Unless you possess the charisma and talent of the Late Maqbool Fida Hussain, showing up barefoot at a formal gathering is out of the question. Yet, for the most part of the region’s illustrious history, Indians have been out and about barefoot. Needless to mention, the ghosts of the past should be left, well… in the past.
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The first jootis and mojaris came about during the Islamic era. Colonialism introduced formal leather shoes and has become the quintessential part of the modern business attire, a prerequisite to dressing smart.
Every Indian man has known at least one classmate or friend or colleague in life who otherwise has a killer sense of style, yet one look at their footwear and you turn away in a mix of horror and repulsion – mud stains, cheap flaking leather, crumbling soles, unraveling shoestrings – or worse yet, toe-revealing chappals at the annual general meeting of your office! Even square front loafers are pushing it a bit too far.
Come on men, just because they are on your feet doesn’t mean no one will take notice of your fashion faux pas. Arguably, worse than wearing sunglasses indoors. While nobody expects you to sell your left kidney to own a pair of Jimmy Choo or Versace Luxe, no one wants or deserves the sight of your toe hair and ingrown toenails either. For the sanity of your immediate company do invest in a manly pair of Lee Cooper, or Red Tape or Allen Solly to go with your Raymond’s Grey Merino 3 piece.
And polish them daily, like your life depended on it! It is the least you could do. Suede and Nubuck uppers should be pampered with a protector spray at least once a week. The shinier the better. More frequently for extended outdoor use. Rubber brushes help get rid of any dirt and debris. More stubborn stains may require steam cleaning and specially formulated shoe shampoos.
Also read: The Best Way to Dress in Brown Shoes
Want to dress-up for the occasion? Stick to the Oxfords and Derbies. Slip-on formal leather shoes border on the risqué. When in doubt, tapered fronts and rounded fronts are the safest bets. Soft leather catches more dirt and dust, avoid like a plague for formal gatherings. And while we are at it, however cool you think your Moccasins look and no matter how much you love its orgasmic velvety feel on your feet, keep the semi-casuals for the weekend dress-down.