Shoe formality hierarchy

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Threadbearer, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. Threadbearer

    Threadbearer Senior member

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    Gentlemen,

    I’m trying to understand the proper hierarchy of dress shoes. Please help me by ranking the shoe types listed below on a spectrum from formal to casual, or, if you prefer, from city to country.

    To keep it manageable I’m asking that you disregard matters or color and texture. For our purposes here, please assume that all shoes on the list are non-suede brown. Feel free to add any important shoe types I’ve neglected and to correct any terminology I've misused.

    Stitched cap toe oxford
    Punched cap toe oxford
    Wing tip oxford
    Plain toe blucher
    Brogued blucher
    Whole cut
    Monk strap
    Loafer
     
  2. fritzl

    fritzl Senior member

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    this is how i learned it, may slightly differ in the US.

    Plain toe blucher
    Stitched cap toe oxford
    Punched cap toe oxford
    Wing tip oxford
    Brogued blucher
    Whole cut - is a hybrid. really dunno where to put them.
    Monk strap
    Loafer
     
  3. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    I don't think such a list can be formulated on these terms. What we can say, however, are a few principles:

    -Black is always more formal than any other color
    -Dark is more formal than light
    -Calf is more formal than suede or shell
    -Smooth leather is more formal than grained
    -Plain is more formal than brogued
    -The more broguing a shoe has, the less formal it gets
    -Lace-ups are more formal than everything else
    -Oxfords are more formal than bluchers
    -Single soles are more formal than double
    -Traditional is more formal than new-fangled

    So, which of these principles trumps which? Hard to say. Personally, if i wanted to look formal, I would prefer to wear a plain toe blucher over a full brogue, even though the latter is an oxford. Plainer to me trumps the lacing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2012
  4. fritzl

    fritzl Senior member

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    only in the US or UK. actually. they equal them out with the parameters you've described.
     
  5. Trompe le Monde

    Trompe le Monde Senior member

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    My interpretation is that whole cuts are the sleekesy and hence dressiest. Also contradictory is that full brogurs seems very decorated and hence also "dressy" (I realize everyone thinks view the opposite).

    Then stitched, punched, brogued Blucher, monks, ptb vs loafers interchangeable depending on finish, anxilliary details, etc

    That's how I view and use them
     
  6. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Wholecuts to me are newfangled and don't belong on any list, much less feet. Definitely not the dressiest shoe because they are too untraditional.
     
  7. fritzl

    fritzl Senior member

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    + a gazillion
     
  8. Threadbearer

    Threadbearer Senior member

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    That's a very helpful alternative way of viewing the matter. Thank you, Manton.

    Let me see how this might apply in a real-world situation. I currently own a pair of AE Strands in dark brown, and I've got my eye on a pair of Carmina short wings. They're both heavily brogued, so I presume that they occupy roughly the same piece of real estate on the city-country spectrum. Would it be splitting hairs to say that the Carminas aren't as suit-worthy as the Strands because the Carminas are bluchers while the Strands are oxfords?
     
  9. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    You can wear either with a suit, but the oxfords are slightly more formal.
     
  10. fritzl

    fritzl Senior member

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    this.

    for TB: half brouge beats wingtip. just for the protocol.
     
  11. gyasih

    gyasih Senior member

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    Where would you place Austerity Brogues?
     
  12. Shikar

    Shikar Senior member

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    Same as plain cap toe.

    Regards.
     
  13. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    No, they are less formal.
     
  14. Geezer

    Geezer Senior member

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    Manton's list of general principles is good. It also provides at least a partial rational argument against whole-cuts, an argument for which I have been looking (the aesthetic argument being "I just don't like the way they look", which I do not).

    You can never have a pure hierarchy based on lacing and decoration. You could also factor in the thickness of the sole, the shape of the last, and the size and scale of any brogueing/stiching or other decoration.

    The other way of approaching this, which I guess is what I do, is to start from the other end of the telescope and look at a particular pair of shoes and ask: "would I wear these with a suit?", where the answer comes not from a hierachy, but from a gut feeling of yes or no, and a consciousness of the norms in your business, in your country. So, while I do not advocate it, I am happy wearing black EG full brogues with a business suit. I would not be happy wearing AE brown captoes with a suit. Which does not mean I look down on someone (probably American) who does the latter.

    On that basis, my current suit-worthy rotation includes, (all black calf, as I wear black for business):

    1x tassled loafers
    1x single monks
    1x bal boots, calf lower, suede upper
    3x oxford full brogues
    1x blucher semi-brogues
    1x blucher, lightly brogued, no medallion
    1x oxford semi-brogues
    1x oxford austerity brogues
    3x oxford punch-caps
    1x blucher plain toe, 3-eyelet
    2x oxford stitchcaps

    and for black/white tie only, in patent:

    1x stitch-cap oxford
    1x plain-toe oxfords

    Which I have tried to assemble in rough conventional hierarchical order. But could easily move them around a bit, showing the limitations of a strict hierarchy.
     
  15. fritzl

    fritzl Senior member

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    epic
     

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