Here’s an example of what’s become a fairly routine business travel outfit for me. I guess I’m gradually getting more comfortable with an open-necked shirt collar in today’s casualised world but I get the feeling it’s not particularly canonical to the Mod look, judging by photos of the classic early sixties period. This shirt has a contrasted inner collar band which was surely meant to be displayed, not hidden behind a tie?
Anyway, a further point to be made concerns versatility. A hopsack navy blazer like this has to be one of the most versatile items in any man’s wardrobe. The sta pressts shown above got me to my destination without displaying any wrinkles, and a couple of days later I switched in light grey tropical wool strides and a more formal shirt and tie to dress the whole look up for work meetings.
Also this gives me the chance to address an inquiry made by Christian. He was viewing my posts about penny loafers and comparing Crockett and Jones with Cheaney, and asked for some further pics and thoughts, as he has the same Cheaney Howard shoe and has some reservations about how well they fit.
It’s a tough call for me. I have narrow feet with high arches and insteps, which makes closed-laced oxfords almost impossible to wear. All my lace-ups are derbies. It took me a while to come around to loafers – I suppose my enthusiasm gradually grew after acquiring several pairs of driving mocs.
The problem is that lace-up shoes allow a lot more adjustment to foot width than do loafers, which are pretty much fixed in width. I had a pair of navy suede Allen Edmonds Cavanaughs which are a robustly made shoe in a very attractive classic penny loafer style but I could not get them to fit. They had a paradoxically annoying last shape such that I could stick a finger between my heel and the back of the shoe, meanwhile there wasn’t enough room at the opposite end for my toes to fit without curling them! I had similar problems with these Cheaney Howards, trying them with adhesive heel and tongue pads until I finally had to accept they were the wrong size and swapped them out for a smaller size. These are the consequences of what I call the ‘internet shoe size lottery’. Why aren’t shoe sizes, at least in length, standardized? I’m a straight 9 on a Brannock device but due to manufactures’ variances I don’t own a single shoe in size 9!
The width of my smaller version of the Cheaney Howards is still a bit broad for my narrow foot and there is evidence of ‘bowing’ on the inside throat edge of the shoes when I walk, which indicates less than optimal fit, so I added some tongue pads and finally they feel like a good fit. I would of course have skipped all that drama had I been able to try them on in person at a shop. Sites like styleforum have threads in which there are endless questions comparing fit in one brand’s size to fit in that of another, but it’s always going to be a gamble if you aren’t able to try on in person. I have one more pair of loafers in mind to buy (famous last words) after which I hope my internet shoe-buying adventures are very few and far between.
To those of you looking in like Christian who are unsure about fit, here’s my shoe sizing advice:
– Whenever possible try shoes on in person. Wear the socks you’re likely to wear with the shoes. And cut your toe nails!
– Go shoe shopping in the late afternoon when you’re feet have swollen.
– When you get shoes home, wear them all day around the house to gauge fit, so you can exchange them with no drama if you’re not happy.
– If buying by mail order, you could try looking at those brand comparison threads on Styleforum.
– Check a vendor’s shipping and return policy before you pull the trigger – Zappo’s has free shipping both ways which removes a lot of the risk.
– Contact the vendor and speak to a sales person about fit concerns – they may have good advice.
– Know your size on a Brannock device – both feet – at least as a starting point.
– Some vendors may even ask you the length of your foot so try measuring it.
– Seek out an old fashioned cobbler, not only for repairs or preventative measures like Topy soles or heel taps, but for advice on using heel or tongue pads to improve fit if it’s too late to send a pair back for exchange.