About Me

When not at work with students, I spend my time in my room either reading, calculating something using pen and paper, or using a computer. I read almost anything: from the pornographic to the profound, although my main interests are mathematics and physics. "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." -Erasmus

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New shoes for the new year

One of the signs that you're adult is thinking about things like proper attire for every occasion. One of the advantages of being younger is you can get away with gaucherie and people will excuse you because of your age.  I suppose it's due to many occasions when I've attended formal events and had the uneasy feeling that I'm under-dressed.

On one hand, since I know that I exist in genteel penury, I have to make sure that I keep everything within budget. On the other hand, I'd also like to be decently or even well-dressed for every occasion. Jeans and a t-shirt won't work anymore; it's pitiable when a grown man can't make himself accept the reality of getting older.

I recently looked at the sorry state of my leather shoes: deep scuff marks due to clumsiness and not regularly waxing and polishing. The shoes have been a good purchase, although I did quail at the price when I first bought them more than six years ago. The brand is Bristol shoes; their facebook page can be found here. (The pictures I'll be uploading all come from that page, by the way.)

What my old shoes would look like if brand new. 

I remember buying my old shoes for PhP 2.5 K or about USD 60, and given my salary then, it was a substantial amount. But I decided to buy them anyway because I've read somewhere that good leather shoes, if cared for can last a long time. And they did last. I've never had the sole replaced, and the main damage on the shoes are deep scuff marks because I'm clumsy and often hit my toe.

After six years though, I decided that I ought to get another pair, and then have the old one repaired so that I would have an extra pair. I had a few requirements: the shoes should be able to fit even in the most formal settings, and yet be useful for daily wear for a high school teacher. So I visited a nearby mall to check out the prices and styles available.

Meanwhile, I decided to search online for the dress-codes for formal events such as black tie. And I realized that my old shoes would not work well with formal occasions, especially if I go abroad. Dress codes are more relaxed in my country, but if I ever have to attend a formal event abroad, the shoes I had would not do.

Among the things I learned was the styles. I wanted something with shoelaces, and I learned to distinguish between blucher and oxford styles, as well as learning what brogues (the little holes made on shoe leather as decoration) are.My reading told me that, as paradoxical as it may seem, the plainer the shoe, the more formal it was. Oxfords were more formal than bluchers, for example, and the broguery actually adds to the informality of the shoe design. I finally settled on a cap toe oxford shoe without brogues.

Strangely, it was hard to find in the mall. There were lots of loafers, bluchers,  and brogued shoes, but few plain oxfords. My tentative budget was at PhP 2.5 K, since that was what I paid for then. Alas, I did not take inflation into account. I looked at the various brands available, and thought that what I wanted would be a Gibi shoe. The price was right, but when I looked at the oxfords they had, all of them had brogues.

There was a cheap plain oxford, at PhP 900, but I found out that it was made of synthetic leather. I eventually ended up with the same brand as my old shoes because they had what I wanted, even though it was at a premium. The shoes did have leather soles that were, I found out later, a rarity for a Philippine-made shoe. There two models of plain cap-toed oxfords, and I wound up with the less pricey (but still pricey!) one.
Catalog photo of my new shoes
The new shoes after waxing.
After buying the shoes, I did a google search on Bristol shoes, found the facebook page, and a few reviews. It's not a well-known brand, I think, because people would rather buy internationally known brands. There was a forum I visited where they talked about getting quality leather shoes, and most of the members spoke of name brands.

I did learn that the shoes are hand-made, and that they offered a re-sole service for PhP 600. So if I care for the shoes, I can make them last for a very long time. Value indeed.

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