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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.

Suit by: J.Mueser
Shirt by: Yeossal
Tie by: Ike Behar
Watch by: Rotary Watches
Socks by: Mes Chuassettes Rouges
Shoes by: J.FitzPatrick Footwear

18 thoughts on “‘Dressing Up’ – It’s Not Hard!”

  1. Same in Canada, i can’t agree more.
    People dress lazy, it looks like people give up,
    It’s as if they say to themselves i feel miserable i might as well feel confortable. And it has been proved that if you dress properly you will behave more nicely and perform better.

  2. You have exactly reflected my thoughts regarding wearing a suit. My grandfather was just like the Italian gentleman you described. He was a software merchandise distributor in the 1940’s to small towns and even in his warehouse he always wore a suit and tie. Whenever he had to actually do some work himself, he would just remove his jacket and roll up the sleeves of his white shirt but I never saw him remove his tie. He never drove a car but would catch a bus and while waiting for the bus he would sit on a bench or concreate slab but before he would take his handkerchief and lay it down before sitting on it. I’m now in my mid 70’s and his only grandchild who seemed to have inherited his style of wearing suits and better clothing on a daily basis. And yes, I constantly get the odd look or constant questions “where’s the party”? Going to an interview? Here comes the fashion king, and “why don’t you wear something comfortable”? etc, etc. I’ve learned to overcome and ignore those remarks. And as a matter of fact, I do feel comfortable in my suits and leather shoes and I do find it just as easy dressing in a suit as I would throwing on a T-shirt and some jeans. I get it. Americans prefer a “laid-back-casual type fashion. Cargo shorts, T-shirts, baseball caps and sneakers is the overwhelming American fashion attire even when traveling on vacation and visiting other cultures. I don’t demean this way of dressing; it’s just how American culture has evolved over the years. It’s just not my style. And not often, but occasionally I do get a complement on how I dress, and it’s most rewarding when it comes from youngsters (mostly young ladies) admiring my dress. I feel there’s hope for the upcoming generations.

    1. Justin FitzPatrick

      Thank you for sharing Ernesto. Yes, I do love to see a resurgence of young gentlemen highly interested in the classic menswear side of the industry. I, too, have hope for the younger generation.

  3. Thanks for the post. Could not agree more. While I do not even own a suit anymore (I live in SW Florida) I still care a great deal about my footwear and what I wear in general. Where I live men my age (65+)seem to have taken up the uniform of cargo shorts, graphic t shirts and New Balance walking shoes 24/7. I look at them and wonder if they care at all about how they look. It’s very sad.
    I think that your assessment of “lazy” is dead on. I also think that most American men have very little knowledge of how to dress. My daughter’s boyfriend does not even own leather shoes! (I’ve been advising him on his first pair and it is a strange new world for him). Keep up the good work.

  4. A sports jacket (unstructured), jeans or chinos and dress shoes is my standard, year round attire. (Of course, once the temperatures hit 30C, I cave in to a t-shirt, shorts and sneakers.)

    Really, there’s nothing so comfortable or so flexible as the combination of an unstructured sports jacket with a pair of well fitted and well made dress shoes. The choice of shirt and trousers can make the outfit dressier or more casual to suit the occasion.

  5. Those shoes you have on are very nice looking. They remind me of “Norwegian Split Toe” (or whatever they’re called) designs I have seen (and own – I have a pair made by Bally – but they’re not anything special – or Goodyear welted) – except they appear to almost be like a whole-cut shoe, with the stitching suggesting seams where leather pieces were sewn together. Very cool.

  6. Fantastic post! I believe untidy and mismatched shoes demonstrate your lack of fashion sense and perhaps laziness. However, chic and appealing shoes display your taste and artistic sense. A decent pair of shoes not only enhances your fashion appeal but also assists you in creating the right style and satisfying your need for fashion accessories.

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