Men and their shoes

Women are typically stereotyped as being shoe lovers while men are assumed to be apathetic to the whole matter. Women tend to think that men will put on whatever is comfortable, or nearest, and have done with it. There is a general consensus among women, and indeed among many men, that men don’t particularly care about which shoes go with which pants and whether their socks match their shoes. But the truth is that men face just as many shoe issues as women: they’re just not as open about it.

Desiree Stimpert, from About.com, has noticed that while women are happy enough to wear a wide variety of styles (the more styles the better); men tend to stick to a certain style, and don’t venture much beyond it. If they’re sneaker-type guys, then the rest of their footwear will reflect a casual, sneaker-type look, even their dress shoes will somehow have a more sneakery look to them. Stimpert believes that this tendency towards mono-shoe styling has its roots in a lack of confidence rather than general shoe apathy. Men just aren’t sure that they will be able to do certain styles justice, so they stick with what they know.

One of the biggest issues that men have with shoes is matching them to pants. The general rule, agreed upon by fashion experts the world over, is that you should wear shoes that either match your pants or are a shade or two darker. That means that you never wear black shoes with white pants, ever.

Black shoes go best with pants that are either black, grey, dark blue or other dark colours. Brown shoes go with tan brown, beige or green trousers, as well as dark earthy tones. Tan shoes, distinct from brown, go with light earth tones as well as beige, light blue and white trousers. Then there is a special section for burgundy shoes, which probably shouldn’t be surprising, but is. Burgundy shoes go best with khaki, light brown, blue and grey pants.

It’s not essential to match your socks to your shoes, but that doesn’t mean that you can wear jarring purple socks with lime green trousers and get away with it (getting away with lime green trousers is hard enough as it is). Hosiery experts say that socks should compliment the overall outfit, or round it off, at least. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to pair dark socks with suits. Dark socks are also more suitable for dressy occasions.

If you wear a belt, it’s a good idea to try and match it to your shoes, although that also depends greatly on the look and feel of your overall ensemble. The rule is flexible for casual occasions but should be more strictly enforced for black tie affairs.

Another useful tip to remember is that the shinier the shoe, the smarter the occasion. So while it’s perfectly acceptable, necessary even, to pair shiny black shoes with dress pants, they tend to look a bit awkward and over-the-top with jeans. Jeans and other casual pants need to be complimented with more relaxed, casual shoes, such as sneakers and loafers.

The world of footwear is as uncertain one for both genders. The opportunities for engaging in fashion faux pas are great, but with a little care and a healthy dose of common sense, the major pitfalls can be avoided. After all, your footwear should compliment you, rather than define you.

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