Shoe Collection

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shoe-collection-w

Back row (l-r): Brown wholecuts by Dune; black One Collection ‘Chance’ by Jones; brown One Collection ‘Step’ by Jones; black tassel loafers by Church’s; grey suede and leather two tone by Russell & Bromley; mid brown shoes by Zara; light brown Chelsea boots by Zara

Middle row (l-r): Black pointed shoes by Zara; black punchcap Oxfords by New & Lingwood; tan punchcap Oxfords by New & Lingwood; cream punchcap Oxfords by Grenson; patent shoes by Zara; black and peanut patent/leather co-respondent shoes by Dune; black canvas/leather co-respondent shoes by Dune

Front row (l-r): White shoes by TopMan; brown deck shoes by Austin Reed; oxblood double monkstraps by Nunes Correa; grey and white detail leather shoes by Zara; brown suede shoes by Nunes Correa; brown leather/canvas co-respondent shoes by Dune; brown and black leather wholecuts by Dune; patent leather Oxfords by Church’s

“Just how many pairs of shoes have you got?” they all ask when they spy me wearing a style that is making its debut. I decline to answer not because I take affront to the question but because I haven’t got the foggiest idea how many shoes I own. Do they want the numbers on the smart shoes? The leather ones? Or do they want me to include plimsolls, espadrilles and wellington boots? It was after a recent shopping excursion to the outstanding Crombie sale, and subsequent disappointment at the lack of a pair of tan tassel loafers in my size, that I decided to shine a torchlight into the unknown; there I was, ready to pay for yet another pair of shoes not knowing how many I actually owned. It is general wisdom that if you cannot readily quantify how much you have of something, you have too much.

Embarrassed by my footwear riches, I decided to sit down and count through the collection not only to satisfy myself of the actual quantity but to examine the range, to see how it had been built. I cleaned, polished and laid out twenty two pairs of smart leather shoes, all of which receive regular use. The strange setup reminded me of a photograph I had seen of the writer and celebrated dandy Nick Foulkes, sat amongst his own substantial shoe collection wearing a loud check suit, conveying a look that was an unusual mixture of apology, pride and satisfaction; I decided against replicating this mise-en-scène and left the shoes to convey what needed to be conveyed: quantity and variety.

It was somewhat strange to see all the shoes together. I had always been confident that I bought dissimilar shoes; “I don’t have” I would mutter “anything in this colour or style.” In truth, some of my shoes are quite similar indeed. It might surprise some that I, being a town-mouse, own so many brown shoes. I don’t subscribe to the ‘no brown in town’ rule as it has ceased to be relevant. Black is certainly the most traditional shoe colour to wear in the city, but considering the number of casual shoes that dominate the streets – plimsolls, All Stars and training shoes – a smart brown shoe no longer looks out of place. I noted that most of the shoes have a predominantly classical shape and style, about which I was not surprised, but I was amazed that I only owned one pair of smart slip-on shoes – a circumstance which I had attempted to adjust on my recent visit to Crombie.

I am rather glad I took the time to arrange the collection as it provides a perfect point of reference when I am considering further pairs; I know, for instance, that I have little need of mid-brown lace ups without taxing my brain or rifling through the boxes under my bed. As embarrassing as it is to own such a variety of shoes, please note that the collection pictured above does not include my seasonal range of espadrilles, plimsolls or driving shoes.


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Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.

Comments

  1. George Dixon says:

    I don’t agree that most of your shoes have a ‘classical’ shape. I would put only five in that category (A4, B2, B3, B4 and C5). All the others (with the exception of C2) are pointy according to current fashion and I would be willing to bet that in only a handful of years they will look decidedly unfashionable! Nice collection though.

  2. tom says:

    way too much…also no sneakers?

  3. John Wallace says:

    Just discovered your site, Winston. Good effort all around. You may already be aware of ” A Suitable Wardrobe” and author Will Boehlke out of San Francisco. Google ASW and prepare for a treat!

  4. Sometimes it is quality not quantity that counts.

    Mr Chesterfield a fine collection (I particularly like the Nunes Correa), but so many similar styles/toe shapes! What an opportunity to do some editing? By all means have some fashion ‘peacocks’ shoes but why not treat your feet?

    Consider the maths – seven pairs of similar brown oxfords that last up to five years at £700 or one pair of handsewn shoes at £1500 that last 20 years?

    You are obviously a man of taste and consideration. Perhaps it is time to treat yourself (and make some wardrobe space!)

    So, as your shoes bite the dust in the coming years, avoid the sales and instead invest in a few pairs of bespoke or made-to-order handsewn shoes. You obviously know what toe shape you like and have a proven style, so invest in a few pairs in different shades of brown and perhaps a couple of correspondents? They will look fabulous for MUCH longer and can be repaired for years to come…and you can spend your energies and the cash you will save on other shopping fun!

  5. George,

    Perhaps ‘classical’ was a poor choice of word. ‘Conventional’ might be a more appropriate description.

    However I do not think, apart from a few pairs, that my shoes are particularly pointy. They are narrow, certainly, but that is how I like shoes to be.

    The other point you raise about them appearing ‘unfashionable’ in a few years doesn’t really concern me as I don’t really care a great deal for fashion. Of course, I am always interested in new clothing styles but I won’t change because the catwalk changes. I just happen to like slim shoes. Wider G-fitting Trickers are possibly more ‘classical’ and timeless than some of the shoes in my collection but I don’t think they suit me as I am rather thin, narrow shouldered and a little short.

    True winkle-picker-pointy shoes were momentarily interesting for me but I always considered, as you clearly consider yourself, that there is a danger that an expensive pair might be, rather soon, an unfortunate investment.

    Tom,

    Yes, possibly too many! I don’t like sneakers (or trainers) that much but I did mention at the end that I have a seasonal range of footwear, like espadrilles, driving shoes and plimsolls (which are really vintage training shoes). Again, perhaps I am a plimsoll man for the same reason (slimness) that I like narrow shoes?

    John,

    I am aware of ASW and enjoy it immensely. I am a great fan of Will’s style and approach.

    Best regards,

    W

  6. Deborah,

    Thanks for your kind compliments. The Nunes Correa shoes were a steal at 15 Euros a pair!

    You make a good point. I would love to have a pair of bespoke/handsewn shoes. And I do agree that they will probably last much longer than my current shoes. I believe it is simply that it is quite difficult to get out of ‘my way.’

    I crave variety and currently cannot afford variety in the league of bespoke/handsewn shoes/suits. Perhaps I will mature further into a person who does crave, as you state, quality over quantity?

    Best,

    Winston

  7. Will Collins says:

    SHOE TREES!

  8. Dear Will,

    It is interesting that a number of people on my blog also considered it vital to question my lack of shoe trees in this picture.
    I have one pair from New & Lingwood (pictured in the black punchcap Oxfords) that I rotate between both the N&L pairs, the Church’s patent pair and the Grensons. I do not use them for the other shoes as they are of a variety of sizes and are strictly of an Oxford shape – placing them inside other shoes would distort their shape.

    You will doubtless be unsurprised to learn that Dune do not sell shoe trees, ditto TopMan and Zara. I do stuff them with newspaper to soak up moisture, particularly important after walking in the rain.

  9. Please note, this sentence;

    “do not use them for the other shoes as they are of a variety of sizes and are strictly of an Oxford shape – placing them inside other shoes would distort their shape”

    was poorly constructed.

    My shoes are of a variety of sizes. The trees are appropriate for Oxford shoes because of their width.