What would you say if I told you there was one shoe you could wear with just about anything on a daily basis? You’d be all over that, right? It’s true. A medium brown lace-up dress shoe can be worn with any outfit except for a tuxedo, a black suit (which you shouldn’t be wearing anyway), and shorts. Wear them with jeans, chinos, suits and dress pants.
One of the places I always recommend investing in wardrobe-wise is shoes — you’re better off buying one pair of quality shoes and replacing them as needed every 5 years or so, than a crappy quality shoe that you have to replace every year. When it comes to making the most of your footwear investment, another key to keep in mind is not to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. If you rotate your shoes, they’ll last a whole lot longer.
So if you’re going to make an investment shoe purchase, I highly recommend a medium-brown lace-up. They can have a cap toe, no cap toe (see above), or you can do a wingtip (see below).
In a perfect world, you would have something in your closet to wear for every occasion. Part of that is having the right footwear. After all, having the WRONG shoes can completely throw off an otherwise great outfit (we’ve all seen that guy looking smooth in his well-fitting suit but massacring the look with his 90’s square-toed dress shoes). If you only focus on how you look ankle up, you miss the mark. Below is my list of the 6 essential shoes every guy should have in his closet.
1. Brown Laceups — A lot of new styling clients resist this one thinking there’s no need for it, but truly it’s the most versatile shoe in your wardrobe — you can wear it with everything from jeans to a suit. Go for a medium shade of brown that can be worn with the widest variety of pant shades.
2. Black Laceups — This is your dressiest shoe, to be worn with suits and on formal occasions. Choose one with a clean toe, i.e., no seaming or broguing, so you can wear it with a tuxedo (after polishing it up).
3. Loafer — There are lots of variations on loafers, so you should go with what appeals to you visually. And avoid the pitfall of buying a “hybrid” shoe (anything with a very sporty sole). As I’ve said before, the place where the sneaker meets any other kind of shoe is like a dark alley late at night — nowhere you’d want to be.
5. Dress Boot — A dress boot adds wonderful versatility to your wardrobe. It’s the perfect answer to the question of what to wear out on weekends. And with a dressy enough boot and in the right environment, you can also wear it with dress clothes like a suit or pants and sportcoat. For more on the different types of boots to choose from, go here.
Once you have these essentials, you can build from there, getting variations within each category. Think variations on toe detail and broguing for the black/brown laceup, and different varieties of boots.
Do you have everything on this list? If not, what are you missing?
Few things are worse than getting caught in the rain in your dress clothes. Especially if you’re on the way to work, and you know you’re going to spend much of the day in wet clothes until your outfit dries. My suggestion: check the weather before you get dressed, and make sure your wardrobe includes rainy weather gear. Below is my list of must-haves for soggy days:
Raincoat – I spend a lot of time in peoples’ closets, and I’ve seen some pretty awful windbreakers masquerading as rain gear. Bad weather is no excuse to look drab and unstylish. Pull it together with a sharp raincoat. Two great options are a classic trench, or a more modern mac (above left and right). If you wear suits or sportcoats everyday, buy in a size that will fit over them.
High Quality Umbrella – Don’t be that guy whose umbrella turns inside out and flies across the street poking someone’s eye out. Cheap umbrellas break easily, leading to wasted time and money (not to mention adding to pollution in landfills). Why not spare yourself the headache by investing in a high quality umbrella? Blunt and Davek are two of the toughest umbrellas out there, and they come in various sizes. Just make sure you don’t leave it behind in a taxi.
Overshoes – There’s a whole new generation of good-looking overshoes that are nothing like your father’s black rubber rain shoes. If you have nice shoes, it makes sense to protect them. I’m a big fan of Swims which come in a variety of colors including navy and olive green (which are nice if you only want to get one pair; if not, black goes over black shoes and brown over brown).
One of the most important components of being well-dressed and having a well-rounded wardrobe is dressing appropriately in all situations, including bad weather. Fortunately, dressing to dominate the rain only requires three items. Does your wardrobe include these three things?
Even naked isn’t naked enough in the ridiculous heat and humidity we’ve been having on the east coast. In my last article, I listed hot weather survival measures for clothing and grooming, but this time shoes are on my mind. If you’ve never switched up your footwear when the temperature rises and your dogs start barking, I urge you to consider it. You’ll look more seasonally appropriate, and your feet will thank you. Read on for Rath-approved picks in 8 categories of summer footwear.
These stylishly nonchalant espadrilles from Castañer ($150) are an excellent alternative to flip-flops for those wanting more toe coverage.
2) Leisure Shoes
Ok, so this category is totally made-up. But the name fits these Riviera shoes ($80), doesn’t it? Don’t wear for anything other than leisure.
