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The Slip-On Life

Author, journalist and slip-on shoe devotee, David Coggins, extols the virtues of life without laces

The Slip-On Life

I didn’t choose the Laceless Life, the Laceless Life chose me. I’ve long revered the classics, the brogues, the derbies and the rest, and I still do. They’re reassuring in the best sense; designs unchanged for decades because there was no reason and no way to improve upon them. There still isn’t.

But something evolved. I’m not sure if the Chelsea Boot was my gateway drug. Maybe it was the espadrilles I wore in the summer. Slippers that I once wore in the apartment now were worn outside the apartment. Then one day I realised I hadn’t tied a knot in a shoe in quite some time. What was going on here?

Perhaps I brought back the lessons I learned on trips to Japan, where a slip-on makes life much easier. Then there’s airport security, where the quick on and off helps everybody through the metal detector. But I am generally against ease. I am opposed to elastic in clothes. I’m even opposed to zippers. I’m against any supposedly new fabric whose name has been trademarked (anything ending in ‘-x’ is a warning sign).

I think it really has to do with the ease and elegance of Italian style which many of us embraced. Less structure in our jackets, soft agreeable linens and corduroys. These clothes go well with loafers, with slippers, with anything tasseled. The man who lives well at home now lives well out on the town, where you might find him in a double-breasted jacket over a pyjama shirt. Naturally, slippers aren’t far behind.

Not to get too obsessive – but if you’re reading this you’re probably an obsessive anyway – I think the more concise proportions of modern tailoring, with less or no break in the trouser, with a narrower silhouette, go very well with the Kensington in Dark Brown Calf Suede. And if you happen to be on the Amalfi Coast then by all means wear them in Tan Woven Calf to a handsome trattoria, you’ll probably get a grappa on the house.

I have celebrated the Chelsea Boot here before (as the first of many pairs of Crockett & Jones I’ve owned). In fact, I brought my most beaten-up pair to the country where I’ve spend most of my summer. I was looking forward to walks in the woods when the leaves began to change. But I couldn’t wait for fall. Instead, I started wearing my beloved boots with no socks and summer chinos.

If I was a duke then this would be a celebrated eccentricity, possibly adopted by sartorial savants everywhere. As it happens I just enjoyed the feeling of wearing what felt like the most natural thing in the world. And who knows, maybe it is.

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Words by

David Coggins

David Coggins

Editor of The Contender and author of "Men and Style"

David is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book “Men and Style” and the editor of the website The Contender. He describes his sense of style as an “Italian Uncle” and his taste in interior design as “an English arts club where the members have stopped paying their dues.” He is currently working on a book fly fishing.

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