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No Bluchers with a Business Suit

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by JLibourel, Feb 19, 2005.

  1. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    In the course of scanning the interminable "Black Suit" thread, I noticed that Manton, in the course of declaring The Rules, stated the bluchers/derbies were incorrect with an in-town business suit. That one was a real shocker to me. Yes, I have been aware for some time that oxfords/bals were inherently dressier than bluchers. No, I wouldn't wear bluchers with a morning suit, but otherwise I always have assumed conservative, dressy bluchers are totally appropriate for wear with a business suit.

    I note that a good many people who presume to give counsel on men's style and apparel are obviously a bit dim about the nice distinction between bluchers and oxfords/bals. Lloyd Boston, the ineffable Carson Kressey, the authors of "A Gentleman Gets Dressed Up," the authors of "Lands' End Business Attire for Men"--all of them use a picture of a blucher to illustrate "the oxford" [sic].

    Not even as formidable a prescriptivist as "Master" Flusser states the bluchers are inappropriate for wear with a business suit. All this leads me to believe that this is one rule that is dead letter. Maybe it was cogent back in 1931...but it hasn't been for a long time. Anyway, I will throw the floor open to fellow forumites for their opinions on this matter.
     
  2. RJman

    RJman Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    No. It is not dead.

    But people have been flouting it for decades.

    I also would hesitate to follow Carson Kressley's tips on proper business wear. That the guides you mention call such a shoe an oxford -- which is completely wrong -- indicates more their own shoddy understanding of business wear than the death of the no-blucher rule.
     
  3. misterbowles

    misterbowles Senior member

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    I just can't see how they would look, well...presentable.

    Also, I would second the tip about avoiding sartorial advice from Carson Kressley. That guy is a train wreck.
     
  4. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    [Clears throat.] Â Take a look at the catalogue of a good London bespoke shoemaker. Â You will see that they tend to categorize bluchers as "country shoes." Â I.e., fine with tweed suits and heavy flannels; not fine for worsteds and city flannels. You may be right that this rule is dead. Â I still follow it, however. Â Leaving the formality issue aside, there is also proportion to think about. Â The blucher is an inherently bulkier shoe; it needs clothes that are proportionate in scale and heft. Â Bluchers with smooth worsteds can make the silhouette look "bottom heavy." Yet I will wear a monk-strap with a worsted suit. Â Go figure. Â I never claimed to be pure. Â The monk is somehow sleeker than the tie blucher. Â (Also, I have authoritative support for this practice: it's depicted in many Apparel Arts illustrations.)
     
  5. The_Foxx

    The_Foxx Senior member

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    I would disagree with this rule-- to me, the only thing different about a blucher shoe and a balmoral shoe is the way the laces-portion of the shoe is done. as long as the shoe is dressy and well-made (and doesn't have a heavy sole, or rough-leather), it's my understanding it can go very well with a single-breasted suit, or sportcoat and trousers-- just not with a double breasted suit, as it is considered more formal.
     
  6. RJman

    RJman Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Caveat: the emergency shoes in my office -- which I keep along with the dodgy emergency suit -- are derbys. And I intend to wear my Cleverley-designed Poulsen Skones, which are suede two-eyelet bluchers, with a suit. I'm just saying it's not right. I speed, too, and sometimes just come to a rolling stop at stop signs.
     
  7. AlanC

    AlanC Senior member

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    I fear I must take the side of the barbarians on this one. I can't really see the problem, here. I do recognize oxfords as more formal, just that derbies seem acceptable (to me) in most settings these days.

    By the way, the Brits also by and large consider brogues as country shoes as well (in keeping with their origins) but they are certainly accepted as business shoes in America. In many ways they are the quintessential American business shoe.
     
  8. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The Brits bent this one a long time ago. Oxford brogues (wing tips) on a slim, "town" last in black or dark brown are correct with city suits.
     
  9. RJman

    RJman Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Sooooo... I don't get 50 lashes with a wet noodle for wearing my suede bluechers on their slim town last with a suit?
     
  10. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Take back 25, because they are suede. But they are still bluchers. Wingtip (full brogue) oxfords are ok.
     
  11. RJman

    RJman Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    What if I wear them with my black suit?






    Joke.
     
  12. AlanC

    AlanC Senior member

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    Some quotes from Bernhard Roetzel in Gentleman, pp 160-161 called "Formal shoes with open lacing":
    and
    I concede (as above) the Oxford is more formal, but citing long standing usage and Mr. Roetzel, I will posit that a conservative derby is perfectly acceptable for most business settings, short of the most formal (if we can use that word in a business setting).
     
  13. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    Hmmm...for whatever it's worth, I just checked out the vintage illustrations in Flusser's Dressing the Man and did find some few examples of bluchers being paired with business suits. See pages 40, 54, 93, 96, 173. Evidently, this "crime" has been perpetrated for quite some time. Nowhere in these pages does "Master" Flusser see fit to rebuke this malpractice.
     
  14. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    sorry, Manton, I agree that this is the rule, this is a rule that I break (and I always feel a little guitly about it).
     
  15. STYLESTUDENT

    STYLESTUDENT Senior member

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    I'm imagining the Brooks/Alden cordovan blucher. Can't imagine this with a dark worsted or any double breasted. Certainly can imagine it with a flannel, tweed, or plaid and, in a light suede, with a tan or olive wool or cotton gabardine. If you look at pictures of Astaire, he usually wore suede bluchers with flannels and captoes with pinstripes (which he wore infrequently in his movies).

    Edit: After rereading this post and just know reading Manton's prior reply, it appears regrettably that I'm doing nothing more than restating what he's already said.
     
  16. linux_pro

    linux_pro Senior member

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    Is it okay to wear a pair of slightly squared-off black wingtips with a charcoal pinstriped DB suit? I'm talking about shoes like these (and I am talking about in a business environment): http://www.francos.com/items/item.asp?sku5=29179 Thank you. [​IMG]
     
  17. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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  18. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    P. 40: Clearly an illustration from the late 1940s "Bold Look". Â Also clear that Flusser is using that illustration as a cautionary: "Don't do this." P. 54: Looks like a pair of monks, which I noted were approved by Apparel Arts, even if they are against the rules. P. 93: Not clear to me that those are bluchers. P. 96: You got me; bluchers with a city suit, and it looks pretty good. Â But they are suede, which somehow works better. Â In my experience, suede make feet look smaller, all other things being equal. P. 173: Also an illustration used to convey a "Don't." message. Â Since the point is about socks, Flusser refrains from commenting on the shoes. Â I can't believe that he would approve of bluchers with such an obviously formal ensemble, but who knows.
    Why is "crime" in quotes? Â Who are you quoting?
     
  19. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    What about something like these Berlutis: [​IMG] Strictly speaking they are derbies/bluchers, but would anyone call them country? In a derby/blucher you can reduce the number of eyelets, so you increase the length of the vamp and make the shoe more elegant. You cannot do that with an oxford/balmoral. A two or three eyelet V-front is probably the most elegant of all shoe styles.
     
  20. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Not me. Yet that's a clearly a non-traditional shoe. Nothing wrong with that. A great many of the shoes we call "classics" today began life in the 20s and 30s as distinctly non-traditional shoes. Perhaps the slim-cut town blucher will also achieve "classic" status some day. Perhaps it already has, and the world has passed me by. Wouldn't be the first time.
     

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