On My Soapbox: Summer Footwear

Words by: Andrew Williams

I’ve said it many times, but I am really not a fan of summer fashions. Sadly, most men seem to regard summer as an opportunity to forgo all sartorial standards by donning grotty shorts and assorted dirty collarless T-shirts.

Two items of summer apparel I’d single out for pent-up ire and vented spleen are sandals and flip-flops (jandals/ thongs if you’re antipodean). Both items seem to have become acceptable street wear, and now that designer labels have jumped on the band wagon they seem set to remain so.

sandals-and-flip-flops

I just don’t understand the appeal of these items. For starters, next to the male member there is no less attractive part of the human anatomy than feet – even more so in the case of men. I’m not much keener on female feet, but at least, for the most part, they come without hairy toes. And unlike we men, women will often beautify their toe nails, which although not a vast improvement is nonetheless an improvement on nature. So why anybody would want to put their feet on display is beyond me.

In a bid not to appear unsporting while in NZ last Christmas, when forced by my girlfriend’s family to wear flip-flops I reluctantly relented. I quickly realised that far from missing out on a new level of summer-time comfort and practicality these pieces of footwear were anything but. Not only did the bit between your toes irritate, but anything approaching a greater rate of acceleration than an old man’s shuffle and likely as not the thing would fly off your foot – gracefully arcing across the sky before decapitating some unsuspecting passer by. This was unless you curled your toes as you walked. Unpleasant aesthetic aside, sandals may be more practical but judging by some designs not that much more.

Obviously I’m not advocating socks and shoes in summer, but it is possible to be comfortable without sacrificing your dignity.

Fellow columnist Stephen Pulvirent recently advocated the Italian driving moc, a sound choice. However, I have relatively flat arches so prefer a little more structure. In that case I’d take a serious look at Italian loafers. London based Fin’s and Shipton & Heneage offer an eminently affordable range to a reasonable standard. In the case of Fin’s, they offer a limited edition Amalfi collection combining nubuck and linen.

summer-footwear

My own personal default setting is the boat shoe. The brands Sebago, Redwing and Timberland are excellent choices in my view, with offerings in nubuck, leather and suede to play with. Online retailer ASOS do a very affordable range. However, wishing the shoes to be as light and as aerated as possible I’m tempted to invest an offering from the daddy of all boat shoe makers, a canvass Sperry Topsiders. Versatility personified they sit as well with shorts as they do chinos and cotton jacket.

Whatever the time of year, many men live in training shoes. Not normally a shoe I’d advocate, but it is possible to incorporate these into the summertime wardrobe provided you pick the right style. I’m not talking Nike Air or other over staked brightly coloured offerings but of course canvass pumps. These ought to be plain white in my view and two offerings that caught my eye are the classic Superga Cotu and Albam’s new Gourmet Tre C. Either will sit well with white jeans, easy cut linen trousers and light khakis, while being more than suitable for shorts.

There are of course Espadrilles. But don’t even get me started on those…