Posts Tagged ‘loafer


One Guy’s Idiot-proof Rules for Dressing



This blog isn’t about telling people that they should be obsessed with clothes, that they should dress like a parade of corporate clones or that they can’t show their personality in their wardrobe choices.  In fact, far from it: it’s meant to be some words of advice from a fellow man on how you can tweak and upgrade your wardrobe without requiring a great deal of time or money (and, I also throw random, interesting stuff on here as well, such as biometric wallets, just for interest’s sake).  There’s not one way of looking good, and it always annoys me when websites and forums claim that there is – with that said, there are some things that I believe are mistakes that do guys no favours and I believe there are certain basic rules that will serve you well.

Occasionally I’ll check my inbox and find a message from someone about this blog, asking me either: a) to post more (thanks, I really do appreciate the encouragement, please keep it coming – I’ll try to post more); or, b) asking for some sort of general sartorial guidance.  This post is my attempt to kill two birds with one stone.  These are my general rules for dressing – some of them I’ve gleaned from various books, my father and grandfather, or other sources; some should be obvious and yet I see them gone wrong all the time; others are because I’m a bit nit-picky; and still others are just things that I’ve adopted and I’ve found to work well.  The common thread is that following these rules have helped to prevent me from at least looking like a jackass, which, as I’ve stated in the past, is one of the major goals of this blog.  I’m hoping this article will be something that I update and add to regularly, so feel free to send in suggestions and check back regularly (I’ll post on Twitter, @oneguysstyle, whenever I make a significant addition).

Without further ado, here are an assortment of rules that I follow to jackass-proof my wardrobe, along with my reasoning for them. I’ve also divided them into categories – things you absolutely have to get right, things that you probably should get right, and things that may take your style game up that extra notch.

2010 Met Costume Institute GalaPoor Fit


1.  Fit is everything

It doesn’t matter what the label says;  how much you paid for it;  how much the retail price was; what store you bought it in.; or, what the “working for commission” sales associate said.  If it doesn’t fit (and cannot be made to fit), it’s not worth it.  That goes for suits, shirts, pants, jackets, belts or whatever else you can think of.  A Uniqlo shirt can look better on you than a Brunello Cucinelli shirt, simply because the former fits better than the latter.  Outside of Sweden, guys tend to wear clothes that are too big for them.  I’m 6’2″, 175lbs and grandmas and aunts have long sent me “Large” sized clothes.  In actuality I wear “medium” in most brands – use this as your benchmark.  Just because you’re over 6’0″ doesn’t make you a “Large” (although it may make you a “tall”, depending on the length of your arms and torso).  Wearing clothes that are too big for you make you look sloppy; and, contrary to common belief, they are no more comfortable than clothes that actually fit you.

The good news is, if you do have clothes that don’t fit (especially shirts) than a good tailor can likely work wonders (more about this in a minute).  I’ve had shirts that I’ve bought (knowing full well that I’d be taking them to my tailor) that I could almost make a second shirt out of with the excess fabric – the only thing that fit when I got them was the collar.  Don’t live your life trying to find ways to tuck in extra shirt fabric, or trying to keep pants from sliding down your ass, or looking like your jacket is wearing you rather than the other way around.  Either don’t buy clothes that fit like that in the first place, or, if  you already have, take them to a tailor.  Clothes that fit will make you look slimmer, taller, more professional, sexier and better proportioned.  There’s not attribute on that list that you don’t want.  It’s really as easy as figuring out what fits and buying it (or having things altered to fit) – but I constantly see men that have ignored this rule.  If you take nothing else from this list, at least understand the importance of Rule 1.  Check out the pictures above.  Clearly they represent something of a caricature, but it’s immediately clear to everyone when someone is wearing things that fit and when they’re not.

