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Shoes | Manolo for the Men - Part 3
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Sandalous

Alexander McQueen shoes

In case you’re the kind of professor or grad student who likes to wear socks with sandals, Alexander McQueen has just the pair of “dress” shoes for you.  Just hope it doesn’t rain.

Everyman Is No Man

dorky ObamaObama with Blackberry

If, while recently visiting the troops in Kuwait and Afghanistan, Barack Obama strove to look like the ordinary man, he succeeded all too well.  With his shapeless black polo shirt, ill-fitting pleated khakis (note the bunching in the crotch and the pooling at the ankles), and prominently-displayed Blackberry and wireless microphone, he is dressed for dorky casual Friday (a/k/a golfwear at the office).  The only exception to that sorry look are his brown suede boots, which clash with his black shirt and belt.  Making matters worse, his unbuttoned collar emphasizes the scrawniness of his neck.

Izzy’s biggest objection, however, is the visibility of Obama’s electronic gear.  If it’s true that you should never let them see you sweat, it’s all the more the case that you should never let them see your Blackberry.  Visibly wearing such equipment makes a man look like a slave to the office, a terrible thing for any would-be chief executive.   Obama should either have worn a jacket to conceal such necessities or, better yet, have had his assistants carry them.

The Hardworking Loafer

Tommy Bahama Havana loafers

After recently walking miles and miles on hard city sidewalks, Izzy learned the hard way that even the best-made dress shoes are not made for long-distance travel.  Wanting  a shoe that felt and performed like a sneaker but looked somewhat dressy, he was please to discover these comfortable brown suede loafers from Tommy Bahama.  The rubber sole is generously thick, without looking so, and more important, the shoe has only a small heel.

Homage to Catalonia

seersucker espadrilles

Izzy has, if not a liking, a curiosity towards seersucker shoes, which made it all the more pleasant when he came across this very unusual pair of seersucker espadrilles.  Espadrilles on men have a bad reputation in the U.S., perhaps because of their association with Sonny Crockett, perhaps because the traditional, cheap version (in black) wears out quickly and can become malodorous (because of the jute rope sole).  But nicer models like this one, as well as those made by Pare Gabia, make Izzy want to give them a shot—though admittedly in a more traditional fabric, such as canvas.  The shoes themselves originated as peasant footwear in the Pyrenees Mountains at least as early as the 14th century, and are popular today in Catalonia and the Basque Country.

Slip Sliding Away

Kirk Douglas on slide

Once the heroic face of Spartacus and Colonel Dax, Kirk Douglas, sad to say, looks a bit pathetic in cartoonish primary-colored playclothes.  While he is has been supporting a noble cause, the renovation of playgrounds around Los Angeles, is it too much to ask the living legend to maintain his dignity?

The Well-Polished Gumshoe

detectives in suits

Although Izzy had heard of gangsters getting suits customized to conceal weaponry, he had long wondered whether detectives do the same.  According to this fascinating New York Times story, they do.  But the most interesting part of the article is the discussion of the psychological benefits of having a clean and neat appearance in what can be a dirty line of work:

“A suit and tie is our uniform,” said Joel E. Potter, 64, a veteran homicide detective who retired in 2000. “A lot of times you’re set up in a car at 3 in the morning, or there are two dead bodies on the sidewalk. And when you step out of the car, you look like a professional. They know the man is there. They know the suits mean business.”

[…]

The ability to go from interrogation rooms to living rooms is so essential that some psychologists lecture detectives on both the influence of suit attire on suspects and the need to tip tailors to ensure that alterations hide the appearance of guns and handcuffs.

“I suggest they bring along every piece of equipment when they go buy it,” said Richard E. Ovens, who has given lectures to detectives in New York and other places. “You want the weapon to disappear.”

Dressing in a suit can set a boundary against what Guy O. Seymour, who has worked as a psychologist for the Atlanta police, called “crime-scene corruption.”

“Because they are all well dressed it establishes a barrier between them and the messiness,” Dr. Seymour said.

That was the case in some instances for Vernon J. Geberth, who wore two- or three-piece suits on the job before he retired as a detective commander in 1987.

“I looked like a banker,” said Commander Geberth. “It put me in a different mode. It slowed me down: ‘Look at this guy. He is all dressed up and he is in an abandoned building.’ I am here to put things back together.”

“I was above the fray,” he added. “My psychological armor.”

The Streets of Manhattan

Bill Cunningham in NYC

Bill Cunningham, the famed New York Times street-fashion photographer, has created a new audio slideshow, in which he notes that pocket squares seem to be making a comeback, especially on men who aren’t wearing neckties. As a proponent of judiciously chosen ornament, Izzy thinks this is happy news.

Speaking of the joys of people-watching, as the weather is increasingly conducive to walks in the city, it’s worth remembering some lines from Walt Whitman:

Keep your splendid, silent sun;
Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by the woods;
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-fields and orchards;
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields, where the Ninth-month bees hum;
Give me faces and streets! give me these phantoms incessant and endless along the trottoirs!
Give me interminable eyes! give me women! give me comrades and lovers by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day! let me hold new ones by the hand every day!
Give me such shows! give me the streets of Manhattan!

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Vat Is Dis, Velvet?

Paul Smith velvet oxfords

These blue velvet oxfords from Paul Smith are as much of a head trip as, well, Blue Velvet.   And they’re just the thing for the love child of Oscar Wilde and Elvis.

The Art of Leisure

Real Men Read t-shirt

Now here’s a t-shirt message Izzy can subscribe to: a gentleman in a tweed suit, high collar,  and spats demonstrating civilization to an attentive boy, dressed with restraint.  And the slogan is both perfect and true.  The artist is Edward Gorey, who was famed for his vaguely ominous illustrations of Victorian and Edwardian subjects.  But there’s nothing discomfiting here, except maybe the boy’s stiff collar.

Mark of Polo Goes to China

Ralph Lauren Olympics outfitThe Wall Street Journal is reporting that Polo Ralph Lauren will be outfitting the U.S. Team at the upcoming Beijing Olympics:

“Norman Bellingham, chief operating officer of the [U.S. Olympic Committee] and a former Olympic kayaker, says that he wanted the athletes to be attired in a ‘classic and more formal manner.'”

[…]

“At a meeting at Polo’s headquarters on Madison Avenue in New York, Mr. Bellingham told Mr. Lauren that his inspiration was ‘Chariots of Fire,’ the 1981 movie about British athletes competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. Upon hearing that, [Ralph] Lauren smiled, Mr. Bellingham recalls. ‘He knew precisely what we were going for.'”

[…]

“At the Olympic Village and at the Closing Ceremonies, athletes’ wardrobes will include V-neck tennis sweaters and ties, classic Polo mesh shirts with ‘Beijing’ written in big Chinese characters across the front and cargo pants — all in a patriotic palette of red, white and blue. The Olympic logo featured on the new uniforms may include a replica of a crest with stars and stripes used by the 1932 U.S. Olympic team at the Los Angeles Games. Polo ponies of varying sizes will also make an appearance on the garments.”

Izzy thinks that the sketch offers some great white hope.

Chain Gang

Hugo Boss chain shoes

Chink. Chink. Chink. These otherwise normal Hugo Boss dress shoes should make quite the aural statement. Izzy, however, doesn’t recommend trying to get through airport security with them.

Bowling for Voters

Barack Obama in bowling shoes

Whichever of Barack Obama’s campaign staffers found those sleek black-and-white bowling shoes, the least objectionable pair possible, ought to get a raise, even the promise of a cabinet post.  (Izzy notices that Obama is a lefty who wears his watch on his left arm, the political connotations of which are…?)

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