Style for the Ages: Summer shoes for men

Monday, July 2, 2012


Vaughn Scribner

We’re now in full swing of yet another (surprise) hot, muggy Kansas summer — that time when heat waves ripple off the blacktop and central air becomes your refuge.

Unfortunately, the heat’s not going away anytime soon, but neither should your classic, practical style.

Over the next few months I’ll detail some easy, affordable ways to stay stylish during the dog days of summer, starting from the ground up with shoes.

Summer shoe options are incredibly diverse and provide men a great opportunity to vary otherwise limited summer wardrobe choices. Since layering is difficult at best under the blazing sun, shoes give men a chance to “put their best foot forward” fashion-wise (bad pun, I know).

An option I find myself leaning toward are classic/casual sneakers, like those Converse and Vans have made for 60 years.

Although offered in a seemingly endless variety of materials, color schemes, patterns and styles, the most popular versions of these American athletic classics are simple, relatively inexpensive (around $40) canvas editions in basic colors like white, navy, red and black.

Leather is also a nice alternative, as it will age better and last longer than canvas, but is usually pricier ($70 to $100) and isn’t as breathable or colorful as canvas.

The great thing about a pair of Converse “Chuck Taylors” or Vans “Authentics” is their classic simplicity, functionality and affordability. You really can’t go wrong with them as a casual option, especially when paired with shorts or jeans and a T-shirt.

If you find yourself wanting a dressier alternative to the sneaker, you might try a pair of boat shoes. With their “prep” and “Ivy League” pedigree, these classics have experienced a huge resurgence in the past two years in high fashion as well as everyday wear.

For more than 80 years, Sperry has offered traditional boat shoes with durable leather uppers, sticky rubber soles and stylish leather laces for discerning sailors everywhere, and has recently expanded its lineup to offer a staggering combination of materials, colorways and patterns for those who stick to land. Although a bit more expensive than most sneakers at around $80, boat shoes offer an impressive level of classic, refined quality that can be paired as easily with shorts and a T-shirt as khakis and an oxford.

Rounding out these footwear options are the most casual of the group, espadrilles. Finding their origins in the Pyrenees Mountains, these classic rope-soled shoes of the French Mediterranean have made their way to America via the explosion in popularity of TOMS — an American-based shoe company that provides a child in need with a pair of shoes for every pair you purchase.

If you don’t want to spring for TOMS, Soludos offers a more affordable pair of espadrilles at a similar quality point. Easy to slip on (no laces), breathable during the hottest days because of their sheer canvas upper and quite affordable at around $50, espadrilles are a stylish, storied alternative to sneakers and boat shoes.

Urban Outfitters, 1013 Mass.; Foxtrot, 737 Mass.; Shark’s Surf Shop, 813 Mass.; and Famous Footwear, 3230 Iowa, offer a great selection of classic/casual sneakers, boat shoes and espadrilles.

— Vaughn Scribner can be reached at