Most clothing is designed to compliment. A tie creates contrast, or breaks up solid colours. A jacket completes an ensemble.
But like hats, shoes don't compliment so much as they made a statement. What shoes you wear in a situation determine what you're saying about who you are. Sneakers with a suit, shoes with buckles, brown boots, beat-up runners. All of these are perfect for different situations.
In the winter, you're somewhat screwed when it comes to options. There's really only so much you can do with snowproof boots and leather shoes. Now that spring's finally here, we've got some new footwear for you to enjoy.
During my short stint as a teacher, an acquaintance of mine wore buckles every day to the school. He had taught himself how to dance with them, and frequently did. He liked to match the shoes with sharply fitted slacks and a blazer. In short, he was a slickly dressed dude.
He proved one thing: Buckles are a classy, tasteful way to make leather shoes stand out.
Wear them to the office or out for an evening. Unlike hats, where you’re on shakier ground, buckles can generally add an old-world flair to any tasteful outfit.
Pictured: Moccasin with double G ornament, by Gucci $545
That said, for the casual setting during the daytime, you won't want to wear your dress shoes.
A friend of mine is a heavy-duty biker. She swears by cycling, and spends a lot of time and money on her bike and bike accessories. I say more power to her: the bicycle as an invention is ingenious, one of the most efficient forms of transportation in the world.
Me, I'm a heavy walker. I walk everywhere, and consequently I tend to burn through shoes pretty quickly. My sneakers get their heel punched through, the leather of my sandals are worn and broken, the sole of my leather boots have come clean off.
If you're a heavy walker, you'll need a leather boot that looks stylish and can handle some work. Waxy brown makes it versatile, a boot that can work with business wear and blue jeans.
That said, the versatility of a brown boot only goes so far. For an evening out to the cinema or restaurant, go with black shoes. If you're going dancing at a club, wear something looser.
That said, if you're going to a punk show, sturdy boots are recommended. Context is everything.
Pictures: Desert Boot, by Clarks $129
However, if you're going out to a club with friends, you'll want something a little glam, comfortable and just a little loud. I once went out clubbing in a pair of expensive leather winter boots, and navigating my way around hipsters in those things was hell.
Don’t make my mistake, grab a snazzy pair of sneakers or skate shoes with a sole that can stand up to some torment, and dance your heart out.
Pictured: Chukka Low in black, by Vans $55
But what if you just want to lounge around town?
Some people feel loafers suggest affluence a bit too much, with all the classism complications that go along with that, but they don't have to.
Treat loafers as simple casualwear and they can add comfort to an already casual look.
Avoid taking them along with formal wear, and don't take them into situations where they might get torn or beat up (you'll want something more solid and less casual). I had a wonderful pair of black-and-white loafers that I took out for too many rough-and-tumble adventures, and they got chewed through.
The moral of the story is: Treat loafers well and they'll treat you well. After all, they're designed for comfort. That goes both ways.
Pictured: Air Newport Slip-On, by Cole Haan $128
Remember, shoes make a statement. This season, go stylish, pick the shoes for the right setting, and make a splash!