When warm weather finally arrives there’s a natural desire to get into the optimism of the season. You drink Negronis with a vengeance, dust off the fly rod even though the fishing hasn’t picked up yet, you even watch the Mets before they take their annual swan dive in the standings. Spring is a time to express yourself, and that’s a very fine case for white shoes. Real shoes mind you, not Vans or something straight from the court: bucks, cap-toe oxfords, cricket shoes, even wingtips. A few years ago, Crockett & Jones released an elegant pair made of deerskin—they were practically criminal.
When worn properly, white shoes go beyond the country club, and have nothing to do with nonsense about “redefining what prep means today.” Like Belgian Shoes, they veer toward dandyism, but return to a position of strength. If not quite subversive, they still impart a sense of exhilaration, like eating steak tartare with a raw egg cracked onto it.
Fred Astaire (pictured above) wore them so filmgoers could follow his terrific footwork. Our friend J.P. Williams wears them year-round, in part because of his southern upbringing but also because of his iconoclastic streak. White shoes won’t stay white for long, nor should they. Their imperfections are rightly seen as a badge of honor, like a frayed collar or thinned elbows, they’re a form of sartorial scars. A man in white shoes asserts his individuality, conveying a sense of liberation. He appreciates the seasons but isn’t constrained by them. He understands uncertainty and welcomes it. And, most importantly, he asks: When can we celebrate if not today? —DAVID COGGINS