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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Filtering by Category: Shoes

Nike Flyknits

Mark Kwak

Source: Kicksonfire

Source: Kicksonfire

Being from Portland, Oregon, I must give a shoutout to the one (and basically only) major successful business in my neck of the woods: good ol’ Nike.

Recently, I’ve been obsessed with their flyknit collection. In case you’re not familiar with the word, let’s just say it’s Nike’s fancy branding of their proprietary mesh/fabric/cloth/awesomeness material used in some of their shoes. Complex has a super in-depth article on flyknits if you want to learn more.

I have a pair myself, the Lunar 3, and I love them. Great for running use, but also as casual street wear. Some other designs I like include the Racer, Free 4.0, and Roshe. Slightly expensive, but totally worth it in my book. Get at ‘em!

Source: Kicksonfire

Source: Kicksonfire

PS: Quick tip for you. You can use Ebates to get 8% cash back at right now in case you’re planning on buying a pair.

White Nikes

Mark Kwak

2013-10-12 11.28.35 Ah white Nikes, so fresh and so clean. I think that a pair of white athletic sneakers are really an essential to every man's wardrobe. There's something about the color white that just does well at the feet (though a pain in terms of maintenance) and usually a pair of Nikes does the trick.

Thought I'd share with you a couple pictures of my new Nikes I bought from J.Crew. Gotta love those J.Crew in Good Company deals; they really curate some awesome stuff from outside companies.

2013-10-12 10.29.59 2013-10-12 11.27.15

Nike Killshot 2 Sneakers

Pair 'em with sweats, shorts, jeans, chinos.... Whatever the case, you'll be styling and comfortable at the same time. Enjoy.

Throwback classic sneakers

Mark Kwak

In the last several years, classic sneakers from Nike, Adidas, and New Balance have been hitting the shelves with high velocity. We're talking throwback sneakers from the 70s and 80s, looking a little something like this:

Cool huh? The moment these things started to show up on peoples' feet around town, I knew that I needed to get myself a pair or two. What I like about them is that they retain the comfort of a running shoe, but still remain fairly appropriate as casual street-wear. They can even be dressed up a bit, maybe worn with an oxford cloth button down, some dark denim, and a jacket. Hell, magazines these days are pairing these types of sneakers with suits (not recommended).

I got myself a couple pairs (New Balance & Nike), both in suede, and I love 'em. They're especially great for me because I recently got a new day job at an office with the slickest floors I've ever walked on. So leather-soled shoes out, fashion sneakers in.

suedeshoes1 suedeshoes2 suedeshoes3 suedeshoes4 suedeshoes5 suedeshoes6 suedeshoes7

Nike Vintage Pre-Montreal :: New Balance 565

I love the suede sneaker look, as I feel the fabric/material really classes up a shoe that we normally would not wear to most places outside of the gym. Now, you can pair these types of sneakers up with some denim, a casual shirt, and a crewneck sweater, and still be styling all fall.

Boat shoes and socks

Mark Kwak

A question I constantly get is this: Can I wear boat shoes with socks?

Up till recently, my advice has always been to wear boat shoes without socks, as that is the "right" way to wear them. I mean, boat shoes were originally designed to be worn on a boat, so wearing socks would be downright absurd when there is water constantly getting on your feet.

Well, today, I'm here to tell you that I've had change of heart when it comes to this particular question. I've begun to realize that indeed, socks look pretty great when paired with boat shoes.

Let me make sure I cover all my bases here. First off, this really applies to when one is wearing pants with boat shoes, not shorts. I say stick to no socks when wearing shorts. Also, this is not to say that boat shoes shouldn't be worn without socks. They most certainly should. However, there has been a situation or two when I've wanted to wear my boat shoes, but opted for another pair of shoes instead because I was wearing socks at the time. Damn first world problems.

What I realized is that as long as I'm not wearing white socks or ankle socks, I could still look pretty good. I especially like it when my sock color complements other parts of my outfit, and the boat shoes help showcase them. Wacky, bold colored socks also look pretty cool, as they add that extra spice to the fairly conservative boat shoe design. Kind of like I paired them here:


So the next time you put on your cool looking socks and head to your shoe rack, don't dismiss your awesome Quoddys or Sperrys. They might very well look good with your excellent socks.


