Ahhh, shoes! So many styles, so many looks, so many purposes, but so little space. Shoes would have to be my one vice. However, its not an ideal one for someone that’s been such a frequent traveller. Shoes are the one thing I can always justify buying. Whether it’s for an occasion, to complete an outfit, just because they’re new season, maybe they’re limited edition (this is a good one) or simply because I love them too much to let someone else buy them. In fact, strangely enough I often build an outfit around what shoes I want to wear – from the bottom up. I’m always disappointed when I put some layers together, only to realise I don’t have the shoes to really ‘kick’ it off. Shoes for me are like icing. Some cakes are edible, even nice without icing. But nice is just that, nice. Boring. Mudcake with no chocolate frosting? Carrot cake with no cream cheese icing? I rest my case. Shoes are my icing, my WOW, the exclamation point!
And so when it comes to packing time once again – harder than choosing what jacket or swimsuit to pack – shoes are my hardest dilemma. There are so many factors to weigh before actually weighing your bag. Versatility, purpose, comfort (who am I kidding, comfort and fashion in shoes = sketchers. Ummm, No), colour, season and bag space are a few. If you’re going to a wedding or some formal celebration on your trip and taking a suit or formal attire, naturally you’re going to pack black formal shoes, or perhaps a black Chelsea boot that can then be worn with fitted jeans for a night out – 2 outfits = win. It’s best to try and avoid taking a pair of shoes you’ll only wear once or only go with one outfit. Which also brings me to the subject of black vs brown. Brown formal or business shoes work with many colours and styles of pants, but when it comes to suits brown or tan shoes only go with navy or blue suits. So if you’re planning on wearing a dapper navy suit to the wedding, go with brown shoes. Now you can also pack some jeans for a dressed down evening option with the shoes or throw in some blue or olive chinos to fold-up for a great smart but casual ankle-baring look.
I would also recommend packing a classic pair of white Converse (low or hi-top) or similar espadrilles for your trip. Converse offer great versatility and can be paired well with shorts as well as jeans or again cuffed pants for the new ankle-baring trend. Converse are classic and give the perfect finish to a casual outfit or help in trying to dress down an outfit where you might wear a light coloured blazer. The Converse however would typically be a summer option. If you opt for the canvas ones over leather they’re not the best shoe for wet or inclement weather. And speaking from a Toronto experience in a nightclub queue at 3am in January, they have no more insulation than cotton socks!
Similarly as essential, is your pair of trainers. I quite like to pack casual lifestyle trainers as well as gym trainers. However, there’s not always the space to pack both. This is also sometimes something I like to buy on a trip so I need to save the space (but this never happens). I go through a pair of Nike gym trainers about every 6 months because they’re the shoe I wear almost everyday – and Nike always have a new design of Roshe. So if it’s not a complete relaxation and binge trip and working out will be a part of most days, opt for the gym trainers. There’s even social fitness activities like Runyon Canyon if you’re visiting L.A that I’m sure will be a part of your itinerary and you’ll be thankful for appropriate yet fashionable footwear. On the other hand, if you seem less likely to partake in intensive physical activity then opt for a more relaxed lifestyle trainer that says confidence in a sports brand but has that more urban street flair like Nike Huarache, Adidas Original Superstars (which have made a comeback in some chic new limited edition styles – like the gold ones I just bought) or if you’ve got serious swag, hi-top Adidas Tubular X or Raleighs. On a side note, if you’re going with White Adidas Original Superstars I wouldn’t also pack Converse.
Finally, the in-betweener – a smart loafer or boat shoe. Personally I prefer a loafer but I know some guys find this Italian style a little too pompous and the boat shoe a little more understated. Loafers come in varying styles, typically suede, patent or leather. In keeping with the current ankle-baring trend, loafers are the ideal shoe to wear with cropped khaki’s or chinos as well as a well-pressed pair of shorts. Surprising to some, the glam of patent means that a loafer of this kind can also be worn with a black suit (with tailored slim-line trousers) to perhaps a cocktail affair. I respect the traditionalists that are believers of socks on formal occasions, but this is not permission to do such with a loafer. Loafer’s + socks = NEVER! So if you’re not baring your ankles with your suit, traditional lace-ups are the only option. Now loafers much like a blazer, bring an outfit into a semi-formal or business casual realm. If you’re summer dining, vineyard visiting, at the Polo or maybe Spring Racing Carnival, a loafer will serve you best. I love the class and contrast of a suede tasselled loafer.
As I’ve referenced a few times and in accordance with seasonal footwear, exposed and sockless ankles were a runway trend circa 2015 and have since become more fashionable and common place. Shoes are low cut and pants are cropped or pinrolled – a technique that is more intricate than it might sound, so follow the link for an explanation and video tutorial. Now ‘sockless’ might be the wrong term as the shoe and/or outfit is only to appear sockless, when in fact what had once been only female footwear fare for ballet flats, hidden socks or footlets are now the genius unisex ankle-baring shoe illusion. With so many styles of shoe suited to the sockless appearance these days, integral to the success of your outfit is make sure the pant and shoe pairing is articulate and brings the shoe smartly to our attention. Whether you’re going urban street with pinrolled jeans and your metallic Adidas Original Superstars, cropped trousers with suede loafers, a smart slim-leg suit with patent or bedazzled loafers or classic converse with turned-up chinos, there’s so much more to consider when pairing and packing your shoes.
NB: 6 staple suitcase shoe suggestions, as I have detailed, can be previewed below by Polyvore.