Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.
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Monday 29 October 2007

How many shoes should a man own?

How many shoes doth a man need? Three, is the conventional wisdom, and no, flipflops and slippers don't count.

Eammon, writing in the comments box on an earlier post says:

1 pair of newish hi-tech brand trainers

1 pair of normal black leather shoes

and 1 pair of knackered deck shoes that I may have no choice but to replace as summer is virtually upon us

(I believe he lives in Argentina, ie below the Equator.)

It's a firm rule that no man thinks he needs more than three pairs of shoes, while for a woman, the notion of limiting the numbers of shoes she buys is as philistine as placing a ceiling on the numbers of books in her library.

Of course there is always a downside to male multiple shoe ownership: it has the potential to reduce the pairs available to his wife.


Manolo said...

Unless you are the beach bum, this is the ridiculous standard for men.

One needs at least three pairs of the dress shoes alone, so that one may rotate the shoes on the daily basis, allowing them time to dry out. This rest period extends the life of the shoe. Thus, having sufficient shoes is the matter of simple economy.

The Manolo would put the minimum number of necessary men's shoes at at least ten.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a fashion-conscious and colour-coordinated male, I believe the answer to your question is two: one brown pair and one black pair. That way you can meet the demands of whatever outfit you happen to be wearing and meet the eventuality of an unexpected downpour.

Sean Nye said...

My count is:

Three pairs of Churches all leather formal shoes (for the practical rotation aspect that Manola mentions - Advice given to me by my Grandfather).

One pair of off-road, steel toe capped, waterproof walking shoes.

One pair of Rockport sandals (and no, I don't wear them with socks).

One pair of Shimano cycling shoes (for off-roading, not walking down to the bar in).

One pair of ex SAS boots for the really dirty work.

One pair of naff leather slippers. Well what is a guy to wear around the house... Answers most welcome.

Linda Grant said...

I would like to proudly point out that Camelmeister is my website developer. And no-one could accuse him of being a geek.

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious since I had a conversation on just this topic over the weekend with my son, who is 20 and at college(and so is rather biased by being surrounded by pj-wearing and Croc-or-flip/flip-wearing students). And he also thinks that no one needs more than three pairs: one nice black pair, a pair of boots for bad weather, and a pair of sneakers.
In trying to recall my father's Rx for shoes (but again, he was born in 1917 and had a rather more complete and different education in terms of men's dress), I come up with:
Two pairs of brown, one dressy, one not so dressy.
Two pairs of black, ditto
Two pairs of sneakers, one for picnics(i.e., clean and white), one for going fishing in (i.e., not clean and no longer white)
Flip flops, sneakers and leather sandles never figured into his closet.

Linda Grant said...

A gentleman of my acquaintance emails to inform me . . .

As it happens, I both agree with and, in fact, pretty much have Camelmeister’s count:

Three pairs of formal shoes - a brown and a black pair of Ticklers leather boots and a black pair of Rockport penny loafers.

One pair of Timberland steel toe capped, waterproof boots.

One pair of Timberland deck shoes.

Four pairs of the same model Reebok white trainer - two kept pristine white for formal wear and two which are allowed to seek their own level of presentability.

One pair of Teva sandals (which I also don't wear with socks) which only see daylight in places where scuba diving is involved.

A pair of ex French Foreign Legion boots for really dirty work around the house.

A pair of naff leather slippers (for trudging to the shower in the morning and curling up on the sofa to watch West Wing re-runs.)

Total count: 12 pairs of shoes. Imelda Marcos - watch out!!

Sean Nye said...

Linda, you are obviously acquainted with men of very good taste.

Thomas said...

In the last three years I've bought about 20 pairs of shoes, including 7 made by Medium. This has been a function both of an increase in funds and my sudden, some would say idiotic, attention to how I look.

Anonymous said...

So, style warriors, a question for you. considering that I live in Buenos Aires where it's going to be unbearably hot and humid for the next 4/5 months, I work a lot at home and don't get invited to many formal events and I am anything but rich; what single footwear purchase should I consider making that would do most to raise me up from my badly shod state?

Sean Nye said...

The solution to Eamonns' work at home/footwear/budget/hot weather issue is obviously no shoes at all. Peppermint foot cream is all that is required surely. The addition of a helpful masseur would, of course, be useful.

