ASK DAN: Used Shoes, A New Look, Beach Style

June 9th, 2015


Buying Used Shoes

Q: Yo, Dan. Longtime reader here since the old Blogspot days. I know some of the posts here have featured pieces scooped up from vintage shops and eBay (thinking of a post in particular from Wes). What’s your position on buying used shoes on eBay? Some people cringe at the thought of wearing other people’s shoes, while others think it’s a good way to score some good shoes at great prices. What should you do when you buy used shoes to make sure they’re as fresh as can be?

A: Whoa, that’s way back man! Thanks for sticking around… So you already know that I love eBay. There was a time when I wasn’t buying menswear unless it involved an online auction. I was on a tight budget, ya see. Then I moved to NYC and discovered vintage and thrift shops. Needless to say, I’ve worn many used shoes. The thing is, well-made shoes are one of the best items to buy pre-owned since they hold their quality and can be almost fully refurbished for a fraction of their original retail cost. It is a great way to get good shoes at great prices. It’s an even better way to get great shoes at good prices (think Alden for $150 over Kenneth Cole for $15). When you’re shopping for used shoes, take a close look at the condition of the soles, especially the toes and heels. If you have to re-sole them, your going to be down another $50 or so (which may be more than you’re paying for them, and that’s okay). A full “tune-up”, or “refurbish”, with a decent cobbler would involve setting a brand new sole (preferably with protective taps), cleaning and polishing the leather, and hooking them up with a fresh pair of laces. You’d be shocked at how great old beat-up shoes can look after a good treatment. If they’re in decent shape and all you’re worried about is foot fungus or stink, than that can most likely be solved with over-the-counter sprays or powders… And if they’re that funky, well than that seller deserves a negative feedback. Cheers mate.

A New Look

Q: Hi Dan. I stumbled upon AoS a week ago and I’m in the process of reading every word of the archives from today to the very beginning. In one word: I’m HOOKED! The thing is, I just don’t have any style right now. I just got out of my teenage-black-rock-bands-tees-with-torn-blue-jeans-and-sneakers phase of life a couple years ago (thanks to my girlfriend who helped me infuse some color in my wardrobe). How can I gradually transition to a more dressy style without standing out too much? People don’t dress up much where I live (especially at my age, 26) even wearing a tucked shirt in jeans is seen as dressy by some…

A: Hey man, welcome to AoS! I’m sure some of our faithful readers can help with this as well, but I think when you start to re-invent your style/look/wardrobe, it’s important that it still feels like you. My advice would be to take it slow and hold on to the elements that make you most comfortable and confident. Take a close look at your current style, or the look that you’re most comfortable in, and think about how you can sharpen it up a little. In your case (a black tee, distressed rocker jeans, and sneakers) I would keep it dark, casual and cool, but just add a couple elements to give the look a little more structure and maturity. It could be as simple as updating the jean to something a little crisper and better fitting, throwing a dark slim-fit oxford over your favorite band tee, and trading the sneaker for an ankle boot. That way you can keep that cool rocker feel, just lean it more toward late-twenties rocker rather than early-twenties rocker. Na mean? Ultimately just invest in smart versatile pieces (this website will help a lot with that) and remember that fit is everything. Now go find yourself a good tailor and a great barber. 

Beach Style

Q: I came across AOS a couple months back. Love the articles! I’m going on a trip to Hawaii for ten days at the end of June. I’m a skinny, chicken legs and arms sort of dude so rocking shorts and tees isn’t my preference. I look better in layers, what can I say? That being said, it’s Hawaii. I don’t wanna burn up. Was wondering if you had any tips about how to rock a pair of shorts better or about how to look my best in a tropical environment, without forsaking the occasional jacket or blazer. Thanks!

