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Casual Shoes for Men: Office Wear June 22, 2010

Weekends are casual wear in office. The one day men in offices revert to jeans. Since shorts are not allowed in a formal office environment. Most men to severely lack in the imagination department. For them formals mean black or brown trousers and casuals mean jeans. This post is for such men. Especially. (for the rest with some fashion sense, its for you as well! And for women suffering from fashion loss thanks to being with fashion deprived men)

Man in Casual Wear

Man in Casual Wear

Why only jeans qualify as informals, is something I havent deciphered. Especially since all clothing companies try so hard to educate them about: linens, khakis, cords, canvases. And of course, for the more experimental, trousers in innovative cuts, including (yes, I will say it) the Jodhpurs (see image on left).

Coming to shoes, the other fallacy I have noticed is the simple bifurcation in Men’s minds about shoes:
a) Formal shoes: Black, Brown
b) Casual shoes: Sports shoes (sneakers)

While formal shoes are experimented upon to some extent, with laced, slip-ons and even innovative leathers, its the casual shoes that take a beating.

There is nothing worse than the sight of men in office, wearing jeans coupled with black, formal shoes. No, jeans coupled with floaters and socks come a close second, but black formal shoes definitely win. (It is so horrible, even Google doesnt store an image!)

So what can be worn as casual shoes in office?
Well, the standard sports shoes and floaters are there. However, sports shoes all the time are boring. They may be comfortable, but be truthful. Do you really always want to wear sports shoes? Also, it gives the impression you have only 2 pair of shoes – one for office and one for running. Not Good.
As for floaters, they are not a feasible option in formal offices, which promote ‘Friday Dressing’. And I despise them anyway. Sorry.

In such a case, I offer to our dear fashion deprived men, the quaint, old-fashioned product, universally known versatile shoes known as ‘Loafers‘.

Men's Loafers - Louis Vuitton

Men's Loafers - Louis Vuitton

Loafers are typically slip-on shoes, with a mocassin construction. Traditionally made from leather, loafers are slip-on shoes that resemble a moccasin on top, but have a wide and fairly flat heel. They can sometimes be worn for formal wear, but a pair can be owned, which scream casual. No man can go wrong with loafers – they are as masculine as they come, no matter the colour.

Loafers with Show Bows

Loafers with Show Bows

Loafers are best in brown, white, or even black (and sometimes deep wine red). They can be soft leather, with stitches showing on the sides, have tassles (like cowboy shoes) or metal decorations (as popularised by Gucci)

Tassled Loafers_Gucci

Tassled Loafers_Gucci

Dress loafers are those which are more moccasin-like, with deeper cuts, but they look more formal.

If however, our fashion deprived men find it difficult to identify loafers, the famous suede shoes can be a substitute that can be considered by them.

Blue Suede Mens shoes

Blue Suede Mens shoes

Suede Mens shoes

Suede Mens shoes

Suede shoes in light brown, less heels, with or without laces, can work wonders as casual wear.

Suede Boots

Suede Boots

Boots are another option, though they may not be perfect for office all the time, they can look very good with jeans, especially when the correct pair is worn. Boots dont always have to be high, ankle length boots do just as well. Suede boots can be wonderful as casual wear, if worn with the right pair of jeans.

athletic inspired shoes

Athletic Inspired Shoes

For those, whoever, who do not want to venture into loafers, mocassins, suede shoes and boots, ‘athletic inspired shoes’ are an option! These are a mix of boots and sneakers, while being actually shoes. They can be just upto the ankle, and are usually in the garb of mountain climbing shoes.

Athletic Inspired Woodlands

Athletic Inspired Woodlands

Some of the best places to buy casual shoes for men in India:

– Rockport: A great option for long lasting shoes, especially if you are loathe to buy leather since they have a good collection of non-leather. Rockports are always sturdy, long lasting, comfortable and yet quite stylish.

– Woodlands: They offer some of the best athletic inspired shoes in India.

– Regal Shoes

– Mochi Shoes

– Clarks Shoes

– Levis Shoes

– Inc 5

– Chain stores like Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop, Pantaloons, Westside, etc.

So, considering there is a last working day for the week, every single week of your working life, I suggest to all my male readers – go ahead and get some casual wear shoes. C’mon! I a sure you are tired of wearing the same old shoes all the time! At least if you are not ready to get rid of those jeans every weekend, get a pair of shoes that make those jeans look good 🙂

Happy Shopping! Here’s to more Stylish Men at workplace!

 

Dressing Casual (Delhi Vs Mumbai), Shoes for Short skirts September 30, 2009

Yesterday, while switching channels on TV I chanced upon an interview of Sonam Kapoor talking about ‘dressing up’ in Delhi. I agree. While Bombay takes the charm out of going out, in Delhi every outing is a definite occasion. I agree that it is really comforting to go out wearing whatever you want, but really! If you are out partying, might as well dress up that way, right? Otherwise whats the point of going to an expensive place?

