Q: I am trying to find something that I am not sure exists. I play tennis fairly regularly and I am looking for a performance tennis shoe that doesn't look like I just stepped out of an Academy. Currently I wear these (Asics). I like these a lot performance-wise, but I want something with a more vintage look like these (Nikes) or this (K-Swiss). Am I chasing a unicorn here? —John
A: John, those Asics you're wearing have "gel" in the model name, which we're pretty sure is a footwear prereq for enrollment into IMG/Bollettieri.
We play tennis year-round on clay, hardcourt, and even grass (see below) and have recently struggled with the same problem. For many years we wore the Rod Lavers — which are similar in style to the Nikes you admire — and while hardcourts shredded them faster than a 4.5 playing a 3, it was a small price to pay for their comfort and low-key iconicism.
Then in 2014 Adidas ruined the Rod Laver. They made them "freakishly heavy" with a sole that "feels like a 100lb slab of concrete," per the reviewers at adidas.com, with one critic adding, "If I could give a zero-star rating, I would." It's all true. Now they're discontinued entirely, which has led to the creation, naturally, of a Save the Adidas Rod Laver shoe" Facebook page. (BTW, please Like.)
But you didn't ask for a recent history of the Rod Laver. You want a performance tennis shoe with a vintage aesthetic, and we have it: The Puma GV Special. Now, Guillermo Vilas was no Rod Laver, and they were released a decade later than the Rods (1980), but they're far more rugged, and maintain compatibility with white Borg-inseam shorts and McEnroe headbands. Plus, if you look hard enough you can sometimes find them for about 35 bucks. Try 'em out and let us know what you think.
About those grass courts...
One of the many great treasures of our home state of Wisconsin is Sand Valley Golf Resort in Nekoosa. Besides 36 terrific walking-only holes (with 18 more coming in 2021), they have 9 grass courts. So along with your 3-wood and white balls, pack your woody and white balls.
Q: Hi. I like old school Nikes (Jordans), Asics, Adidas and so on. Is it MB to be a sneakerhead? I assumed it wasn't. Am I correct? —Richard
To paraphrase Craig Finn, certain brands they get so scratched into our souls. And when we really start thinking about it — and we have been, because of your question — we realize that many of the brands that have been scratched into our souls (and, yes, soles) deepest and longest are sneaker brands.
It's possible we were introduced to McDonald's, Mars, Inc., and Coca Cola earlier than we were introduced to Puma, Adidas, Pony, and Converse. These days, however, we go years without a Big Mac, months without a Snickers bar, and sometimes even a week without a Coke. Whereas we believe that there is probably no 72-hour period over the course of our post-toddler lives where we have not worn one of the aforementioned brands for at least a couple hours.
And of course those brands have company in our overall collections — a quick assessment of our three nearest closets nets approximately 140 pairs of sneakers from roughly 30-plus brands, with heavy emphasis on Golden Goose, Tod's, Diemme, and Maison Margiela.
That said, we've never owned a pair of Air Jordans, much less cleaned them with a toothbrush. So are we sneakerheads?
As we understand the term, sneakerheads seem to focus on (a) shoes that NBA superstars and other professional athletes might credibly wear in regulation play, (b) shoes that Captain America might go jogging in, or (c) shoes that Marc Benioff might wear while delivering a keynote address at Dreamforce.
While we can embrace option (a) in limited contexts — we're not going to play tennis in our Maison Margielas — options (b) and (c) don't appeal to us under any scenario. Instead, we stick to vaguely businified sneakers — i.e., sneakers we could wear to work without, as we've said in the past about sweatpants, making our colleagues wonder if we're about to dunk on them.
In the end, we think the best way to express our thoughts on this is a Venn diagram:
A: They are Puma Rudolf Dassler "Metropolis Low" sneakers. We recommend them, along with lots of other Dassler models, if you're OK with fact that "Ruda" (the original name of Puma) was an even more hard-core Nazi than his Adidas-founding older brother Adi. Style before National Socialist affiliation, we always say.
Ed. Note: Another Dassler shoe, the Standpunkt, also made an appearance in an MB header in early 2009. This is a highly-recommended (and far more available) model.
UPDATE: The size 13s at Bluefly quickly sold out once this entry was posted, but sizes 11 and 12 are available at Tagotti Shoes, also at a deep discount. Unlike most other Puma footwear, these fit true to size, so no need to add one.