Meg said...

I have over 50 pairs (down from over 70). And I still find myself wandering into the shoe section of every clothing store I enter!

My husband has a pair of black dress shoes, a pair of brown shoes that fit into that sort-of-dressy-but-sort-of-casual niche, a pair of sneakers, a pair of velcro-strapped sandals, and I think a pair of work boots.

He wears the sneakers just about everywhere. The sandals occasionally make it to the mail box and the black dress shoes occasionally come out for weddings and funerals. I haven't seen the brown shoes or work boots in months if not years, so he could easily survive with three pairs of shoes.

Fortunately, he loves that I wear sexy shoes and that I know how to put together a great outfit. I can't complain.

The Contentious Centrist said...

4 pairs:

sneakers, boots, one pair for casual wear, one pair for more serious occasions. The casual is the favourite. The dress ones are taken out to wear during the time that elapses between the disintegration of one casual pair and the purchase of another.

A small quarrel erupts every time I decide to throw out old pairs of shoes which have not been worn for the last fifteen years.

Eventually, I've learned to keep quiet about my actions and he never knows that his old shoes are no longer...

Anonymous said...

My husband has the following, which I think is the bare minimum:

1 pair black leather oxfords, suitable for suits;

1 pair black patent leather shoes for the black tie affairs;

1 pair brown leather sort of dressy shoes, to wear with khakis and the like;

1 pair Nike lo dunks in dark gray with a splash of orange, for most non-work days;

1 pair Wilson tennis shoes, for tennis;

1 pair hiking boots;

1 pair New Balance running shoes;


1 pair Keens sandals, for beaches, splashing through rivers, and casual bike riding when it's so hot that it feels nice to have wind flowing through one's shoes.

That is eight, and he really could use two more pairs of dress shoes (one black, one brown), which would bring him to the Manolo's ten pairs.

Strangely, if you asked him, I bet he would say that he has 5 pairs of shoes, max. But he would be wrong.

Marc said...

I recently came to own a large number of shoes. There was a death in the family, and he had 15 pairs of shoes in my size:

3 pair dress boots (Beatle Boots)
2 loafers (black and black/brown)
2 wingtips (balck and brown)
2 brown bluchers ( I think)
1 pair brown oxfords
2 pair black oxfords
2 pair top siders
1 desert boots

I have gone tearing past my wife in the shoe count. She intends to fix this.

Liam said...

I'm a man and i own 18 pair of shoes.
11 converse all stars, 4 trainers, 1 pair of formal shoes, 1 pair of plimsols and some cowboy boots

Anonymous said...

3 pairs is absolutely ridicously a low amount of sneakers to own. one should atleast own 10 pairs. i won 35 pairs and it still isnt enough for me.

Term Papers said...

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Gordo said...

I'm thinking at least a black and brown pair of dress shoes, plus a pair of loafers for the business casual side of things. At least 1 pair of sneakers for exorcise, walking the dog and so on. At least 1 pair of boots, perhaps two unless you find a pair that serves both as a working boot and a winter boot. And finally, in my case, something specialty such as a motorcycle shoe. I thing that tallies up to be a minimum of 6 before my wife's complaints become legitimate. Granted, my size 13s do take up a lot of room.

Naomi S said...

The dress shoe is amazing. The dress shoes are very simple and very comfortable to wear. This shoe looks trendy in any season and in any occasion. The similar boots are with my mom and she loves wearing it every time.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap Batman!! I guess I have to donate my 20+ pairs of Pradas.

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Anonymous said...

This is fun, because I just ran into the same problem. I've learned I can be a minimalist and survive with one pair of shoes...

And as an IT and general fix-it type, I will invariably be wearing the 'wrong' shoes at the wrong time and wreck them (scuffs, water, so on and so forth).

So the only sane thing is.. to buy shoes in pairs. The least-loved pairs will go first, but it means that, in 5 years or so, I'll be putting on a fresh pair that I *know* will fit and hold no surprises. And thus I manage to have a dozen pairs heading my way by UPS.

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Anonymous said...

Honestly who cares? I have 4 pairs and am planing on getting some more and I'm a dude. I like different brands. I used to wear alot of different hats now I'm like that with shoes. Nothing wrong with that. Who cares anyways be strong anf uniqe women like that

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