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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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Ask the MB: Pool and Beach Footwear

Ask the MB: Pool and Beach Footwear

Q: Hey MB: Headed to Miami and Key West next week and need footwear for the beach and pool. That sounds easy but I struggle with open-toe and also need arch support. I've tried OluKai, Sanuk, and I am embarrassed to say, Teva. None have worked out. Any ideas?
—John

A: A Google search for "stylish orthopedic closed toe sandals" returns zero results.

But we have a couple of suggestions.

First, try to find a pair of Converse All-Star Chuck It mesh slip-ons on eBay. Arguably Converse's greatest contribution to footwear since the All-Star high-top in 1917, these are our all-time favorite beach/pool shoes. Sporty, light, submersible as a Triton 100, quick-drying, comfortable, and oddly enough, boasting better arch support than the traditional All-Stars provide. Unfortunately, Converse hasn't produced them since 2010, which is why you'll have to hunt for new old stock on eBay.

Second, since you're headed to Florida but stressing over arch support, we assume you're not going there for Spring Break — you sound like someone who is probably a little more seasoned than a college student, and presumably a little more well-heeled (and simultaneously weak-arched). So we think you probably have the means to invest in these Prada espadrille sneakers. While you won't be able to swim in them, they've got an insert, so are far more comfortable than most espadrilles that are set on a flat jute slab. And they will give you all the support your arches need no matter how heated things get on the shuffleboard court. Enjoy your vacation!

Ask the MB: Sandals That Don't Feel Like a Thong

Bally Fresney sueded leather sandals via bally.com, $243.00
Bally Fresney sueded leather sandals via bally.com. $243.00.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for sandals that do not have a strap shoved between my big and second toe? I know it's a hang-up of mine, but the feeling of having the strap tug up between those two toes is too much like having underwear run up my butt crack. In other words, do you have a good "commando" sandal suggestion?
--Richard


A: We don't have the same hang-up as you, and we've never had underwear run up our butt crack, but if you're feeling that thong sandals are too much like a capital "T" Thong, then definitely leave those to the fairer sex.

A couple of years ago, during our first-annual Pedicure Awareness Month, we recommended these Paul Smith crisscross sandals from Barney's Co-Op. They're long gone now, and this has been a lousy season for great sandals, but the idea is the same: go for crisscross or strap sandals with an opening wide enough to not compact your toes, like this versatile sueded Bally version, now 50% off. (Limited sizes, so hurry.)

Ed. note: If you have toes not fit for public consumption (you know who you are) and insist on sandals, please be kind to others and go closed-toe fisherman. Thank you.

MB Endorses: Bottega Veneta Sandals

Bottega Veneta basketwoven leather thong sandals via bluefly.com, $396.00
Bottega Veneta basketwoven leather thong sandals via bluefly.com. $396.00.
If you think we've lost our collective minds endorsing $396 sandals, well, maybe we have. But for the same price as 26 pair of post-peak mix grape Havaianas from Urban Outfitters, you get a pair of sandals you can dress up with a suit, dress down with denim, and wear to the beach. Plus, like men, they'll get better with age, while the long since discarded Havaianas (and equivalents) will be stacked up in a landfill.

Ask the MB: Resort Casual Suggestions

Ask the MB: Resort Casual Suggestions
Q: How can a 36 year old male dress in resort casual without looking too metrosexual, preppy or like a Tommy Bahama wanna-be?
--Mollee


A: From top to bottom:

Knit Shirt: Polo with sleeves that hit at about the middle of the bicep. No logos if possible, especially none with the name of your country club or a high-end public course he recently played. Be sure to follow the polo shirt button rule.

Woven Shirt: At least one in white, of course. Unpressed. Just take it out of the dryer and go. Not buttoned-down. If it's not specifically designed to be worn untucked, have him tuck it in.

Sweater: Fine gauge v-neck cashmere. Period. On cool nights have him toss this over the polo or the woven and let his shirt collar just do what it wants to do.

Pants: No pleats. No creases. No linen. Khakis with patch pockets are a solid choice. Only denim if it's dark and dressed up, like Theory. Shorts OK too, but when the sun goes down remember the rule: pants only.

Footwear: Plimsolls or Jack Purcells. Sandals or flip-flops (but only if they're made from organic materials).