Q: I think every Puma sport fashion shoe you guys post sells out pretty quickly. I'm looking for an all around black shoe to wear to work or out with friends. How does this one work for an MB in training? --Justin
A: If this came in a matte black version, or a matte anything version, we'd enthusiastically recommend it. But unless you're at a wedding, patent leather has no place in your wardrobe. It violates the key MB matte vs. gloss principle, and would be too much for using it the way you've described (unless you work as a wedding planner, or crash a lot of weddings with your friends).
Q: Sneakers with suit...what's the MB take? I know the Prada sport line is great as are most Sabelt, but what about Adidas Samba or similar? --Brooke
A: Great question. The closer you get to a footwear brand's "originals" the harder it is to pull off (and risk looking like you're TTH). Lots of guys can wear Puma Sport Fashion with a cool, casual suit. But are you up to combining that suit with Puma Suedes?
In the May 2009 GQ Will Arnett clearly made classic Adidas Rod Lavers work with a $100 cotton H&M suit (left). The comparatively schlubby Jason Segel did the same with Chuck Taylors on the red carpet in 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall (right). So what can be learned?
* Only attempt with slimmer, casual suits
* Wear flat front, and preferably un-creased pants
* Pair with a polo or artfully disheveled woven
* Occasionally do a little dancing and hand gesturing
Q: This is a time-sensitive request, so hopefully you will publish an answer soon. I am convinced other fathers will have the same question. I will be taking the kids to Disney World in December and was wondering what a Magnificent Bastard can wear on his feet for all that walking that will send the appropriate level of Magnificent Basterdness to the Crocs-wearing dads I am destined to see there. I don't want my feet to hurt, but I also don't want to look like...well you know what I would look like in Crocs or a similar kind of "shoe." Of course they can't be dressy because it's about as casual a vacation we can go on...short of spending all of our time on a beach, but I am sure Bastards such as yourselves can solve my problem. --Jeff from Illinois
A: Jeff, first off, relax! Disney World is the one place on the planet where wearing a Tommy Bahama shirt may qualify you as the coolest guy in the room. Or to put it another way: If your goal as an MB-in-training is merely to outdo some Crocs-wearing stroller-pusher from Topeka, well, you're setting the bar kind of low! But what the hell -- baby steps, right?
Browse our shoe channel and you'll note our interest in classic sport shoes. In fact, visit the MB-recommended classicsportshoes.com and just about anything will do, though we seem to always end up in Adidas or Puma. One of our all-time faves is the difficult-to-find Puma California EXT, available in 8.5, 9, 10, and 10.5. And don't mess up the socks. Go for no-show or none at all.
Thank you for answering my MB polo shirt buttoning policy question! Here's a follow up: With Christmas around the corner family has been asking what I want. I've decided I'm ready to ditch the Clarks and get a legit pair of new business casual shoes for work (black and brown). To accomplish this I'm going to request gift cards but they'll have to be to the same store in order to stack them all together. But which store is the best for MB shoe shopping? Was thinking Nordstrom but haven't been that impressed with their selection. I'd also prefer an actual store versus online but will defer to your expert opinion. Where do you get your shoes? --Jay
A: We get our shoes all over the place. Any of the retailers linked on our home page, if they sell shoes we've probably bought a pair. Our biggest wins, however, have come from bluefly and we recommend it for you in spite of its online-ness. Great options for your immediate bizcash need and depending on your adventurousness and line of work, they've always got interesting sport/fashion from Prada, Puma, Tod's, and Adidas, which is the direction we're going these days.
Q: I need to buy a new pair of magnificent golf shoes, but I don't really know where to look. Any ideas??? Thanks! --Blake
A: Unfortunately golf shoes have followed in the footsteps of running shoes and gone all ugly space-age (top), when MBs just want the golf shoe equivalent of New Balance 574s (bottom).
It's difficult to offer suggestions in such a depressed golf shoe environment, but last season's Puma Club Shoe works and is on sale for $70. Also keep your eyes on eBay for Adidas and Puma models when they were cool, like back in 2008.
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.
Q: So I've been searching for a pair of black shoes for around 2 months now. My initial thought was something between casual and dressy. I would like to have the flexibility to wear them with jeans or a pair of nice pants. Any MB help/recommendations would be great. --Chris
A: Chris, you obviously haven't been reading this site for 2 months because you'd know the answer to your footwear dilemma lies in Puma Sport Fashion. End of story. A few of us were in Dasslerversions (sockless, of course) at a wedding reception at the Pulaski (WI) American Legion on Saturday night and the feedback was universally positive.
