Stepping Up: Essential Footwear for the Fashionable Man of 2024

Jun 11 2024.

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Nothing beats seeing a well-dressed man in Sri Lanka with his killer outfit that’s complimented by… his ankle-high white socks and slip-on black shoes. Yes, those are the moments that remind me I need to politely discuss something that’s always been afoot but often overlooked – How Men put no thought into what socks they pair with shoes! Yes, those trusty soles that carry you from meetings to meetups, dates to dinners and even just visiting someone at home; Those things that protect your feet and your reputation mean so much more now. Here are the five essential pairs of footwear that every man should have in their wardrobe in 2024 tailormade to Lankan sensibilities.

The Black Lace Up Shoe

It’s like black underwear; We should all have one. Black lace-up shoes also called ‘Oxfords’ go with anything, but that could be social conditioning since we are forced to wear them for school from a very young age. Owning this pair is a must as it has a sense of formality to it. Once this level is cleared in your wardrobe, I highly recommend getting a ‘Brogue’ (a leather shoe that has punctured patterns on it). This will be your go-to for any formal event or occasion you are required to dress up, even if it’s just a day for a special meeting. If you only own slip-ons, I suggest getting one of these and feeling the difference. PLEASE WEAR THESE WITH BLACK SOCKS THAT REACH ABOVE YOUR ANKLE. 

The Light Brown Loafer

If the black shoe is the work wife, the light brown loafer is your after-work drink mate. By definition, the loafer is any shoe you have to slip on (without Velcro to hold it in; because you’re not an invalid or a child) and it comes in a range of styles like the Golf driver, Heeled, Tasseled, Penny & Loro Piana lookalike Loafer. Extra credit if you can tell them all apart. As for why, it’s a nice break from being seen in your black shoes and works well with business-casual looks, weekend looks that are either shorts or denim and even with light-coloured suits and slacks. Since we are discussing loafers, they were never meant to be worn with socks here in Sri Lanka even though I’ve seen many a businessman try; Highly recommend investing in what are now called ‘invisible socks’ just to avoid that sweaty feeling if it’s a humid affair. 

The White Sneaker

Nothing I hate more than hearing ‘deck shoes’ used to describe the most recent addition to men’s wardrobes locally. And thankfully, there is no limit to which age you can be legally allowed to wear them. Look for one that’s got less branding as possible. If it can be leather or matte, it becomes very versatile wear for your outings that are not functions, hanging out with friends or demands on your attendance that don’t need you to get all that dressed up. I will allow a pair that doubles for athletic wear or basketball, but it will only allow you to pair it with certain outfits and events.   

The Sports Slide

Move over leather sandals. Or any sandal. Unless you constantly traverse our beaches or prefer a more airy approach to exploring our nature trails (at the peril of leeches and bugs), sandals have died and been replaced with a sporty slip-on once required for locker rooms and kids at the pool. They come in a range of aesthetically pleasing designs, and designer logos and also some brands carry no branding at all. I would suggest a neutral dark colour so it will not show wear and tear easily and be one step elevated from the traditional rubber slipper we are so fond of showing out in public even as adults.

Recently British PM Rishi Sunak was spotted pairing tailored pants with Adidas Samba’s and the internet was definitely not split on it; the whole world united to tell him he’d ruined a pair of timeless shoes for more reasons than fashion. If you feel your shoes don’t get noticed think again. With an understanding of our constantly yo-yoing costs and the demand of looking good, I’m not saying the solution is buying more shoes but matching shoes with a precision that speaks volumes about who you are even if all you want is to fade into obscurity. Even if you own one pair of shoes, there are ways to make them fit seamlessly into your lifestyle requirements. Indulge in a bit of research online today or speak to that one fashionable friend you know. Fact: What you wear matters, down to the shoes.   


Jude Gayantha Perera

A fashion stylist with a decade of experience as an image expert and consultant to local retail brands, Gayantha offers candid advice to men on Fashion and Grooming only on Daily Mirror's Life Plus.


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