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The Great Footwear Purge of 2021 (… and 2022)… An Essay

johnniegold

"Got Shoes?"
In their 1965 hit song, Help!, The Beatles sang:

“and now my life has changed in oh so many ways.”

57 years later, those lyrics were never more relevant then they are right now. As we head into our 2nd year of this dreadful pandemic, we have seen so many changes that have created such a shift in our lifestyles, well, it just boggles the mind.

It seems like a lifetime ago that Mrs. Gold and I would be standing in the garage wiping down every item from our grocery shopping before bringing it into the house or leaving Amazon/UPS/FedEx packages in the garage for a day (or two) before opening them (hey… there could be shoes in that box!)

When my now 90-year old mother was convalescing in a nursing home after a brief hospital stay, we had to sit outside of the building and speak to her through her bedroom window because no visitors were allowed inside due to Covid restrictions. Thankfully, her room was located on the first floor.

And if you think the drive-up lines are long now to get a PCR test, it was only a short time ago that the drive-up lines at the liquor store were just as long.

And along with all of this came those three words that mean so many different things to so many different people. For some, it’s a dream come true. For others, it was a nightmare of epic proportion. Of course, the three words I am speaking of are…

Work… from… home.

Which brings me to the topic of this thread.

As a young man starting out in the legal profession, I wore a suit everyday. And for nearly 30 years, I continued to wear a suit to work everyday. Over that span of time, you developed your sense of style from the type of suits you preferred, neckwear, shirts, hosiery, accessories, raincoat, umbrella, hats and of course…. Footwear. :yesnod:

And the list goes on. And all this assemblage of sartorial splendor was done because you:

Went… to… work.

Over the last two years this paradigm shift has moved us from the Brooks Brothers suit to the adidas track suit. Instead of a non-dairy creamer used at the coffee machine in the office, Half and Half became the way people dressed for Zoom meetings while working from home.

Imagine walking around the office in just a shirt and tie with boxer briefs and slippers (ok… the office holiday party doesn’t count 🙄). They don’t even put on a nice pair of shoes. Why? Because you don’t need them anymore and, unfortunately, neither do I.

Even when we did return to the office, the formality for the most part, did not return. Everyday is now dress down Friday. Dress down Friday is no longer chinos, a polo shirt and a pair of loafers (without socks would be considered edgy) but rather jeans or joggers with sneakers and quarter-zip sweater or sweatshirt.

The man in the gray flannel suit is dead.

Which led me to the great footwear purge of 2021 (…and 2022). When I looked at the shoes in my closet I could recall a time when these shoes were all put to good use in a fairly sizable rotation.

As a result of accumulating footwear over the years, I honed my shoe-polishing skills which became a nice respite while listening to some music or watching a ballgame and polishing/bulling a pair of captoes or deer-boning creases out of a pair of shell Cordovan shoes.

Alas, the jars of Saphir cream polish and tins of wax polish along with the horse hair, goat’s hair and pig bristle brushes all sit idle next to the sleeking and deer bones and unused chamois.

So I decided it was time to make room in my closet and sell these shoes since they were still in great condition (even for being 20+ years old) and still had plenty of life left.

Over the next few posts, I’ve listed some of the footwear that I purged in 2021 (… 2022). Most had served me well over the last 25 years and still have many more years of wear left.

I hope their new owners enjoy (and take care of) them as much as I did.

THE FORMAL SHOES

All of these formal shoes were purchased from Johnston & Murphy around the late Nineties thru the early 2000’s. It was soon thereafter that I became an Alden convert.

At that time, IMO, J&M was still on par with Allen Edmonds and producing well-crafted, re-craftable shoes that were Made in the USA. It was during this time that I was on a first name basis with the UPS person who delivered an unending parade of boxes from J&M to my office. Steve was his name and upon every delivery from J&M, Steve would ask: “Which color are these?”

The first three pair pictured below are all the Aldrich II model from J&M’s Aristocraft collection. They were versatile and very comfortable so I would order them in various colors. And they all held up well thanks to some proper care and maintenance.

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The next 3 pair were from the J&M flagship line, the Crown Aristocraft collection. Some of you may recognize the first pair pictured below as the pair I had refurbished at B. Nelson. These sold rather quickly and, I might add, that I’ve since seen the Buyer is currently re-selling them at almost double the price. And I got news for you, they’re worth it. :yesnod:

Gotta love capitalism. :lol:

The Georgetown II
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The Conley
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I don’t recall the name of this shoe but it was a Ltd. edition.
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THE CASUAL SHOES

I have found that over the years, my shoe size as well as the shape of my feet has changed somewhat.

I don’t imagine that it is all that uncommon to see that after so many years.

Although I still enjoyed the look and style of the 3 shoes pictured below, they just didn’t really fit anymore.

The Allen Edmonds “Cole” loafer in the chocolate suede was really a handsome shoe and even though I’m currently in a “suede phase”, I was never going to wear them. I hated to part with them but I had to face the facts.

