Will Boehlke is the defi nition of a traditional men’s dresser — right down to his shoes. As a consultant on classic clothing and author of the popular men’s fashion blog “A Suitable Wardrobe,” he must look the part.
During the week he adopts an English fl air, while on the weekend his look is more traditional-American. “I dress in an English-infl uenced version of what I wore when I was growing up, which was basically Ivy League style,” said the San Francisco-based Boehlke.
To keep track of his different styles, Boehlke separates everything among three closets: a city closet, a country closet and an out-of-season closet. And because he has so much choice, even his favorite shoes only get worn about twice a month.
Pairs owned: 55
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Brands: Belgian Shoes, Church’s, Crockett & Jones, Edward Green (30 pairs), Espadrilles Etc., Gaziano & Girling, Nike and SW1, among others
Bespoke pairs owned: 7 or 8 Bespoke brands: Gaziano & Girling, George Cleverley and W.S. Foster
Favorite pair: “My quarter brogues by W.S. Foster because I wear suits fi ve days a week and they’ve got just a touch of decoration, but are still plain enough that you can wear them with anything.”
Most spent: $3,500 for a bespoke pair
Least spent: “Zero — people give me shoes.”
Favorite formal shoes: “It’s a tie. I like to wear evening slippers to my club because they’re so comfortable. And I have a pair of Belgian Shoes that are formal slippers that are probably also my most comfortable pair.”
Favorite weekend shoes: Suede and leather saddle shoes by Edward Green Most traditional: “I don’t think I own anything that is more modern than 1940, except for sneakers. Oh, but I have a pair of black opera pumps.”
Wildest pair: “From the controversy that they got on my Website, a pair of black espadrilles with ankle straps by Espadrilles Etc. Certain people felt the ankle straps were over the top, but I responded with a photo of a young Jack Kennedy wearing them, so that calmed things down a bit.”
Oldest pair: “When you have a ridiculously large shoe wardrobe, you never wear anything out. I gave away three pairs of Alden cordovan tassel loafers a couple of years ago that I had for more than 30 years, and the only reason was because I was tired of them. Now, probably my oldest pair is some Edward Green oxfords that are more than 20 years old.”
Dream pair: “My next pair of Fosters, which will be slip-ons with three lines of broguing across them.”
On walking shoes: “I have a pair of Gaziano & Girling crepe-soled shoes for walking on cobblestones in the rain when I’m going to look at cathedrals in Paris. I have a pair of hiking shoes by Gaziano & Girling and also by Edward Green. All my [sneakers] are Nikes [because] when I forget them in a foreign country, that’s the only brand name I know.”
Rubber vs. leather soles: “If you need traction for sport, go for [the rubber]. But if you are going to dress traditionally, or what most people would consider ‘well,’ there’s no real room for rubber soles in a wardrobe.”
No. 1 shoe tip for men: “Shine [your shoes]. I have my shoes shined every second wearing. Someone with a good valet should have them shined after every wearing, but everybody should do it at least monthly because the leather dries out.”
Pet peeve: “The leather things that look like running shoes that men are starting to wear with suits. I don’t like when hybrids are worn as if they were traditional shoes. That would be like wearing a brogue on the beach.”
Favorite style icon: “Cary Grant — he really wasn’t an East Coast dresser, just a very good one.”
Style that will never go out of fashion: “Never is a really long time.”