent with jeans, chinos, cords, and sometimes works with pleated and creased trousers (though as I type it I'm not very sold on that). Regardless, it works in many settings, and in a wardrobe such as mine which is predominantly business casual, it'll be worn quite a bit. Make sure to get a rubber-soled one and treat with waterproof to be able to wear them on rainy days.

    3. Tan plain-toe bluchers

    These are again a very versatile shoe. The blucher in general is more casual than an oxford, and the tan color is casual and versatile as well. I can see these being worn with anything a chukka can be worn with, and they seem to be better able to work with pleated and creased business trousers and graphite/navy suits. The nice tan color looks great in summer in my opinion, but that doesn't mean they can't be worn year round.

    4. Suede penny loafers

    These seem like a great go-to summer shoe. They can be worn without socks (though maybe if only unlined?), with shorts if so desired, and with jeans as well. Definitely not formal enough to be paired with a suit, but they'll do great in most casual wear. I'm not really sure what color would be best, but if they're more a summer shoe then maybe it would be better to go with a tan or a light colored one.

    5. Dark brown wingtip boot

    This may just be my preference showing through. But I feel like these work great with any type of casual look; they can look good with jeans, chinos, cords, and trousers. These would probably have to be waterproofed and have a rubber sole to deal with winter mixtures and fulfill that role of my wardrobe, and if that's the case then I'm not too sure if they would be not sleek enough to be paired with a suit.



    But there you have it. Let me know how I did, what you would change in my lineup, and any misconceptions I seem to have about dress, dress codes, and versatility in general. I hope this will start some discussion on five shoes to buy for different kinds of wardrobes in addition to discussions on how well or poorly I did in accomplishing my goal.
     
    2 people like this.
  2. jrd617

    jrd617 Senior member

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    [​IMG]
     
    7 people like this.
  3. topos

    topos Senior member

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    Those seem pretty good. I'd argue that a medium brown or chestnut would be better than tan for a blucher. But maybe this is what you meant anyways; I'm not sure I've seen too many shoes I'd call tan, aside from suede. And maybe one of the two suede choices could be non-suede brown leather for variety. In your case the loafers since you already have a dark brown boot and because you seem to favor the suede chukka. I won't quibble with your boot choice, but for the sake or argument a monkstrap seems like a decent alternative.
     
  4. TheloniusDrunk

    TheloniusDrunk Senior member

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    Very nice. Definitely fulfills a different set of goals than mine. What shoe is that?
     
  5. Macallan

    Macallan Senior member

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    Black cap-toe - although you may not need it for work, it is still a must
    Chukka - this should be your tan suede option, you can wear on very casual work days too
    Derby (bluchers) - the most suited shoe for your work environment; however, medium or dark brown would have be better
    Penny loafers - good casual shoe, you can wear to work as well if you like & again like the derby, medium or dark shade would be better
    Boots - personal choice

    Personally, I would suggest:
    1*Black cap-toe
    2*Medium/dark brown laced shoes (oxfords and or derbys, in medium and or dark brown)
    1*Loafer (dark or medium)
    1*Chukka (suede, any shade)

    Brown laced shoes and loafer as work shoes, with the laced shoes being the main shoes
    Loafer and chukka as casual shoes
    Black oxford when needed
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  6. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I could get by with two pairs of chelseas -- black and brown -- and cover everything from casual to black tie.
     
  7. TheloniusDrunk

    TheloniusDrunk Senior member

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    Would you advise then that only the chukkas be in suede and the rest be all in calfskin and or shell?


     
  8. jrd617

    jrd617 Senior member

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    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  9. Macallan

    Macallan Senior member

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    If you are limiting yourself to 5 shoes, then yes; although you could look at getting the loafers in suede if you really wanted.
    They are your shoes, you could get five suede tan shoes if that is what you want.

    It is a process of elimination: You need a black oxford and at least two work shoes (browns, medium and dark are more suited). That leaves two options and personally I think chukkas look better in suede than calf, which is why I suggested loafers in calf.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. msulinski

    msulinski Senior member

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    Replacing the suede loafers with burgundy shell improves the versatility IMO.
     