Casual yet dressed

Casual yet dressed

So while in Mumbai one can walk into any pub/disco/eatery in flip flops and torn jeans, no makeup or jewellery, in Delhi, it is nice to see men and women put in some effort while going out. I would have thought it human instinct (but then I guess that is a little lacking in Mumbai) to want to make a one-off ‘going-out’ an occasion to warrant a little more dressing up than going to the store. Albeit, in Mumbai the ‘going to the store’ look is also crafted carefully.

However, what is important and needed is a look that makes you look dressed up, yet not too casual. Something that makes you perfect for an evening out with a few friends while not looking like you stepped out of home wearing what you wore last night, or that you spent hours dressing up.

If you are one of those people who want to dress up but don’t really know what to wear so you fit in seamlessly with either of the crowds, I would suggest wear anything you want to, dress up as you want to, and don the right pair of shoes.

Rihanna in short skirt

Rihanna in short skirt

It is depressing to see the number of women in Mumbai who wear really chic skirts and have obviously spent time on their face and hair, and then wear a pair of flip flops. The end result is so casual, I wonder why they even put in the effort for the hair and face. Short skirts and flat chappals is not a combination I would suggest, unless you want to roam around home after a tiring evening.

So, many Indian women are placed in a quandary when it comes to footwear to go alongwith short skirts. The last thing they want to wear is something that will make them look slutty, but the last thing I would suggest in lieu of that is bedroom slipper lookalikes which make them look like they have been lounging around home. (Its Ok if you are on the beach, but most times its not the beach).

So, what do they wear?

Platforms and gladiators with skirts

Platforms and gladiators with skirts

Shoes for Short Skirts – Casual Dressing Style

Here comes in the importance of sandals. Remember those footwear one used to wear as kids? With a little heel, yet not too high? Well, for adults they make the same thing, only more suave. Of course, one can go ahead with the Indian impulse and wear something strappy, but I prefer blockier designs.

Block heeled shoe with short skirt

Block heeled shoe with short skirt

Sandals basically give the foot around an inch of height from the ground (at max) and come in various designs. If you want to make it a little more dressy than plain old sandals, kitten heels fit best. They keep the delicate feminity of the look, while emphasizing what short skirts are meant to.

Kitten heels

Kitten heels look classy

Sandals can be covered or open toed. Block heeled or pencil, plain slip-on with a strap holding down toes only, or ballerina styles or even gladiators. For a casual evening out, I would suggest a heel type that makes it comfortable for you to walk around as much as you want – platforms (cork heeled look great), wedge or square heels usually fit this bill. Pencil heels automatically increase the oomph quotient of the attire, especially slingbacks.

Short platforms with Skirt

Short platforms with Skirt

Now to the top of the shoe – ballerina styles and open toes look good, but again they become a tad more evening-ish than say, something with a buckle near the ankle and a strap covering the toes.  Practical, yet stylish without becoming dressy or slutty.

Sneakers with Short Skirt

Sneakers with Denim Short Skirt

If of a sporty kind, the personality then screams sports shoes, with ankle-length socks.  Nude shoes are also OK. This is one of the few things allowed to women and extremely well dressed men who know what they are doing.

So there you have it. A tutorial of how not to get totally ‘just-out-of-home-as-I-was’ look everytime you are out. Yet, not going the whole hog and look like you are off to a glamorous evening affair.

Shoes may not be noticed by men, but they can make or break an outfit. The right shoe can make a simple dress look glamorous, just by virtue of the being on your feet. Shoes force the way you walk and your body posture. I would say, stay away from flip flops as far as possible – they can make you waddle. And no one is allowed to waddle!

Me traveling all over in comfy shoes and skirt

Me traveling all over in comfy shoes and skirt

Confident in short skirt and heels

Confident in short skirt and heels

So try and get shoes that improve how your legs look. A little heel will help your calves look better, so if you have stocky legs, try not to go for the sneaker look. Flat shoes are great for slender women with long legs, not the usual Indian figure. But if you must wear flats, try to make them covered ballerina style shoes or stylish sandals rather than flip flops.

So go out, this festive season grab yourself some neutral, convenient sandals which you can wear anywhere you want to!

Me in Skirt and Kitten Heels

Me in Skirt and Kitten Heels

Suggested shops:

High budget:

  1. Clarks
  2. Nine West
  3. Charles & Keith
  4. Catwalk

Medium – Low Budget:

  1. Bata (perfect for the casual yet trendy look!)
  2. Shoe shops in malls like Pantaloons, Westside, Lifestyle
  3. Metro/ Regal/ Mochi
  4. Khadims/ Liberty (if you really don’t find anything elsewhere)

One thing I however ask you to stay away from are extremely chunky black sandals. They will steal the look away from your entire outfit, and truly speaking look a little dowdy. Skin coloured and light coloured sandals look best. Preferably if the sole is either leather or rubber-plastic.

