My late grandfather was the greatest man I have had the privilege of knowing. As is typical of a man from Pretoria, he dressed impeccable – right up until he passed on. I was forever in awe of him and my grandmother, who never ever left the house looking nothing less than incredible, a sign of good manners they always said. One lesson will always stand out and my siblings and I often share the story when we reminisce and share the greatness of the late Bra Guff, he always told us that shoes maketh the man, I can literally still hear him say to me and my older sister “don’t date a man who wears white socks with formal shoes and absolutely do not ever bring a man home who does not wear good shoes”. I swear that each and every time I meet a gent, after the teeth, the next thing I look at are his shoes, thinking of Papa’s words.
Anybody that really knows me knows that I am incredibly fussy about the way we present ourselves, others call me superficial, I don’t particularly care what I am called, I genuinely believe that dressing well and for the occasion is a form of great manners. In current times we have seen the rising of sneaker culture, which is all fine and well, but a good pair of the right shoes for the right outfit is necessary – too many of the gentleman are getting it completely wrong. I believe that there are three types of shoes (that are NOT sneakers or running shoes) that every man should have, I sincerely believe that they need not be obscenely expensive, but it is worth paying a good buck for excellent quality that will last you many years. Here is a simplistic guide on the three pairs of dress shoes every gentleman should own.
Simply put? These are closed shoes that lace up. True classics. The epitome of elegance in my opinion. EVERY SINGLE MAN MUST HAVE THESE in black. These shoes should be worn for every single dress up occasion – think black tie event or very formal gala dinner and business or professional attire. These are the ones. Whilst there are many different styles, I recommend Cap Toes – these are Oxfords with a straight line of stitching that crosses over the toe box area.
The name is often (mis)used for many types of formal shoes, but the easiest way to remember? A shoe that has little holes (perforations) in it and a full brogue must must MUST have a wing-cap toe – these are my personal favourites. Brogues are perfect with just about anything really and whilst they are less formal than Oxfords, they work very well for going to work in a laid-back office and one can do smart to smart casual in them, from a three piece suit to casual denims with a lovely white shirt.
A timeless classic and eternal favourite. Simply put, loafers are shoes without laces and are very versatile. There are several types of loafers but my two favourites are Penny loafers and Tasselled loafers. These can be worn with just about anything, but I personally prefer them for a smart casual or completely casual look i.e. if no tie or full suit is worn then these are a winner. I’ve noticed that gents these days do wear them to the office or formal events, but I’m not too fond of that. Pair them with Slim chinos or a Cotton suit – I prefer n visible socks with this style of shoes, but again the gents are wearing them with colourful socks.
Style is quite personal and the above are recommendations based on my preferences when it comes to formal shoes. The three types also have many styles, but if you are not a shoe guy then those three will definitely keep you going. My personal belief? If you’re going to wear a suit or a tie then the shoes should have laces and PLEASE match your belt to your shoes. Please. Remember, white socks are never EVER to be worn with formal shoes. EVER.
Writer: Palesa Motau