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When did the tacky practice of wearing brown shoes with blue suits become accepted?

Mathematicus

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My opinion is that it looks TACKY if the brown is too light or the suit itself is tacky. I would not wear anything but black shoes with a suit but I admit that with the right shade of blue a dark brown shoe can look fine.

However, I hope everyone will agree that brown shoes will make the look more casual and, hence, definitely less suitable for work.
 

Edward

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However, I hope everyone will agree that brown shoes will make the look more casual and, hence, definitely less suitable for work.

Depends on the job really. Even Cityboys - the original 'no brown in town' types - in London now aren't always in black shoes. I do tend to agree brown is more casual in a shoe, but we're not necessarily representative of contemporary norms. The average man these days seems to regard anything north of logo-less leather training shoes as 'formal', along with his 'dress jeans'...
 

Tiki Tom

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This is a welcome topic in that it reminds me how bourgeois I am. Worse: I was born and raised lower class with the engrained aspiration to ape the upper classes. My motto was “fake it ‘til you make it!”
Of course, I didn’t imitate my betters as they actually lived, but how I imagined they lived. How would I know, right?
Hence I indoctrinated myself with (among other odd beliefs) the strict idea that a really classy guy would never wear brown shoes with a blue suit. Never!
Those observing me closely can probably quickly see the clues as to what a poser I am. Oh, well, I am what I am. And it worked well enough.
But I was probably wrong about the shoes.
 
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GHT

I'll Lock Up
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Those observing me closely can probably quickly see the clues as to what a poser I am. Oh, well, I am what I am. And it worked well enough. But I was probably wrong about the shoes.
Did you know that the noun, "poseur," is defined as: "A person who pretends to be what he or she is not : an affected or insincere person." Being a French word it inevitably has an additional meaning, "to put on airs," that the English 'poser' lacked.
Tiki Tom an affected or insincere person? Not in my book, he's not. By the way, I love the title of this thread.
 

jonbuilder

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I differently wear brown boots with my blue jeans and I wear brown boots with black leather jackets. Now if I am wearing brown boots I do not reach for a black fedora going out the door.
 

GHT

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It was, and still is, common in the UK to wear brown shoes with blue suiting (moreso in Summer). Some don't casre for it, but it was very common back in the day. The notion of it being 'wrong' seems more like 'fashion rules' to me than any recognised dress code.
Now if you really want to get up the nose of those who get sniffy about attire, with, as you point out Edward, fashion rules.
blue brown shoes.jpg
Let them seethe over these spectator shoes.
 

Brandrea33

Practically Family
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573
Brown and blue are complimentary colors (at least in the design world). They also are used in some of the worlds most recognizable luxury brands.

92CF011B-0588-4812-A590-0690E68A000C.jpeg
 

Agent Black

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There used to be an unwritten rule in Britain that it was "Black shoes; town, Brown shoes; country". Now "Town" might just have meant London, because that was how some hifalutin types referred to it even if they lived near another town instead. Over the last few years blue suits and brown shoes have become a noticeable "Thing" over here though but I never noticed it before. It looks a bit odd and I dislike it without quite been able to put my finger on it, if the offenders were carrying a briefcase that was brown leather it would probably look fine with their blue suits but the shoes... Maybe it just makes their feet look bigger.

I also have a sniffy aversion to blue suits (But not navy, I have three navy suits). I think they are becoming paler, something I noticed when David Cameron was Prime Minister. At the time I thought it was just how they were rendered by TV cameras as this was about the time everyone started getting flat screen tellies and I assumed it was just the new medium that was causing an apparant colour shift. Oh no, one day I saw Lib party leader Nick Clegg (At the time Cameron's Mini-Me) in my local railway station and the suit was full on shiny bright blue Mohair(?). If this trend continues then it's logical conclusion will be Richard Keel's sky blue "Jaws" suits from Moonraker/ The Spy Who Loved Me...
 

Edward

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There used to be an unwritten rule in Britain that it was "Black shoes; town, Brown shoes; country". Now "Town" might just have meant London, because that was how some hifalutin types referred to it even if they lived near another town instead. Over the last few years blue suits and brown shoes have become a noticeable "Thing" over here though but I never noticed it before. It looks a bit odd and I dislike it without quite been able to put my finger on it, if the offenders were carrying a briefcase that was brown leather it would probably look fine with their blue suits but the shoes... Maybe it just makes their feet look bigger.

I also have a sniffy aversion to blue suits (But not navy, I have three navy suits). I think they are becoming paler, something I noticed when David Cameron was Prime Minister. At the time I thought it was just how they were rendered by TV cameras as this was about the time everyone started getting flat screen tellies and I assumed it was just the new medium that was causing an apparant colour shift. Oh no, one day I saw Lib party leader Nick Clegg (At the time Cameron's Mini-Me) in my local railway station and the suit was full on shiny bright blue Mohair(?). If this trend continues then it's logical conclusion will be Richard Keel's sky blue "Jaws" suits from Moonraker/ The Spy Who Loved Me...


