Theology + Geometry: A Gentleman’s Worldview 3

“The Semiotics of Footwear” by Gustav Temple and Vic Darkwood in The Chap Almanac.


The Oxford: As eloquent as a letter of recommendation from the Marquis de Sade, the Oxford singles a man out as a fellow worth serious consideration. A foot clad in well-polished and immaculately-crafted leather acts as a passport to the realms of the sublime.


The Trainer: What vile barbarism is afoot here? The perfidious ailments known as “youth” and “sport” can so damage a fellow’s critical faculties that cladding one’s feet in tawdry plastic and rubber presents itself as a perfectly reasonable dress option. It is not.


The Brogue: If Dionysus were to be incarnated as an Englishman he would undoubtedly favour the brogue as a fitting accompaniment to his robust lifestyle. Ideally suited to outdoor activities such as dashing about in Arcadian glades in hot pursuit of nymphs and dryads.


The Brothel Creeper: Favoured by crazed ragamuffins addicted to Thunderbird wine, duck’s bottoms and rock ‘n roll, these crepe-sided absurdities are the calling-card of callow and virgin youth. A mature man attends his assignations at the bordello with certitude and pride.


The Loafer: Despite its promising name, the Loafer is chiefly the domain of hard-working middle-management who signify their leisure hours through the sickly cult of the tassel. A man skilled in the art of lassitude has no need of shoes that advertise the fact.


The Sandal: These flimsy artifacts may seem perfectly acceptable to antipodean back-packers fundamentalist Christians and hirsute environmentalists, but in truth they are only suitable for wear in the hotter colonies. They certainly have no place north of Gibraltar.


The Slipper: Langour is the badge of all right-thinking men, and slipper-usage (in conjunction with a brocade dressing gown) is a daily staple. They should not, however, be worn for dining — such a practice marks the wearer out as either bourgeois or dangerously eccentric.


The Winkle-Picker: Though a trifle outré, this pointy-nosed creation can, if accompanied by acerbic wit, wads of cash and a 5000-acre estate in Hampshire, single its wearer out as a man of charming unconventionality and creative genius.


The Exotique: The only acceptable mode of dress for a night in with one’s hookah and friends from North Africa, this festive adornment takes up where the slipper leaves off. Exceptionally effective in establishing one’s decadent credentials when worn during business meetings.


The Over-Designed: Concepts such as “fashion” and “designer labels” have no place in the wardrobe of a gentleman. A designer who claims to have “reinvented the concept of the shoe” is a charlatan and singles his customers out as gullible or, even worse, nouveau riche.