A Firm Footing in Smart Casual.

As hinted at yesterday, I’ve embarked on a new journey. Actually I’ve more sort of turned down a tributary of the river elegance. Up until now, I’ve concentrated on the impact of the classic age of menswear on the way that I dress. I love a good suit and I wish that more men would buy and wear them regularly. Sure we’ve seen some pattern mixing, there was the debate over denim, and I’ve even tried to sort out some classic looks for women (hoping to do more of that as this latest foray colours my thinking.)

Wisco’s prescient and nicely put comment on yesterday’s post really summed it up for me. He wrote:

Should we give up and just focus on smart casual? It all depends on your goal: If you wish to gain a larger audience that might learn something… anything about elegance, the answer is yes. This won’t please the purists, but frankly may cause us to rethink the basic question, “What is elegance?” Your recent guest post on 10 Essentials was one to cause people to think… why not smart casual.

Now, I’ll never give up wearing suits and ties, shining my shoes, trying to carry off a hat or hoping that the last square-toed shoe has gone the way of the Dodo, but I do see the need for more casual wardrobe choices in today’s world. So, I’ve begun to troll the internet, sift through the magazines, comb through the books, look around at my surroundings and dream about what could be if we all really cared about personal presentation.

I thought I’d start at bottom to give us a bit of grounding. Besides, I have shoes to shine today, so I might as well take some before photos…

If there is one belief that still holds water among the people I know, it is that shoes make a difference. Why, then, do so very many of us schlep around in running shoes, clumsy moccasins and …. flip-flops? (In their defence, the majority of women of my acquaintance get this right. With the exception of Uggs, which to me look like Clydesdale hooves, Dansko clogs and flip-flops.)

Is it comfort? Is it cost? Is it indifference? Who knows. But here goes.

The smart casual shoe is one that is dressy enough to be worn with a coat and tie and casual enough to be worn with jeans, corduroys and khakis. In my book, that means leather or suede. But it needn’t mean laces.

A great pair of slip-on’s — loafers, moccasins, call them what you will — will take you far. I find that the higher the apron and tongue, the dressier the look under a suit. A plain toe is always a good option, or opt for something spectacular like ADG’s slip-ons.

Regular readers know my penchant for monkstraps. They look great with blazers and grey flannels. And with cords. Especially when highly polished. they take som getting used to for some. But take a stroll through the shots from Pitti. The Italians wear a lot of monks. Especially the double monk. Me? I’m saving up for a pair of Oundles. Except that ADG’s slip ons keep softly calling my name.

All the hipsters seem intent on the revival of loggers boots. Boots are useful, when it’s cold. The ones I favour will do little to warm you up or to keep you too insulated from the vagaries of the winter weather. But you’ll look good after removing your galoshes. Paddock boots, chukkas, and the brilliant Chelsea boot all get high marks for style no matter what is going on above the ankle. Keep them sleek and not too chunky is my rule of thumb. They were good enough for our Mr. Steed, after all.

I’m off to make mine gleam.

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