The Summer Debate: Do Gentlemen Wear Sandals?

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Guys, and gals for that matter, have been debating this for decades. Well, atleast over the past two decades. And the answer? Well, it’s not as simple as yes or no.

When searching for an answer on this topic, I got so many points of view… some said it was totally okay because the “manliest men” have been wearing them since the beginning of time: Roman gladiators, “Greek gods”, African kings… even Jesus. While others look at men in sandals as downright feminine, saying things like “I don’t wear anything that’s considered woman’s clothing, that includes purses, skirts, and sandals.”

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Shoemaker in Dominican Republic

All the gentlemen wardrobe/styling books tend to avoid the topic of men in sandals. And when a book does mention it, it’s either sternly against it or indirectly snubs it. A friend told me that he once read a rule in Esquire Mag that stated, “You lose 61 percent of your respect for a man when you can see his toes through his shoes.” (or something like that).

With that said, plenty of well dressed gentlemen opt for a luxe pair of sandals when in sunny Rio de Janeiro, vacationing in Jamaica, or simply strolling through the cobblestone streets of Sicily. So, now you may ask– what’s the final verdict, can me wear sandals or not?

The Traditional -vs- The Nontraditional

The issue of gentlemen wearing sandals is simply a matter of the traditional versus the nontraditional. The Urban Gentleman who chooses the traditional route should not expose his toes; canvas lace-ups, decks shoes, loafers, and oxfords all worn sockless is how he keeps his feet cool in the summer months.

Traditional Urban Gentlemen should just go sockless

The Urban Gentleman that chooses the nontraditional route should wear sandals that match his style. And let’s be honest we can mentally flip through our rolodex of friends and picture which friends can pull off sandals and which can’t. The extremely environmentally conscious type, the world traveler type, and the vintage hipster type are just a few that I can see getting away with sandals.
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The hipster urban gents can get away with just about anything

But whether traditional or nontraditional, flip-flops on the beach are just common sense. And sandals are just apart of life for the Urban Gents from island countries.

Disclaimer: If you are choosing to wear sandals, then please get a pedicure. There’s nothing worse than a man wearing sandals with unkempt feet. Make sure your toenails are cut and feet are moisturized, for more help go here.


Let’s do some manly sandal shopping:

Here’s a few sandal wearing guys from the
Spring/Summer 2010 Fashion Shows:

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Designers above: Versace, Kenzo, Kris Van Assche, Trussardi, Hugo Boss, Michael Bastian, Louis Vuitton

Other articles to help prepare you for summer:
How To Keep Cool in the Summer
Summer Rolls

PHOTOS via: Street Style Kid (via Sartorialist, PimPamPum, JCreport), NYMAG.com, flickr members: rachellake, The Messenger Image

The Man and His Oversized Boots: Can Men Wear Uggs and Moon Boots?

Fall Out Boy guitarist, Pete Wentz was seen wearing Tecnica Moon Boots ($158) as he made his Starbucks coffee run. He also sports a pair of Von Zipper Giggle wayfarers ($90).
A recent photo of rockstar Pete Wentz wearing Moon Boots has caused me to ponder upon the age old riddle of ‘the man and his oversized boots’. The riddle has yet to be completely figured out by all. Some understand it, while man others scratch their head in pure perplexity. 
Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, and Orlando Bloom seemed to have solved the conudrum, yet many men are still pondering… so let’s try to figure it.

The History: Austrailian Uggs were orginally worn by Aussie sheep-shearers. They created these boots from the skin of the sheep, and realized that the boots were not only simple for them to create, but were practical in that they kept their feet warm. The word of these practical boots soon spread to Aviators, who used them in both World War I and II to keep their feet warm in their unpressurized ice-cold cockpits when flying in high-altitudes. Then by the 1960s competitive Australian swimmers and surfers were using them to warm their feet after leaving the water.

