summer shoes etiquette

What your summer shoes say about you

A handy guide to feet

Walk a mile in a man’s shoes, they say, and you’ll begin to see his point of view. Good advice, on the whole — but I can assure you that the walk has nothing to do with it. The footwear a man inhabits tells you more about him than his voice, or his postcode, or his internet search history (“Can you actually die from being too jokes?”). It lets you see right into his soul. Never trust a man in flip flops. Beware the velcro strap. And when you gaze long into the boat shoe, the boat shoe gazes also back at you. Here’s what your shoes will say about you this summer.

Penny loafers

penny loafers

“It’s five o’clock somewhere!” you grin, sidling up to Daisy with a bottle of violent Provencal rosé and a fistful of ice. Your hair has been slicked back just like mother used to do it, while your forehead has turned a shade of David Cameron in Polzeath Pink™ from that morning’s vineyard tour. (“What’s the French for ‘we’ll take the bloody lot?’”)

The linen shirt has little lizards on it and gapes at the chest. The shorts, navy and sagging, have been scaffolded with a Gaucho belt given to you by your ex-girlfriend before she went “fucking potty”. But it’s the shoes that truly steal the show. Brown suede penny loafers with a gentle lining of sweat and a fresh coat of Rhone, they clip-clop around the flagstoned kitchen like a pony that went to Ludgrove. “Anyone for bubbles?”



The food scene in San Sebastian is incredible, even if they don’t have a Soho House yet. There are three bucket hats in your Away suitcase, and the entire new season of How to Fail by Elizabeth Day is downloaded on your Google Pixel 4. Dressed like Armie Hammer’s body double in Call Me By Your Name, you sip horchata and talk earnestly about the care home crisis using sentences you memorised from a two-week-old copy of The Economist. You ask the owner whether the tempranillo is low intervention, and the waiters spit in your food.

Boat shoes

boat shoes

You’re a harried father of three taking a quick pit stop at the Gordano services on the way down to Salcombe. No, you can’t have a Monster Energy. Yes, lorry drivers are funny looking, aren’t they. No, M&S doesn’t do McFlurries. Yes, your mother is in a bad mood, isn’t she. And on and on, for 80 more miles. By 7pm, you are dreaming of the Chipping Norton set and snowball fights with Clarkson and one of DC’s lethal White Russians. (Second mention of Cameron in this piece — I wonder what he’s up to at the moment?)

But instead it’s fish and chips on the beach at sunset, which is lovely, isn’t it, and the light is so beautiful down here and your daughters look angelic against the rocks and your wife is smiling in white linen and the sea air is fragrant and fresh and warm. But it’s not exactly coke, is it.

White sneakers

white trainers

“Our friend Johannes is DJing tonight, you should come down,” you say to the girls, wielding a double magnum of rosé with studied abandon and hoping your father’s credit card doesn’t get declined. There is just the smallest suggestion of a trainer sock above your white Scandinavian sneakers, while your navy linen drawstring trousers are paired perfectly with that European School, mid-Atlantic haircut. You pronounce party with a ‘d’, post 32 Instagram stories per afternoon, and only dance to songs with lots of saxophone in them.



Ah — I remember my first boat party. The boys have turned up in matching vests of various lurid hues, and Greg has some fun sunglasses on. (Bright pink! Greg!) The neon face painting started at 9am (“do mine like a lightning bolt”), while Rich threw up most of his Triple-Vodka-Capri Sun at 10. (Alex, by the way, had worn his Worcestershire county rugby shorts to show off some perma-tanned thigh and because girls like rugby, don’t they.)

“Do you do full moon buckets here?” a burly chap with a possibly-ironic mullet shouts to the barman, before returning to the lads’ table with twelve Jagerbombs instead. “And what are you boys having?” he says, exercising the debonair wit that earned him the tour nickname “Knobber”. Good gag, Knobs, good gag. Now get break dancing to some Avicii, will you?

More of a tech person? This is what your headphones say about you…

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