Simon Crompton — Building a shoe wardrobe
Simon's blog can be found at permanentstyle.co.uk and, as many of us know, is a fount of much wisdom.
Image of Simon Crompton — Luke Carby.
I have a friend. Let’s call him Nick. About five years ago I convinced him that he should be spending more money on his shoes. Most men don’t spend enough – it’s often an afterthought with smarter clothing – and between myself and two female friends, we convinced him that shoes matter. “If you want to know if a fellow is well dressed, look down,” as Fred Astaire once wrote.
On my recommendation, he bought a pair of plain black Oxfords [Chelsea]. He spent, for him, a ludicrous amount of money – five times his usual budget. But the money wasn’t the issue. It was the style of shoe. “It’s such a boring thing to spend so much on,” he whined. I could see his point. It’s natural to want big things to look big, to shout about themselves.
But that would have been a mistake. Expensive things need to pay for themselves, and if they are worn more often, they will do so quicker. (They also benefit more from being well looked-after – brush, shoe trees, and every now and then, polish.)
"By year four, he had started telling other people about the virtues of investing in quality...In fact, he started to get a little boring down the pub."
A year later, he was going to buy another pair of shoes. This time, he thought, it was time for those bright-green boots. No. After much cajoling, he went for some brown Oxfords instead [Asquith]. The black were only worn for work; the brown could be worn with a blazer and chinos to work, but also passably at the weekend.
The beautiful thing about such investments, of course, is that their value accumulates. Nick would have normally bought a cheap pair of shoes, worn them almost every day, and they would have been dead after a year. He was spending more this way, but his black oxfords were just getting started. And now there was a brown pair to join them.
In year three, no argument was needed. Nick phoned us up and said he was buying a pair of tan derbies [Cardiff]. Still good with chinos, but also nice with jeans as well – as he enthusiastically told us. And after a bit of love and attention, the brown pair were really starting to bed in.
By year four, he had started telling other people about the virtues of investing in quality. He had just purchased some brown suede boots [Camden] and he wouldn’t stop telling people about how he now had a mini-collection, and each would last another 10-20 years. In fact, he started to get a little boring down the pub in the end.
I know what that feels like. It’s how I started my website, Permanent Style, almost 10 years ago. I got so enthusiastic I started boring people. And a (wise) friend told me to start a blog and write it all down. Now everyone round the world reads, invests and enthuses.
Look down, and start building your own wardrobe.