Rambling Man – On the subject of summer footwear decorum

Rambling Man – On the subject of summer footwear decorum

I’ll probably step on some toes by saying this, but I really don’t like flip flops. I may as well stop this blog series now, because I’ll never write a joke funnier than that.

I’m assuming you’ve caught your breath now, so I shall continue. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re sat beside the pool on holiday, or traipsing around your house or garden, then I’ll allow flip flops – it makes sense to have something that you can throw on and off. However, if you’re walking around town (especially a big city like London) in what is essentially bare feet, you are going to receive the fullest extent of my judgement. 

Let’s first take into account how dirty cities are, what with all the exhaust fumes and commercial waste and all manner of other nasties lurking on the surface; it’s enough to give you a panic attack, let alone decide to wear the equivalent of a pair of speedos for your feet. 

Anyway, you’re probably wondering whether there’s an overarching point to this rant, and you’ll be pleased to know that there is. I am acutely aware that in a couple of months, maybe sooner, we’ll be deep into my least favourite season: no-sock season. Whereas I know a few people who happily wear their shoes without socks, I never could. A large part of this comes down to comfort – the thought of wearing shoes, leather or otherwise, without socks makes me wince. But, whether you decide to wear socks or not, there is an added bonus to wearing footwear made of natural and breathable materials that people don’t often talk about:

Your feet won’t stink.

More accurately, your feet won’t stink as bad. This isn’t a cure-all. Take a shower.

Let me elaborate. Before the pandemic came along, we would do fittings in store with the customer wherein we would put the shoe on your foot (took me a while to get the hang of that) and do up the laces for you. It helps us to establish the right fit, and also involves us getting very close to your feet.

I’ve done hundreds of these fittings, and if someone came in on a scorching hot day wearing leather or suede shoes, it was rarely an insult to my nostrils when I did the fitting. If anything, there was a smell of hot leather, which ultimately isn’t too bad, especially when compared to the sensory shock that I would get when someone took their trainers off. Nine times out of ten, it was like being slapped in the face with a sweaty sports sock.

I’m paid to deal with that kind of stuff, but I’m not asking you to consider alternatives for my sake; do it for the health of your feet, and for the people you live with.

Breathable materials, like leather and suede, are exactly that: breathable. When you’re walking around town on a hot day, your feet are basically exercising and being heated at the same time. Unless you incite my wrath by wearing flip flops, the excess warmth and condensation that your feet are trying to get rid of has to go somewhere, and a natural material gives them the best chance of success. Most other materials don’t possess this quality – what you’d essentially be doing is trapping moisture – stagnant, hot moisture. With nowhere to escape, that breeds all sorts of bacteria, and it stinks. 

So push the boat out. I’m not saying you should wear boots and heavy brogues when the weather gets warm, but try something unlined. Unlined suede is the definition of comfort, as well as being extra breathable and lightweight along with all the usual bonuses of Goodyear welted shoes that you’ve heard me mention before. 

And please invest in some no-show socks.

Written by Covent Garden Store Manager Alex Pardey @shoes_maketh_man