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The next two pair are the Ski-Moc II by J&M, which I don’t think they make anymore and that’s unfortunate. These loafers were a great take on the classic Ivy-League, beef-roll penny. For me, the Ski-Moc II beat out the Bass Weejun by a mile.
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This last pair was from J&M’s “Made in Italy” collection and was a nice versatile shoe in “Tuscan Red” that could be dressed up or dressed down.
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All of these shoes sold at prices ranging anywhere from 20% to 50% of their original cost. Not bad for footwear that were several decades old.

But I am pleased to think that the buyers got some quality shoes at a great price and maybe even see the benefits from proper shoe care and maintenance.

Up next….

THE BOOTS and THE SNEAKERS.
 
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I was one of the last hold outs for shirt and tie dress at work, and that was a step back (or forward, depending on your view) from a decent suit. Now it is jeans and a collared shirt, although many now wear printed t-shirts. Even the executives have gotten rid of the ties and dress pants. I don't think we will ever get back to a more formal work attire.
 

johnniegold

"Got Shoes?"
THE BOOTS

I will admit that I experienced some seller’s remorse when I let both of these boots go. Although I enjoyed them over the years, they were only worn 2-3 times per year. Therefore, I couldn’t justify keeping them.

I had purchased these “Made in England” Dr. Marten’s 939 Ben Boots in the early 90’s and but for some slight tread wear, they were in great condition. There was a time when I even went a few years without ever wearing them at all. These were truly a vintage pair of boots.
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I purchased these Red Wing Iron Rangers in Amber Harness (8111) around 2011. Although Red Wing makes a great pair of boots, these boots just didn’t get the call often enough to warrant keeping them around. I seemed to enjoy oiling and conditioning them more than I did wearing them. 😀

Like the Dr. Marten’s, these boots were in excellent condition.

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Due to the vintage nature and overall condition of these boots, upon resale, they both held or exceeded their original value thereby proving that taking care of your footwear is indeed a good investment.


THE SNEAKERS

Some of you know that I’m a bit of a sneaker head, particularly retro sneakers. The Jack Purcell by Converse has always been a fave of mine since I was a teenager and I have lived through various models of the iconic sneaker.

The first two pair pictured below are about 10+ years old. Converse no longer produces this model which had all the “bells and whistles” or at least as many as this basic sneaker can have.

It had a padded tongue with “Jack Purcell” insignia stitched into it. The ankle was also padded and the sneaker still had the smooth, baby blue sole that this sneaker was famous for and worn by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, James Dean and George Harrison. (The green pair actually had a smooth navy blue sole).

Fast forward to 2022 and the bells and whistles are all gone and most disappointing, the smooth, baby blue sole is gone, replaced by a white ridged sole. Why? WHY!! 🙄

So these two “throwback” models are truly classic JPs. Now the green ones, while they seemed liked a good idea at the time, after a few wears, they were relegated to the back of closet, never to be heard from again.
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As for the blue pair, although I liked them, they just didn’t fit right in the toe box area even though they were the same size as every other pair of JP’s I’ve owned. So after giving them a chance to conform to my foot, they too ended up in the back of the closet.
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And when the 2021 Purge came upon me, both pair went up
for sale and due to the unavailability of this version, even though slightly used, I was able to recoup their actual cost or (in the case of the blue pair) just slightly below their original cost.

I’m sure each pair went to a true fan of these classic sneakers.

Next we come to another pair of JP’s. I added some customized features offered by Converse’s Custom Program (which they have temporarily suspended for the time being).

I added the brick-red coloring and the word “cool” stitched along the heel that had a custom blue-colored strip.

Upon arrival, I noticed the color was different then what it looked like when I ordered it and for some reason, the tongue didn’t sit right.

Needless to say, I was disappointed. And guess what? When you have the word “cool” embossed on the heel of the sneaker, you can’t return it. And that’s “uncool” (but understandable).

So they were banished to the back of the closet as well to join the JP heap that was gatheriing back there.

That is…. until the Purge.

And unlike the other sneakers and boots, these sneakers went for about a 40% loss but I was happy to at least recoup something
from a pair of sneakers that I was never going to wear anyway.
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These Superstars went up for sale and sold quickly. Because I originally got them at such a great price, I was able to get my initial outlay while the buyer benefitted from that great bargain as well and got a brand new pair of SS at a bargain price.

I hope the new owner is enjoying them.

These were to sold because I saw another pair of Superstars that I preferred.

Prior to using these secondary markets to purge all this footwear, I would’ve bought the other pair that I preferred and either put these in the back of the closet or gave them away.

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johnniegold

"Got Shoes?"
SHOES MOVING OUT IN 2022

This shoe was from discontinued the J&M line called the “Estate Collection”. They are well over 20 years old and have plenty of well-worn miles on them.

But… somebody wanted them as they were the first pair out the door in 2022. 😀

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This rare shoe from J&M were the next pair out the door in 2022.
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This pair of Aristocraft from the early to mid-2000’s was the next pair out the door.
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And with the sale of those shoes, all of the Johnston & Murphy shoes were purged in 2021-2022.


