Sometimes you don't know how to wear something until it is shown to you by somebody else. In the pursuit of personal style we usually head in directions we think are the ones that suit us most, only to find years later that we are bogged down in whatever it was we thought we were. It's refreshing to walk past another man in the street that shows you a new set of possibilities.
One such example of this was a fortnight ago when I was asked to have an early kids and family dinner with an artist friend of mine and his architect wife. Because there are so few people in Sydney that would fit that bill I will refrain from telling you the location but the location is important. They live in the sort of area that is famed for bohemians, artists, architects, intellectuals and journalists. It is a sort of Old World enclave of Sydney which has a certain quirky Royal Tenenbaums feel about it. The feeling I often get when I am in that area is one of brown corduroy trousers, tweed style jackets, viella shirts and ties handed down from grandfathers and so on - all with a certain smell of must and sea water mixed together (hint).
When I went to open the door to let in my friend who was returning from the fish markets I couldn't open the door fully because his collection of boat shoes was piled high in the door way. I was very surprised that there were so many pairs there. I must have counted four pairs of boat shoes.
I quizzed him about it later in the evening and he explained that boat shoes were his thing. He loved them, he found they could be worked into any ensemble he wore and he had no other reason than they suited him. And they did. I recounted all the times I saw him and I tried to remember him without boat shoes on and I couldn't. About the only time I had seen him without boat shoes was on his wedding day in his bespoke grape suit, but even then I could not be sure.
For myself, I have never worn boat shoes since I was a teenager and I wore Timberland ones. That was during my most conservative 'wasp' stage circa 1993 before I had a mid-teen crisis and swung my pendulum heavily in the opposite direction towards urban cool. I can remember the time clearly, it was the time of Arnette blowfly sunglasses, v neck t-shirts, suede puma low cut sneakers, cashmere sweaters and my first pair of leather pants. I was a cool cat for a bit.
Now that I have gone through a series of re-births I am considering once again the boat shoe but with a new frame of mind. I am going to find a shoe maker that will work with me to make a more modern and sleek version. Once I have found such a person I will report back. But, mark my word, the boat shoe will soon have another day in the sun as people have become de-sensitized to the driving shoe and moccasin. My only problem is that if they start trending my artist friend will have to find a new mode of shoe.
|The boat shoe. Photo Source: Mr Porter|