I remember when wearing patent shoes as a non-formal piece of footwear became all the rage. I was working for Nordstrom at the time and every Italian shoemaker was bringing them in their new collections, having 2-4 different models in patent leather alone. It was the time of the bling, and I must admit, even I wanted to get in on it. I therefore found myself buying a pair of black patent Ferragamo loafers even though I had never been to a formal event in my life (outside of high school dances) and did not really plan on attending any in the near future either. But nevertheless, I was keen on getting a pair and rocking them with my regular suits, just as all of the other trend followers were doing too. And like anyone would with their new shoes, I started putting them to use on a semi-regular basis. But then I moved to Europe and things, as well as my taste, started to change. I won’t lie, while I probably wouldn’t wear them now in the same manner that I did then, I still think that they were a relatively handsome pair that looked good underneath a nice suit. But as time would have it, my thoughts, views on life and sartorial decisions were very different from my young age of 25 to my now even still young age of 29…..
We have reached the age of the shoe shine where everyone is doing their best to become proficient at it. This is a good thing for several reasons. Firstly because there is nothing more unappealing (and just shameful really) then a pair of shoes that looked like the last time it was polished was at the factory before they shipped it out to be sold and yet they are now 2-3 years old. That’s just bad shoe hygiene! Secondly, because the ability to shine one’s shoes to a high polished state is also the ability to transform one’s shoes. And this my friends, is where the magic takes place. Shoe shine and restoration not only allow you to save your shoes from a state of darkness that one can bring them to, but also allow someone to trick themselves in feeling like they have a new pair of shoes (depending on their restoration skills). This is where the idea of black patent no longer being necessary comes into place. Now let’s talk about why….
You see, the problem with patent shoes is the fact that they are limiting. One should theoretically only wear them for certain occasions (like formal ones) and with certain outfits (like boring black suits). Unless you are a celebrity who gets invited to every party under the sun, it is really not justifiable for the average person to go shell out a few hundred bucks on a pair of shoes that they will be wearing only a handful of times (within their life!). What’s the sense in that? None in my opinion. So what is the alternative? It is simple: a high polish on a simple black dress shoe, whether it be an oxford (preferable) or derby. Pair that with some ribbon laces and you have yourself formal footwear without the need of patent shoes. Now I know that everyone in the world can’t take their shoes to a military type of shine, but there are many people who can make your shoes just as shiny as patent would be. While I prefer to have my own shoes polished by hand to a glass-like state, there are many brush shiners (the ones in the chairs) who can also polish to a very glossy shine. If you do this on the same day that your event would be, you will have a shoe that is just as practical as a patent one, but doesn’t require you to pay for a new pair of shoes. So if this is the case, what is the purpose for patent shoes? Well that’s the question, isn’t it…….?
Shoe is the Tony model from my J.Fitzpatrick shoe range with my new ribbon laces, soon to be on my eBay shop