How I went from disinterested in shoes, to owning more than a dozen.
About the author: Dave I. (aka DocDave on Threads) has been a Dappered reader for several years. His interest in fashion started with shoes and expanded to encompass watches, suits, and general men’s style. When not thinking about his next purchase he can be found enjoying a pint of locally brewed craft beer.
So the time has come. For whatever reason, you decide to start dressing nicer and need a place to start. But where? – New pants? New shirts? New shoes? New underwear? The possibilities are endless, and can be daunting. Besides, once you find your starting point, how do you go about building your wardrobe? For me, I struggled with all of this. In my case, my path to sartorial goodness started literally from the ground up; with a simple pair of shoes.
Before the Beginning: There were Blundstones. And that was it.
For years I owned and wore only one pair of shoes, and that pair of shoes were Blundstones. For the unfamiliar, they’re sort of a work-boot Chelsea hybrid. Not anywhere as slim & sleek as a Chelsea, but no laces. It didn’t matter if I was wearing a suit and tie, a pair of jeans, or a pair of chinos. The shoes that accompanied my outfit were black Blundstones. I wore them all. the. time. At no point in time did it ever occur to me to purchase a different pair of shoes. The Blunnies would suffice because after all, it was just footwear. Who pays any attention to shoes?
My first love: Blundstones.
One day about three years ago, while sitting in a business meeting (I was wearing a suit and my Blunnies, of course), I noticed the slick Chelsea boots a colleague was wearing. I looked at my Blundstones. I looked at his shoes. And I took that first step along the dressing-better-journey that so many of us have taken. I opened my mouth and casually said, “Hey, nice shoes. Where did you get them?” His response was something along the lines of “Why are you interested, you wear the same shoes day-in and day-out.” (Editor’s note: Not cool. It takes some guts to ask that kind of thing.) Ouch! Now that was cutting. Good thing I’d known the guy for years, and like any male whose authority was threatened, I was determined to show my friend that I, too, could own a good pair of shoes. To the internet I went!
My leap of faith looked just like AE Fifth Streets.
My web surfing (thanks Google) led me to a post on Dappered that highlighted a sale on Allen Edmonds shoes. Taking a chance on what was written, and being a complete fashion noob, I took the plunge and bought a pair of black Fifth Street boots. Remember, I always wore black Blundstones, and while these looked like fancy dress shoes, they were still boots. Baby steps my friends. Baby steps. This was a huge gamble for me as a) this was more money than I’d ever spent on a pair of shoes in my life and b) I had never tried on a pair of AE shoes before. I was gambling that the Fifth Streets would fit true to size.
My gateway shoes: Jet black Allen Edmonds Fifth Street Boots
A week or so later, my Fifth Streets arrived and I took them for a spin around the office. Wow. Talk about an immediate change in not only my appearance, but also how I was perceived. Suddenly people whom I had been working with for years started commenting on what I was wearing. This was new territory for me. My suits hadn’t changed. My shirts hadn’t changed. Just the shoes. And they were black, classic cap toe oxfords with some brogue details, only in boot form. I hadn’t thrown on a pair of flashy monk straps, yet people still took notice. Who knew shoes could make such a big difference? Certainly not I.
Kicking the acquisition of kicks into high gear.
About a month or so later, I decided to pick up another pair of non-blundstone shoes. And this time, I didn’t just dip a toe into the wingtip-waters, I dove in head first. These shoes were from a local shoe store and they had some flair; instead of being monotone, they were a mixture of brown and dark blue. Two months ago I owned nothing but black blundstones. Now I was taking risks. I decided to pick up another pair that was less flashy, and settled on a pair of inexpensive brown suede saddle shoes. Again, paring these and my new Fifth Streets with my rotation of work clothes generated comments from colleagues and friends alike. It was like I had stumbled on this secret sartorial garden that no one else knew about.
You wanna get nuts? LET’S GET NUTS.
Perhaps the most memorable comment during this time came from a colleague. “Dave, I don’t know much about women, but I do know that they like a man who wears nice shoes”. Those colleagues’ words by the way definitely turned out to be true (I asked out my current girlfriend soon after). From that moment forward I was sold. Nice shoes became a part of my life. Over the next twelve months my shoe collection expanded from one pair of Blundstones to approximately 12 pairs of dress shoes.
The end, and how it now starts, every day.
My whole attitude towards style has done a complete 180. When planning what I am going to wear for the day, I begin from the ground up. My shoes influence what the rest of my wardrobe will be. Instead of my shoes being a complete afterthought, given no consideration at all, they have become the focal point of my wardrobe. This change in attitude had not come to my attention until one day early in in 2013, when coming into the office I found a note taped to my office door that read “Shoe King”.
I didn’t know whether to smile or assume I was being mocked. I chose to smile. After reading the note, I realized my days of wearing one and only one pair of shoes had come to an end. Various styles of shoes were now part of my life, and they were a great way to launch my decision making for what I was going to wear each day.
Oh and those Blundstones? Yeah, they still get worn. Just not with a suit and tie anymore.