In the movie “Sneakers,” when River Phoenix was telling Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier about the men who had come asking about Marty, there was a conversation that went something like this:
Poitier – “Suits?”
Phoenix – “Rack.”
Redford – “Shoes?”
Phoenix – “Expensive.”
Poitier and Redford – “Government!”
Whether we like it or not, shoes speak volumes about the man wearing them. And while it isn’t always necessary to wear designer brands or the latest couture styles, a basic understanding of the message your shoes can send is critical for every man who desires to be a man of style and substance.
An earlier post addressed some basics for selecting shoes for a suit and a carefully crafted professional look. This post will deal with shoes from a different perspective; we are going to look at shoes for all looks. Three things figure into this equation: materials, style and function.
Function is the easiest of the three to address. Function is about how the shoes feel, how they move with you, and how comfortable they are. Please understand, I am not saying that this factor of function trumps the others because I address it first. Function is important, but only as a part of the choice.
Currently, in the shoe world, there has been some effort by shoe manufacturers to cater to Joe Average by combining the distinctive look of a dress shoe with the inner working of an athletic shoe. And regardless of how finely written the copy on their advertising, I think it is safe to say that a shoe that works to combine the best of both worlds will rarely be a perfect fit in any world. Said another way, just because a pair of shoes is built with the shank and innersole of a basketball shoe doesn’t mean it’s going to be serviceable for a quick game of hoops. Likewise, the things that make shoes work on the court often make them stand out in not-so-flattering ways in the boardroom.
Function accepts this premise, and understands it, and doesn’t shy away from it. The principle of function recognizes that comfort of the shoe is a factor of both its appearance and its wear-ability. Function recognizes that if you are going to be on your feet for eight hours straight, the selection will be different than if you will be making short trips from office to board room to your car for the drive home at the evening. Function also recognizes that any number of issues can affect footwear choice, from anticipated weather through the day to the likelihood of stopping by a football practice or a dance recital at the end of the day to see your kids in one of their special moments.
Function is just one of the factors that impacts on footwear selection. The other factors will be discussed in upcoming posts.
On another note, we are going to be launching the “Everyday Dads” section of this website, where we will ask an “everyday dad” some questions about being a father, about handling the work life balance and other topics of importance to the modern man of style and substance. Do you know someone whom I should touch base with about these ideas? Are you one of those people we should be getting answers from? Drop me a line in the comments. After all, we’re all in this together.