Tecnica Moon Boots were created in the 70s when the world was infatuated with Astronauts and outerspace. They’re a weatherproof boot that was made to resemble the boots worn by Astronauts. Napoleon Dynamite is said to have brought these bad boys back to life when he rocked them out in his movie, I’d have to concur. It’s also pretty easy to see that Moon Boots meant for extremely cold temperatures– comfort and warmness is what everyone wants in the depths of winter.
So what’s the beef with Uggs and Moon Boots on men… why is it that the boots have become synonymous with words like sissy if worn by a man? They were, afterall created by men, and initally worn by men. But the popularity of Uggs and Moon Boots in the 2000′s were definitely brought on by  fashonistas and model types.  The revitalization of the shoes and the brands (mainly Uggs) is all thanks to the ladies, so the feminine stigma that these oversized boots carry does make sense.

Brad Pitt and Justin Timberlake in UGGs
But now, in 2010, is it okay for men to wear Uggs? Well for me its like this, as the popularity of the brand has decreased for women it has become more acceptable for men to wear them. A great deal of women haven’t worn the basic/classic Uggs since Winter 2007, maybe 2008. That disinterest in the shoe by women is great for any guy wanting to expand their boot collection. 

In the end, trends like these always go back to the comfort level a man has. How comfortable is he in his own skin? I still feel its hard for the average man to pull off wearing Uggs, but a stylish one or one with a stylist certainly can. If you’re worried about your masculinity in these boots, then don’t purchase them in bright colors like pink, purple, or even white. Only buy black, brown, maybe gray or navy blue. Also, keep in mind your geographical location; I highly doubt any man would get scorned for wearing these boots in traditionally cold countries and states like the Netherlands, Switzerland, Chicago, or New York. But if you’re located in cities like Los Angeles or Atlanta then many brows may be raised when you wear them, it’s just something you have to take in consideration.

 To many people, men and women, these shoes are just downright ugly, in general, no matter who wears them. And if that’s the case with you, then stick with boots that you like. But if you have been curious about wearing Uggs or Moon Boots, don’t be too self-conscious, the boots were afterall created by men for men (atleast initially).  I just think its imperative to note than when men wear them it’s not to be overly stylish… its for comfort and practicality.  Male celebrities don’t show up at events in these boots, they’re only seen wearing them when running errands, relaxing on their day off, etc. As long as you aren’t trying to sport these down the red carpet, I don’t think there’s a problem with having a pair by the door when going out to run basic errands on cold winter days.
Celebrities in UGG Boots: 
 Orlando Bloom rocks his Uggs while still looking
more masculine than the average man.
  
Bruce Willis and Ronnie Woods
Moon Boots and UGG Boots for Men:

The Gentleman and Color Theory: Help Me Coordinate (and Match) My Clothing, Colors, and Patterns

Question:
I’ve recently become an avid reader of your blog and I appreciate all of your tips, caveats, and suggestions regarding men’s fashion and style. With that said, I was wondering if you could opine on color theory with respect to fashion/putting outfits together. I have a hard time coordinating (as opposed to matching) colors and patterns (What should I wear my baby blue Dunks with? (or) What can I wear with a fire red pique polo?). At the end of the day I just end up looking like a monochrome. Help! lol.

Answer:

Thanks for reading the blog! Okay, so you have an issue with coordinating and matching colors– there are many things you can do to overcome that minor glitch:

1. Match/coordinate 2 colors at a time- one neutral (navy, black, khaki, brown, gray, white) and one color- yellow, blue, red, orange etc.

2. Fashion and art coincide and there are certain colors in art that “match” or “belong together”- purple and yellow, green and red, blue and orange- those are complementary colors. You can wear different shades and tints of those colors together.

3. Then remember that there are color families like brights, emeralds/jewel-tones, pastels. For example, all pastel easter egg type colors will coordinate because they have the same light tone. Colors like burgundy, hunter green, navy, plum purple, burnt orange, and deep gold (aka old gold) will coordinate well, as will basic crayon-box colors- red, green, blue, yellow.

4. There are also colors that coordinate or go together because they represent a certain season or country and we see them over and over again: red, white, and blue -or- yellow, black, and green -or- red, green, and black -0r- purple, silver, and black -0r- burgundy, white, and heather grey… there are a plethora of these combinations.

With keeping all of that in mind, you will more easily be able to match patterns and designs. For example, if you have a hunter green striped button up- you can pair that with dark khaki pants (neutral) and a navy or burgundy cardigan (same deep color family) -or- you could pair it with navy trousers and a plum or old gold cardigan… and with this color family brown accessories opposed to black usually look best… so brown loafers, brown belt. These are often the colors traditional, old-english, ivy type designers use.