Colored shoelaces

Mark Kwak

First off, I want to say sorry for everyone who's wrote into me this last week and a half. Been pretty slow in replying back. I hate to give this generic reasoning, but unfortunately I've been super busy as of late. Anyhow, I did get one question that I wanted to share with you all and elaborate on a bit. It has to do with colored shoelaces:

I've been noticing colored shoelaces on black or brown oxfords from time to time. I've searched your blog for your opinion on the matter, but don't seem to have found anything. What is your take on this trend?  - Jon

Great question Jon. Personally, I am a fan of this colored shoelaces trend. Spices things up a bit, but does it subtly, unlike say... bright yellow chinos. However, I will say that you should reserve contrasting/colored shoe laces only for specific situations (read: more casual situations). In my opinion, wearing hot pink shoelaces on a black oxford shoe at a client meeting is both unprofessional and obnoxious. However, if you're wearing purple shoelaces with your Clarks Desert Boots during a casual night out, then I'm all for it.

When pairing contrasting laces with dress shoes, keep things as casual as you can. Try to avoid wearing green laces with conservative cap toes/plain toes, but instead try them on wingtips, brogued shoes, or other more casual offerings.

When looking at casual leather shoes, go wild. Just make sure the colors work somewhat cohesively. Just because you add some loud color to your black shoes doesn't mean it looks good.

Hope that helps!

Shell Cordovan: The Story

Mark Kwak


Boots: Peal & Co (Crockett & Jones)

Excuse my French for today, but these... are my ass boots.

Yes, ass boots. Why do I call them that? To clear up any confusion, it's not because they get me a bunch of ass. It's instead because these boots are literally made of leather from the rear quarters of an animal, also called shell cordovan.

Here's the story as I've heard it.

Apparently in the early 1900s, shoemakers were tired of making shoes that did a poor job of shielding feet from harsh weather conditions. They wanted shoes that were weatherproof, durable, rock solid. Unfortunately the material they were using, calfskin, just wasn't up to the task. As some of you may know, calfskin shoes generally stains and loses its shine after a night in the rain or snow.

As a result, people started to look in every which direction to find leather that could ultimately handle the elements, while at the same time still look shined and spiffy after a downpour.

They search high and low, wide and far, but just couldn't find anything that was strong enough, until they tested the hide from a horse. At first the hide was nothing special- no better than calfskin. They almost tossed it away, but then saw that the butt region of the horsehide was actually a little different from the rest.

Yes, they realized that the butt region of a horse is actually one of the strongest leathers on earth, and thus started to build shoes out of it. It's true, you can basically make 1.5 pairs of shoes per hide! If you own a pair of cordovan shoes, you basically are wearing the entirety of a horse's rear quarters.


The good news is that cordovan shoes look amazing. They always look shined, and never crease (though they do suffer from what's known as "rolling," look it up). They are also expensive. Almost unjustifiably expensive. You probably can't get a pair of shell cordovan shoes for under $350 unless you find them used or defective in one way or another. However, remember that they are shoes that are meant to endure plenty of hardship before retiring. I could argue that cordovan shoes can last you an entire lifetime, if well taken care of! So, maybe that can help you justify the price a bit.

My favorite brands that carry cordovan shoes (and there aren't that many of them) are Crockett & Jones and Alden.  These two makers actually rebrand their shoes through other retailers as well. All Brooks Brothers' cordovan shoes are Alden, and Ralph Lauren cordovan shoes are C & J.

Definitely not a necessary part of anyone's wardrobe, but worth a thought if you have the money. They look glorious, and really are one of the highest points of men's shoes, period.



Mark Kwak

alden brown I think every man should own a pair of wingtips.

For those of you who do not know what wingtips are, the picture above should give you a good idea. Basically, it's a shoe that has a wing-shaped design on it that creates a sort of "W" on the front of the shoe. Most wingtips end near the ball of the foot, but there's also a version of the wingtip known as the longwing, where the "wing" circles around the entirety of the shoe.

Anyhow, I personally think wingtips are awesome. They're classy, but not boring. They walk the line perfectly between formal and casual. Basically they are versatile shoes that can add that much-needed spice to your potentially boring solid black and brown shoe collection.

Personally, my favorite wingtips are made by American shoemakers Alden & Allen Edmonds. The Allen Edmonds McAllister is a fine choice, and can sometimes be found on sale at Nordstrom, and the Alden Long Wing Blucher is also a classic that will likely never go out of style. I know, they're expensive, but I personally splurged on a pair and have zero regrets. Perhaps you're contemplating doing the same?