COLORED LACES DANDY-UP DRESS SHOES
LET COLORED LACES DANDY-UP DRESS SHOES
Bright colored strings are emerging as a way for men to accessorize, from the well-heeled models at Dunhill’s Spring 2011 runway show to preppy menswear labels such as Paul Smith, where certain shoes are sold with bright colored laces already tied up (with a neutral-colored spare included in the box for the faint of heart).
his clever trick has been employed by dandies—especially in London, Milan, Paris and Tokyo—for years. However, Derrick Miller, founder of the Manhattan-based, London-bred shoe label Barker Black, says that stateside, the trend may be an extension of the loud laces found on funky sneakers—apparently street style is sneaking up on Savile Row.
Although the concept feels especially modern now (little details are the new bling), there is evidence that decorative laces go back centuries, says Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator of The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. Heeled shoes were introduced in the late 16th century and by the 17th, most upper class men were wearing them with colorful bows and ribbons. "They were used to secure the shoe to the foot and could be quite colorful in their own right," she says. Some men went one step further, Ms. Semmelhack says, and attached large colorful bows known as shoe "roses" over the ribbons.
History aside, there’s no doubt the simple act of pairing fire-engine red or royal purple shoelaces with a pair of brown wingtips provides lots of punch for very little effort—like wearing wacky socks with a pair of serious shoes and your grey flannels. The look works best with chestnut kicks rather than black, where the contrast can be jarring. Beginners may want to start with a more muted hue, but if you’re feeling adventurous, go brighter, neon even. Just be sure laces are your one and only statement, and give your other preferred pieces of flair—argyles, pocket squares, suspenders—a well-deserved rest.