According to the Greek essayist Plutarch, when Alexander the Great saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer. And when you open your shoe wardrobe and tick off the black Oxfords, brown brogues and white low-top trainers, it’s hard not to well up, too. Never again will you experience the unfettered joy that is justifiably purchasing footwear. Well, unless you become a sneakerhead. And even then.
Now, we’re not suggesting that you stray into the territory of Imelda Marcos, the legendary Filipino first lady who owned over 3,000 pairs. But there are other shoescapes that you can safely explore without verging on extravagant. These five modern, not-at-all-frivolous styles could legitimately invade even the most spartan, Marie Kondo-reading minimalist’s collection.
Wingtips are a solid go-to choice for toeing the smart-casual line. But with their sturdy construction, sometimes they’re just a little too uptight, especially when the temperature rises and the degree of formality drops in inverse proportion.
“A suede tassel loafer is a great summer alternative to a brogue or Derby and works with many different outfits,” says James Lawrence, head of menswear design at ASOS. “They look great worn with a tapered, ankle-skimming trouser for a summer wedding, but also marry with denim and coloured chinos in more casual looks.”
(Related: The Complete Guide To Men’s Loafers)
Note: Tasselled loafers are maybe a tad too breezy for the kind of formal occasion or workplace where an exposed mankle will be looked down on; especially if they’re suede, which makes them more casual. As a general rule, they look most polished in shiny leather, and black rather than brown, but at the sacrifice of some of that casual air and versatility.
- HE BY MANGO TASSEL SUEDE LOAFERS
- HE BY MANGO LEATHER LOAFERS WITH TASSELS
- PAUL SMITH SIMMONS SUEDE TASSELLED LOAFERS
- KG KURT GEIGER COLEMAN SUEDE TASSEL LOAFERS
- RIVER ISLAND DARK BROWN LEATHER TASSEL FORMAL LOAFERS
- FARAH STRUTT TASSEL LOAFERS
- REISS PATRICK SUEDE TASSELLED LOAFERS
- TOPMAN HUDSON TAN LEATHER TASSEL LOAFERS
- NEXT SUEDE TASSEL LOAFER
- NEXT TASSEL LOAFER
The internationally recognised symbol of sports luxe, a pair of slip-on sneakers – in leather, suede, or slightly more affordable imitation versions of either – with a dark upper and white sole has its uses beyond taking off before you take off (both in security and your seat).
Because of their skateboarding pedigree, rock them with a Thrasher hoodie and Dickies work chinos to pretend you were shredding like Tony Hawk’s food processor long before Dogtown became a fashion capital. Especially if you opt for a pair of board-approved Vans, which also have the benefit of being far lower priced than the myriad high-fashion take-offs, and lasting much longer than their fair-weather canvas equivalents.
In the case of leather and dark colourways, these convey formality, and as such can be worn as part of a smart, modern getup. Even if they’re Vans, they won’t attract anywhere near as many dirty looks as a pair of white sneakers, however pristine.
Plus, with their dark uppers, these can even slip under the radar of a shoegazing nightclub bouncer. If you’re lucky.
(Related: What To Wear To A Club)
- BUDDY G.S. SLIP ON TONAL BLACK
- VANS CLASSIC SLIP ON PREMIUM BLACK & TRUE WHITE
- COMMON PROJECTS SLIP ON LEATHER BLACK
- LANVIN PEBBLE-GRAIN LEATHER SLIP-ON SNEAKERS
- ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA PELLE TESSUTA LEATHER SLIP-ON SNEAKERS
- H&M SLIP-ON SHOES
- ZARA SLIP ON
- VANS CLASSIC SLIP-ON PERFORATED PLIMSOLLS IN BLACK VA38F7KVJ
- CALVIN KLEIN IVO SOLE SLIP ON TRAINERS
- HARRYS OF LONDON ETHAN JONES TECH LEATHER NAVY SNEAKERS
- REISS DELON SUEDE SLIP-ON SNEAKERS GREY
Worn by the Beatles and the nearly-as-ancient Rolling Stones, this 150-year-old faithful has been rebooted in recent seasons by the likes of Kanye West, David Beckham and Harry Styles – and deservedly so.
“Chelsea boots look great, protect you from the elements and are another versatile shoe to have in your arsenal,” says Mr Porter shoe buyer David Morris. “Their sleek design makes them just as viable for wearing with cropped suit trousers as they are for teaming with a good pair of slim jeans to show off the silhouette.”