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  11. Victor Elfo

    Victor Elfo Senior member

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    That's a nice list. I think that it accomplishes the goal, but, for me, some configurations should be altered.

    1- Black quarter-brogue cap toe oxfords
    2- Dark brown suede chukkas (crepe sole)
    3- Dark brown suede penny loafers
    4- Dark brown cordovan wingtip boots (blucher)

    Having problem on trying to figure out what would be the fifth pair. I feel that you got it right with a blucher, but I'm not sold on your configurations. Perhaps, Foo's OneShoe could fill the bill.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  12. Makoto Chan

    Makoto Chan Senior member

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    This is a good, well thought-out list. I'd say that shell is better than suede for a single pair of loafers, but it's a personal choice.
     
  13. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Good list.

    Here is mine, for someone wearing jeans, khaks, flannels and jackets and the occasional suit. I could grab just about any three of these and travel anywhere. (The tan loafers for warmer climates)

    1) Black Cap Toe Oxford, plain
    2) Brown Suede Chukka
    3) Deep Tan/Medium Brown Cap Toe Double Monk
    4) Tan loafers
    5) Pebble grain wingtip with Dianite sole


    For my #5 I suggest a real English field shoe like this rather than a boot (Both have Dianite soles):

    This by C&J
    [​IMG]


    Or, this by Edward Green:

    [​IMG]
     
  14. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Contrary to SF group-think, I have lived a very good life without ever having purchased a single pair of shell, dress boots or long wings. This while living in NorCal and the NYC areas.
     
    3 people like this.
  15. scurvyfreedman

    scurvyfreedman Senior member

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    My rotation of shoes includes the following and if needed I could pare it down to this five exclusively:

    1) Black cap toe quarter brogue
    2) Mid-Brown adelaide
    3) Dark brown austerity brogue
    4) Dark brown suede split toe blucher w dainite sole
    5) dark chestnut balmoral boot w/ polo suede upper

    The suede split toe bluchers and balmoral boots go perfectly fine in business casual and can be worn with jeans. The mid-brown adelaides do fine with business casual as well. Light enough and enough brogueing so they aren't as formal as the black shoes or the dark brown austerity brogues.

    I've got a pair of light brown loafers, but I could easily live without them. I'm not a big fan of loafers.

    I've also got a pair of patent plain toe balmorals, but I wear black tie so infrequently that I could easily give them up. For a pure 5, I guess you could replace the black quarter brogues with a plain black balmoral and wear them with silk laces.

    The only thing I really want to add to my personal shoe collection is a oxblood shoe that is somewhat interesting. Looking at some of the G&G shoes in rioja. But, It's more of a quest right now, not a requirement.
     
  16. The Thin Man

    The Thin Man Senior member

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  17. The Thin Man

    The Thin Man Senior member

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    My list:

    1. black plain or punched captoe oxfords
    2. dark brown plain toe bluchers
    3. dark brown suede brogues
    4. dark brown chromexcel or cordovan plaintoe boots
    5. natural chromexcel loafers or boat shoes
     
  18. Patrick R

    Patrick R Senior member

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    1. Casual beaters - get worn everyday: calf skin chukka with Dainite sole

    [​IMG]

    2 and 3. Punched captoes in black and brown

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    4. Suede


    [​IMG]

    5. Cordovan

    [​IMG]
     
  19. poorsod

    poorsod Senior member

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    The ones I wear the most are

    1) Black punch cap oxfords
    2) Brown cap toe double monks (idea for travelling, e.g. through airport security)
    3) Brown suede chukka
    4) Brown side gusset wholecut (casual only; weekends or with jeans)
    5) Tan boat shoe (summer only)
     
  20. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    TD outlined in his OP specific requirements of CBD to Business Casual that the above threads didn't cover. I see this thread as far more practical for those who deal with the practical realities of business casual at work or, like myself, enjoying a mix of suits to jackets to denim because I can.
     

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