Shoes Make the Man

Tracee Dundas Fashion Stylist

It was a weekly ritual growing up, my dad would gather the leather shoes, tiny-tin cans of shoe polish, a horsehair brush, several old cotton cloths, layout newspaper, and while listening to his favorite R&B tunes, he would polish and repair the family shoes.

As a kid this intrigued me, so one day I sat with him to observe the process as he started this weekly chore. I wanted to understand why he did this task like clockwork every weekend. Why it was important that everyone’s shoes were spic-and-span clean. He explained that as a child his father instilled the importance of well-maintained shoes; noting that you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes and it’s something he never forgot. He got a second dose of this lesson when he served in the army. Getting his boots inspected weekly by his army sergeant gave him a new appreciation for the phrase “spit shine”.

Yep, spit shine. That level of shine used by the military to measure how much time, effort and care a soldier expends on their boots. A soldier is not completely dress unless his boots has a “spit shine”. No longer in the military, my dad continued the task of maintaining his and the family’s shoes. For him it was a sense of personal satisfaction and pride he felt in doing it.

Times have changed of course, and most guys get their shoes professionally shined. But the message has not changed; you can tell the measure of a man by his shoes. Of all the items in a man’s wardrobe, shoes are the single most important element of style because it is a key accessory in completing his outfit. Shoes are always noticed, but often never spoken of and could mean the difference between landing a job, getting a second date, or missing out on the next big deal. No surprise, women are the most observant; typically checking out a guy’s shoes first then scanning the rest of his attire.

Truth be told, shoes do make the man. So, what does your shoes say about you?

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New Orleans Agenda The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) and the Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR), in partnership with Mississippi
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