ASK DAN: Commuter Shoes, Comparing Brands, Menswear Books

May 14th, 2015


Shoes for Biking to Work

Q:  I regularly take my bicycle to work which I very much enjoy. However, I’m a bit puzzled of what type of shoes to wear. I don’t like using dress shoes as I think the heels makes it uncomfortable on the pedals. Sneakers are more comfortable but doesn’t always feel appropriate when I want to wear a smart outfit with a sport coat for example. Do you have any recommendations for shoes to wear when biking that are both good on the pedal and somewhat stylish?

A: Hmm. Do you carry a bag with you to work? Perhaps you can fit your dress shoes in it and change out of your sneakers when you arrive to the office? Or perhaps you can consider leaving a versatile pair of dress shoes (dark chocolate wingtips or loafers) at the office, and you can do the work shoes/commuter shoes thing. If changing shoes is not an option, I would suggest looking for dress shoes with rubber soles as opposed to leather – they will grip the pedals much better and perform more like sneakers when you’re up and down weaving through traffic. Ride safe my man.

Comparing New Brands

Q: Dan, with so many new affordable brands starting on platforms like Kickstarter, it seems to be harder and harder to decide where to spend my money. My question is; how do you compare quality from brands you’ve never seen before? For example, I’m looking to take the next step up from my Levis 511s (though they’ve served me well). After some online research regarding affordable selvedge denim, I’m caught between Gustin and Brave Star… Thoughts?

A: Great question. Firstly, I would avoid jumping on the bandwagon of all these crowd-funded first-time menswear producers. Entrepreneurs mitigating their risk by not properly testing their capacity (or even manufacturing a full size run of sample products) makes me wonder if they’re out to deliver lasting menswear, or just looking for a low-risk cash grab. But that’s a story I’ll cover more in-depth in another article. As far as comparing new brands, in my opinion it’s all about attention to detail. Take a close look at everything the brand is putting out there. What does their website look like? The branding? The font? Do they style their products on models? Do they look good? Do they fit the models well? Where do they produce? Are they transparent about fabric sourcing? What’s their return policy and customer service like? Etc… We get countless emails from new brands and I usually make a decision within five seconds of visiting their website as to whether or not they have the taste level and attention to detail needed to earn my money and deliver me a product that will be a go-to in my wardrobe. Good luck out there friend.

Menswear Books

Q: Hi Dan. I just redesigned my condo and I’m looking for a couple coffee table books that are menswear related. Maybe one that’s a little more classic and technical, and one that’s a little more photo-based and cool to look at? Thanks!

A: Smooth move. I like the idea of something text based with a little more info along with something picture focus and a little more splashy. It could be interesting to see which one your guests reach for… For the former, I recommend Alan Flusser’s Dressing the Man – it’s one of the foundational texts that outlines the rules of classic menswear. For something a little more visual and artsy, I just picked up Fashion Illustrations by Richard Kilroy and the art and talent on display within those pages is truly amazing. Enjoy that new bachelor pad and keep stylin on ’em!

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Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

  • TJ

    As for coffee table books, what about Menswear Dog? I’ve got Eames by Gloria Koenig on my coffee table. It’s not about fashion but I like it.

  • ChrisW

    Regarding the books question, I’d recommend “Take Ivy” by Shosuke Ishizu,it’s a real classic, originally from the sixties, featuring photographs of the famous Ivy Syle. Besides that visual experience, I’d also recommend Bernhard Roetzel’s “Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion”, which basicly is what the title says – a comprehensive and very detailed guide to menswear. Not only does it provide input on almost all parts of your wardrobe but it also features background information on the historic development of certain pieces, although I must say Roetzel has a very conservative approach to menswear.

    • TJ

      I agree, Take Ivy is a good choice.

  • AdamE

    Not sure what the heel of any shoe has to do with cycling to work, since the pedal axle should align with the ball of the foot, so unless you have exceptionally tiny feet, the heel should be out of the way of the pedal… As for shoe choice, either stuff a pair with shoe trees in a bag or on a rack while you ride, or stash them at work (I don’t ride in, but I go to the gym on the way in every morning, I’ll often wear Stan Smith’s but then switch to the cognac wing tips when I get to work, that I keep stashed in my office on trees). In terms of shoes to ride in on, if the commute is longer than 15min, I’d go clipless pedals. Use one of the mountain bike systems with small cleats (SPD, Egg Beaters (crank bros) , etc.), and a shoe where it’s recessed so you can walk normally. Giro has a couple of commuter geared (as well as high end race models as well) that are minimalist suede or letter uppers, that lace up. They don’t look like a techy cycling shoe, they just look like a clean minimalist sneaker (and are fairly reasonably priced). The recessed cleats make walking a breeze, and the increased stiffness of a cycling specific shoe will transfer power to the pedals better, and make for a more effortless commute… If I did cycle commute to work (I don’t because I don’t trust locking either of my bikes outside the office, and we have very limited shower facilities, which i would need with the length and hillyness of my commute), I would for sure grab a pair of those…

  • Jeff P.

    With regards to the commuter question. Don’t be afraid to grab a pair of sneakers. Jack Purcell, Vans and Superga are all classic sneakers that have a casual vibe. I have a pair of Nike Killshot’s that I got from JCrew that I wear when I commute to work.

  • P

    With regards to comparing brands, I would partake in some discussions within menswear forums such as StyleForum, Ask Andy or Dappered in order to gain insight into these new brands. I’m aware for example, that Gustin already has a dedicated thread in the above mentioned forums.


  • centimo123

    Heiy Dan..yeap I agree with your statement..their website represent what they are. Me too,, if they artless, don’t waste our time to discuss about that.

    nice article btw

  • Dave Coakley

    How about some overshoes/galoshes to go over dress shoes when riding a cycle?

  • Miguel

    The DB Jacket in on point though!