'No Brown in Town' was originally very specific to the City of London / the Square Mile - bear in mind that was the days when even a lounge suit was not up to scratch for the city bankers, who turned up to work in full Black Lounge as a norm. Of course, there was the inevitable bleed out into fashion more broadly - 'country attire' generally being more earth-toned and casual - among the classes who could afford such delineated wardrobes. Historically, of course, dress codes requiring multiple options also set a 'price of admission' which serve to separate the U from the non-U. Inevitably, many of these conventions were over time seized upon by those who aspired to particular lifestyles, who often treated them as rigid rules with much more observed strictness than those who inspired them. I'm sure there's a wonderful sociological study to be made of these.

It's certainly true that the last dozen years or so have seen a shift in fashion for men's suits, with lighter blues coming to the fore again. I rather welcome the range of options; much as navy and charcoal are unbeatable for the range of situations in which they can be worn, for those who wear a suit regularly and by choice it's nice to have a range of options, from the subtle to something more flamboyant for social occasions. I'm sure we'll cycle back round in due course to a more limited palette of darker options being a fashion norm, too. Fashion, after all, thrives on novelty (even if in this case 'novel' simply means 'what we wore five years ago before 'fashion' decided that was 'out''). For those in the public eye, fashion will undoubtedly be part of the calculation behind what they wear - whether that's just a case of not wanting to be perceived as staid, or about how a particular colour and cloth 'reads' on camera, or even how it flatters their form. I recall one leader of the opposition in recent decades was advised to wear a DB suit in the Commons as it was (counter to the more common position regarding others) considered to flatter his stature better.

What I'm keeping an eye out for on the fashion market is how the suit repositions itself in the wake of its decline as required office wardrobe. I know many men who own one, single suit which only comes out of the cupboard the night before a wedding or funeral (I've also seen some very creative efforts to get around a discovery at such a late point in time that trousers no longer fit, or have been mothed). Generally speaking, those of my acquaintance who will only wear a collar and tie under extreme sufferance subscribe to some variation of "sticking it to the man" via this wardrobe choice. If a suit really does become something which is no longer perceived as a boss's imposition, I suspect we could well see it return as a fashion choice to some extent. Although a purely outside observer (and frequently entirely ignorant of) mainstream fashion, I live in hope that this will see more thought going into mainstream tailoring, and hopefully a retreat away from the 'shrunk in the wash' look of the last twenty years and towards something much more classic.
 

scottyrocks

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Great write-up, Edward. More info here than in the entire thread. ;)

It is my belief that suits will never make a comeback in great numbers simply because most people, aka society-in-general, prefer cheap, easy and comfortable. Good suits are comfortable, but are not cheap, and take most men too long to don, along with the properly knotted tie, and good shoes that are not flip-flops (which I really can't stand in public, with socks or no. Easier to throw on a too-big t-shirt and gym pants or pajama bottoms. And flip-flops. Or crocs (argh).

And afa brown shoes under blue suits? I like the look. And that's enough for me.
 

Edward

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Great write-up, Edward. More info here than in the entire thread. ;)

It is my belief that suits will never make a comeback in great numbers simply because most people, aka society-in-general, prefer cheap, easy and comfortable. Good suits are comfortable, but are not cheap, and take most men too long to don, along with the properly knotted tie, and good shoes that are not flip-flops (which I really can't stand in public, with socks or no. Easier to throw on a too-big t-shirt and gym pants or pajama bottoms. And flip-flops. Or crocs (argh).

And afa brown shoes under blue suits? I like the look. And that's enough for me.

May well be that the more likely direction is for suits to stay around with a sizeable niche, rather than go mainstream. I keep thinking that the fashion trend towards maximum 'dressdown' must end at some point if only for the sake of novelty, though it has proven extremely resilient for now. I suppose the ideal for me would be for perfect, thirties-style suits to come back 'in' just long enough to be of excellent quality, widely available, and then bomb on the fashion market so I can pick up a few dozen on heavy discount end of line sales... :p
 

Tiki Tom

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I may have to hand in my FL membership and give back my FL decoder ring. Reason: I have retired And moved to Hawaii, where the motto is: “if you think you have “dressed down”, please think again and redouble your efforts to “dress down”.” A bathing suit, t-shirt, and sandals are the perfect attire for dining out or going to the theater. Even better if they don’t go particularly well together. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a horrible snob from the mainland, or worse. I’m so over dressed that I stick out like a sore thumb. Oh well.
 

