FashionBeans: Men's Fashion & Men's Style Guide
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  1. #1

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    Style, Comfort, and Minimalism

    ... and by minimalism, I do not mean stylistically minimalist (although that's good too) but rather materially minimalist. Or to put it another way, shoes that minimally impede the natural movement of the foot. Sometimes also called "barefoot" shoes. I didn't see any topics on it here, so I thought I'd jump in.

    I won't try to rehash the whole theory, as that has been discussed extensively elsewhere (though I would recommend reading the book Born to Run if you have not).

    I have two pairs of minimalist shoes (well, three if you count huaraches); one is a pair of Vibram Five fingers I use when running or at the gym. Also in my former days of exclusively wearing t-shirt and jeans, they were a very common footwear choice. The second is a pair I bought for work, a black pair of vivobarefoot Ra's (Ra Leather Mens - Mens).

    Comfort-wise, I love my Vibrams, and from that standpoint I would wear them everyday if I was allowed to wear them at work. They do have the disadvantage of drawing a lot of attention. When I first got my vivobarefoots, I slipped them on and walked around with a great big smile on, because of how much more comfortable they were than my old "clunky" shoes. Unfortunately they are now starting to look a bit ragged, and I'm not entirely sure how much I can "rehabilitate" them (though shoe care is an entirely new area for me, so maybe I can do more than I think).


    Now to the question: I am going to need to buy some new shoes soon. I am hoping to find something that is (preferably) minimalist, or at least comfortable and flexible, while still close enough within the range of more classic styles as to not stand out too much. Of course, there are some Vibrams with leather uppers:
    Vibram FiveFingers TREK LS Men's Shoes - Tan / Brown (Whiskey Crazyhorse)_TREK LS_Men's_Vibram FiveFingers
    http://thefivefingers.co/goods.php?id=265
    Vibram FiveFingers BORMIO Men's Shoes - Whiskey Crazyhorse_BORMIO_Men's_Vibram FiveFingers
    and I'm considering them, but from a style standpoint, they're not exactly "classic." (And they would definitely stand out)

    Of course, there are also other alternatives from Vivobarefoot: Mens Shoes | Barefoot Trainers | VIVOBAREFOOT
    -in particular the desert boot.

    Another brand I've come across is Lems: Men
    Which may be OK for something more casual, but may fall short of what you could wear with a suit, for example.

    On the more formal end, there are the oxfords from the primal professional: the Primal Professional
    Which have the advantage of looking like a "normal" shoe of their type - but they would probably not get much wear from me, because it's not often that I get that formal. Now if they came in brown....

    Then there are these loafers: Barefoot Dress Shoes - Minimalist Shoes for Men | TUNEfootwear
    Which I think I could see myself wearing (though it would be a bit of a stretch just from the standpoint that I have never yet worn loafers at all).

    What I have not been able to find are minimalist brogues.

    So twofold question:
    1. What do you think of the above styles? Good? Bad? Ugly? Acceptable but not super stylish?
    2. What about higher-end shoes? Normally, when you read reviews of minimalist shoes, people talk about them being the most comfortable shoes they have ever worn (and I have felt the same way). Do well-fitting high-end shoes have the same effect? Are there any out there flexible enough so as not to inhibit foot movement so much?

  2. #2
    Chris Atkinson's Avatar

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    1. The only brand that you have linked that I would say look good would be Vivobarefoot, some of the casual style barefoot shoes look actually quite good, the suede desert boots for example look great.

    2. I would say that high end formal shoes might sometimes feel uncomfortable at first but once you wear them in they feel fine.

  3. #3

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    In terms of practicality and comfort, I've never tried any of these but don't doubt them for one moment, I imagine they'd all do the job perfectly.

    In terms of style though, I think these are pretty much all horrendous, especially though which are meant to be the smarter options! They look like the sort you'd find in a clothing catalogue for pensioners in 1991. There would simply be no way to make these look remotely stylish, no matter what outfit you'd be wearing.

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