Sunday, March 04, 2007

Black Sneakers With Suits: Non, Non, Mon Freres

A newly-ordained colleague writes,

"Here is my pet peeve: ministers wearing black sneakers as though they substitute for black dress shoes. They don't. Just because they are black does not make them an appropriate counterpart to a suit. (Okay, this mostly applies to men because I rarely see a woman doing this.)"

First of all, our blessings go to this newly-minted Rev., and we wish her every happiness and the deepest fulfillment of her calling!

Second of all, we thank her for making this important point. Guys, you're not kidding anyone with those black Reeboks. Unless you have some kind of serious orthopedic issue -- in which case you should just wear orthopedic shoes, there's no shame in it! -- don't pair sneakers with a suit.

Did the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King walk all over Alabama witnessing for justice wearing sneakers with his suit? No, he did not. And PeaceBang feels certain that he would not have even if they had made black Reeboks back then. Some days, personal comfort is a fine consideration. When that is the case, you can wear something like this:
Clarks Neutron

When the situation calls for the most dignified presence you can muster, however, it's time for shiny man shoes and nothing else.
Ecco Shoe
(These are by Ecco, so they're actually not pinchy and stiff!)

Philocrites was wearing these the other day, and they're really terrific for an everyday shoe:
(Clark's Oxfords)

Here's a tip, darling gents: Dr. Scholl's makes terrific squishy gel inserts, and if you do as PeaceBang and buy your shoes a half-size bigger, you can show up in a real shoe and still be comfortable on your feet all day.

But seriously, PeaceBang just cruised to look at men's shoes and found oodles of great options on there that look nice and are extremely comfortable. Now she's wondering why in the world so many men are walking around in hiking boots and galoshes when there are so many more elegant and equally practical options out there.

Is this a little bit of a Rev. Peter Pan situation, boys? Is this just about wanting to keep that youthful, I Might Just Go Hike Up a Mountain After This Board Meeting, Because I've Got Some GORP In My Pocket And I'm A Free And Wild Spirit, Baby edge? Because, sweeties, here's how it reads to everyone else: "My Son Left His Black Sneakers In The Mud Room And I Couldn't Find My Own Shoes Before Tonight's Service So I Wore His."

Remember what PeaceBang always says, "Well-shodliness is next to godliness."

Wink, wink, kiss of peace!

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Blogger Peregrinato said...

I really like those Clarks. I'm likely to wear shoes like that with khakis and a casual shirt when I don't want to scream "sneakers" but I need something comfortable. (My commute is a 40 minute walk each way.) I wouldn't dare try it with a suit though.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Philocrites said...

I'd second the Clarks nomination. That company makes amazingly comfortable soles. Bostonian does, too. But here's the truth: Rockport makes shoes that look like dress shoes but feel almost like sports shoes. That's why so many teachers wear 'em: You can stand for hours, or walk all over Alabama, in them.

I haven't owned Rockports in a bunch of years, though, because they tend to look a bit dull. My current shiny black shoes are these Bostonians.

(A related issue: When you wear dress shoes and a suit, don't wear athletic socks.)

10:21 PM  
Blogger A. Lin said...

And for heaven sakes, keep those shoes shined!!

10:39 PM  
Blogger boyinthebands said...

For me, the trick for having thin, flat feet and living in black Oxfords (I own no sneakers) is adding metatarsal supports. Made of neoprene, gotten at a specialist pharmacy. $7. All the difference in the world.

While I too have Bostonians (a different cut) I live in a pair of US-made, vegan oxfords from Pangea. They are quite light, wear like Rockports and breathe well. (Link.)

12:50 AM  
Anonymous JCS said...

Allen-Edmonds and Alden both make excellent dress shoes. While pricier than some brands, they have the virtue of being able to be resoled (insert your own sole saving joke here), thus saving you money in the long run as long as you remember to put in shoe trees and keep them clean and polished--I've seen shoes last thirty years. You'll find that the more expensive dress shoes take polish and shine up better. Alden and Allen-Edmonds also are made almost exclusively in the USA.

I find leather-soled dress shoes to be quite comfortable but if leather isn't your thing, a shoe with a Dainite sole might be the ticket. The key is to find your proper size, which means going to a place that sells more than "D" width shoes.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what for the vegan/vegetarian/socially conscious sort who wishes to wear no leather? The options available are slim-pickin's, but better for men than women. What would PeaceBang's recommendations be in this case?

