Men have far less choice than women when it comes to shoes. Indeed, this is generally the case with all kinds of clothing, from evening wear to everyday clothing and office wear, where men’s styles tend to be variations on a theme, while women have the choice of an eclectic and varying range of designs.
This is not to say, however, that men’s shoes cannot express individuality. It is just a matter of looking in the right shops and online catalogues. The great thing about shopping online is the fact that you can browse through shoe catalogues from around the world, comparing styles and prices before committing to any one design.
The most elegant and stylish men’s shoes tend to be the very distinctive and distinguished-looking leather Italian shoes. The quality of these shoes is exceptional, and the slightly elongated shape sets these shoes apart from the often bland styles available in the UK and US. The leather upper comes in a variety of colours, but the most popular are black, brown and beige. The shoes are generally laced, and have a thin or medium-width sole. The overall impression is one of great elegance and expense.
Normal smart shoes for men can often all look pretty much alike. The uppers are made from black or brown leather or patent leather, the laces are black or brown according to the colour of the shoes, and the sole is thin or medium-width rubber or leather. To inject some individuality into these styles, manufacturers can add subtle designs or stitching to the uppers, use velcro fastenings instead of laces – although this often has the effect of making the shoes seem much more casual than smart – or make the shoes ankle-high rather than low-cut. Rubber-soled shoes tend not to look very smart, since the rubber wears away with use and the shoes soon look very lived-in. The same can be said for plain leather uppers (i.e. not patent leather), which soon crease and begin to look old.
When it comes to outdoor shoes and sports footwear, men certainly do have the upper hand (or foot) over women. Men are traditionally seen as the predominant outdoor types, whether taking part in outdoor activities or working outdoors as builders or labourers, and therefore have considerably more choice. The men’s styles are more hardy and chunky than women’s outdoor or sports shoes, and are designed specifically to suit men’s size and gait.