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 â€œredefining what prep means today.â€ 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