2.  Find a tailor and understand what he or she can and can’t do

People associate tailors almost entirely with suits.  This is like associating football entirely with quarterbacks – sure, they’re the most recognizable member of the team, but there are 50 other guys out there as well.  In the same way, to simply go to the tailor to have your suits fit is to barely skim the surface of their capabilities.  To whit, I recently purchased a polo shirt from a well-known manufacturer.  I have a few of their shirts already, all in a particular size (they don’t use the typical “small”, “medium”, “large” sizing).  I happened across a sale, was in a hurry and simply grabbed a shirt in what has always been my size and didn’t try it on.  Unbeknownest to me, this particular maker has introduced a new fit and their sizes are now a little bit different than before – which meant that I now own a polo shirt that swamps me, that I can’t return.   I took it to my tailor and,  $12 later, I have a polo shirt that fits perfectly and I was even able to customize certain details of the shirt.  At first this may seem ludicrous (tailoring a polo shirt? Really?).  However, think of it this way.  Before, I had an article of clothing that was essentially worthless to me – I couldn’t return it, and I would never wear it because it didn’t fit.  Now, I have a polo shirt that I will wear, and fits me perfectly – $12 very well spent, in my opinion, as it saved a $35 investment from becoming worthless.  Think of it this way: every pair of dress pants you buy needs to be tailored, just like every suit.  If a shirt doesn’t fit perfectly, it needs to be tailored.  I’ve tailored jeans that I liked, got a great deal on and wanted to keep, despite the fact that they didn’t quite fit (they now fit perfectly).  I’ve had my tailor repair jeans and shirts that had ripped, thereby reviving some of my favourite articles of clothing.  You can have ties narrowed, sleeves and armholes repositioned or narrowed, custom articles of clothing made, even t-shirts recut, sometimes for the price of buying you and a friend venti americanos and a muffin from Starbucks.  More importantly, they can take something you never wear, that lingers in the back of your closet like a spectre because you don’t like how it fits, what it looks like, or a certain thing about it and make it your “go-to” article of clothing.  Sometimes, you can go shopping in your own closet and find things that, with a little work, can be made new.

The only caveat is this: you need to know what a tailor can’t do.   They can’t really do much for suits that don’t fit in the shoulders (so, make sure your suits fit there; you can do some tailoring to the body of the suit, if need be).  They can’t remove shoulder pads, or reduce them.  They can’t really adjust the collar size of a shirt.  They can only work with the material you give them (i.e. you can’t have pants let out if there’s no material to let them out with.  You can’t have pants lenghtened without material being there to do it.).   It’s tough to adjust the rise of pants too substantially.  There is a limit to how many sizes they can take an article of clothing down (sorry, but those size 42 pants cannot be made into 32s…  The two back pockets will become one back pocket).  Sweaters aren’t really their speciality.  Re-working sleeves with functioning buttons is a problem (as it’s tough to move already made buttonholes without leaving very visible marks).  So is substantially lengthening or shortening a jacket (the pockets will now be in a slightly odd position, and it’s expensive).  Just like Superman had his limitations (kryptonite), so do tailors – in my experience, Superman is the most apt comparision for a great tailor.

3.  Wear a tie darker than your shirt, 95% of the time

– This is a good experiment:  walk into the suit section of Tip Top, Men’s Warehouse or other down-market men’s retailers – your eyes will be greeted with dress shirts in a ROY G. BIV assortment of colours.  Mannequins will be rocking solid black, red, green, dark purple and even orange dress shirts.  Then head over to one of the finer men’s stores in your area; I’ll toss out Harry Rosen, Niemen Marcus, Barney’s… any of those would be fine.  Now check out what colour shirts the mannequins and floor displays have on – I guarantee that at least 90% will be wearing shirts where the predominant colour is either white or blue (they may have red, purple, pink, green, orange or any other colour represented via stripes or checks, but the shirt will almost definitely be rooted in white or blue).  This isn’t an accident – solid black, red, orange, green and dark purple are not colours for dress shirts, unless you work as a magician in Vegas.  For whatever reason, it looks better when your tie is darker than your shirt, and these colours generally make this difficult.  They’re also tough colours to match and they’re definitely not traditional for business or just about any other form of social interaction.  This isn’t to say that you can’t wear solid shirts in colours other than white or blue; pink and lavender can be nice colours for shirts. However, stick with pale rather than dark shades, and pair with a tie in a colour darker than your shirt (navy, dark grey, etc). Furthermore, I have no problem if you’re going to cocktail party in a dark space at night and want to wear a black dress shirt with a black suit and no tie (see Bradley Cooper on the left).  If it’s nighttime and dark, and drinks are in the hands of many, then black may be an option (again, skip the tie) – but the look on the right is a train wreck.  Ties and black shirts do not go together, especially at the office.