Indian Sandals

Indian Sandals also look good for a casual look

PS – if you want to look glam, I suggest a pair of boots(!) or even stilettoes. Try those ankle length shoes with care – they can make you look short AND your legs calf-less. And like mentioned, flip flops are ultra-casual, but if you want a casual look, I would still suggest ones with a little heel, like Indian Sandals.

Short skirt and Boots

Short skirt and Boots

 

Monsoon Shoe Shopping in India July 2, 2009

Its monsoon time! Well, almost. In Mumbai, India it has finally started raining, however the rest of the country awaits at the edge of drought. Perhaps what will bring the rains in, is getting ready for them. Nothing makes it rain like going out for a long day trip in your best clothes and leather shoes while your rain gear and shoes rest at home.

The first step, however, to the rain calling is getting the rain wear to wait at home for you.  The essentials are very simple – an umbrella (or raincoat) and shoes.  For days when I expect to be out on the streets for longer times, I usually combine a raincoat with an umbrella – makes it easy to manouver and not get wet in the torrential downpours. But the one thing that remains crucial is Shoes.

You see, when walking in the rain, the one thing that is bound to get thoroughly drenched is your footwear. Throughout the year, no one really cares much about water resistant footwear. Its leather, and suede, and silk etc as far as footwear is concerned. And then come the monsoons spoiling some of your best pairs.

To avoid such a scenario, many companies (like Bata) promote their rubber based shoes.  These dont spoil on getting wet, and neither do they take too long to dry. So they are perfect! However, they really lack comfort and style. I mean, OK so they are rainwear. But that does not have to make them ugly, right?

Crocs are a good option for the rains as well. They are essentially rubber, and they do make some sort of style statement. Comfortable? Not for long runs, and their grip is also so-so, so they wont slip from your foot when both are wet with rain water and puddles. But, if you want a quick fix and really colourful options with holes on top, Crocs are your freinds.

However, you cannot really wear Crocs to office. Bata might still suffice, but imagine blue crocs in a traditional office with strict formal wear code? No.

In such cases, many people carry a pair of shoes, and wear their multi-purpose floaters. Floaters, ugly as they are, are convenient. And though the velcro portion may not dry as fast, at least the contact to skin is at minimum.  And then there are rubber floaters to take care of that. Of course, some floaters are not as ugly, but getting such a pair in India may prove difficult.

However, what I recommend for my Indian ladies, is a shopping stint with a tight budget on Linking Road, Bandra and Colaba Causeway. The flavour of the season are flat ballerina style peep-toes, in all colours imaginable – starting from canary yellow, patent black, ink blue,  shocking pink, blood red to skin tones. They are plastic all over and guarantee a slip-free walk through all water-covered surfaces. They also come for as cheap as INR200 a pair!

I would say go Invest! The only fly in the ointment are the available sizes – there is only a medium size available and if you have large feet (like me) it might be difficult for you to find a pair in your favorite colour.  The largest they seemed to have was Size 38.

However, fret not. In such a scenario where your fair feet do not fit daintily into these petite creations, there are sandals. These are flat again (to cater to the monsoons) with elastic at the back to hold in your foot and a broad band over your toes. The broad band is nice – transparent with three stripes of different colours and a fake buckle. The overall look is quite nice and I would post a photograph if I had one on me. These too are totally plastic, colourful, pretty sturdy and perfect for the monsoons.

Both these shoes are sedate enough for office and trendy enough for evening outs – it will be your choice of colours which will determine where to wear them. Also, they are sure to last you the season, which is more than what you could want from these colourful cheap funwear.

While you are out getting shoes, it might not hurt to buy a colourful umbrella as well. Colaba is crowded with umbrella sellers of every variety, ranging from below Rs.100 to as high as you want.  They are quite the compliment to your rainy weather shoes.

You can also wear your Gladiators in monsoons as they have all the attributes needed for rainy days – flat, good grip, hold feet in place. But just make sure they are not your leather gladiators. Then they are bound to be ruined!

So go ahead, mae a spash! Choose vibrant colours, fun plastic, or branded stuff, but be prepared for monsoons! I promise the rains will follow soon enough!

PS – In Calcutta, you can try Metro Plaza near Ravindra Sarovar – they have some shops with really good shoe collections, including rain freindly wear. And shoes in Kolkata will be cheaper than in Mumbai. Also a must – check-out place for shoes is AC Market (Ravindra Sarovar) as well as New Market, Esplanade!

PPS – Delhi shoppers! Make your way to GK II asap! And Janpath and Sarojini Nagar market (Sarojini more than Janpath) are sure to have you shopping to your hearts’ delight!!