This story originally appeared on the Gents Cafe Newsletter. You can subscribe here.
During the initial contact with a person, we probably all have our own personal checkpoints that we consciously or unconsciously run through. I read a quote: “I make shoe contact before eye contact” – and couldn’t help smiling, because this is exactly me; for me, it’s the shoes (and watch). I find the shoes being probably the most important piece in an outfit, but sadly I must admit, often also the piece that is the most neglected.
My father taught me the importance of caring for your shoes. I remember the first time he pulled me aside and dug out the box with his shoe-shining gear and guided me through the process. I remember asking him why, and his reply being something along the line with “a man should always appear in properly kept shoes”. Ever since I have often caught myself in “making shoe contact before eye contact”.
Many within the field of menswear preach that a dirty and/or poorly kept shoe can ruin an otherwise spotless outfit – and I agree. But another detail, and to me at least just as important, is taking care of your shoes, making them stay with you in your wardrobe year after year – a good investment. And as time goes by, your shoes will continue to evolve and develop your patina, your history.
To me there is something therapeutic about the process; I like to make sure that this is the task that needs to be done, and time is not an issue. I dig out the appliances that, like many other things in my various tool-boxes for various tasks, contain heirlooms in form of multiple brushes, cloths and even shoe polish and wax handed down from my Grandfather. I put on tunes from Sinatra, as I have done so many times in this case, swing by the home-bar in the corner and pour myself something brown (some drinks are just more appropriate than others at specific times), and I immerse myself in the task at hand, under the dimmed lights in my living room.
To me, this is a time of leisure – a father’s leisure hours, you could say…
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