Bradley-Cooper-the-hangoverbad purple dress shirt

4. Suit, shoes, tie and then shirt should be your focus in terms of allocating your attention and resources

A nice suit is something you need and is the most noticeable part of your business or formal wardrobe.  Plus, a suit is versatile, as it can be worn without a tie, just as a jacket with jeans or slacks, etc, or even the pants with a shirt and sweater.  Suits are also the most difficult thing to get right. Shoes are the next most important as bad shoes can destroy a look, even if you have a nice suit, tie and shirt.  Shoes can also be quite expensive and often demand a significant investment (although, if you purchase quality shoes, this investment should last a lifetime).  Ties come third as a nice tie will get you noticed positively, and a bad tie will immediately get you noticed negatively – if you’re diligent, you can often find nice ties at relatively low prices without sacrificing quality (eBay, Holt Renfrew Last Call, Saks Off 5th Avenue, Century 21, etc, can be excellent sources for high quality ties at bargain prices).  Furthermore, if you don’t own many suits, having a range of ties will make it seem like you have a wide ranging wardrobe.  Finally, shirts should be your last area of focus, as you can find nice shirts quite easily at good prices (see my articles about Shirts (here) and TM Lewin (here)).  The importance of shoes should really be underlined (I thought about putting them first).  Don’t fall into the trap of spending $150 on shoes and $140 on a shirt.  Spend $40 on a TM Lewin shirt, as per my post here, and $250 on the shoes (for some info about choosing shoes, read this post.

5. Don’t wear black suits or ties (or shirts) to work

Simply put, black is not traditional business wear, beyond shoes and belts.  A black suit doesn’t look good under artificial light (and is susceptible to, and looks worse after, fading more than any other colour).  Black ties are too formal for most workplaces (unless your job is hosting the Oscars, working at a funeral home or raising barns on the weekends with your Amish buddies).  And, as I discussed earlier, don’t even think about wearing a black dress shirt to any workplace.  Black is one of the hardest colours to match shirts and ties to.  Choose navy, charcoal grey, mid-grey, light grey, dark brown or even khaki or beige (in the summer time) for suits before you go with black.  This is especially important if you only have one or two suits, as your goal should be to maximize the number of colour combinations you can wear with your limited suit wardrobe.  That said, black is great when it comes to evening activities; for suits, ties or shirts.  So if you’re going out for a night on the town, as a 5th or 6th suit, or you’d like to wear it for other occasions that aren’t business related, think about black.  But unless you work as a chaplain or are going door to door for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or were given the suit as wardrobe for your role in ‘Book of Mormon’), go with navy or charcoal for your suits at the office, and skip black shirts and ties.

6.  Shoes polished.  Always.

When I was in university and needed a pair of brown dress shoes, I found a pair of Brown’s Shoe Store’s private label shoes on sale and bought them.  I couldn’t afford much more than a $75 investment and these looked nice enough for what they were and served me well.  Being that my grandfather and father have instilled in me a pseudo fanaticism about keeping shoes polished, I made sure that they sparkled when I wore them.  Amazingly, my $75 shoes got lots of compliments.  I’ve since upgraded my shoe collection, but nonetheless, these experiences underline something vitally important – you can make decent shoes look substantially better when you take the time to keep them polished.  I actually still have the shoes in my closet (the uppers remain in good shape, and, as they were glued, it was the soles that went first – I resoled them and they’re now my rainy day shoes). Conversely, you can make nice shoes look like cheap shoes if you do not polish them.   Polished shoes will set you apart from the rest of the dull-shoed masses and undoubtedly engender compliments.  How else can you upgrade your wardrobe for $3 (the price of a tin of shoe polish) and ten minutes of your time?

7.  The bottom button of a two or three-button suit should always be left undone.  The top button of a shirt worn without a tie should always be left undone too.

