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Expensive suits, crap shoes (with the exception of Colin Farrell, who looks to have some decent ones)

Everything has its place, whether it’s cheap shoes, expensive suits, mediocre shirts, wrinkled trousers etc., but too often do you see a lot of men jumbling them all together in a way that does not make sense. There are ways to mix and match them, get away with it and still look relatively good. Take me for example, often I wear cheap shirts purchased at Primark, and then pair them with expensive suits and shoes. Most of the time, no one notices, but I can tell you that there is a difference, and I can see it, as well as feel it. When I look at my colleagues 100+ shirts, their collars and quality of shirt material look infinitely better than mine. Granted, I do this on purpose as I deal with polish all day long, particularly black polish, which I will have you know is very hard to get off of a white shirt, and therefore don’t want to wear nice shirts that I will constantly run the risk of ruining. And since the collars have built in stiffeners, they usually look decent enough….allowing me to balance my outfit, as the other articles of clothing within my outfit tend to correlate in price. But the other day, I made the mistake of wearing a very nice suit, with some shoes that did not correlate, in price, quality, or look and realized that so many men do this, and ruin their entire look, as I had.

Expensive Suit, cheap shoes = no good
Expensive suit, expensive shoes = good

For the life of me, I can’t understand why most men will fork out loads of money on their suits but then will only want to spend 1/5 of that on their shoes. I mean, if you can afford a 1000 suit, then certainly you can afford 400+ shoes. For me, the rule would be that you should spend half of what you are giving for your suit, on your shoes. Just to clarify, if your suit is 1000, then ideally (in my twisted mind) your shoes should be cost around 500. This way, you maintain a good balance in your outfit, because it is so amazingly noticeable when someone is wearing a decent suit with the crappiest 100 shoes. When you do this, you stick out like a sore thumb and no matter how nice or expensive your suit is, your shoes just kill the entire outfit. However, there are ways to fool people as some shoes can look real good and expensive but not be. For example, when you shine a shoe up, that has a decent leather but be a mid range shoe, you could easily pass it off as something of higher quality due to the maintenance that you have given it. It is surprising how a shine can make a shoe look so much more expensive than it actually is. But this will require a bit of knowledge in knowing what is able to get there and what isn’t, as a cheap leather won’t look good no matter how high you shine it.

Photo Courtesy ofRugged Old Salt
Both Shoes by Spigola by Koji Suzuki, Photos courtesy ofRugged Old Salt


Now, the buck doesn’t stop with incorrect price correlation within your articles of clothing, but also needs to take into account the types of styles that you are putting together. What I mean by this is the act mixing trendy attire with classic attire, certain Italian shoes with English suits etc. If you have a nice Savile Row suit with a very English cut, it would look absolutely silly to pair it with some ostentatious trendy designer shoe by LV or Gucci. They just don’t go…and that’s not to say that the English cut suit has to go with English made shoes, because that’s not the case either. It’s about matching styles. Elegant for elegant, trendy with trendy. When you start to blur the lines a bit too much, you throw off the balance of your outfit and thus your look. Obviously there are some style icons who can do this and get away with it, but it’s very difficult to do. If you are wearing a very slim cut Italian suit with soft lines, then don’t be afraid to wear your Ferragamo tassel loafers….but then you would want to sTay away from some heavy, double-soled British brogue. Like for like, in style and price, will allow you to keep a good balance in your outfit at all times.

8 thoughts on “Balancing Your Outfit”

  1. honestly I can see your point but the only thing I ever bought for a client at primark was a fantastic fly front skinhead mac in black, its such shite that I wonder why people go there. Its always packed and the shirts are really noticable as primark.I think your point is good about cheaper clothing but not the end base bro. I’d say buy cheap shirts at Marks and spencer or better hawes and curtis or tywhitt, they are around the 20 pound mark.

  2. I do the opposite and have a cheap suit (500) and G&Gs so in my case the ratio is 2:1 in the shoes favour but on the other hand I rarely wear suits but always have at least CJs and most of the time G&Gs. I think it is easier to look good in cheaper clothes than cheap shoes

  3. Justin,

    An excellent piece, you have hit the nail right on the head. It makes one wonder why, with all the money at their disposal, so called celebrities get it so wrong. They turn up to black tie events wearing four in hand ties and cheap non conforming shoes. It is not that hard with all the inter net advice and informative blogs like yours to find out how it should be done.
    Keep up the good work in the hope that one day they may learn.


  4. The Grand Master of the “Ordine delle Nove Porte” (excellent italian gentlemen who try to save the last remains of the Old World pleasures) uses the “Three Eyes Theory”.
    Trying to simplify this quite refined idea: when you look at someone, you look him sequentially, in three distinctive points. The first one is the collar-tie-revers ensemble, the second one is the waist line (buttons of the jacket-trousers waist-belt) and the last one is made only by the shoes.
    The master says that the second and third points must not be flashy/flamboyant/expensive, but they must leave the observer with only a vague remembrance, an idea of refined, understated, perfect craftsmanship.

    I think the Grand Master has a point.

    P.S. The three Grand Master’s rules for a good dress shoe: 1- Laces 2- Leather sole 3- Perfect polishing

  5. Hi Justin,
    I have really appreciated this post! As I see it, you have gone far beyond your usual topics to start musing on style! Very interesting indeed, what you have to say. Yes, the pics depict indeed guys who lack both style and elegance.

  6. Extremely Interesting Topic,Justin…….I’ve often wondered what’s the point of spending so much on cloth and seemingly very little on shoes & accessories………by the way,I absolutely like your bow tie…….thank you for posting………..

  7. Superchick – don’t mind the primark ones while I shine shoes…when I stop, then it will be better ones.

    Claes500 – I like that too! I have always said better to have good shoes and a cheap suit then vice versa….can’t fake good shoes…you can fake a decent suit…

    Snapper – The funny thing to me, is the celebrities that have so called ‘stylists’ and still turn up looking like shit…money can’t buy you style I guess….

    Il Satiro – Thanks for sharing sir!

    John – Glad that you enjoyed the post…every now and then I try to switch it up..

    AFJ – you are right, but considering that the shape looks classic, that leads me to believe that they are decent, as most trendy, shit shoes have crap shapes like the rest of them with mega points or super squares…

    Gentleman90 – Yea, funny considering that the average leather is more expensive then the average cloth…cost wise…


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