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Style Substitute: Shoes

Style Substitute is a series that will show you how replacing just one item in your outfit can have such a large impact on the rest of your appearance. I know that most won’t have the time or resources to go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe, so I’m going to start off one piece at a time. Your transformation to a dapper gentleman will be a gradual one, also ensuring you won’t be the butt of your office’s jokes if you suddenly show up one day looking very different. Yes, it happens a lot here in our country, which should be the topic of another article entirely.

Your typical Filipino office worker probably goes to work in black, pleated “dress” pants, a billowy dress shirt, square-toed, synthetic loafers, and a too-wide necktie. While I can write an entire article on the entirety of this outfit, let’s take a moment to focus on shoes. Shoes make the man, as some say.

More after the jump!

Ugly as sin

Above is the typical Filipino dress shoe: Weird stitching, square toed, synthetic leather. This will probably last the typical Filipino man a few months.

Office shoes have always been a topic of debate. Some think that they just need to buy one cheap pair of “formal” shoes, wear them everyday, and forget about them until they break 6 months later. Then they buy a new, equally ugly pair.Those same people invest thousands to purchase expensive, flashy sneakers. You just have to remember that you’ll be wearing your “formal” shoes at least 5 days, 40 hours a week, so why not invest in good ones that will actually cost you less in the long run?

I present to you the top 5 factors you should look out for when purchasing leather shoes.

1. Leather

Always buy genuine leather shoes. Even though they cost twice as much as their synthetic leather counterparts, they last over twice as long. Shoes are one thing where I advocate spending, since you can really see the value of good shoes. Their heels don’t wear as quickly, they’re easier to rescue from scratches, and they’re a lot more breathable and comfortable.

2. Silhouette

Square toe shoes are an abomination from the 90s. They may have been fashionable for a time, but those days are long gone now. Round toe shoes have always looked better. They’re a classic look, too, meaning they won’t go out of fashion any time soon.

Allen Edmonds: One of the gold standards when it comes to leather shoes

Aside from the toe, you also have to make sure that the rest of the shoe isn’t too chunky. Chunky dress shoes — similar to Doc Martens — instantly remove all formality from a shoe.

3. Sole

Leather or rubber sole? Most shoe snobs will cry foul when they see rubber soles. I’m all about practicality. Due to the amount of walking / commuting the typical Filipino man will go through every day, I will have to recommend rubber soles here. Leather-soled shoes won’t last in the rain. Just keep the profile slim and avoid lug soles — the soles you will typically see on hiking boots — at all costs.

Lug sole – no

4. Black or Brown?

Here’s an odd thing about Filipino style. Black is ALWAYS the color for dress pants, so you almost always have to choose black shoes. For some reason, affordable dark grey dress pants — which would go great with a pair of brown shoes — aren’t really widely available. There are also a lot of offices that require black slacks with black shoes.

In other countries, brown will be seen as the more versatile shoe option while black is reserved for the most formal events (black tie, funerals). Personally, I love brown shoes. Brown really brings out the colors in the rest of your outfit and it’s just not as drab or boring as black. Due to our customs, though, we can’t really get away from that “black is formal” feeling. I’ll leave this up to you.

5. Laces or no laces?

This is always a topic of contention. It’s a fact that shoes with laces are infinitely more formal than loafers (or slip-ons, as they’re commonly known). However, in the Filipino workplace, loafers are perfectly acceptable. Just make sure that you consider the other four factors and you’re set. Some great loafers that are perfectly suited for a Filipino workplace can be found in this article from Dappered.com, my favorite style website. For formal wear, though, I would advise against suede shoes, as well as driving shoes — those shoes with rubber nubs at the back. Keep them black or dark brown and you’ll be fine.

The driving shoe, while a great casual shoe, is too informal for office settings

What do you usually consider when buying new dress shoes? Did this article help you make your choice? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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