Not only is this the modern way of wearing suits, but, more importantly, suits are actually cut with the assumption that you will leave that button undone.  If you do it up, it will often result in a pull at that button and change the balance of the suit.  If you’re wearing a dress shirt (or casual button down, or polo shirt) without a tie, then leave the top button undone.  If you’re not wearing a tie, then clearly the occasion is at least mildly informal, so you don’t need to do that button up.  I realize that it’s hipster-chic to do these buttons up, but, at least in my mind, it doesn’t work for the majority of guys trying for this look.  If you want to add formality to your outfit, wear a jacket, don’t do it with that damn top button.  To my eyes, doing up the top button makes you look about as uptight as a nun in Vegas.  Even the guys on The Big Bang Theory don’t do up their top buttons, and that’s a strong statement.


8.  Step away from the cell phone belt holster

We get it, you have an iPhone, Galaxy or BlackBerry.  So do most 11 year old girls.  I’m sure you’re a very important man, who gets very important emails from very important people.  That’s great.  The good news is, those emails still manage to get to your phone when it’s in your pocket.  This applies in equal measure to your pants pocket and your suit jacket pocket – you really don’t need to display your BlackBerry like you’re Wyatt Earp in Tombstone.   I’ll make an occasional exception for individuals with holsters who wear suit jackets that will cover the holster, but grudgingly.  Unless you’re a time traveller from 5 years ago and are stuck with a BlackBerry with a side scroll wheel, than your phone will be slim enough to be in your pocket with no discomfort, I can assure you.  I covered this growing societal issue before here.


9. Polo or ‘golf” shirt sleeves should hit you mid-bicep, not below your elbow

Continue reading ‘One Guy’s Idiot-proof Rules for Dressing’


One Guy’s 10 Tips for Traveling in Style

I love to travel.  I always have.  Even though air travel has, generally speaking, deteriorated to the level of subway travel since 9/11, doesn’t mean it has to for you.  I somehow found myself on more than 40 flights over the last year and I figured I would pass along some of my tips for traveling in style.

In no particular order:

1. Your suitcase is the single most important item you bring with you

It can make your traveling life a breeze, or be a constant headache.  I almost never check a bag.  Of those 40 flights I’ve taken, I’ve checked a bag on less than 5 of them.  Twice were due to the extended nature of the trip, and the others were out of necessity (I moved cross-country twice this year).  Other than that, I can almost always cram my things into the generally allowed two carry-on bags.

A few years ago, I purchased a suitcase from Japanese store Muji.  I cannot imagine living without it now.  Muji is a cross between Ikea, H&M and… nothing that North America really has (other than Muji, which you can find in New York City, and online).  They make a wide variety of products, including household goods, clothing and luggage.  I own their black, wheeled, carry-on bag and it is outstanding for the price.  Their luggage is incredibly light, smart looking (it’s simplicity defined), durable, with lots of interior space, and most importantly has 4 wheels on the bottom.  I cannot stress the importance of having a rolling suitcase with four wheels enough: it will make your life much, much easier.  Instead of dragging your roller behind you, you can now walk normally with your bag rolling beside you (which surprisingly makes a large difference).  You can also nudge it ahead in whatever line you inevitably find yourself in.  Basically, it almost does the work of rolling itself along for you.


2. Add a passport case

While the Muji suitcase is decidedly ‘downmarket’, it’s always nice to mix a downmarket item with an ‘upmarket’ item.  Especially when this item can assist you in organizing your travel essentials. In Canada, when boarding a flight, one has to always show a piece of photo I.D., along with one’s boarding pass, even for domestic flights.  Trying to flip open a passport to the right page, hand said passport and boarding pass to the gate agent while lugging your coat, the aforementioned two carry-on bags, a coffee and whatever else you may be carrying, is a collosal pain in the ass.  Smythson of Bond Street’s passport cases are made out of beautiful leather, keep your passport open to the picture and also have a space for your boarding pass.  This prevents your boarding pass from looking like a piece of origami when you take it out of your pocket (or worse, losing it), while also letting you hand one thing to the gate agent rather than two.  It is also great for storing other travel documentation (Frequent Flyer membership cards, NEXUS/Global Entry cards, etc). It keeps your travel documentation organized in style, which is always nice and lets you simply toss one thing into your bag that has everything you will need to board a flight. If I didn’t already have my Smythson, I’d definitely look at the offerings from WANT Les Essentials de la Vie (a line of leather goods from Montreal that actually has a stand-alone store called ‘Passport’ in the Island Airport in Toronto), Valextra or, if you’re looking to save a few bucks, the Aspinal eBay store, which sells slightly imperfect or previously monogrammed goods.