(Related: 5 Boots Every Man Should Own)
As with tassel loafers, suede skews more casual than leather, and brown more than black (tan or lighter, even more so). Then there are versions with a crepe rubber sole that you’d more normally associate with less formal desert boots. That’s not necessarily out of step though.
“Chelsea boots, for me, tend to be more suited to weekend wear,” says Morris. “Going to dinner with friends, to the pub and even to a sporting event.” Not just Chelsea matches either.
- GRENSON DECLAN SUEDE CHELSEA BOOTS
- COMMON PROJECTS CHELSEA BOOT LEATHER
- REISS TENOR SUEDE SUEDE CHELSEA BOOTS TAUPE
- RIVER ISLAND BROWN SUEDE CHELSEA BOOTS
- ZIGN SUEDE CHELSEA BOOTS
- PAUL SMITH GERALD GRAIN LEATHER CHELSEA BOOTS
- NEXT PUNCH CHELSEA BOOT
- TOPMAN HUDSON LONDON BLACK LEATHER CHELSEA BOOTS
- REISS LIVERPOOL ALLEN EDMONDS SUEDE CHELSEA BOOTS CHOCOLATE
- COMMON PROJECTS SUEDE CHELSEA BOOTS
Speaking of football, one of this season’s biggest footwear trends is inspired by the beautiful game. Specifically, the kind of non-marking sole that you might wear to play five-a-side – in the seventies and eighties – will now also mark you out from the ubiquitous Stan Smiths and Common Projects.
“A gum-sole is a great update for the classic white terrace trainer,” says ASOS’ Lawrence. “It’s the perfect nod to the retro trend that is key for spring/summer 2017, especially worn with a check trouser.” Smart-casuals, if you will.
(Related: This Year’s Biggest Men’s Trainer Trends)
Old-school gum-sole models from PE lessons such as the Adidas Samba are also bouncing back like Sam Allardyce parachuting in to save a bottom-of-the-table side from relegation a little too quickly. But the pertinent detail is being added to all manner of styles: there are more gum shoes on shelves this season than at a private detective’s convention.
And unlike ugly running trainers, this is one fad you won’t regret having a toe-punt on. As Ray Winstone’s giant, disembodied head might say just before kick-off: have a bang on that.
- REEBOK CLUB C 85 GUM WHITE & REEBOK ROYAL
- FRED PERRY SPENCER SUEDE CREPE SOLE SNEAKER
- SOPHNET. GERMAN ARMY TRAINER BLACK
- AMI PANELLED LEATHER SUEDE AND MESH SNEAKERS
- ADIDAS ADIDAS ORIGINALS MUNCHEN FAUX LEATHER-TRIMMED SUEDE SNEAKERS
- ASOS LACE UP TRAINERS IN BLACK WITH GUM SOLE
- ADIDAS ORIGINALS MUNCHEN TRAINERS IN WHITE BB2778
- NEW BALANCE SUEDE SOCCER TRAINERS IN BLUE CT288BG
- TOPMAN GREY LEATHER AND SUEDE RETRO TRAINERS
- ONITSUKA TIGER MEXICO 66 DELEGATION SUEDE TRAINERS
- VANS OLD SKOOL BLACK LIGHT GUM
Knitted trainers are a smart idea for a number of reasons: they’re comfortable, breathable and sustainable (as only the precise amount of material needed is used), and they’re made entirely by needle-wielding grandmas. OK, maybe not that last one.
Additionally, their knitted-ness lends them a slightly premium feel, in the same way a knitted polo is a level up from a woven one, or a jumper is fancier than a sweatshirt. That and their streamlined, contemporary vibe means they work where ugly running trainers don’t.
“The modern guy wants products that can transcend multiple parts of the day,” says Andrew Manteit, founder and director of athleisure e-tailer The Active Man. Knitted trainers intertwine fashion and function in a way that few other kicks do. Yes, you might deadlift in your zero-drop Converse, but you probably wouldn’t want to wear them for a 10K.
(Related: 10 Future Men’s Wardrobe Classics)
As the technology for creating these kicks spreads across the industry, Manteit recommends going off the beaten track of Nike’s Flyknit and Adidas’ Primeknit with other brands such as Athletic Propulsion Labs’ TechLoom, which were banned by the NBA for being too bouncy in a Flubber-style scandal.