We often take our sartorial cues from the men we admire. That jacket, the watch, his hair, that price tag! But with many of us so fixated with what's going on above the ankles, we often miss the one item (well, technically two) that binds it all together: his shoes. In this post, we look at three classic shoe styles and the famous men who walk in them.
1. The Black Lace-Up
The black leather lace-up shoe has been worn by more famous men more often than any other shoe style. From royalty to famous actors, singers, authors, and scholars, the black lace-up used to be essential wearing for anyone of note. These days, we're more likely to see them on politicians and businessmen, but no group of people has captured the imagination - and helped shoe sales along the way - than the well-dressed British spy.
James Bond, 007
Contrary to popular belief, Bond's wardrobe is not all cocktail suits and cap-toe Oxfords. In the 2012 movie Skyfall, Bond, played by Daniel Craig, sports a pair of black Highbury derbies by Crockett & Jones (RRP £430) in a number of critical scenes. This is the perfect shoe for the more rugged, 'close-quarter battle' Bond that we know today. The shoe's open-lace system is used by militaries around the world because it offers the wearer flexibility and mobility, which is especially useful when you're jumping off buildings, chasing down bad guys, or just generally saving the world. The derbies are also back in the latest installment, No Time To Die (2020).
Harry Hart, Kingsman: The Secret Service
In the movie Kingsman, agent Harry Hart, played by Colin Firth, owns the archetypal British look: tortoiseshell specs, double-breasted suit, a Fox brolly, and of course a pair of black Cap-Toe Oxfords by London shoemaker George Cleverley. Apparently, a poison-tipped blade extends out of the right shoe when Hart taps his heels together. In reality, I'm not sure the skilled artisans at GC have detoured much from their traditional shoemaking techniques, 68-years in the making.
2. The Brogue
Brogue shoes have a humble beginning, being originally made for Scottish and Irish labourers, with perforated holes in the leather to allow the water to run out when submerged in boggy, wet fields. These days, they're more synonymous with the brogue and tweed wearing Country Gentleman. Given the brogue shoe's humble beginnings, their formality remains a contentious issue and debated ad nauseam by shoe nerds and menswear aficionados everywhere. Essentially, some still believe brogues are not appropriote attire for business or formal occasions; others, likewise, beg to differ.
Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister
Past and present British Prime Ministers don't seem to mind wearing brogues on formal occasions. During Tony Blair's tenure as British Prime Minister, he owned a "lucky pair" of black Chetwynd brogues by Church's Footwear, which he wore to every session of Prime Minister's Questions - over for ten years!
The National Basketball Association (NBA)
Brogues also seem like a popular choice with National Basketball Association (NBA) players. NBA legend La Bron James was seen sporting a pair of Allen Edmonds Strandmok Semi-Brogue Oxfords in GQ. When players collaborate with NBA's sometime sponsor Allen Edmonds, they inevitably design up some sort of shoe with broguing, such as NBA star Michael Carter-Williams in the video above. This makes perfect sense. Brogue shoes can be dressed up and dressed down or dressed sideways as was the case with Dennis Rodman. Perfect for the roadshow that is the 82-game NBA season.
3. Lace-Up Boots
What's not to like about leather lace-up boots? Women dig them, men look more masculine in them, they can work hard and play hard...they even give an extra couple of milimeters up top. For that rugged look, it's inarguably essential kit. For the light-of-frame, lace-up boots ratches up one's brawny credentials. Infact, we go so far as to say that a pair of lace-up boots should be on every man's shoe rack.
Chris Hemsworth, Rugged Aussie Icon
Chris Hemsworth's style has been turned up a notch since acquiring A-lister status. Sure, you'll likely see him on the red carpet in a dashing monochrome suit, looking every part the movie star, but when not rubbing shoulders with fellow A-listers, Chris goes for an uncomplicated look. His casual go-to, a pair of jeans and a simple tee, won't set menswear on fire any time soon, but Chris knows that with a pair of lace-up boots, it gives his casual ensemble that devil-may-care finish. The pair of 1000 Mile Wolverines pictured above look like they've done some mileage too, although with complete bias we think he'd look much in a pair of TGC Turon Service Boots...
Ryan Gosling, Hollywood Heartthrob
Ryan Gosling is one of those annoying people who just looks good whatever he wears. When he's not crooning on the silver screen, you will most likely find him in a pair of lace-up boots, his favourite casual item. Gosling has been snapped on quite a few occasions in the Red Wing moc toes pictured above, which adds a touch of the masculine to his otherwise debonair reputation.