3) The Mandal (if you dare)
If you’re a Rath & Co. client, you know I’m big into the messages that one’s appearance gives off. In the case of mandals, most of what I see around says, “I’m sensitive and I recycle.” While these are no doubt virtues, there’s no need to express them via your footwear. My suggestion: ditch the Velcro and bungee cords, and dial it back with a simpler, more classic version of the mandal, like the pair above from Alvaro ($295). When buying mandals, I highly recommend trying on in the store before committing. You need to see them on your feet in order to know if they’re going work for you.
Not ready to go full-mandal but still want to give those dogs some breathing room? Try a leather flip-flop like these from Olukai ($85). It’s classier than the rubber or fabric versions. Just promise you’ll only wear it for beach and pool.
More office-friendly than the other options above, bucks work for casual to moderately dressy places of work like advertising agencies or web development firms. Wear a pair like the ones above from J. Crew ($198) with summery chino and seersucker suits or with button-up shirts and chinos.
6) Buck Alternatives
If bucks are too much for you, try a casual lace-up sans rubber sole for a similar, but less statement-y look. I have my eye on these from Crockett & Jones ($505) for a couple of clients. They’re unlined and light weight which = summer perfection in my book.
Excellent with everything from a summer suit to shorts, these leather slip-ons ($150) are modeled after a traditional Indian sailing vessel, the Kishtee. Think of them as the cooler, older brother to your traditional deck shoe. They’re also great for travel because they’re so lightweight.
8) Social Sneaks
These are the sneakers you don’t wear to the gym. I like the clean lines of Fred Perry’s Seabrights ($125) for a timeless look.
What’s your footwear of choice this summer? As always, I love hearing from you. Leave me a comment below, or if you’d like more tailored help with your summer footwear game, contact me.
A lot of what I hear from new clients is a desire for what I call “Next Level Style”. Next Level Style is the development of a look that is uniquely one’s own, one that will make others sit up and take notice (but only to the degree wanted, of course!). One of my favorite things to do as a stylist is to seek out clothing and accessory items that will create that affect. No more walking into your office and seeing another guy in the same exact Brooks Brothers shirt and Ferragamo tie. With that goal in mind, today I’m shining the spotlight on stingray, a material you’ve possibly never heard of in relation to style.
Stingray leather (also known as “shagreen”) is extremely durable and has been used throughout history for everything from swanky armored clothing to sword handle wraps. Today in the fashion world, stingray is used on items ranging from wallets to shoes. One of the nice things about this skin is that stingrays aren’t threatened by extinction, so its leather can be sourced easily, which also contributes to its relatively low pricing. In fact, stingrays are found in abundance in the shallow, warm waters of the Pacific Rim and are fished commercially as a primary food source.
Here are my 6 favorite stingray items currently available that I hope will inspire you to get some new hides into your rotation.
2. Why not incorporate stingray into your dressier attire? These cufflinks ($275) would pop nicely against a grey suit, white dress shirt and a black and white or grey tie.
3. I recently got this business card holder ($75) from a store called Unearthed on Etsy. I love the strong contrast of black with white. Each piece is customized, so you can tell them your color preference, and they’ll select a hide to suit that.
5. A piece of men’s jewelry (a.k.a. “mewlery”) can be one of the most rewarding items to add to your wardrobe when done right. I am very much into this bracelet ($175, above left), which would work well with most silver-toned watches. And if you want to throw some color into the mix, try this turquoise stingray and braided leather combo ($150, above right).
6. Stingray shoes are not for the faint-hearted. These balmorals ($1195) from Harris (which I’ve highlighted previously) are so unique and interesting that they will surely be conversation starters. With this price tag though, you must be absolutely sure you love them before taking the leap!
How do you like to up the style quotient? And would you wear stingray?
Cheers to Next Level Style,
I am always in hot pursuit of outside-the-box items. That’s what my clients hire me for as we construct looks that are uniquely their own. These shoes are not for everyone, but if they appeal to you, and you’re looking to take an outfit from standard to stylish, I say get after it!
Are you ever stuck with what to wear on your feet when the weather turns foul? Today the sun’s shining in NYC, but recent events prove the need for protective footwear. Below are my top 6 picks in a range of styles.
1) Grenson Spike ($485) — For the sharp-dressed man, these Grensons are an update on the traditional LL Bean duck boot (another solid option if you’re a more of a traditionalist). Don’t be afraid to rock them with a suit.
2) Blundstone 500 ($150) — These boots were originally made for ranchers in the Australian outback, so they should be able to handle a trek through midtown Manhattan. The water-resistant leather keeps you dry without sacrificing style, and the front and back pulls and elastic side panels make them easy to pull on and off.
3) Concepts x Sorel ($250) — I am very much into the handsomely quirky combination of materials on these boots: leather + herringbone + rubber = perfection. On top of that, they’re seam-sealed waterproof and have a removable washable liner for when your dogs bark.
