Archive for the ‘Shoes’ Category

A Secret About Sears

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

These days it seems like only the few, fawned over brands bother with building goods handsome and built to last. But once upon a time that wasn’t the case, and even at not-so-chic Sears you’d find scrumptious sweaters made by Ohio Knitting Mills and wingtips as deadly and dapper as the four in my collection.

The first pair wound up in my possession randomly, as part of a costume for a film, and a size and a half too large for me. But the second set were selected because they were the most striking of all the brown wingtips in my size at a local vintage shop.

The rest were sought out specifically on e-bay, and although the era and interior Sears emblem varies a bit from style to style, each pair is rock-solid outside and pillow soft inside. With vintage wingtips, if the leather is too pebbly or too dull the shoe reads as too dusty, dated and drab – but the Sears shoes are grained and glossed just perfectly so.

And, apropos for a Sears shoe, even a rare vintage one, I’ve never paid more than $19.99 for a pair. If Alden or Trickers wingtips elude you economically, go see the softer side of Sears.

L.L. Bean Signature Sneak Peek

Friday, July 30th, 2010

The pretty-great goods don’t go live on the web ’til Monday, but a sneak peek at L.L. Bean Signature’s Fall 2010 Catalog reveals my new must-have boot.

The super-famous Bean Boot’s been pictured on all the bearded, East Coast hipsters over the past few years and thus many times I almost pulled the e-bay trigger on a vintage pair of mid navy blue or tall tan ones.

But I never ever did, which I’ve just today decided was a secret blessing. Because now I am free to guiltlessly bag these full grain, black-topped treasures for fall.

For five seconds I thought they’d be even better with black rubber bottoms to match the ebony leather. But then I reversed my position completely.

They’re just right just as they are!

Lessons In Boat Shoe Survival

Monday, July 19th, 2010

PROLOGUE: ASOS

Initially reticent to re-board the boat shoe trend, I began last March with these shiny half loafers/half deck shoes from ASOS. I ended up wearing them all spring, but also wanted something a bit dressed down and de-glossed, although still black and not brown, to better avoid looking like my 6th grade suburban self.

When it comes to boat shoes I’m just not on board with visible branding, so that ruled out Sperry and its boastful little boat-stamps, as well as Parabot, Rogues Gallery, and Sebago and their fabric heel tag/flags.

CHAPTER 1: QUODDY

By early May, I thus wound up at  Quoddy and their custom-order options and accompanying six week waiting times. I figured I’d finally have my summer shoes by mid/late June which is technically when true summer begins, and as a bonus, I’d always suspected I had truncated but wide feet and so got to order my boat shoes not in a standard D width but E.

Nine-instead-of-six weeks after early May, the made-just-for-me Quoddy boat shoes washed up on my battered city shores.

I don’t know if it was their inherent style or the fact that I’d ordered them in the wider E size, but they seemed bizarrely shaped and bloated somehow, and the leather was awfully injured-looking, and struck me not so much as thin, taut shoe leather, but as puffy foamed rubber or something.

With $235 plus the weight of all my summer-shoe dreams weighing on them, it took me minutes instead of the usual hours/days to decide to return them for a refund.

Summer was half over and I was drowning in disappointment. Was it worth pinning my hopes on a pair of black rescue-boat shoes? Or should I just dead man’s float until next spring and start all over?

CHAPTER 2: LANDS END CANVAS

Having worn in my black and buffed ASOS pair to an even more beloved place in my heart during my wait for Quoddy, and then spotting Joel Goodsen on TV dicking around his driveway in a pair of short cut-offs and banal brown, white-soled boat shoes, I re-set my course.

With the visual search engine at ShopStyle.com as my skipper, I sailed toward Lands End’s new hipped-up Canvas branded line, and ordered their chestnut brown boat shoes marked down from $80 to $60 and waited but two days for them to arrive in two different sizes so I could pick which fit best.

When they did, I wasn’t sure if they looked cheap or not, but I was certain their laces didn’t match their leather well enough. Or that the two I had ordered were the right size, so I ordered a third, returned the smallest and the largest, and kept the median 8.5s.