Q: Well I went looking for the Dassler Kapitans (from the post on April 27, 2009) at Puma's site and they only have one size...for people with very small feet. Guess I missed the window on those. Any suggestions for a comparable alternative? Also, what is the shoe the MB has on in the current header, out of curiosity? --Gregory
A: Too bad on the Kapitans. There are a couple pair in larger sizes available on ebay for only $83.11, but in a lighter brown. Also, keep your eyes open on store.puma.com because they do restock.
For a substitute, take a look at the Roma Re-Luxe which is available in many sizes at Zappos. We've probably said this before, but Puma is redefining men's footwear, and we're totally on board. Now men just need more things to wear these with besides denim.
Regarding the golf shoes the MB is wearing in the header photo, they're Adidas "modo Delmar," and are widely unavailable. One thing we've learned about Adidas golf shoes, if you find a pair you like, buy a half-dozen of them because they will be completely gone the following season.
Q: Are there any shoes you can think of that I can wear at the gym and with a suit? --Nicholas
A: We've been thinking about this a lot lately so we're glad you asked. While no single shoe will simultaneously work for an AM 5K and a PM meeting with the CEO, Puma is the closest to cracking the code if, say, it's your lifting and not your cardio day. Their Black Label line, the Alexander McQueen collaboration, and some of the Rudolf Dassler stuff can do double duty, depending on the suit. (Again, we're working on one.)
Q: Is it ever OK to wear off-white sneakers? I recently procured a pair of Pumas online and now that I'm looking at the color I'm seriously questioning my decision. Nothing seems to look quite right with them. --Joe
A: Put. The Dockers. Down.
Joe, say it's so: you got into a pair of the new Sport Fashion Roma Re-Luxe, from Puma Black Label (available at Zappos). Of course khakis are a no-no with this shoe, but denim is a sure thing, and pairing these with white jeans or trousers would look très MB. Give 'em another try.
Q: I have a pair of brown pony hair Puma Clydes, but am trying to find them in black. Any suggestions? --Mike
A: First of all, consider yourself lucky to own a pair of these at all. (They're rare ... what's the deal? Is there a pony shortage or something? Grow some more.) Second, you want to know what sucks worse than not finding the shoes you desire? It's when you Google "puma pony hair" + black and our own site has the #1 and #2 search results. As if we're going to be of any help!
Your best bet is to set up Google and eBay alerts. If you insist on the pony and can't wait to find the black, the "Clyde Jungle Pack" is available and on sale for just $90.
Alexander McQueen makes beautiful $820 cashmere checked shirts and $1,920 trenches, but his greatest success is his footwear collaboration with Puma. He's made dozens of models for MBs who want to wear sneakers but don't want to look like they're wearing sneakers. "Casual, yet chic," as the ad copy says. And affordable. We cannot recommend these too highly. Take your pick at Zappos.
Q: I need sneakers. Can a 40 year-old wear Frankenclydes? Seems a little skate-rattish and Sketcher-like. I'm gravitating in my mind toward a simple pair of canvas sneakers. But nothing seems to exist to fit the bill. Chuck Taylors are just plain boring. Original Penguin has a pair, but they look old-mannish. --Bry
A: Stick to Penguin for clothes and avoid their footwear; and definitely avoid the Chuck Ts as you hit 40, unless you're either John McEnroe or entered into a Dee Dee Ramone look-alike contest.
Franks fully pass muster for 40-somethings in our opinion. First, their roots are from the hardcourt; you rarely if ever see Frankenclydes at the skate park. Second, Puma has done something smart by introducing luxury Frankenclydes like this pony-hair version (which we've mentioned before a few times). They're fairly expensive, quite difficult to find, and will hold up well to 20-something scrutiny.
Say, for instance, you run into a Frankenclyde-wearing lad and you're in a pair of these. No words need to be spoken but here's what you're communicating: "Yes, you are wearing cool shoes. However, we both know that mine
are cooler. I am your style and disposable income superior. Have a nice day."
Whoh! Whohhh. White sneakers? In 2008, really? What about the Frankenclyde's you so recently praised? And white socks w/ jeans? Am I twelve or am I Greg Brady? --Bry
New Balance shoes? Seriously, WTF? Anybody that even resembles an MB can tell you that, barring engaging in serious physical activity, wearing running shoes with white athletic socks is a one-way ticket to Toolbagtown. You would actually have to carry around a bag of hammers, screwdrivers, and pliers to match the toolbag-level quality of your outfit. --Bo
You have to be kidding me about wearing the white sneakers. Those New Balance look corrective. You guys just lost 10 cool points. --Eric