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No Brown In Town = Yeah Right!

In this day and age, most of the strict sartorial rules have been thrown out the window, and rightfully so! Now, don’t get me wrong, some rules still apply and should never be broken but those that are so incredibly ridiculous and leave us all looking completely uniform and monotone (like ‘no brown in town’) are thankfully loosing their strength as the new generation of sartorialists plant their individualism into the minds of society. For too long, were things so boring. Black shoes have ruled the industry since the invention of dress shoes but mark my word, 2011 will truly define the year of color and seeing dress shoes in all shapes, colors and designs. It is no longer cool to ‘fit in’ and be just like everyone else, to all aspire to be Cary Grant, Steve McQueen or Gianni Agnelli. I would rather admire Andre 3000, Fred Astaire, Paul Smith, or anyone else whose outfit portrays character and thought, rather than just grabbing one of your 10 black suits, 20 white shirts, 7 blue ties, 8 black shoes and piecing those together to make a ‘stylish’ outfit.

No Brown In Town = Yeah Right!No Brown In Town = Yeah Right!

No Brown In Town = Yeah Right!

No Brown In Town = Yeah Right!

Shoes Top Row: Gaziano & Girling
Shoes Bottom Row: Santoni

While living in the States, you get the feel there still are certain individuals who strictly adhere to this rule (men over 50 or crazy strict conservatives) but all-in-all, American’s who are generally known as bad dressers across the world, are actually turning around to become some of the most daring, well-put together individuals around. Granted, I still think that Italians, as a whole, are the best dressed but the risk takers in the States who actually get it right, to me, are a step above the rest. Then again, these are far and few between.

While living in Italy, I noticed that this rule does not even exist. In fact, it is quite the opposite. You hardly ever see anyone wearing black shoes and to me this is how it should be. Black is so morbid and does not convey personality or character, unless of course you are going for a goth look, then you will be hitting the nail on the head. And I feel like the Italians think the same way. Color to them displays creativity and being a country deeply involved in art and romance, I feel that they blend the two together to create and choose the attire that they wear. (I may sound crazy with that last line but you would understand if you went there and saw with your own eyes)

No Brown In Town = Yeah Right!

No Brown In Town = Yeah Right!

But what truly brought me to write this, is my short time here in England. While British culture has created some of the finest and most stylish pieces a man can find in his wardrobe: tweed suits, Edward Green shoes, brogues etc., there is still a strict mentality in the way that ‘it should be.’ And while it is no longer forbidden to wear brown shoes for business, I feel like it is still an unwritten rule enforced by the thought police and carried out by society. I have met many men who will only wear black shoes with their suits and brown only on the weekend, because a ‘gentleman’ does so. What a load of crap. This old-world mentality, be it elegant and dapper, is unnecessary. A gentleman should not be defined by his shoe color or clothing attire that he wears during the week vs. the weekend, but rather how he carries himself in the clothing and shoes that he is wearing!

Just because blue shoes may compliment the color of the sea does not mean that I am going to wear them to the beach!

Food for thought…..

-Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

7 thoughts on “No Brown In Town = Yeah Right!”

  1. Trepidation toward color is not restricted to footwear and clothing. I wrote a treatise on the same phenomena in regard to automobiles some time ago:

    There is an additional reason besides the ones you mention to eschew black shoes.

    The opacity of black dye hides the beauty of the leather. A black shoe, no matter how expensive or well-made, will never display the fine patina or the richness and depth of color that develop as leather ages.

    I only own two pair of black shoes, a pair of patent pumps for black and white-tie, and a slightly less dressy pair that I haven’t worn in over two years.

    And by the way, I am on the far side of 50!

  2. JK – Well said! There are many reasons why one should wear other colors than black some of which I have touched on in prior posts. I am glad to hear that you are one of the exceptions! Surely, I tend to exaggerate to make a statement but if you live in the States, you should know what I am talking about. Thanks for reading and for sharing.

    -Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

  3. Definitely on point about the black shoes not displaying the patina of the shoe. Also the details of the shoe are lost in black shoes. There are occasions that black shoes are necessary, but they are few. I actually don’t own any black shoes, have a couple grey ones instead. Although I might need to get a pair just so I’m prepared. But in no way should black shoes the be staple of a guy’s wardrobe. They just seem so…boring to me (and to you Justin I’m sure).

    You are right on about the States, I see a lot of the same type of shoes/clothes and then some people who just stand out and do it well.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. I really just don’t agree with this. There’s nothing wrong with classics, they are classic for a reason, and pulling off the classics well on you individually takes finesse. Black shoes for example are such a thing. I think you’ve maybe gone a bit overboard. The Englishman has his style, the Italians have theirs.

  5. Anon – You are right, there is nothing wrong with the classics. While I wrote this a long time ago, and might actually think a bit differently now then when I wrote it, I still must say that the general rule of no brown in town is still something that I cannot be on board with. Now, since having moved to England myself, I will admit that my black shoe wardrobe has increased, and I do find myself pairing it with blue a lot. So, I can say that black shoes do have their place and can be very elegant, but it’s just the idea that one should only wear black in the city that I have problem with. And yes, the English have their style and it can be very lovely, just as the Italians…. I have grown mentally since i wrote this….but it’s far to difficult to go back and re-write my posts….


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