But only as a back-up plan. (Why, after everything I already went through, would I make things easy for myself now?)

CHAPTER 3: QUODDY BY WAY OF O’CONNELLS

Because earlier this year I had seen Ryan at YouHaveBrokenTheInternet order a pair of the Quoddys – but in brown instead of black, and with a white sole, and from O’Connells in NY which gloriously didn’t require agonizing wait times (as long as you were down with the white soles, which, thanks to Risky Business, I now completely was). And I just wanted to be sure if Quoddy was or was not an option for me in my boat shoe adventures.

I considered forgoing the wider E style again for a less bloated-looking D, but, perhaps out of self-sabotage, I again went wide, and when the second summer Quoddys arrived the leather and laces did look a little bit better than my back-up Lands End pair, but with three lace holes instead of two, they seemed trickier to slip right into and out of. Which, to me, is the most super of the boat shoe’s powers.

And the real stickler to me about the brown Quoddys was: They looked handsome and heritage-y and very now. But what I’d ended up really wanting, I realized, was something really dated and Dad-ish. Duh.

And so back went the second Quoddys.

And out into the light of a summer Friday night went the Lands Ends.

EPILOGUE

Until, after wearing them out to dinner, I realized they were sadly too small and needed to be replaced by the exact same style, just a half/size larger.

I’m waiting for those shoes to arrive, but I have to say, wearing the Lands Ends for even an hour (not pictured) stretches and shines the leather in a way that instantly rids them of whatever “patina of cheap” I worried if they initially had, and the laces darken and soften and pair better with the leather of the shoes too.

For $80 (the Lands End sale just ended, natch), and after all my misadventures, they’re remarkably unremarkable. Just like the ones I had in 1988, and just like Joel’s.

Which means they’re way, way, way beyond perfect.

Do they warrant the longest Treasury entry in history? Probably not. But what in fashion is ever truly warranted?

White Warriors

Friday, June 11th, 2010

I think the Chinese characters peeking out from under your pants cuffs on these Warrior shoes would be a lot more charming than some standard old swoosh. (Sorry Nike.)

I haven’t had much luck finding a white court shoe that I ever bother to wear much and am wondering if all that would change if I could pair my clothes to a pair of these Warriors.

I like almost everything about them – but am not so sure about their faux-bois soles…

Are they a deal breaker (ladies?)

The Oil Drill

Friday, February 12th, 2010

It’s a definite kick…

taking care of your kicks…

when you’re oil cans of tin…

look as polished as this.

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Screen shot 2010-02-04 at 10.14.41 AM

Can3

Oliver Steeds

Monday, February 1st, 2010

I didn’t even have to flip through the channels. It was easier and more fateful than that. I just flicked on the TV Wednesday night and there it instantly was – Solving History With Olly Steeds on the Discovery Channel.

Screen shot 2010-01-31 at 8.04.40 AM

Olly Steeds, the program, is bit unruly – its titular promise of ancient mysteries solved, rarely fulfilled.

But Olly Steeds, the daring dude, is worthy of being you and your mom and dad’s official Man Crush of 2010. He’s Steve McQueen with a thick, Brit accent; he’s Bear Grylls with a better nose and more covetable clothes.

Steed’s wardrobe is seemingly rooted in rote R.E.I. territory, but the way he recklessly rocks it with motorcycling jackets, square-shaped shades, and beautifully battered boots achieves that illusive “effortless” quality the rest of us spend so many hours orchestrating.

I’m not sure how exciting the rest of his adventures will prove this season, but I’m tagging along with old Olly anyway, just to see what he’s wearing.

Ask an Expert

Friday, January 15th, 2010

I have a question. I need expert guidance. I need your help.

PaulNewman

tss-spring-summer-2010-2

What does one call boots like the two pictured above?

They seem more suede-ish than leather. Shaped almost like roper boots, but not quite. Almost engineer boots, but there’s no buckles…

I want to track some down.

