And now, for a tour of Craig’s dancing shoe wardrobe. He has the same casual and dressy dance shoe categories that I do. In addition, he tries to find everyday shoes with leather soles that can double as dancing shoes.
First up, his casual dance shoes. We found these Pumas at a DSW. When we go to look for dance shoes, we keep two questions in mind: 1) Is the sole flat enough to be sueded? and 2) Is there room in the shoe for athletic insoles? The Pumas were a “yes” to both with the added bonus of a sweet black racing stripe down the side. When Craig’s dancing, the white shoes draw your eye to his feet, especially if he’s wearing darker colors. The cobbler attached the chrome leather to the bottom and tinted the leather black on the edges so it blends perfectly.
Here’s another picture of Pumas from the side, so you can get the full racing strip effect.
When purchasing everyday shoes, Craig favors slip-on loafers that can also be worn dancing. And when I say dancing, what I mean is to a dance or to the grocery store where random solo Charleston is likely to occur.
Once at the shoe store, our first item of business is to walk through the aisles and check the sole of every shoe that is a remote possibility to see if it has a leather sole. Finding leather soles has gotten increasingly difficult as manufacturers increasingly use rubber. Bostonians used to offer leather soles, but then added rubber. The same for Florsheim. It’s always possible to find high-end Italian shoes with gorgeous leather soles. But they are priced to match, and that doesn’t make sense for an everyday shoe in our budget. Here are Craig’s most recent black slip-on loafers. These babies have already been resoled once, maybe twice. Given the ginormous hole in the left sole, they are likely beyond saving.
The brown ones need a cobbler’s attention since the left sole is cracked. These have never been resoled. I’ll ask the cobbler to replace the heel. Craig does lots of scuffing and the heels take a beating.
One downside to dancing in dress shoes is that there simply isn’t a way to put insoles in them to provide any cushion. Craig has been known to start out the night in dress shoes and then switch to his Pumas later. The Pumas are so stylin’ though, that’s it is not that much of a sacrifice.
Now for my favorites, the wingtips. I saw the tan ones on the same shopping trip to DSW that we found the Pumas. I love a man in wingtips and took them to Craig to try on. He initially demurred, saying they were “too grown-up.” But I persisted and once they were on his feet he fell in love. They were a bit more than we’d normally spend on shoes, but for the quality, completely worthwhile.
Also, did I mention I love a man in wingtips? Bonus points for a double-knotted Windsor tie.
In October, the New York Times said wingtips conferred “a discernable drop of cool” on the wearer. I’m a bit of a history nut, so I was fascinated to learn that brogues, the perforations in the leather, initially went completely through the shoe. Developed in Ireland and Scotland during the 18th century, brogues allowed water to drain from the shoe. As the NYT explains, “They were more or less the Crocs of the 18th century.” But far more stylish.
A word about shoe trees. Shoe trees may seem like just one more item to clutter up your closet floor, gents, but they help the leather maintain the proper shape as it dries after being on your feet.
The black wingtips were a Christmas present from his parents. And here’s an illustration of shoe manufacturers moving to rubber soles. We got the tan ones in Summer 2010 though I’m sure they were made well before. By the time he received the black ones, Cole Haan no longer put leather soles on this style and had shifted to rubber. Generally, Craig avoids rubber soles because they have so much grip and if he tries to spin on one foot, the rubber adds more torque to the knee. The rubber soles on the black wingtips has two minor things going for it. It’s not super-sticky and there’s no tread. But still, it’s rubber, so Craig doesn’t dance in these very often. But man, they sure are pretty. Here’s a gratuitous wingtip beauty shot.
I don’t have a picture of them, but I would be remiss not to include Craig’s favorite dancing shoes ever: Vans with flame prints on the side. Vans are designed for skateboarding with a slightly concave bottom. To modify them for lindy hop, Craig asked his cobbler to shave the sole flat before gluing on a chrome leather sole. Craig wanted spin on the toe and traction on the heel, so he requested for a half leather sole. Craig wore the Vans until they were in tatters and had to be assigned to the trash.
Alright gents, ‘fess up! Where have your favorite dance shoes come from?