Manolo loves the shoes

I wear the same pair of shoes 365 days a year, but it doesn't prevent my enjoying Manolo's Shoe Blog.  What could be more charming than elegant, expensive shoes that someone else buys and wears for my entertainment?  Today The Manolo gives thoughtful advice to a reader who wishes to spiff up her husband:
The Manolo frequently gets the plaintive missives from the women who wish to restyle their men folk into something more put-together, something less sloppy, rustic, disastrous, and/or menacing.   “Manolo,” they frequently cry out, “my husband dresses as if he were Larry the Cable Guy’s younger, messier brother.  Please help.”
This is not a problem I encounter. If anything my husband probably is shaking his own head in forlorn sympathy.  The Manolo suggests discrete gifts and praise for the significant other, but personally, I rather like a man who is sloppy, rustic, disastrous, and/or menacing.  I distantly admire one who is well put-together, but as a kind of pet:  someone I'd want to pair with one of the women who would wear those fabulous shoes.  We would watch them gambol in the yard, perhaps put on dance music for them.

The Manolo also showcases Helen Mirren this week, a stylish, intelligent actress I always enjoy watching at work.  I just borrowed a copy of "The Queen" from a friend and found it a first-rate production with a fine screenplay.  When Tony Blair first visits the Queen, he is awkward and abashed but a bit full of himself as the youngest PM ever.  The Queen calmly notes that he is her tenth Prime Minister.  The first was Winston Churchill.  Like Churchill, Blair was destined to ride high then be dashed on the rocks, but the Queen is still there.


Grim said...

Shoes have functions. I admire craftsmanship in anything with a function, but only insofar as it is pointed at perfecting the function. So, yeah, I love that the cowboy boot is made with tough leather and that the rubber on the soles is resistant to being dissolved by chemicals like ammonia that are abundantly found in horse pastures. That's good craftsmanship. You should be proud of having built that.

On the other hand, you see a lot of fancy cowboy boots at the boot store. I'm not sure who buys them, or for what purpose. Anything that looks like it might be ruined by stepping in mud isn't really to the purpose.

DL Sly said...

"I distantly admire one who is well put-together, but as kind of pet."


Texan99 said...

Thanks, DL!

Grim, it's pure aesthetics, like a ceremonial sword with beautiful carvings that's not meant for fighting. It would be the purest nonsense to put on a pair of boots like that for doing chores around the ranch. We don't live in an age when ordinary men are much given to finery for special occasions, but there have been times when that was a less frivolous practice, and masculinity was not incompatible with sartorial splendor. -- Still, I'm with you, and am happily married to a man with tastes in dress that are as brutally simple as my own.

My neighbor has just to resort nearly to violence to get her husband to go buy a suit for his son's upcoming wedding. "Can't I just go in . . . ?" "No, you can't. You must trust me on this." Even I, as far from being a clothes-horse as it's possible to be, broke down and bought a dress to wear to my niece's wedding. And I did change out of my usual shoes for that single day.

E Hines said...

My neighbor has just to resort nearly to violence to get her husband to go buy a suit for his son's upcoming wedding.

My wife and I, cheap SOBs that we are, were married in our mess dress--which we had to have, anyway, as part of our required uniform kit. Our daughter, bless her heart, wedded in an evening beach ceremony in Mexico; her uniform of the day was slacks and short sleeve shirts for the men and whatever was complementary for the ladies.

Clothes--especially shoes--for me are purely functional, and I'm not much of a party guy. I was only partly facetious when I suggested on another blog that the coffee table in the oval office was too far away from the sofa; I wouldn't be able comfortably to put my feet up on it.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

...a ceremonial sword with beautiful carvings that's not meant for fighting.

Ceremony I understand, although in general I try to avoid ceremonies. Ceremonial weapons must retain full and complete functionality. Ornament must not distract from telos; but as long as it is every bit a sword, and you haven't added decorative flanges that make it unwieldy it can be an etched or engraved sword. You folks out in Texas have a couple of very similar traditions.

Tom said...

For most of my life I would have wholeheartedly endorsed the common opinion above, but recently I've changed my mind.