4) Diemme Roccia Vet ($373) –This medium blue packs the perfect punch of color when you want to think outside the box — but not too far outside it. It also comes in a number of other color combinations (many of them not for the faint-hearted), which you can view here. The flexible, no-slip vibram sole will keep you upright even during an arctic blast.
5) DVS Shoe Company Yodeler Snow ($130) — Another completely waterproof option, the Yodelers were designed by pro snowboarder John Jackson. Though they’re undeniably sporty, they also have a sleek vibe that works for city life just as well as mountainside.
6) Brunello Cucinelli Cashmere Lined Winter Boot ($1120) — Definitely an investment, these high-performance babies are lined with the brand’s signature premium cashmere. They’re elegance meets functionality at its best. And if you take care of them, they’ll last a lifetime.
Designers and stores alike have been putting increased emphasis on stylish, weather-friendly boots over the past few seasons. And that’s good news because you no longer have to rely on frumpy footwear to get you through the muck. Even if you don’t consider yourself a boot guy, or have never owned anything like this, I encourage you to try it out. It’s a great way to mix things up with your wardrobe. Don’t forget, if you’re going to be in an office all day, it’s perfectly fine to carry your dress shoes and change into them once you arrive. And if you’re wondering about the tucking question, I wrote an entire article on that: click. But whatever you do, promise me you won’t brave the cold without a solid pair of boots this winter.
Do you have a favorite boot from this list — or otherwise? Leave me a comment below.
Memorial Day weekend is almost here, and with it, the start of the summer. Whether you’re making a quick getaway or staycationing, you’ll want to kick your season off with a stylish bang. With that in mind, I created a Pinterest board with my summer weekend essentials. Check it out here.
What are your must-haves for a long summer weekend?
A big thank you to The Wall Street Journal for including me in the recent article, Spring Shoes for Men Step Brightly. The piece discusses how men’s footwear is trending toward colorful uppers or soles and “statement” elements like spikes and wild patterns; my advice on how to incorporate this trend into your wardrobe is included at the end of the article.
After speaking with the WSJ reporter, I had an outfit brainstorm, and below I share with you a few specific looks that incorporate Spring 2012’s shoe trends.
1) A great Spring combo would include a pair of neutral shoes with a neon sole like the bucks, above, from T&F Slack. Pair them with white straight-leg jeans and a denim shirt for a casual night out.
3) If neon shoes are too much of a commitment for you, you might dip your toes in the trend by adding color via your laces, as with the Esquivel shoes above. Because the color pop is not too prominent, you can play around by incorporating other colors into your look. Pair these boots with dressy jeans and a sport shirt that has some yellow in the pattern, like the one below from Polo Ralph Lauren. The reason yellow and purple work together is that they are complementary colors, meaning that they live opposite from each other on the color wheel. When used together, complementary colors intensify each other and create a harmonious color scheme.
4) For a shoe where the detail (as opposed to the color) is the statement, like Jimmy Choo’s “provocative paisley” slippers above, you want to keep the rest of your look tailored and simple. Wear these with a midnight three-piece suit for a posh night out, or for a more casual event, try a medium grey dress shirt and black or charcoal grey pants. The important thing to keep in mind with shoes like this is that they need to be in line with your personality, and wearing them with confidence is key. (As an aside, check out this fun Bond-style video detailing the Burlesque silhouettes hidden in the print.)
I hope the post above gives you ideas for your own combinations if you decide to rock Spring 2012’s shoe trends. Let me know what outfits you put together!
Hard-wearing, versatile, and a step up from sneakers, boots really were made for walking. One of the things I love most about men’s boots is the wide variety of styles. This Fall especially, designers have thrown out a lot of interesting details, giving you the option to go classic, or amp it up with something more fashion forward. Below are my top boot picks for Fall 2011, listed by type of boot. In each category, I’ll give you a classic choice, followed by one with a little more flavor.
Classic: Red Wing for J. Crew Work Boot ($280)
Amped: Diemme Roccia Boot, $395
Classic: Alexander McQueen Lace-up Boot, $721
Medium Amped: Rag & Bone Grouse Boot, $450
Amped: Peal & Co. Leather and Tweed Boots, $598
Classic: Mark McNairy Grey Suede Chukka, $355
Amped: Oliver Spencer for Topman Postman Boots, $298
Classic: Ralph Lauren Dinsdale Chelsea Boot, $575
Amped: Bottega Veneta Ankle Strap Boot, $970
Classic: To Boot New York Buckle Ankle Boot, $398
Amped: Jimmy Choo Rugged Ankle Boot, $850
And that about covers my Fall 2011 boot picks. As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Happy stomping!