4:10 PM  
Blogger fausto said...

And what for the vegan/vegetarian/socially conscious sort who wishes to wear no leather?

I don't know what PeaceBang's recommendation would be, but mine would be to ask yourself, why not? What are you accomplishing with such a public and anti-social visual statement, unless you are a disciplined adherent to an authentic tradition that holds such values, such as Jainism or Hinduism? Surely you are not saving any animal lives, because the sort of hides that are used for shoes are only waste products of the meat industry, and not the product of animals raised for their hides in the first place, like, say, chinchillas or minks. You can save their lives by not eating them, but it really doesn't matter once they have already been killed for their meat what happens to the by-products.

It seems to me, what you are really doing by avoiding leather shoes is not following your conscience in an ethical decision of serious consequence, but rather making a visible statement to others about yourself. And many who see it will understand your statement not to be, "I am a person of rarefied moral principle," but rather, "I declare that I am in conflict with the commonly held norms of the mainstream culture, over matters that when examined rationally can be shown to have little if any moral or practical consequence."

Is that really the way to command moral authority and project spiritual leadership? Or is it only a form of narcissism that brands oneself as marginal or irrelevant to the vast majority who stand in the main current of the culture?

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shoes in the picture reveal the rubber souls. If the shoes don't have leather souls, they shouldn't be in a sanctuary. Actually, they shouldn't be at a wedding or any place else you really care about. Pop for the real thing, fellow clergymen. john of D.C.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Peregrinato said...

The shoes in the picture reveal the rubber souls.

Which picture are you talking about?

12:21 PM  
Blogger fausto said...

This one?

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Peacebang,

I need your help! My boyfriend, who is a faith-based advocate on Capitol Hill, just wore a hole in his black dress shoes. I wasn’t surprised. He wears his holey (ahem, holy?) clothes until they are falling apart so badly that even a needle and thread can’t provide a temporary fix.

Today he walked all over the Hill and then 25 minutes home in the holey shoes despite the snow on the ground. Yes, I must admit that his hard core, tough-it-out attitude is pretty sexy, but don’t tell him that cause it’ll just play into his big ego. He thinks he’s some sort of spiritual hottie or something.

He hates our consumerist American culture and rarely buys anything new; but he did tell me that I could help him shop for new black dress shoes. And I knew just who to contact to get advice for my beloved, faithful lover.

I love the Ecco shoes in your March 4th blog. Can you tell me if they are expensive? I know my boyfriend won’t want to spend too much. After all, he does have to watch his budget so that we can continue to afford plane tickets to visit each other. Gotta love long-distance relationships!

Also, do you know which shoes are made in the U.S.? He is a very thoughtful buyer and will want to consider the social, economic and ecological practices of the company that manufactures the shoes (another thing I find very attractive about him).

Time is of the essence since Congress is in session. He is super busy this time of year. I fear that if he doesn’t get a new pair of shoes soon, he’ll continue walking around in his holey ones, despite the weather. And I don’t want him to get sick!!!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Always a fan ~
Minnesota Gal

10:18 PM  
Blogger fausto said...

Unfortunately, "inexpensive" and "made in USA" are mutually exclusive sets on the Venn diagram. If cost is the more important consideration, better to look for a foreign-made product from a maker that treats its workers with relative dignity and lifts them out of relative squalor, rather than one that meets all the elevated labor standards of our own wealthy, individualist society.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous JCS said...

Sierra Trading Post (you can Google it) has good prices on shoes, lists the country of manufacture, and has superb customer service. Finding a particular style in a particular size can be hit or miss.

As I noted above, buying a pair of shoes which can be resoled is often more cost effective in the long run.

12:42 PM  
Blogger boyinthebands said...

I would like to point out to two of the anonymous and Fausto something I wrote about above --

1. Vegan shoes can be quite normal looking. (And I disagree with Fausto's moral calculus and straw-man reaching.)

2. The ones I identified are not cheap, but probably cheaper than Eccos, are appropriate to office/Hill work and are light. Belts, too. And tell your boyfriend that, for costly goods, there's a difference between consumerist culture and respect for labor. The store is a short walk from the Twinbrook Metro station.

3. They're made in the US; indeed, their US manufacture was what attracted me in the first place. The rest of what they sell are from countries that have strong labor laws.

4. They have a good selection of women's shoes. At least a good selection from a man's perspective. Lots of these are US made, too.

The Company:

11:22 PM  

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