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The 2011 Gear Update: Style Edition

(Note: if you haven't read last year's post, you may want to read it first, since this is only the gear that is different)

During South by Southwest this year I was lucky enough to see the Kanye West show (thanks to my brother, Devon, and Colt Woody). Kanye had about a million different guests with him, ranging from Jay-Z to people I'd never heard of before.

Mos Def opened up the concert dressed in a suit, wearing a sequined mask. Rihanna came out with a futuristic halter top that looked like it was made out of seatbelts or something. Halfway through the set, I notice something strange-- a stagehand dressed in all black is singing one of the choruses. Kanye does his verse, and then the stagehand starts singing again. What's going on?

It turns out that the stagehand was actually Bon Iver, but unlike the rest of the artists in the set, he was dressed in boring clothes. Ahh, I thought, maybe there is some function in fashion after all. This guy is at a huge concert, on stage, singing, and I STILL thought he was a stagehand just because he was dressed so plainly.

Good Shoes

On NWO Solutions

James Dines had a quote that said never try to cheap out on food, shoes, or financial advice. I completely agree with him on the topic of shoes. We spend most of our waking life in our shoes and they have a tremendous impact on the well being of our existence. I remember working for my Aunt for a summer, and I had terrible shoes, but didn’t really know it. I knew they were old and beat up, but I didn’t know how much pain they were causing my feet. I figured my feet hurt because I wasn’t use to working standing up. Every night I would get home and my feet would be screaming with pain, but I just figured that was normal. It wasn’t until that same Aunt convinced me to step up my shoe purchase to a $160 shoe that I truly got to see the difference that higher quality shoes make. My feet no longer hurt when I walked, and I actually started to enjoy it. As time went on, I ended up stepping my taste up another level to Alden dress shoes. I think shoes are a simple solution for creating personal well being.

A major benefit I realized when I switched over from sub $200 shoes to my expensive leather dress shoes, is that my feet no longer smelled. This was a major deal for me, because my feet could gag a maggot before. They smelled like burnt popcorn and the second I took my feet out of my shoes, the odor would hit. Which sucked cause my feet were super hot in my shoes and it felt nice to let them cool off. With my Alden’s I have yet to have that problem. I have one pair of shoes that I have owned for a year and a half, and have wore damn near everyday for the last 5 months, and absolutely no smell. There are two factors in creating an environment where your shoes don’t stink. The first part is getting new shoes, with a preference for leather lining like Alden, Allen Edmond’s or any other fine shoe maker. This limits the space that bacteria can grow inside of your shoe and makes them faster to dry out, which is also really important. The next factor is adding in new socks, and with a strong preference to Merino wool. Merino wool will keep your feet cooler, help to dissipate the moisture, and naturally repel odors. It is hard to go wrong with this combination. Recently I worked a week straight with the same socks and shoes each day, and it wasn’t until the end of the week where I found any hint of odor. The odor was only in the socks, so I gave them a wash, and they are as good as new.

The next major benefit that comes to mind with my nice dress shoes is the comfort factor. With goodyear welted shoes, your feet are sitting on a bed of cork. As you walk, your feet naturally impress into the sole, making a custom molded shoe. The benefit of this can’t be overstated. After just 2 or 3 weeks the shoes are designed to fit like a glove to your feet, and your feet only. I had a friend tell me that it took over a year for his cheap dress shoes to get comfortable, and it is now getting close to time where they need to be replaced. Whereas with my shoes, I went through a few weeks of pain, have custom molded shoes I love, which will last me for 20+ years if I treat them right.

Goodyear Welted shoes are designed so that the sole of the shoe can be replaced, so that the livelihood of the shoe is extended to 20 years if the shoes are taken care of. On one of the Alden forum’s, a man named McArthur has a pair of loafers from 1974 that he still wears, and they look better today due to the patina than the day he bought them.

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