The Feet Themselves: If he chooses the sandal/flip-flop route, remember this rule about feet: If you wouldn't put his toe in your mouth, you need to convince him to get a pedicure.

Ask the MB: Pedicure Alternative

Ask the MB: Pedicure Alternative
Q: If you have nasty feet and shouldn't be wearing sandals, what do you recommend with shorts? Some Pumas with low socks? Thanks.
--Chris


A: Over the last three decades, thousands of Vietnamese immigrants have journeyed across oceans in boats we'd be afraid to board in a wading pool just to make your feet presentable in sandals. Get a pedicure! And if you think that sounds kind of girly, do you know who else gets pedicures? Lions! Well, circus lions anyway. And if it's man enough for them, it's man enough for you too.

And what if you have some kind of physical deformity a pedi can't cure? You're on the right track. We prefer anything vintage from Puma, Tretorn, Adidas, with no-show socks or none at all. You'd have a hard time going wrong picking just about anything from Classic Sport Shoes' Adidas Originals page.

Ask the MB: Is Obama Wearing Crocs?

Ask the MB: Is Obama Wearing Crocs?
Q: There is some toolbaggery going on here. Are those Crocs?
--Kevin


A: To our eye, it looks like an animal died to make the President's sandals. (Thanks to Reuters photographer Mike Theiler for sensing where the real story was.) So, no, they're not Crocs, which are made entirely from anti-fungal fossil fuels. They do have a very Crocs-like sole, however, and we imagined they looked great on the golf course he was headed toward, if that golf course had a styrofoam castle on the 18th hole.

See also: From Cool to Tool: Tracking Barack Obama's Descent Into Toolbaggery

Ask the MB: Hamptons Sandals

Ask the MB: Hamptons Sandals
Men's sandals. Apart from the pedicure issue and disqualification of Crocs, can you recommend a pair of that I can use on my sailboat getting to the beach, use to get to the beach from the boat (involves getting wet), walking on the beach to the overpriced but decent Sunset Beach Hotel in the Hamptons, wear in the casual-but-hip outdoor restaurant/bar and after several cocktails, wear getting back to the boat (involves getting wet again). I do not want to carry three pairs of shoes on the boat as I am often on trips of a week or so and want to travel light.

Thanks again and keep the advise coming.
--Brian


A: Whew! These Hamptons trips sound like a lot of work!

This question kind of reminds us of the recent "shoes for workout and for work" question. It's not easy to find one pair of sandals to handle all these situations, but the Reef "Smoothy" is our recommendation. They work for us in nearby Door County, WI. They can handle the water, their thick padding is comfy and can handle all the walking, and the embroidered strap handles the style situations. Just be sure to carefully remove the logo with a sharp razor or scissors.

Ask the MB: Pedicures and Fred Flintstone Sandals

Ask the MB: Pedicures and Fred Flintstone Sandals
This not a question so much as a fear and I believe you guys can help. Summer will be here and in parts of the US it will be happening sooner. Men should and will be wearing sandals. The problem is, and you've addressed one problem (the lack of a pedicure) which is bad but the choice of sandal is also important. A thong type as opposed to the crisscross or strap. On some men the crisscross and strap type make men look like Fred Flintstone. Could you come up with some guidelines?
--John (from Ireland)


A: Yeah, we take a backseat to no one about the importance of a pedicure. Last June was Pedicure Awareness Month and this June will be no different. It's the MB version of The Golden Rule: don't expose nasty-ass toes to others.

Fred Flintstone lived in the Pre-Footwear Era, which makes his car-driving even more remarkable. Imagine the wickedly painful blisters most men would get powering a stone-wheeled auto with their feet. Anyhow, we don't see that big of a stylistic difference between thong and crisscross/strap, to be honest. They can both work. One type of sandal we do avoid is a strap/crisscross that covers too much toe. This has an unflattering chubbing-up, holy-crap-that-dude-has-an-ingrown-toenail effect. You'll know it when you see it.