Our culture has abandoned beauty, and the desire to create beauty, in almost everything. This was a big mistake. Dressing elegantly when you go out is one way to fight back. Regularly being in an elegant state of mind is a good habit, and I think it makes one more mindful of elegance in other things, including human relationships.

Ceremonial weapons must retain full and complete functionality.

And so must well-dressed men and women. But there is no contradiction; a fully functional sword is no less lethal for being beautiful.

In support of my position, I'll note the well-recognized fact that the USMC has the best-looking dress uniforms of any service.

Anonymous said...

I tend to dress a little "up" for work. One, I feel better. Two, it separates me from the students and says "this is the teacher. She is not your buddy or peer." Three, parents and administrators tend to behave a little better. Four, to me it shows my respect for both my subject and my students. Sort of like dressing up for church - you wear the best that you have in order to show respect for G-d. If that is a second-hand Geiger skirt-suit or your least-faded jeans and a clean shirt, so be it, but you dress up. In short, what Tom said.


Grim said...

The problem is only that the fancy cowboy boots cease to be fit for being cowboy boots, because they cease to be fit for the company of horses. Too often the purpose of the thing is lost.

But if it is not lost, all can be well. A man in a tuxedo is well and good, if he is a man. Likewise, a priest can wear glorious robes, but if he is not a true priest at heart, the shining robes only harm us.

Chesterton wrote:

So in Christendom apparent accidents balanced. Becket wore a hair shirt under his gold and crimson, and there is much to be said for the combination; for Becket got the benefit of the hair shirt while the people in the street got the benefit of the crimson and gold. It is at least better than the manner of the modern millionaire, who has the black and the drab outwardly for others, and the gold next his heart.

The problem isn't the ornament; it's the loss of what is the heart of the thing.

bthun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bthun said...

Take 2, with new/improved attention to task.

LR1 points out how one dresses sets the stage for interacting with others.

For the better part of 40 years I had to wear a suit or a prototypical business casual rig. T'was the uniform of the day...

Now I have the luxury of wearing bluejeans or bib overhauls with comparable footwear, which is typically boots of some flavor.

The stage on which I interact has changed considerably. Yeee haw!

Now I've gotta say, fancy cowboy boots have their place, and for a good reason...

Grim said...

As do suits and ties.

bthun said...

"As do suits and ties."

From this point in the time/space continuum, I'd have to agree.

I don't think I worn a suit in the last, maybe, 8+ years. Come to think on it, I'd better check out that closet for giant moths.

douglas said...

I'm certainly with Tom and LR on this one. I used to be a hardcore utilitarian, but too often it felt colorless and stark- almost like driving through Bratislava (even as recently as 10 years ago). To everything there is a season, and dressing up can have many a function- it's just that not all functions are material. I think that was one of the flaws of the modernist movement, which I liked in terms of the appreciation of the utilitarian.

I think Tom's most important point is, how do we complain about the lack of beauty in modern culture, yet see no importance in beautifying ourselves? Why should we not be concerned with our visual impact on others any more than good manners require us to be cognizant of our olfactory impact on others?

Grim said...

That's the kind of question, my friend, that can lead to people being afraid to work up an honest sweat.

There's nothing wrong with looking good, per se. It is, indeed, a good. But it is a lesser good than fulfilling your purpose in life. This is as true for boots as for a man or a horse. If boots can look good while sacrificing nothing of their capacity to do the thing they are for, all the better.

If we find ourselves sacrificing from the function for the ornament, though, we have fallen out of order.

Let me also add that beauty, in general, is associated with things being in their proper order. Music is beautiful precisely because it is in the right kind of order. A painting is beautiful, neither busy nor sterile, when it is properly ordered. Tom mentioned the Marines; the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team is a masterwork because it is ordered in the way that is the perfection of such a unit of soldiers.

This is true for natural kinds, too. A horse or a man (or a woman) is physically beautiful insofar as their body is correctly proportioned -- that is to say, insofar as they are rightly ordered.

This isn't a sterile concept; a musical piece will be rightly ordered if it sometimes delights you with surprise, and sometimes with satisfaction. A woman who has that one strand of hair that drifts across her face in spite of her best efforts to tame it is delightful. But what is delightful is that we can perceive the order even more perfectly because of these exceptions, surprises, and lively chaos. The order is even more beautifully set off for us.