Shoes of Our Time

In many parts of the world the ancient wooden clogs have survived as the most popular of all footwear whilst leather sandals have predominated in hotter climates. Only rubber has come close in popularity in recent decades mainly with the invention of the flip-flop.

This type of footwear is ideal in tropical countries as it is unaffected by rain water and gives almost total exposure to all but the sole of the foot.

In other parts of the world a mix of hemp and canvas or cotton gave rise to an equally popular lightweight shoe in the form of espadrilles.

For city business mens shoes have remained much the same for the past hundred years. The classic black lace-up leather shoe remains the norm for the man in a suit. Black shoes with a black or charcoal suit is standard wear for the city businessman and only a quirky touch like coloured socks or an individual tie adds a bit of individuality.

A certain group of men determined to be just that bit different have taken to wearing two brightly different coloured socks. For example one yellow and one red marks a man as belonging to a particular elite cricket club and one blue and white sock is the norm for members of a Thames rowing club.

Mens shoes incorporate a thousand designs but the common thread is that they must all be comfortable to wear. Many cannot get used to wooden shoes or flip-flops; the former because of the hardness of the shoe and the latter because of the irritation of something between the big and middle toe.

For most men the appearance of women in high heels may be attractive but at the same time they look very precarious and uncomfortable. In fact, men of a certain class wore high heeled shoes in Western Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries mainly as protection from the filth in the city streets.

The large variety of shoe makes means men and women can indulge in some colourful footwear when away from the office and modern machine manufacturing methods mean that unless one is particular about a certain designer, it is possible to pick up some excellent shoes at very low prices.

Craftsmen still exist using ancient skills to produce bespoke leather shoes and although these may be very expensive they are likely to last a lifetime if taken care of properly. Handmade shoes can cost upwards of a thousand pounds where the machine manufactured copy may cost only fifty pounds.