All too often I hear people say, ‘I just never have an opportunity to wear dress shoes anymore.’ I always think to myself, ‘why’? Why do we have this mentality that we need to only use leather-soled shoes to go to an office? You might hate to hear this but that is ‘SO AMERICAN’ and a part of this ‘I just always want to be comfortable’ mentality where comfort = cushion i.e. Nikes/Cole Haan’s and sweat pants. Except that is not comfort. That is just laziness. Comfort is not always an article of clothing. It can be a state of mind. I know people that feel comfortable in suits and dress shoes. A lot of people outside of the US do not own jeans and sure as heck do not own sweatpants other than to play some kind of sport. Yet, so many men here just love to be lazy. It’s gross. And don’t get me wrong, I love jeans, but I also love wearing jeans with leather-soled shoes and a tucked-in shirt. I see that as a compromise to not wearing my suits. But you won’t see me in sweats other than to do laundry.
I love how I feel when I wear a suit. I would wear a suit more often except the reality is that I am always getting into a mess at work, whether it is transferring dusty boxes of shoes from my shop to my storage (and vice versa), polishing shoes, climbing up and down ladders, and the like. I wear the aforementioned outfit of jeans + dress shirt/polo + dress shoes more often than not simply as a way to not destroy my actual nice clothes, but I am never more mentally happy than when wearing a suit. And I wish that I wore them more often. My business partner is even more extreme and frequently adheres to ‘Sunday’s Best’ by wearing his nice outfits on his days off when he does not actually have to represent the company and is rather just out and about on the town. As it should be in reality.
During my time in Italy making, I became very close with one of my fellow shoemakers who took me in and treated me like family. I would often spend time at his parents house getting a good dose of the Italian lifestyle. His father was super old school. At the time he must of been in his late 60’s. He wore a suit or at least trousers with a jacket, dress shoes and a tie every single day. And he was retired. His day consisted of going down to the cafe below his house for his morning coffee and breakfast, taking a walk, going home for lunch, smoking a few cigarettes in the process, watching tv, and repeating the routine at hight for dinner and a stroll. That was his daily life and never once did I see him casual. He loved to be in a suit. And only at night when sitting on the couch, smoking his cigarettes would he take off the tie and unbutton his shirt and roll up his sleeves. And to this day, he is the same and is now in his late 70’s. I always admired him and still do.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is a place and time for everything. Of course, you do not need to wear a suit to get groceries or take your dog for a walk, but it would be nice to see more people put more effort into ‘looking nice’ and not need a reason to do so (at least their reason). One doesn’t need to go out to a fancy dinner to wear a suit. One doesn’t need to go to a show to wear dress shoes. You can wear them because it is Tuesday. You can wear them on your days off. You can wear leather sole shoes with jeans, a polo shirt, and a jacket. But we have to shift our mentality. I know that if I put on a suit on my day off, my wife would look at me and think ‘where the heck are you going?!’ And that is the issue. We have trained ourselves to think that a suit only equals work and dress shoes only equal dress clothes. Nope. Dressing nice has no boundary other than what our minds tell us. So let’s shift our mentality and dress nicer. It may sound silly, but if we all dressed nicely, the world would change, and for the better.