A: I fee you. I’m not much of a shorts guy either. Not so much chicken, more so just pale. When I’m vacationing near the beach I usually wear unlined linen trousers the whole time, unless I’m sitting out by the water or doing something active. I sometimes even wear them over my swim trunks, which are trim and cropped. I suggest looking for a pure linen trouser in a darker color that won’t show water marks, and have them tailored trim and slightly cropped. On top I’d suggest an open linen shirt (short-sleeved or rolled up) layered over a simple patterned tank top. Finish it off with a straw panama hat, a great pair of tortoiseshell sunglasses, and a simple pair of beach sandals. That’s vacation layering that will keep you cool, protect your skin, and take you from day at the beach to diner at the resort (adding a lightweight jacket at night, optional). As far as swim trunks, I say wear them trim and cropped and embrace your chicken legs with confidence; slim is in and the skinny-legs-oversized-top look has never been cooler. Enjoy Hawaii!

Thanks, as always, for reading. Have a question? Hit us on the AoS Contact Page

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Photography by Alex Crawford.

  • Eric

    Negative feedback? Homie don’t play when it come to eBay lol!

    • Dan Trepanier

      lol #accountability

  • Jeanscuffed

    To the guy finding a new style, what Dan said is spot on but also to add to that, if dressing with a button down shirt and jeans is considered dressy and a little out of place, then forget them! You will quickly become known as the guy who’s always on his A-game (as it’s the site’s motto for WIWT). There’s things in life that you have to do for others and then there’s things you have to do for yourself. If dressing better is your goal then do so but, as Dan said, make sure your pieces fit you well. I had sort of a tough time transitioning from full cut to slim cut garments because it felt so new, but I’m telling you, the reactions to people in your newly tailored gear will be a big boost of confidence. If you’re reading, I hope this helps.

    • tommyjohn_45

      Totally agree. Went through the same phase after graduating college and realizing sports hoodies and sweats wouldn’t hold over anymore. Started my career with the typical Marshalls/TJ Maxx type gear to fit in with most. When I first started to build some knowledge around style (Thanks Dan and Co.) people’s reactions went from “what’s with the new get up” to “best dressed in the company” in a matter of time.

      • Dan Trepanier

        HELL YEA.

    • Timothy Kiah

      Thank you so much for saying this. I have been going through a big life change over the last five years. I went back to college to get my BA and I’m about to finish in October of 2016. I’m looking to redo my wardrobe. This is probably about the 10 time in my life I have done this. I’m a huge lover of clothes and now that I just turned 47 on June 18th. I’m adding pieces to my wardrobe that are more luxury and distinguished, yet not boring and stuffy. I have been buying some nice things from eBay such as brooks brothers, and believe it or not I found some nice pieces from the Sean John line as well. All on eBay at crazy prices. I’ve been watching this web page, to assist me in adding to my closet. I know more about woman’s clothing than men’s. I was a fashion design major originally and worked at all the high-end stores over the years. My focus has changed and I’m not really skilled on menswear. Looking forward to talking more with you guys here about clothes.

  • tommyjohn_45

    When I search best cobblers in New England, I get apple cobbler recipes:(

    • Jeanscuffed

      Is it wrong that when I see that Dan has written “cobbler” I think of peach cobbler….and ion eem like peach cobbler -___-

  • Lothar

    Dan, regarding cobblers, any recommendations in Manhattan?For clothing alterations I go to the Tailoring Room on the basis of your recommendation, and they’re great. But I don’t know where to go for my shoes.

    Thank you!

    • AdamE

      It’s also worth looking into the manufacturer, many shoe brands have their own refurbishing programs, for a reasonable price they resole the shoe and recondition the uppers… (Red Wing does it, Alden does it, etc.). Sometimes those are worthwhile over a local options…

      I have yet to pull the trigger on vintage shoes yet, because i have big funny shaped feet, and it’s hard to find nice, previously enjoyed shoes that fit me… Fungus is less of a worry (although I’d never buy used boat shoes…), than foot funk would be…

    • JoeFromTexas

      Mercer Shoe Repair in Greenwich Village (on Mercer, between Waverly and 8th) was my goto when I used to live there. He did a good job on basic shoe repair (replacing sole, full and half, rubber sole covers, toe/heel taps) and had reasonable prices.