There are times I feel trapped by men's clothing. It feels sometimes like my options are, 1.) an imitation of the Brawny paper towel man 2.) a skater pining for the good-ole-days of 2004, or 3.) a retiree who wears primarily golf shorts and pleated khakis. Of course, there are other options than these, but if you are on a budget and don't want to commit a ton of time to meticulously curating your wardrobe, its easy to feel like you are working against your clothes choices rather than embracing them.
Nothing is as scary as men's clothing in the summertime. In the summer, everything is more brash, more colorful, more dramatically what it is. Skater shorts now come with embroidered dragons, and the golf shirts are somehow incandescently shiny and metallic.
And shoes. Ooph. Shoes are the worst. Because when it is hot and humid, having feet that are sweaty and uncomfortable is particular kind of awful. And if you are looking to be comfortable without completely foregoing a sense of style and taste, shoes can be a minefield. So, with that in mind, here's my take on how to navigate summertime footwear.
Hey, ManMakers — Chris here. I'm the founder/editor of the site. Normally, we try to do our research and test things out so that we can help our readers be the best kind of creative and productive people they can be. But every once and a while, we like to ask for your thoughts, and tap into all the brilliance and experience of our audience.
So, here's the situation:
As I wrote in my post about bow ties, I used clothes as self-expression when I was younger. I was a kid who was self-consciously weird, interested in art, with eclectic tastes; my wardrobe reflected that. I was never sure what to do with socks when wearing shorts, so I did what any self-consciously weird/arty/eclectic kid would do, and chose socks that drew attention to themselves: argyles, stripes, colorful prints of anchors and hamburgers.
I still do wear colorful socks—under jeans to the store, with dress pants and a jacket, and everything in between—but after a recent refresh of my shorts rotation, I started wondering how to truly master sophistication with my summer getup. Read on for the full report!
You know the phenomenon. No matter how hard your try, eventually, the little plastic tip on the end of your shoelaces (the official term is "aglet") will get crunched up, and slowly, you find yourself with a set of frayed laces. You could do the classic trick of burning the ends with a match to seize the fibers, but that's a temporary solution, and eventually, you'll end up exactly where you started.
Shoelaces are, of course, replaceable, and if you simply need a white or black pair for sneakers, or perhaps the classic golden variagated laces often found in leather workboots, you can switch them out if you like. But, so many pairs of shoes rely on the complement and/or contrast of the laces as a design element, and so often, you can't find a replacement.
So, instead, let's figure out how to fix shoelaces so they stay compact, useable, and fray-free.
You know those tasks. The ones that you know won't actually consume that much time, but you imagine will take *just* long enough that you just can't motivate yourself to just step up and get it done.
Shining your shoes doesn't have to be one of them. True story. Provided you've got the right gear and a little technique, you can bring your leather shoes and boots back into shape in less than sixty seconds.
The best part of investing in quality leather goods is how well they age. But how your leather ages really depends on how well you treat it. Treat them poorly and they’ll fall apart, but if you’re sure to take care of them and give them a quick clean up about every 6 months, not only will they age beautifully, they’ll also last you a life time.
But before we jump in and talk about the right way to care for your leather goods, it’s important to know a few basic things about leather.
Every great breakthrough has its "Eureka!" moment, whether we're talking the discovery of gravity or the founding of the world's largest shoe empire. In the latter's case, that happened while searching for a way to create cleats meant for a urethane track (meaning no more metal spikes on the bottom of running shoes), and it involved a household wafflemaker. The infamous wafflemaker was then lost for decades... and now found.
Newsflash, ManMakers: It's hot out. Like, super hot... the kind of hot where you can't quite pretend you're not roasting and just wear your standard uniform from the rest of the year. It's easy to dress well in the fall and winter. Every man looks great in boots and sweaters and layers and patterned button-downs. But, in summer, it's just too hot for those things, and you simply gotta embrace the shorts. And with the shorts comes the question: well, what shoes do I wear with them?
After 98 years of a singular design, Converse has revamped the infamous "Chuck Taylor" shoe to add a little more comfort. Named after the basketball player and shoe evangelist, Charles Hollis "Chuck" Taylor, Chuck Taylors are considered "the most successful basketball shoe in history" with over 80% of the market share in 1966.
I recently heard an episode of the NPR podcast, Selected Shorts, in which Sean Astin read Ray Bradbury's short story, "The Sound of Summer Running." The story tells of special place a pair of sneakers holds in the heart and imagination of a young boy, and how he passes along that imagination to those around him as he tries to acquire a pair. I don't know if it was Bradbury's genius or the nostalgia of hearing it read by Rudy / Samwise Gamgee, but the story moved me. I got the thinking about the sneakers I loved as a boy and how quickly I wore them out.
“It is totally impossible to be well-dressed in cheap shoes.” – Hardy Amies
Handmade shoes are one of those things. The "once you try it, you'll never look back kinda thing..." And, yeah, they're a bigger initial investment. But they'll probably last for the rest of your life with proper care and maintenance.
Saville Row shoemakers Foster and Son were recently featured in The Victoria and Albert Museum‘s, How Was It Made? video series. This entry, The Art of Shoe Making, chronicles a cobbler at Foster and Son creating a pair of brogues from scratch...and its crazy fascinating.
One day you will be tearing down a plaster and lathe ceiling, or cutting up some wood pallets in the back yard, or cleaning up a gutted bathroom, and you will bring your foot down on a two- or three-inch long nail. The metal will pierce the skin, cruise through the soft abductor hallucis muscle that forms the arch of your foot, and, if you step down hard enough, take out a tiny chip of bone from one of your metatarsal. I'll let you imagine the sound of that for a minute.
You could take the advice of a guy who's speaking from experience (I stepped off a ladder onto a nail sticking out of piece of lathe while wearing, of all things, old
A new pair of shoes is a great thing, especially a quality pair with leather uppers that you plan to break in and wear for years.
Spring is the time for taking a break from your boots and embracing something much lighter and easier to wear: sneakers. Or tennis shoes, or whatever you call them where you're from.
Photographer Federico Mauro has embarked on capturing some famous style pieces and accessories: eyeglasses, musical instruments, even guns. But I'm especially intrigued by his shoes...something rarely seen in movie closeups and 3/4 shots, but just as iconic as the rest of the wardrobe.