Can't be a shoe-in without right footwear

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Can't be a shoe-in without right footwear

Wearing the right pair of shoes is like putting the period at the end of a sentence. A wardrobe isn't complete without appropriate shoes.

Here are some tips to make sure you've got your feet covered:

- Get that Mr. Perfect look

Classic designs never go out of fashion. A classic lace-up shoe that goes with almost every kind of suit is the oxford.

In the world of footwear, lace-ups project a sense of meticulousness and perfection. If you want to appear professional, go lace-up.

Lace-up oxfords come in various toe designs: plain-toe, cap-toe and wing-tip. Of these, the decorative wing-tip is the most traditional. If you have broad and big feet, cap-toe shoes can make your feet look smaller.

Keep in mind that the more casual you want to go, the lighter your oxfords should be. Heavy oxfords are recommended for people with smaller feet; they add a sense of gravity. The shoes' stacked heels can also add height.

One nonlace-up style is the monk-strap, which has a metal buckle on the upper.

These formal shoes can be made from light, thin leather (kid or lamb skin) or heavy, thick leather (cowhide). Brogues are sturdy, heavy leather shoes that make the wearer look masculine and stylish. If you like to dress up in a sharp classic suit (think James Bond), the well-polished brogues complete the formal look.

- Easy but not too easy

Loafers can pass as either formal or casual. There are three distinctive styles: plain, tassel and penny loafers. Slip-ons are always considered less formal, but with proper heels and socks, loafers are good for most semiformal or formal occasions.

A more relaxed design or cut -- lower heels or rubber sole -- is best with casual outfits. But no matter how casual you want to appear, if you match your outfit with a pair of loafers, you say, "I'm conservative at heart."

- Anything but black?

Black is a safe choice for most dark suits, and it should be matched with a black belt. Brown goes with brown or tan suits. Go for dark brown for formal functions, light brown with a sport jacket and casual pants.

But in summer, solid black shoes will spoil the cool summer casual look. Beige or ivory oxfords, medium-brown mesh shoes or brown loafers work best on light-colored pants.

- What about those fashionable shoes?

Sports shoes are de rigeur nowadays. Shoes with the designs -- but not necessarily the functions -- of bowling, tennis and running shoes have become comfortable and sophisticated. Instead of hard heels, they have rubber or silicon soles. Their fancy designs can perk up any outfit based around jeans.

"Young men prefer lighter, softer shoes these days," said Park Soo-kyung, a Seoul marketer for the Italian shoe brand Salvatore Ferragamo. "Because of the current demand, Ferragamo's spring/summer collection includes two-tone shoes made of natural-looking leather, and slippers for casual dressing."

Still, unless you're involved in the entertainment or the art industry, wear sports shoes only after work or on weekends.

- What are my shoes made of?

The shoe is divided into three parts: the upper, inner and sole. The best combination of materials is "genuine leather" for all three. If the shoe has "all man-made materials," reconsider. The best quality leather for shoes is made of supple and smooth kid, lamb or cow skin. Pig skin can be less costly, but is weak.

- How to make your shoes last

Leather shoes need a break. Swap pairs of shoes daily. After wearing, dust your shoes with a rag and insert a natural-wood shoe tree.

To minimize odors, stuff your shoes with newspaper sprayed with foot deodorizer. When shoes are wet from rain or snow, pack them with paper to maintain the original shape and let them dry in a cool place. When they are completely dried, buff and polish.

Suede shoes should be brushed regularly with a suede tamer made of rubber tubes. If stained, dab them with a cotton ball moistened with rubbing alcohol, then brush them with a soft bristle toothbrush and let them dry in the cool place.

by Ines Cho
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