It’s time to jump feet first into the fundamentals of fashion – your shoes. This article examines why shoes are the most important part of a man’s wardrobe.

It used to be said that ‘Manners maketh a man’. In modern times, it’s a man’s shoes as well as his manners that make up his overall personality.

Bottoms up!

Any good fashion designer will tell you that your personal style begins from the feet up, and not the other way around. As surprising as it sounds, people are apt to notice your feet – and by extension, your shoes – before their eyes sweep upwards and take in the details of your clothes, watch, and other accessories.

Most men have only a few pairs of shoes in their wardrobe, choosing to match them with their multiple outfits. That is not to say that there must be one pair of shoes to match every single pair of trousers. It just means that certain kind of footwear goes well with certain kinds of clothing. For example, men’s sneakers go well with joggers and jeans. Meanwhile, a pair of Moccasins will be right at home with a pair of fitted, slim trousers. But boots go well only with casual pants like cargos and dad jeans.

The point is, your lone pair of leather Oxfords cannot be paired with all the clothes that you have in your wardrobe. Investing in a pair each of men’s sneakers, brogues, boots, chappals, mojris and regular office wear leather shoes, will hold you in good stead for all your outfit changes.

Most men take the easier route when shopping for shoes – they just pick the first pair of black shoes they find and wear them with everything. Do invest in a pair of well-crafted, expensive shoes that will last quite a long time with minimal repair work. But do change your footwear once every year – shoes used often tend to go out of shape and may change your gait and balance. Once you notice the soles getting worn out, it is time to change your shoes.

Match your shoes with…your belt

Most men match their shoes with their trousers. This is a cardinal fashion sin – playing ‘matchy’ with your clothes is amateurish. Take care to match your shoes with your belt. The human eye is conditioned to look for symmetry when it appraises another person’s clothes. The belt and the shoes offer good visual symmetry, and they up the ante on your personal style as well.

Shoe maintenance basics

  • Read the manufacturer’s care instructions when you buy a new pair of shoes. Different materials require different kinds of care.
  • Keep your shoes in a separate shoe cabinet, with each pair spaced a little apart. Never pile one pair of shoes over another, this only ruins their shape and makes the bottom pair dirty.
  • Throw in a few sachets of silica powder in the corners of the shoe cabinet, so that they absorb any dampness in the air.
  • Do not wash your shoes unless they are made of rubber. Water can change the composition of most materials, especially rexine and leather. It also leaves stains on the surface. Use special polishes and waxes as directed.
  • It is a good idea to keep leather shoes inside a cloth bag, with a silica packet to absorb any moisture. This is especially important during the monsoon season, when leather gets mouldy.