3. Loafers are best

Sadly, we are now all one step away from being al Qeada in the eyes of the security personnel at North American airports.   We’re scanned, frisked and generally dehumanized as we slump through security with our shoes off, and pants de-belted.  Rather than spending 3 minutes searching for a chair to re-tie your shoes on the other side of security, go with some loafers that allow an easy on-off transition on either side of the metal detector/body scanner/guy-named-Jim-with-rubber-gloves-on. One caveat for this piece of advice is if you require boots for your trip – in that case, it will likely be best to wear them as they will take up an immense amount of your available luggage space.


4. Wear a blazer or coat

Similar to the loafers, I always wear a blazer or coat (depending on the season), preferably with a number of pockets.  This serves a few purposes.  First, it allows me to toss all my metallic items (change, wallet, watch, etc) into the pockets before I get into the security line so that once I get to the security line, rather than dumping all of these items messily into a bin, I simply remove my jacket.  Furthermore, as airports and airplanes swing wildly in temperature, it’s always good to have a few layers.  In addition, I find that gate agents, lounge attendants, flight attendants and the like treat you much better when you’re a little bit more dressed for the occasion.  Finally, packing a blazer into a suitcase will make said blazer look like you slept in it when you reach your destination.  Save the headache and just wear it (you can always lay it over your carry-on luggage in the overhead bin if you get hot). Having more storage space on your person while traveling is always of benefit.


The best jacket for travel tends to be more casual, with a fabric that won’t get too wrinkled (or looks good a bit wrinkled), with soft shoulders and a few usable pockets. A good example is the soft-shouldered Boglioli with patch pockets that can be seen above. Obviously climate and time of the year are important when choosing a jacket as well.

5. Noise cancelling headphones

A frequent flyer’s best friend.  They can take that crying baby six rows behind you and replace him with peace and serenity.  If you travel more than a few times a year, these are well worth it, particularly for long flights.  I have a pair of Bose, which seem to be the most common, but I’m sure there are other reputable brands out there.  My girlfriend borrows them when she’s looking for some peace and quiet to study at home as well, so they’re not a one-dimensional purchase. I would note that they are typically not allowed for take-off and landing, so make sure to bring some earbuds (which are allowed on many airlines if plugged into their in-flight entertainment system) for these two times, and also for walking around the airport.


6.  Scratch off the size

As mentioned above, nobody is beyond suspicion anymore in the security line.  Don’t even think about bringing more than 3.0 ounces of liquid or gel through that line or you will be met with an extended dialogue along the lines of: “Sir, can you please come over here for a minute.  Are you aware that you cannot bring liquids over 3.0 ounces through security?  Blah blah blah….”.  Yet, there are things you want to bring when you’re not checking a bag that don’t quite fit into those guidelines.  If the size is close, do what I do: scratch off the size.  Security personnel will, almost without exception, only throw away something if they can PROVE it is over the limit.  Even more annoying is, that while there may have originally been more than 3 ounces of liquid in a particular item, I rarely travel with new products and therefore there’s likely around 1.5 ounces left and the “3 ounces” listed on the side is merely academic. Save that pomade from the garbage and simply scratch off the size – I’ve been doing it for years and have never had even the slightest issue.

7. Don’t bring it as you can likely get it for free!

Along the same lines of #6, there is another way of getting around liquid restrictions, especially if you wisely are not checking a bag: don’t bring them. Many people are not aware that nearly all hotels will provide you (free of charge) a host of common items upon request. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, shaving cream, razors, mouthwash are some of the most common. Obviously soap, shampoo and conditioner are also standard fare. I would also save luggage space by not packing things like slippers and bath robes, as hotels will also lend you these (if they’re not already in your room when you check in, call the front desk and request them). Also, you can take these products home with you and use them on future trips, or throw them in your guest bathroom at home.

