Shoes – a gentleman’s guide

I have been accused many times of owning too many shoes. And sometimes I wonder myself, especially if I move to a new house or if I pack for a trip. But how many is too many?

I believe this comes from my mother, who used to buy shoes almost every week. But my father was also quite sartorial and used to dress pretty draper for his job. He always insisted that a gentleman should always wear nice but, most importantly, polished shoes. So an old pair of quality shoes, clean and polished, always look better than some cheap version.

I believe that good shoes are an investment. They are a statement as much as our personal hygiene and charm.

Here is a small and condensed guide for any guy who wants to invest in the essentials.

Black Shoes

I once spent a pretty indecent amount of money in a pair of black shoes. I have to say that they look as good as the first day. I spent some time in Church’s in Knightsbridge trying on different shoes and finding it difficult to make up my mind. I was wearing jeans, so it was hard to imagine how good they would look with a suit.

The shop manager came to me and gave me a life lesson when he said: ‘A gentleman shall not wear black shoes with jeans, otherwise one looks as if one was wearing his only pair of shoes’.

Your black shoes will take you from morning meetings to formal evenings. They define the true connoisseur from the awkward one wearing brown shoes to a formal soirée.

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Clockwise: Oxford Shoes with toe cap detail (£39,99 from Zara), Berty Leather Oxford Brogues (£275 Paul Smith at Mr Porter), Toby Derby from Grenson (£200,00 at Kurt Geiger)
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The Chetwynd £410,00 from Crurch’s

Versatile Shoes

These are shoes you can wear with a suit or any smart casual attire.

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From left: Brown split suede monks (£89.95, Massimo Dutti), Toby by Grenson (£130) and Dylan Leather Wingtip Brogues from Grenson (£185 at Mr Porter)
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Top: Leather double monk shoes: ‘C-Modemok’ (HUGO BOSS, £185). Bottom: BARKER Mclean wingcap leather oxford shoes (£99,00 at Selfridges)

Informal Shoes

These are the perfect shoes for your smart casual dress-code. One should avoid wearing informal shoes with a suit, but the right choice will enhance your overall look any other time.

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Clockwise from top right: CROSLEY PREM DERBIES IN NUBUCK (Lacoste – £140,00), El Ganso – 65,00€; Jack & Jones Gobi Suede Shoes (£50.00 from ASOS), RAVENSHEAD KG Kurt Geiger – £89,00, SUEDE SPORTS BLUCHERS (£49,99 at ZARA) & Camper BROWN/SUEDE – £90.00.

Loafers

A good pair of loafers will be perfect for travelling and any semi-formal occasion. My favourite are the driving shoes, although some other formal moccasins are quite handy.

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Clockwise from top left: ZARA (£59,99), ZARA (£69,99), Massimo Dutty (£79,95) & Polo Ralph Lauren (£109)
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Clockwise from top left: TOD’S (£270), HUGO by Hugo Boss (£159) red and natural & Kurt Geiger Maccio Tassel Loafer (£120).

Boots

Surviving the winter without a good pair of boots could be quite a challenge depending on where you live, but there is no reason for not choosing the right ones.

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Trainers

And of course we can’t forget the fun and comfy. Trainers are a personal weakness of mine. Have a look at this small selection.

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Clockwise from top right: Boss Orange (£119), Nike (£74,99), NB (£55), Converse (£59,99), TOD’S (£310) & Converse (£40)
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Top to bottom: Paul Smith (£140), Gucci (£300) & TOD’S (£340)

Slippers

There was a time when a gentleman would wear very rich loungewear, and the slippers were so comfortable that it would have been a sin wearing them only indoors. Now you just need to be brave to pull a pair of these out any evening you feel like it. They are the perfect touch with a tuxedo.

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Clockwise from top right: CHINESH by KG Kurt Geiger (£110), Tasseled Suede Loafers by BURBERRY PRORSUM at Mr Porter (£495), KINGSMAN George Cleverley Leather-Trimmed Cashmere Slippers (£395) & Outdoor Slipper in dark navy intrecciato calf (£ 505 from Bottega Veneta)
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House of Hounds Whitman Quilted Dress Slippers (£75.00 from ASOS)

Wish list

Just because.

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VALENTINO Leather, Suede And Denim trainers (£500) & The Sovereign sleepers by Church’s (£210)

Shoe care

Looking after your shoes is mandatory. Any kit should have brushes, cloths and polishing cream for black, brown and colourless cream. Remember that no matter how much money you have invested in your shoes, if they are not clean you will loose all your points.

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Clockwise from top: Travel shoe care kit by Church’s (£79,95); the other three available at John Lewis: (£15, £30 & £12)

I haven’t forgotten flip-flops. I recommend Havaianas as fun and comfortable. They are perfect for the pool or the beach. But please bear in mind that they are for sunny holidays by the pool or extremely informal summer barbecues at the most. No gentleman about town shall ever be seen ‘flip flopping’ along…

I hope you have found this guide useful. If you think about it, you only need one of each category for a basic wardrobe, but good luck keeping the number low.

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