ASK DAN: Booster Shoes, Male Salons, 4×1 Double-Breasted

October 20th, 2015


Booster Shoes

Q: I am not a tall man. 5’4″ to be exact. And for the most part it doesn’t bother me. I mean, I’ve been short my entire life. I’m kind of used to it by now, but it does make buying clothes off-the-rack a pain (5’4″ with a 16″ neck and a 32″ waist is not a common size). But I am also a realist. I know my short stature hurts me in my personal, dating, and professional life. Short men are seen as less attractive by women. Short men are paid less in most jobs, etc. Soooo, lately I’ve been debating investing in “elevator shoes”, but part of me can’t get over the feeling that wearing them is admitting that I am self-conscious about my height. I’ve spent 20 years acting like it doesn’t bother me, no reason to change that now, right? Or is it just a practical decision, no different than any other wardrobe choice designed to increase my attractiveness… Please advise.

A: As a dedicated student to the psychology of shopping and dressing, I love this question. Here’s my two cents, please keep in mind these are just my opinions. Being self-conscious doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Anytime you’re “admitting something to yourself”, it’s usually for the best in the long run. The first step to “increasing your attractiveness” is admitting to yourself that you have flaws. The sexiest women, for example, understand how to dress for their bodies – they accentuate their “assets” and intentionally cover up their less confident areas. There’s no shame about it. Humans have been beautifying ever since cavemen wore face paint and bone necklaces. I’ve actually seen some tastefully designed “booster shoes” (the insole is heightened, not the outer-sole, so it’s virtually impossible to tell) that add up to two inches in height. From my experience working with clients of bespoke menswear, a 2″ height increase for a shorter man can make a world of difference. The added increase to his personal confidence can be immeasurable over time. For that reason, I say go for it! If anybody asks if you got taller, just tell them: “nope, just got some new shoes”. You don’t have to mention any specifics – a little variation in height due to the heel of new footwear is perfectly natural :) This, in combination with some of our Tailoring Tips for Small Guys, can make a world of difference.

Barber Shop vs Salon

Q: I have long hair. I’d like to keep the length, but have it cut and styled a little differently. Should I go to a stylist or stick with the same barber who used to cut my hair when it was (very) short? What is the difference?

A: Great question. As much as I’m a ride-or-die barber shop guy, I’ve heard too many stories of guys with grown-out hair leaving their old barbershop feeling disappointed. The truth is, most barber shops are still traditional in the sense that they serve predominantly men, with predominantly short, by-the-book haircuts. You want a tight fade? Cool. You want a quick tape-up? No problem. You want to layer your golden locks like Brad Pitt in his heyday? No shot. Most barbers simply don’t work with long hair very frequently, and often don’t have the correct tools for the job, which are traditionally reserved to treat women’s layered hair (like shearing scissors, layer separators, blow dryers, etc). For those reasons I would stick to a hair salon. As long as you’re specific about what you want (bringing visuals aids is always a good idea), your hair stylist should be able to achieve the long-haired look you’re going for… Of course, I’ve never had really long hair, so perhaps some of our readers with personal experience on the subject can chime in using the comments section below…

4×1 Double-Breasted

Q: Im relatively new to dressing stylish and I love double-breasted jackets, so I purchased one. The problem is, I purchased a 4×1 and now that I’m looking back at all of your photos, almost everyone is wearing 4×2’s or 6×2’s…  What are your opinions on the 4×1? Is it a dated look?

A: Is it a dated look? Yes. Can it still be cool? For sure. But it’s tricky because a 4×1 double-breasted garment is one of the most difficult to properly tailor. And if it doesn’t fit very well, it can quickly turn silly and costume-y. The 4×1 was invented for larger men to “get away with” the double-breasted look, as it was thought that the elongated roll-line of the lapel would add a lengthening/slimming effect to the garment. It can work, but the fit has to be spot-on (and the jacket has to be slightly longer than usual) in order to avoid the lapels “bowing” off of the chest/sternum. This old-school cut is usually reserved for bespoke suits that are properly corrected for a man’s posture and body position. This allows the lapels to lay flat and flatter the physique, rather than bow-out and highlight how ill-fitting the garment is. I would take your new purchase to a tailor that you trust and get his honest opinion of how it looks on you, and what you can do to improve it. Good luck brother.

Have a style question? Contact Us anytime.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Photography by Alex Crawford.

  • Brock

    As a short man who owns a couple of pairs of the best elevator shoes available, I will say this: they aren’t as comfortable as regular shoes, no matter how nice they are, and it’s almost always easy to tell that they’re not normal shoes (the exception is boots).

    This is because the back of the shoe (top of the heel) comes up higher than it normally would to accommodate the fact that your ankle is an inch or three higher than it should be.

    And yeah, it’s like walking on high heels. Makes you appreciate what women go though, for sure!

    That said, try it if you think it’s going to give you a confidence boost or leg up in life (puns for days), but remember that there will be physical discomfort, and at least some people will know your secret.

    • Taylor Huston

      I’m the guy that sent in the question. Can you recommend any brands?

  • Markos

    Dan mentioned shoes with built-in or concealed raises. My
    view is that the shoes on the market that have those either (i) look odd because as a result the shoe has to go higher up the ankle so it looks more like a 3/4 boot or (ii) are uncomfortable because of either the high ankle or the raise under the heel which makes the top of your foot press hard against the tongue of the shoe —think of stuffing something under your heel in your current shoe. Also, off-the-rack shoes with lifts in my experience tend to be not very stylish looking and can look clunky. I experimented at a bespoke shoe making shop with having a pair not custom made (which among other things would have been much more expensive) but made off an existing model (basic cap toe) they have but customized to add a heel—I forgot if the heel was 1.5 or 2 inches but it was no more than that. It ended up looking really good in terms of style and is comfortable. Also, the heel is not so high as to call attention to itself. The only downside is because of the larger heel, it adds a little bit of extra weight to shoe—like a solid goodyear welted shoe but just a ittle
    heavier—but not that big a deal. So, overall, I would recommend going the customized way and being conservative in how much height you add.

  • AdamE

    For the hair, if you want to do a barbershop rather than a salon, talk to other guys you know with long hair and find out where they go… There are some great barbershops that have enough practice to effectively manage man manes, but you’ll need to ask around for one in your town… (I wouldn’t know where to start, I do straight clippers and have cut my own hair for the last 16 years, the only haircut I’ve paid for in the last decade was before my wedding just to touch things up… so all of my visits to the barbershop are strictly for wet shaves..)…

    At 6′ I can’t give personal advice on the shoes for shorter men, but I have a few short friends that are always well dressed and quite successful, they tend to wear slim fits that elongate their limbs, and will wear shoes that add height, but as Dan said, never in the outsole (moonboots…), either lifts under the insole, or shoes that provide some height from structure.

  • Miguel

    Great insides as usual in this posts, I owe a double breasted 4×1 and it works me but didn’t know about the cut, thanks.

  • Ben

    I believe Ralph Lauren still wears button-one double breasted suits, and you don’t get much more stylish than him

    • Dan Trepanier

      Agreed. Although he’s certainly wearing bespoke…