Even if you’re not staying in a hotel, travel size versions of these items are available for next to nothing at nearly any drugstore chain. $3 will kit you out with just about everything you need and so don’t stress about hauling your medicine cabinet across country.

7. Packing

I’m not a “list” person, per se – except when I travel.  I typically jot down a packing list a day or two before I leave.  I always organize my list into two columns – the first, is items that, if forgotten, would essentially ruin or greatly hamper my enjoyment of a trip (passport, glasses/contact lenses, wallet, cell phone, iPad….).  The other is essentially everything else.  However, there are some items that I don’t worry about because they are easily replaceable.  Toothpaste, deodorant and socks can be purchased anywhere for next to no cost (as discussed in detail above).  Don’t lose sleep over the small stuff, make sure you have the essentials and you’re basically in the clear.

Inevitably, you will only use 3/4 of the things you bring, so come to terms with that and slowly cut back on how much you pack.  Unless absolutely required, you should be able to fit all you need into two carry-on bags.  If you’re really pressed for space, buy a decent suit bag and fill it with things on hangers (and the bottom toss in a couple of pairs of shoes).  Keep in mind that it will be heavy and cumbersome, and you will hate lugging it around after 10 minutes, but it will get everything you need to your destination (and, because they’ll be on hangers, with far fewer wrinkles).  I try to avoid this approach as carrying a clothing bag is simply not fun at airports. On one occasion, I had a wedding with four separate events, each with vastly different levels of formality, forcing me to use drastic measures to get to everything onto the plane and back.

8. Relax and make the best of it: Having a beer is all about context. 

Having a beer at 12:30PM on a Tuesday in your apartment?  Sad.  Having that same beer at 12:30PM on a Tuesday on Opening Day at the ballpark?  Carry on and enjoy – in fact, have another.  The airport, along with ballparks, stadium tailgate parties and the cities of Las Vegas and New Orleans are essentially “judgment free zones” when it comes to (the responsible enjoyment of) booze, so use that to your advantage.  Airports in particular are becoming both less hospitable (hot, crowded, crumbling, low-ceilinged prisons with endless lines) and, in certain instances, more hospitable (there are some great restaurants, bars, shops, etc springing up in a number of airports.  For example, the Anchor Steam Bar in San Francisco, Mill Street Bar and Brewery in Toronto, Ike’s Restaurant in Minneapolis, Anchor Bar in Buffalo, etc.).  Either way, pull up a stool and enjoy a pint of the local specialty.  I’ve found some amazing beers that I would never have otherwise tried this way, and even familiar beers and food items just taste better in their home locale.  Beef on a weck, buffalo wings and Gennesse Cream Ale just taste better in Buffalo; the same goes for Anchor Steam at SFO, Brooklyn Lager at JFK, Fat Tire at DEN, Yuengling at PHL, Mill Street Tankhouse at Toronto Pearson, barbecue in Houston and guacamole in Cancun.  Sit back and enjoy the ride – don’t get stressed at the airport, use it as an extension of your vacation.


9. iPad

There is no greater travel tool than the iPad.  It fits into the seat pocket in front of you; is light and easily packed; lets you communicate with others via FaceTime, Skype, etc; holds movies, TV shows, e-books and music; allows internet access in the airport and on certain airlines mid-flight; and, you can now even put your boarding pass on it, making it a “one stop shop” for when you’re traveling.  While in-flight entertainment is improving (especially in Canada, where you can easily amuse yourself with the bevy of options on Air Canada seat-back TV systems) but you still want that ace in the hole in case your screen is the one that’s broken or you’ve seen the movie that’s playing.  The iPad can replace your laptop (especially if you have a keyboard for it) and is significantly smaller (huge plus when it comes to traveling) and lighter (even bigger plus).