Ask the MB -- Gordon Rush Plus Sandals

Ask the MB -- Gordon Rush Plus Sandals
Q: Hey guys. Enjoying your blog. Just wanted to ask if you're familiar with Gordon Rush's line of footwear. I recently ran into a pair of GR dress shoes, and I am thoroughly impressed with the smooth, clean looks, yet they have an understated boldness to them as well. I can't find the same particular shoe online, but thought you may want to check out the web site: www.gordonrush.com.

While I'm at it, how do you feel about these sandals. Not a fan of the logo-ing, but I'm getting the pedicure next week and attending an outdoor wedding, so I'm running out of time. Thanks.
--Matt


A: We admire Gordon Rush as a fairly young designer who's been fairly successful, but he hasn't been mentioned since this site launched for a reason. There's just something too smooth and too clean about his aesthetic. Not to mention, his go-to toe shape is a little too square. (See MB Shoe Toe Pointiness Chart for reference.)

Regarding the sandals, it's fair to say logoed footwear is verboten at a wedding ceremony, but certainly the pedicure will help mitigate the style damage.

You're getting warmer, son, but keep reading.

Ask the MB -- White Linen Suit

John Varvatos Essex Thong via Neiman Marcus, $135.00
John Varvatos Essex Thong via Neiman Marcus. $135.00.
Q: I follow your blog religiously and I love the amount of fashion knowledge I gain. However I have a couple of questions, I have a very classy white linen suit that I am planning on wearing in a couple of weeks. I would like to wear it with some tennis shoes to complete my "laid back" look rather than some hard shoes. First, is this appropriate? Secondly, if so, what shoes do you suggest to piece along with an all white linen suit? Do you suggest some all white tennis shoes or something with color in it? I was looking for some shoes along the lines of some Vans or something similar like the Lacoste L34 tennis shoes. Please advise. Thanks!
--Noop


A: You sure you follow this site religiously? You've clearly missed our missive on linen. Noop, your proposed suit is a ticking time bomb. Within seconds you can go from artfully disheveled to looking like some homeless guy who got dressed outside the dumpster at Goodwill. Regardless, you will explode at some point.

At least minimize the bomb's collateral damage by not wearing Vans. Too '90s LA. Plain white tennis shoes can work, as demonstrated by Paul Smith (top). Your best bet though is a pair of sandals, like this option from John Varvatos, and a pedicure. June is pedicure awareness month, after all.

Ask the MB -- Pedicure Awareness Month

Paul Smith Dark Brown Swami via Barney's Co-Op, $129.00
Paul Smith Dark Brown Swami via Barney's Co-Op. $129.00.
Q: Thanks for the pedicure PSA. Open toed sandals + big-jagged-yellow toenails are almost worthy of the official toolbag list. It is really a huge problem out there. In fact, it is probably better that the MB just recommend that open-toed are always completely out and unacceptable in its continued effort to rescue humanity.
--John


A: First, we're not out to rescue humanity. Lost cause! We're out to stop humanity -- specifically men -- from wearing pleated khakis.

Second, your suggestion sounds reasonable until you realize how many wicked good-looking flip flops and sandals are on the market. Most of humanity has wicked-ugly toes, but if you're one of the lucky ones, combine them with a pedicure and sandals and turn them into a valuable summer asset.

MB PSA: June is Pedicure Awareness Month

MB PSA: June is Pedicure Awareness Month
Magnificent Bastard is giving back to the community this month with a PSA (Public Service Announcement), declaring June Pedicure Awareness Month. Soon we'll have links to a nail salon in your area, but in the meantime, if you are without pedicure, here are some recommended closed-toe footwear options to cover up that nasty shit, and spare the rest of us. Please.

From top:

Cole Haan 'Norland' Fisherman Sandal, $185
Bacco Bucci 'Hossa' Slide, $149
Keen 'Maui' Sandal, $29.95
Frye 'Max Fisherman' Sandal, $187.95
To Boot New York 'Weston' Slip-On, $225

All via nordstrom.com.

You Want the Jute? You Can't Handle the Jute!

Camper Pandora Jute Sandals via Camper, $75.00
Camper Pandora Jute Sandals via Camper. $75.00.
Probably the best purchase for Summer '07 has been these Camper jute sandals. They look great with everything. Very rustic and au naturel. The only bummer is the jute can wreak havoc on delicate feet. But light callusing on your soles is a small price to pay in exchange for massive style points.

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