As a young man how was I to know there were rules about proper ways to dress?
In the era and neighborhood I grew up in, every guy dressed in a mixture of preppy/trad. We had no notion that other forms of dressing existed. I still dress that way, as do most of my friends. The neighborhood stores still feature mostly preppy togs.
Out of high school I had a month or two to between graduation and basic training so went to work for a men's haberdashery. I got to be a shoe dog. Knowing absolutely nothing about shoes, I relied upon my boss, Ralph, who was a most excellent teacher.
Ralph spent a great deal of time attempting to educate a clueless teen about the advantages of Allen Edmonds over Johnson & Murphy's, and why Weejuns were crap. Didn't matter to me, Weejuns were $8 per pair the others were $40.
Ralph did one thing I am grateful for, When the J&M's went on sale, he took a pair of black and a pair of brown tassel loafers put them aside for me and insisted I buy them, since I would need them when I was an adult. I still have those two pair.
Throughout my working career, although all day every day I was encased in a BB gray or blue suit, I never owned a pair of lace up shoes. It was the black or brown J&M tassels or a pair of penny loafers. At home it was pennys or Topsiders. Then I found Scott.
Scott Schuman is a photographer who 3 years ago began a blog known as The Satorialist. http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/
Each day Scott walks around NY taking pictures of "real" people who dress with flair. One of his earliest postings was a copy of an essay by men's style guru G. Bruce Boyer(whose picture is shown above) describing Mr. Boyer's introduction to the world of bespoke clothing. A later posting was an essay by Bruce on the joys of suede shoes. The scales fell from my eyes.
Immediately I needed suede shoes, in snuff, tobacco, or chocolate. Cap toes, brogues, chukka boots, penny loafers, bit loafers. Not to mention the bucks, white and brown, nor the Clark desert boots.
My shoe closet is almost the same size as Mrs. T's., except mine are all suede.
Should you venture into suede world, on your way home from the store, pick up a can of Scotchguard. Nothing ruins the look of suede faster than water.
Photo from The Satorialist