GHT

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I may have to hand in my FL membership and give back my FL decoder ring. Reason: I have retired And moved to Hawaii, where the motto is: “if you think you have “dressed down”, please think again and redouble your efforts to “dress down”.” A bathing suit, t-shirt, and sandals are the perfect attire for dining out or going to the theater. Even better if they don’t go particularly well together. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a horrible snob from the mainland, or worse. I’m so over dressed that I stick out like a sore thumb. Oh well.
My shirt collection that Tina made me might just fit right in with Hawaiian life.
As for shoes, blue or brown?
shoes36.jpgshoe48.jpeg
There's only one thing that would be out of place. This is not meant to a criticism of, as
the thread title suggests, tacky practice, but just as I have no denim, you won't see me
in shorts either, no matter how hot it gets.
 

Edward

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I may have to hand in my FL membership and give back my FL decoder ring. Reason: I have retired And moved to Hawaii, where the motto is: “if you think you have “dressed down”, please think again and redouble your efforts to “dress down”.” A bathing suit, t-shirt, and sandals are the perfect attire for dining out or going to the theater. Even better if they don’t go particularly well together. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a horrible snob from the mainland, or worse. I’m so over dressed that I stick out like a sore thumb. Oh well.

Perhaps something from a company Down Under?

1655886245190.png


:D Maybe a TFL appropriate compromise: 30s-style, men's one-piece swimwear, cut to a vintage pattern but made with modern fabrics to avoid the unfortunate sag to which originals were prone. I believe there's another company in the US also doing similar, under the joyous name of "Beefcake". As memory serves, Beefcake sell their stuff as "nonbinary" / unisex, though it's effectively the same thing. Rather keen on this myself. I did look at a fair few almost-close modern triathlon type suits in the last few years, but they were all covered in tacky graphics and big logos that rather killed the vibe.... The one in the picture would look superb with a nice goatskin A2 for whatever passes as chillier days in the islands! ;)

Funny, though, how localised mentalities such as you describe are so universal - I've seen similar, whether it was about dresscodes or all sorts of other things in parts of London, Hong Kong, Belfast.... The oddest ones I find are soccer fans here in the UK, who often take it as a personal insult if someone doesn't care for soccer in the way they think we should. I should say I know I have this in me too; I wonder if it's some primal need for security in banding together, our caveman DNA somewhere unconsciously still looking for that woolly mammoth threat. :D


My shirt collection that Tina made me might just fit right in with Hawaiian life.
As for shoes, blue or brown?
View attachment 434394View attachment 434396
There's only one thing that would be out of place. This is not meant to a criticism of, as
the thread title suggests, tacky practice, but just as I have no denim, you won't see me
in shorts either, no matter how hot it gets.

I'm very much the same with shorts. I've never felt a practical need for them (a pair of lighter cotton trousers, if anything, keeps me cooler), and I don't care for the look. I can't entirely rule out that on some subconscious level I also think of them as children's wear - something to do, I supposed, with cultural notions deeply engrained in Britain and Ireland. I would have worn them a lot as a kid in the eighties, though they disappeared from my wardrobe fast after that. (I owned one pair of military surplus shorts from the age of 16 to 21, and in all those years wore them on a grand total of five occasions.) Notably, I don't recall my own father ever wearing a pair of shorts, though I do remember him making passing reference to the cultural phenomenon of graduating to his first pair of long trousers, a firm right of passage still even in the early sixties. I do remember noticing shorts being much more commonly worn by adult men in the US when I was last over there about a decade ago, which is interesting from the cultural point of view - the be-shorted schoolboy uniform not having anything like the same cultural resonance as a negative over there. Of course nowadays if I'm going anywhere hot (or here in London for the hellish heat of July and August), I tend to avoid exposing anything more than, at a push, my forearms to the sun being well aware of the potential for harm (melanomas are not unknown in my family), but in the last instance it's a matter of aesthetics. I just don't like shorts at all. Not that I'm against anyone else choosing to wear them, but if I'm going to eschew trousers, I'm comfier (and better covered from the Sun) in a kilt.
 

Tiki Tom

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As with womens‘ wear, so with mens. Those one piece mens bathing suits look fine on young models who are fit and carry little fat. Parade them out on an old fat guy with a beer belly and lots of body hair, and I’d probably have a different opinion.

Please don’t feel compelled to post a photographic example. ;)

Personally, I have reached the age where, unless I’m actually swimming or laying in the sun, I wear a cover-up shirt.
 

Edward

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As with womens‘ wear, so with mens. Those one piece mens bathing suits look fine on young models who are fit and carry little fat. Parade them out on an old fat guy with a beer belly and lots of body hair, and I’d probably have a different opinion.

Please don’t feel compelled to post a photographic example. ;)

Personally, I have reached the age where, unless I’m actually swimming or laying in the sun, I wear a cover-up shirt.

I doubt much is going to make me look great in swimwear, but the more coverage the better as a general rule! ;) The wife made me buy a pair of swimming shorts for going on holiday; fortunately the day we spent around the beach was too warm to go in the sea. If God had intended us to swim in the sea, where fish poo, he wouldn't have invented indoor, heated swimming pools.
 
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