Another technique to keeping your colors cohesive and stylish is by adding a splash of color (sometimes opposing color) to a neutral or one shade palette. For example, if you’re wearing black and white you’ll add a splash of red, sherbet orange, hunter green, or whatever color you like -or- if you’re wearing all red you can wear one yellow piece.

You can also do this with patterns- if you’re wearing a navy plaid shirt and navy pants you can add an electric purple sweater, or shoes, or bag… This can also be used for shades/tints/tones- if you’re wearing all jewel-tone colors- turquoise, emerald purple, etc then you could wear one pastel piece.

All in all go with the colors that feel right. Color evokes a particular mood and its always good to pair the same moods together. If you’re wearing a happy yellow, pair it with a happy blue and happy green. If you’re a bit shy of colors then follow the sapuer rules of 3 principle- never match more than 3 colors at a time… I think that’s a good rule for everyone because few people are able to successfully match more than 3 or 4 colors.

So baby blue dunks or fire red pique polo?
- Baby blue dunks with rugged stonewash jeans, and a light yellow polo or a graphic tee that has yellow and baby blue.

-Fire red pique polo with purple baggy skinny jeans, and shoes that have some red or purple in them -or- if you’re more fashionable then wear a pair of blue high-tops that match in tone.

You just have to try out different color combinations- look at them in the mirror and see what you like. Also watch the men’s runway shows and see how designers pair colors.

And don’t worry about looking too monochromatic this season because its in :)


Here are a few photos:

here i’ve paired a hunter green pinstripe oxford
with a navy cardigan and red pants.

The navy and hunter green are the same shade and the red is the bright pop of color. Bring the whole look together by wearing navy, dark brown, or whiskey colored boat shoes, loafters, or boots.

here i’ve paired a plaid shirt with purple jeans.

The shirt consists of two main colors- red and blue. when you mix red and blue what color do you get? purple. This is an easy technique to use to coordinate colors- white, black, and gray -or- yellow, blue, and green -or- blue, white, and light blue, etc etc.

etro spring 2010

If you need help matching patterns, textures, and colors- just go through Etro’s past collections. No one coordinates patterns like Etro.… so many colors, and styles you’ll learn alot by just spending a few hours browsing their collections: 2005-2010. Their color and pattern palette is very bold, so you may not agree with the looks they create- it may be too overwhelming for some you, but look past that and focus on the coloring- it’s quite beautiful.

etro fall 2008

For a more traditional color palette, look through Ralph Lauren’s past collections.

Also check out the Local Urban Gentlemen- they do a superb job at coordinating.

And here’s a few more photos I pulled from the Urban Gentleman archives:


his color palette is basically gold, white, black (= gray)
then he adds splashes of colors with the blue shoe string
and purple croc murse.

this picture isn’t the best to show for an example, but its good enough. pharrell- note his basic coloring, then pops of color with the red hat and belt. kanye- he’s working with a nice color palette- mixing neutrals- gray, khaki, and jean, then a pop of color with the green. he wears brown accessories- belt and shades.

there’s nothing like having a pretty lady to match your fly ;-)
david and his wife victoria coordinate flawlessy (without being too
matchy matchy). their color palette is sort of autumn-like.
burnt-orange, basil/olive green, warm gray

this is where texture and color come into play.
coordinating colors are easiest when you also match the texture.
here lupe sports patent leather jacket and shoes
both are crayon box colors- red and purple.
black is usually a great neutral for crayon box colors.

Urban Gentleman Q&A: Advice on Casual Shoes

Question:

Hi

I am currently very gradually trying to smarten up my wardrobe, and I would like to wear more trousers (casually) rather than jeans, with fitted polos, nice shirts, blazers etc. However, I am finding it difficult to find some suitable footwear for such a smart casual look. I like boat-shoes, and will be picking up a navy or brown pair, but they are more kinda summer wear. I find most loafers, mocs to be too formal, so I was wondering to you have any advice on what type of smart-casual shoes can be worn with trousers.


