I’m fairly certain that the item being covered in this article is almost guaranteed to produce a debate. The purists will hate them and so to will a great many people whom only have a passing interest in their footwear, but hopefully there will be others that are willing to give the vibram sole a chance – people like me for instance.
I think there can be little doubt that the thing most people will take issue with is the fact that they drastically alter many of our existing iconic and classic shoes. The vibram sole takes something that doesn’t necessarily need changing and makes it into a completely different item, with a different shape, look and feel. However, in this world of face paced trends and constantly developing fashion and style, an updated classic; something that is equal in timelessness, could well be the item that adds the final touches to our already magnificent wardrobes.
We here at FashionBeans often talk about style over fashion – where fashion is dictated by trends and experimental design – but there can’t be any harm in looking at style that is little bit different.
Why Should You Consider Them?
Taking into account the fact that a great many of you will still require some convincing, I think it pertinent to offer up a few reasons why you should consider the vibram soled shoe as part of your future wardrobe.
Firstly, we should start by stating the obvious here – no vibram sole is ever going to work in the most formal of outfits. You could certainly get away with them if your purpose was to create a look that was somewhat out of the ordinary or if the situation allowed but you definitely aren’t going to be wearing them with your suit in the office. This doesn’t however mean they wouldn’t work in the more casual, yet refined looks you might want to sport on the weekend. Everybody likes a splash of tailoring and there is a lot that these shoes can do for outfits that incorporate it; they could quite easily help you dress down and split up your suit for more informal wear.
The biggest thing vibram soles have going for them is their individuality and quirkiness. Yes, they alter an already well established style – the brogue, boat shoe or derby – but they don’t go overboard and they aren’t catastrophically garish or in your face (although this is up to the visual preference of the individual). This is what makes them suitable for use in a style that relies more on classic pieces and understated, considered outfits.
You could also argue that they are more practical than the traditional leather soles we usually find on our regular footwear. Having the soles replaced will probably be a darn sight harder than taking them down to your local Timpsons – but in our cold, wet and unpredictable climate, the chunky contrast sole could well mean the difference between soggy socks and toasty toes.
How To Wear
For most applications of leather soled shoes, the vibram sole is also suitable. In most situations they can work just as well when worn in the same or a similar way. As with so many things this autumn/winter season, the easiest, most stylish and sartorially acceptable way to wear your vibram soles is to tap into the heritage trend.
Mixing some vibram sole brogues with any of the big heritage fabrics and textures – tweed, corduroy, quilting and wool – is a great place to start, and easily the most versatile pair of trousers after chinos and jeans are grey wool or tweed. These will work with any colour of shoe and allow you to experiment and play around with colour on your top half, whilst they can also be dressed up or down (by using the vibram sole of course) at the drop of a hat.
You might also like to consider the vibram sole on the more preppy styles of shoe – the loafer and boat shoe being a good starting place – as the ‘out of the ordinary’ shape will add a whole new edge to a trend that is already all about those quirky details that set an outfit apart. Vibram soles are just a bit more playful than their traditional counterparts.
The easiest way to wear any statement item this season is to go with the basic structure of this simple outfit; shoes, jeans, shirt, blazer and accessories. By changing or varying just one item in this set you can completely transform your outfit into something unique and special that will definitely set you apart from the crowd. Switch the jeans for trousers, alter the details, material or cut of the jacket, switch your shirt for a tee or roll neck and go a bit crazy with your accessories – there isn’t much you can’t do with this look.
Stick to muted anchoring colours in the trousers and blazer to give you more scope for experimentation with the details. Alternatively, go for the big shock with one statement item; either way the vibram soled brogue will carry your look off perfectly, and are much more interesting than your average brogue.
Layering is very important during the winter, you can have the biggest coat you want but it still won’t keep you completely warm. What you wear underneath is just as important and if you get it right you may find yourself not needing to wear a coat at all, leaving your carefully considered outfit open to the world. With this look, layering is easy; you could put on another base layer under the shirt or wear a jacket over the whole lot, including the gilet. It really is very simple, even more so now every fashionable male in the entire world seems to have been bitten by the chunky knitwear bug.
Once again playing the heritage card, this look works well with the aforementioned knitwear addiction by keeping things casual and comfortable – perfect for a lazy afternoon in the pub or a brisk country walk (practical footwear considered.) Should you want to incorporate something more unique and personalised, why not try a more colourful jumper or a daringly patterned shirt?
I am firmly of the opinion that vibram soles do deserve a place in our wardrobes. I can understand reservations with the fact that they unnecessarily change the icons of men’s footwear (I’m thinking mostly of the brogue here) but I don’t believe they make them distasteful; they can work just as well in most situation and they don’t shout about being different.
However, the whole point of these articles is to identify, entice and suggest – pushing you to develop your wardrobe or try something new. I therefore hope that I have gone some way to encouraging or convincing some of you that the vibram sole is worthy of our attention.
So! It’s time for some feedback:
- What do you think of the Vibram Sole?
- Are they something you might consider?
- Do you already own a pair? What are you experiences?
- Do you think them an affront to men’s footwear tradition?
Let me know in the comments below.