And then there were none…
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This pair of Melchior by Mephisto are the only pair of shoes remaining that is earmarked for the Purge.
 
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johnniegold

"Got Shoes?"
Now don’t cry for me, Argentina. In the true Badger & Blade tradition :badger: , along with any purge, comes new acquisitions. :lol:

Today, the footwear that I acquire are certainly more casual with an eye on comfort. Most of these are shoes that I would have never worn to the office except on a Saturday.

Nowadays, they are my regular office footwear along with the occasional pair of sneakers on a Friday.

Daily office wear ranges from chinos to gabs with an OCBD and maybe a crewneck or cardigan sweater or a sweater vest. Rarely a sport jacket and even rarer, a suit.
 
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Some nice shoes there. I wonder who is buying formal shoes at present? I suppose that if a really top notch pair of shoes comes up at a good price then it’s worth buying it even for occasional use. I purged out 3 or 4 pairs to make room for some Sanders Luthers among other things. I have a couple of other pairs that are very very rarely used. On the bubble. If I buy another new pair or two in the spring maybe some more will be moved on.

I expect that a few of the high quality shoemakers will do well once the competition decreases. There will still be a market for Goodyear welted dress shoes - just a much smaller one than pre-covid. As for sales of Saphir, deer bones, fancy shoe horns and $50 shoe brushes - I’m not so sure.
 

Tirvine

ancient grey sweatophile
There are indeed some lovely shoes! When I began practicing law in 1976 my wardrobe underwent similar growth and evolution. Now, seventy-two until next month and retired, my shoe wardrobe, other than running shoes, golf shoes, and hiking boots, is about a handful of pairs. For dressing up I have tassel loafers in No. 8. For casual but nice I have LHS in snuff suede and CXL. For truly casual I have Quoddy Maliseets and Sperrys. For ranch wear I have a pair of Luccheses. I could easily pare it down to tassels, CXL LHS, and Quoddys. Soon summer will return to Texas, and it will be barefoot or flip flops until next Thanksgiving,
 

AimlessWanderer

Remember to forget me!
I appear to have travelled in the opposite direction.

When retirement from engineering, ambushed me in the form of disability, some five or so years ago now (I've lost count already), the only shoes of any formality, we're two pairs of black Derbies, and a dressy pair of black boots. The expanding waistline that comes with reduced mobility, robbed me of my suits and dress trousers.

Yet in 2021, my formal footwear expanded greatly. Now, I have five pairs of two tone Oxfords and Derbies, and a pair of two tone boots. This is balanced up with another five or six pairs of single colour shoes, but varying in style from double monks, to woven leather.

Still no suit, but these shoes are worn with anything from jeans, to cords, and chinos, and do give me a feel good factor, and let me exercise stubborn pride, despite the erosion of meaningful activity. Even if just worn around the house. Gone are the trainers too, replaced by more country boots, hiking shoes, steady mile clockers, and a greater range of deck shoes for the lazy days.

I think that as my (now near waist length) hair and braided goatee were defiance of convention in the working world, my polished shoes, and country boots, are similarly defiance of disability. I'll do me, regardless of how others think I should. Fashion changes more frequently than I have, but my look has evolved as my "statement" has changed from "don't expect me to think the way you do", to a more "I haven't given up just yet" shaped defiance. Essentially casual, but with just a hint of ready to resume command, should I need to.

I suppose 2021 was a similar milestone moment for me in some respects, but marked differently. Once again turning against the tide.
 

johnniegold

"Got Shoes?"
For those of you who are interested, I’ve added some of the history behind the shoes, sneakers and boots that were purged as well as some of the experiences encountered when taking this footwear to the marketplace.
 

johnniegold

"Got Shoes?"
where do you order the Aldens from?
Jim Smith at Alden of San Francisco. Great guy. Been dealing with him for well over a decade.
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Jim was the one who found the Ravello chukkas that I had ordered many years back after nearly a 2 year search.

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He actually sent me 4 pairs of Indy 405s so that I could try them at home. Tomorrow, I will be returning 3 pairs and keeping the ones you see here.
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Toothpick

Needs milk and a bidet!
Great thanks! I’m in the market for a casual shoe for an office setting. To wear with jeans or khakis. Gonna check out what they got
 
Great thanks! I’m in the market for a casual shoe for an office setting. To wear with jeans or khakis. Gonna check out what they got

A pair of Alden shoes will take your breath away with the price and as @johnniegold will surely attest they are worth every dime.

It was decades ago after school I got my first job and I had to get a pair of good dress shoes. I figured I am going to be doing this a while, I am going to break with tradition and get a good pair. So I got a pair of Alden shoes. One year later I got a second pair without giving it a second thought. I am here to tell you, nothing compares to a pair of Alden shoes. And when they are on your feet all day long, your feet with thank you!
 
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