Answer:

Hi (Urban Gent’s name- who’s from England),

I actually had a gentleman email me about a similar dilemma recently- he was trying to find an alternative to the sneaker (so yanno somewhat similar). I advised him to consider:

- boat shoes (sebago/sperrries)
- oxfords
- “dressy sneakers”
- vans (like Pharrell)
- boots

I see that you’re already halfway there since you have purchased a pair of boat shoes (sebagoes/sperries). After securing a pair of those then the type of casual shoe you wear is totally dependent on your style. I am personally a big fan of oxfords- there are so many different styles of oxfords and they easily smarten up the wardrobe.

Other options:
- very casual wingtip lace-up
- drivers
- moccasins (only if this fits your personality)

Here’s a link of examples from Urban Outfitters: click here. Since the pound is almost double the dollar you can easily order from there (but I think you have to add $50 to the total order)… I really like the Schmoove Oxford, the Generic Surplus Oxford, and the Ben Sherman Vacations Lace-Ups.

Drivers are basically the everyday casual shoe for the man that pretty much doesn’t wear sneakers anymore unless he’s going to the gym or participating in an outdoor activity (that’s sort of my view on it anyway). I don’t like all drivers because some tend to look a bit old and dated, but there are plenty that are sleek and stylish- check some of the drivers out at Neimans: click here. From that page I like the Gucci leather driver- 3rd row number 4, the other Gucci leather driver- 5th row number 4, and the Cole Haan venetian moccasin driver- 5th row number 1…. Also I know alot of men that really love the Ferregamo drivers. You don’t have to buy those exact shoes, but those just give you an idea of the styles that may work for you.

If you want a shoe that is, perhaps, a step between sneakers and oxfords then you could try a “dressy sneaker”… basically like a leather converse or designer tennis shoes- Hugo Boss, Lanvin, etc etc (preferably in a solid color).

** this question is a little dated (about a month and a half– so the shoes I’m referring to may not be there anymore or in the same order, but you can still get the general idea).

Urban Gentleman: Q&A

I’m going to start sharing the questions I’ve received from Urban Gents around the world, I get so many repeat questions that I figured why not.

Today’s Q&A is for athletic guys who have a problem finding jeans to fit

QUESTION:

Hi
I have a unique problem and have searched a lot of websites and blogs for a good answer. Hopefully you can help. I am 5’6 and happen to do powerlifting. The end result I have a large chest and back as well as a very large lower torso primarily quads and butt more than anything but the my limbs are short. I have been trying to change my style a bit and lose the “Timberland and jean” look or at least make it more streamlined. I am having issues with finding jeans with a nice length. I can’t really do slim cuts because my quads are so big . What do you advise is good inseam for my jeans or just a good spot to clothing that fits?

ANSWER:

You do have a unique problem- but my ex boyfriend also did alot of powerlifting and was a college linebacker and he has large back, chest, etc etc and faced some difficulties with clothing (the only difference is that he’s about 6’2). What we had to do was go into the store and just try on a bunch of different cuts and fits- it’s time consuming, but helpful…. just get a salesperson to help you. I would try Express first- they have proven to be one of the best stores for uniquely shaped guys in my experience (specifically athletic guys). (Oh and at Express they’re usually on a hourly wage, so you shouldn’t feel or be pressured- b/c they don’t get paid for your sale). I would go on a none busy day, like a Tuesday or Wednesday and if possible go at a none busy time like 2pm and you should be able to get a ton of help- b/c they’re usually bored and really want to just do something, lol…

As far as cuts, I would try a relaxed fit jean.. they’re streamlined, but not too slim and not baggy. Because your quads/butt are bigger then you may have to buy a size that fits that area well then get the length and waist tailored. There is no mainstream jean that is made to perfectly fit guys like you- even though there is an obvious need for it. Basically you’ll have to do alot of trial and error in the dressing room. If you would prefer to buy the jeans and get them tailored under one roof then visit Nordstrom- they have some of the best tailors and they’ll continue to “fix” the jeans until they fit how you want them to. But keep in mind that jeans at Nordstrom usually start at around $109 and go up (sometimes way up)… but it’s worth it to have atleast one pair of quality perfectly fitting jeans. If there is no Nordstrom in your area then just visit any of your local high end major retail stores.

You can also just go to your favorite stores and do the “trial and error jean fitting” in the dressing room.

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