Un-Boxing Day

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Last Christmas was the first year I specifically gifted myself a treat (my Russian Lomo LC-A film camera). It wasn’t a ritual I had specifically intended to turn into an annual holiday tradition, but after recently re-posting my year-long fascination with the Beams Plus work oxfords, I wound up indulging myself in a fancy, foreign find for the second Christmas in a row.

WeinbrennerBeams

Like practically everything worth wanting these days, men’s fashion-wise, my Beams had been trapped in Japan, for what I thought would be forever. But Treasury reader Vadim K. commented that a proxy such as JapanGoodsFinder.com could make my Beams Dreams come true. (For a not-small fee.)

So on Saturday December 19th I submitted an inquiry about my shoes. The next morning a brief, polite e-mail was in my in-box as well as a PayPal invoice which tacked on about 25 percent of the shoe’s regular retail price. Hmmm….

Japan1

I agonized over whether it all was worth it, and if I had requested the best size, and wondering what I would do if my shoes didn’t fit. But by the afternoon of Sunday December 20th, I pulled the trigger via PayPal and less than four days later, on Christmas Eve, my shoes arrived fresh from the Beams shop in Harajuku. (Packages from J. Crew take longer than that!)

Japan2

I waited until after Christmas to unbox my risky gift to myself. I didn’t want the possibility of them not fitting to fowl up my holiday. But everything turned out perfect. My dweeby oxfords looked just like I’d dreamed they would, fitting roomy and right. I can’t wait to lace ’em up properly and poke around like Pete Martell.

Japan3

Many thanks to Japan Goods Finder and to regular reader, Vadim K!

A Me That Shall Never Be

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Additional Treasury reader Holiday Wish Lists are still to come but I wanted to divert the attention back to me for just one brief post. Or rather, a version of Me That Shall Never Be.

An itemized list of my thwarted evolution:

1) Spurred on by the styling of the Fine and Dandy Fall lookbook I risked my reputation to proclaim that beréts were back to see another fashion day. I ordered a seven buck blue one but no matter how I folded or flopped it I never looked like a fine or remotely dandy gentleman, I just looked like a 1980s lady.

Beret

2) The Avantguard frames by Han at Blackbird are the kind of algebra instructor eyewear I’d like to wear regularly, but irony is essential to the equation and if there’s one thing my hard-faught moustache of 2009 has taught me it’s that my face just doesn’t do irony.

Glasses

3 & 4) This winning Wilson jacket and these Beams Plus oxfords I could wear, and I would wear, constantly probably, if only my home shipping address was way less American and way more Japanese.

Wilson

Shoes

5) And finally, I can’t change where I live or what my head can and can’t do with boy beréts and Mathlete frames. Though I very easily could’ve added this red Filson Sportsman bag to the Me I’m Trying To Be. But I waited too long and Context sold out.

Filson

So, dang it. For now, I’m stuck just being the Old Me.

When I get the inspiration and ingredients for a Me I Could Actually Be, I’ll introduce you to him. He’ll probably be pretty swell.

Anytime, But Now

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

There’s a trick, and I’m figuring out how to master it, in creating a head-to-toe timeless look that says to the world “Anytime” and yet still whispers clearly enough “But definitely right now.”

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My best guess is keeping everything square and standardized, and then finding one focal feature to totally flub.

Any other theories?

Color Story

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

On white and off-white. Alright?

FranceBag

by Canoe 2

3_arrows

Swipenike31

BayRum

Black & White

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

These Red Wing desert/chukka boots are my sole shoe selections for Fall 09. I’ve become a staunch supporter of this general style the past few years as I tend to roll my pants up two or three times most days and this style of boot hits at the ankle perfectly then.

RedWingChukka

Since I’ve been kicking around in earthy brown shoes the past many months, the stark simplicity of these Red Wings’ barely glossy black feels especially brisk and bold to my eye, setting today’s waning trend of woodsmen references in fashion into a slicker and stylistically subtler direction.

Sturdier than my J. Crew desert shoes and less clunky than my vintage 875s, these new Wing-ers weren’t a steal, but will hopefully prove perfectly practical for a litany of fall looks – a wise investment in the long run. (I do hope.)