Do you have a pair of scuffed and worn dress shoes that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away? Does your significant other complain that they are worn out and should go? Do they bring down the sartorial elegance of your finely-tailored Kiton suit? There comes a time in every man’s life when he has a favorite pair of dress shoes that are just no longer suitable for board meetings. You could throw them away, donate them, or re-purpose them. Re-purposing extends the usable life of your old dress shoes, expands your wardrobe and saves you money that you would otherwise spend on more “casual” shoes for certain occasions.
Resoled & Reheeled
Let’s say that your favorite pair of wingtips has noticeable cracks appearing in the leather uppers and maybe even a bit of scuffing from years of wear. Those are things that can be addressed by changing the wardrobe that you pair the shoes with, but I will get to that in a moment. What you cannot put a sartorial “spin” on is shoes that are entirely unkempt. If your leather-soled dress shoes suffer from thin soles and/or unevenly worn heels, that can be remedied with a visit to your local cobbler. Have these structural issues taken care of and then you can proceed to re-purpose those much-loved dress shoes for their new duty.
So, your dress shoes are now ready for many more years of wear but the upper is scuffed, cracked, faded, and the leather is just not taking a shine like it used to when they were new. What do you do? Certainly you should not pair these shoes with your power suit and expect to broker a deal and you should also not plan on wearing these shoes to your next middle management meeting, either. However, remember that the “rough” appearance of these dress shoes gives them “patina,” which is something that many fashion designers aspire to have with certain shoe lines. Pair your refreshed but not freshened-up dress shoes with a pair of raw denim and re-purpose them as a jean shoe. Certain high-end fashion designers have made lots of money selling shoes with a purposefully disheveled look, so save some money and extend the life of your old dress shoes in such a way.
Old Money/Professorial Image
Another way to re-purpose your worn-in, but not yet worn-out, leather-soled dress shoes is a bit more subtle. While those cracked and scuffed wingtips may not be polished enough to appropriately pair with a finely-woven wool/silk power suit, they can still be worn with sartorial fashions if you’re keen to fabric selection and the overall image. Go for the “old money,” or professorial, image with the outfit you pair with those slightly tattered, but still wearable, wingtips. Think tweed jackets with leather elbow patches, instead of the black pinstripe suit. Don a heavier weight Oxford-weave shirt instead of a high thread-count Egyptian cotton French cuff shirt. Sport a knit bow-tie instead of your favorite Zegna power tie. The key here is to wear clothing items that have a coarser finish than the typical slickness of Italian pieces; this makes the worn shoes look and feel more in place with the whole clothing ensemble, creating a seamlessly put-together outfit. Think English or philosophy professor, or even your slightly eccentric uncle who exudes “old money” and drives a 30-year-old Mercedes-Benz diesel.
The contributor’s favorite dress shoes are his decade-old Testoni wingtips that he often wears with his tweed sport coat with elbow patches and raw denim from Earnest Sewn.
More from this contributor:
Sport Classic Style on College Game Day
Men’s Fashion: Essential Tips for a Summer Date
10 Fashion Tips for the Well-Dressed Man