10.  Skip the line

If there’s a way to skip any line at the airport, find it.  Programs like NEXUS, Global Entry, Known Traveler, etc are programs in Canada and the US that let you access special security lines and customs lines, speeding up your airport trip significantly.  They’re really worth the half-hour interview and $50 for the three years of benefits you receive.  Many airlines have credit cards that allow you to board the plane early, avoid baggage fees, access a special security line and/or access the first class lounge (this is a great benefit, especially if there’s a flight cancellation – everyone else will be forced to line-up at the gate or at customer service, while you can go to the lounge and get treated far better, far faster).  If you travel on a particular airline regularly (but not quite enough to gain elite status), it’s worth looking into these perks and finding a way to attain them. There are many easily accessible websites which detail the best credit cards for earning points and earning status and/or benefits, or even setting up a “mileage run” whereby you fly simply to earn miles to gain status (seems insane, but if you fly enough on an airline, the above listed benefits can be hard to live without).



This Week’s Object of Lust: Nordic Boots

Winter is tough on clothes and there is no article of clothing that takes more of a beating than your shoes. With dress shoes, you can at least cover them up with overshoes. However, if you take your typical casual shoe out into the elements, you’re really throwing them to the wolves. The summer and fall, at least for me, has been spent wearing sneakers, boat shoes, loafers, suede chukkah boots and the like.  All of these shoes would be very quickly destroyed by the snow, salt and sand that accompanies the winters in Canada (and other northern climes). Not only that, but your feet are going to be absolutely freezing in a pair of adidas Sambas and you’ll be sliding all over the place in a pair of chukka boots.

What then? Well, I’ve got some good news, gentlemen. One of the coolest shoes for guys at the moment is the nordic style boot. Nordic boots look fantastically vintage (especially when they sport bright red or orange laces), they look even better when they get beat up a bit, they’re typically waterproof and featured thick leather and lining that’ll keep your feet warm. Plus, they often feature treaded soles that prevent slippage on ice, a design feature that no doubt arises from their icy, nordic heritage.

Now that I’ve got your attention (and your wallet open), there are a number of options. On the high-end are beautiful boots from french luxury outdoor company Moncler (above on the left), which are available at But, given that these ring in at about $800, they’re probably an unrealistic splurge for most guys, especially since they’re really only wearable in winter and fall and early spring. Which brings me to two cheaper alternatives: the Timberland Newmarket Nordic Hiker (above on the right) and, the fantastic new Nordic boots from Roots (picture at the top of the post). The Timberlands will set you back $120 on their website here, while the Roots boots are $198 and available here.  In my opinion the Timberlands lack the euro flair of the Roots version – and, buying from Roots supports a Canadian company. Best of all, Roots has everything in store and online at 25% off this weekend, so your new boots will only set you back $150. Think of that $150 as an investment in keeping your other shoes in good shape, your feet warm and your butt from getting bruised after a spill on the ice.  Just make sure you don’t grab the last pair of size 10s before I can get my hands on a pair.


Corporate Style: Part 2 – The Shoes

In my last post, I mentioned that the business wardrobe has two anchors, suits and shoes. Suits are like Chris Bosh; important but nonetheless subtly overrated. Shoes on the other hand are like Manu Ginobli; people understand their importance at some level and yet they are highly underrated.

You will need a minimum of two pairs of shoes. There are a number of reasons for this, both practical and stylistic. First, it is extremely hard on a pair of shoes to wear them on back-to-back days. Some time apart from your feet in shoe trees are integral for them to last and stay looking their best. The second is that you will need a pair in black and a pair in dark brown. A running theme in dressing for business is trending towards dark items of clothing as dark clothing (other than with dress shirts) connotes formality. Thus, one’s first few pairs of brown shoes should be dark brown and not some of the lighter shades that are often available. In addition, these first two pair of dress shoes ought to be lace-ups as they are far more versatile than loafers. This versatility stems from their ability to be dressed-up while still looking cool with a pair of jeans on the weekend. Finally, shoes are the one item of clothing that is difficult to take short-cuts with in terms of cost. There is an incredible difference between cheap shoes and nice shoes and these tend to be readily obvious to just about anyone. Many women even suggest that shoes provide a barometer for them in terms of determining a man’s socioeconomic status. In the same way that fit is the first thing that people notice about suits, quality is the first with shoes and thus is important to buy, at the very least, one pair of good black shoes. Finally, under no circumstances should you purchase square-toed shoes. There was a brief time almost a decade ago where this style had a moment. However, one should never strive to be trendy in one’s business footwear; it is far better to buy a versatile and traditional pair of dress shoes with a rounded toe.


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