Pro Footwear Tip: Use Tongue Pads

It is well documented that I am a shoe junkie. I have many pairs, some of which that do not fit me perfectly. I blame it on an awkward foot size. Technically I should be a US size 12.5 M based on actual foot measurements. Since 12.5 is not a common shoe size (most shoe makers will do half sizes through 12 then skip directly to 13), and size 12s are nearly always too small I'm left with sizing up to a 13. For the most part, this isn't a problem and I have many size 13 shoes that fit me pretty well. However, it is not unusual for me to buy a pair of shoes that are just a tad too large. The consequences are usually heel slippage and what ShoeMD diagnoses as CSS (Clown Shoe Syndrome). Heel slippage is treatable whereas there is currently no known cure for CSS but patients diagnosed with it have been known to live long and happy lives.
This is a typical tongue pad.

For the cure to heel slippage, enter the tongue pad. The concept is simple enough: shim up the shoe to accommodate a smaller foot. The modern tongue pad takes the form of a 1/4" thick felt patch with adhesive on one side. The pad is stuck, via the adhesive, to the inside of the vamp on the shoe's tongue. This pushes the foot back into the heel  Truth be told, I had no idea that these little guys existed until I bought a pair of lightly used shoes on eBay that had them already installed. I didn't know what they were but they felt nice against my foot and the shoe fit perfectly because of it. I Googled "tongue pad" and low and behold, that's what they're called. I immediately ordered seven pair. I've put a few into some of my not-so-snug-fitting shoes and I now have shoes that fit! As an added bonus, if you're a trend-hopper like me and you sometimes wear your dress shoes sans socks, a tongue pad is a comfortable buffer between the top of your foot and bare leather.

I know the shoe snobs will deride the use of tongue pads and be all "ALWAYS try on shoes before buying" or "only buy shoes that fit perfectly" and "take out a second mortgage on your house and buy made-to-measure shoes". But for me, they work. They're a simple, inexpensive alternative to selling or returning shoes that are only slightly too large. A particular pair of chocolate brown suede loafers I thought I would have to sell on eBay wound up fitting after popping in a pair of tongue pads. Hey, that's worth it to me.


The Groomsman's Dilemma

This is a joke.
At some point in a young man's life, it is likely that he will be asked to stand up at a friend or relative's wedding. The day of his wedding is quite possibly the most important day in a man's life and he and his wedding party usually dress accordingly. Clearly the groom and groomsmen want to look good and especially for a religious ceremony will err on the side of formality in terms of dress. I won't delve into the details of types of wedding dress. It's all been said before (by the way, I can't agree with this advice more). Truthfully, I didn't know much at all about formal dress before reading these articles.

Anyway, last spring I was asked to be in my best friend's wedding. This was the first wedding I was actually to be a part of and I really had no idea of what to expect. It was decided by the bride and groom that the men of the wedding party would be dressed in tuxedos (even though the ceremony was to be held during the day). There was no argument from me and not much time passed before I found myself in a Men's Wearhouse Tux getting measured for a slick Calvin Klein two-button number, the best option available (if you've ever been to a MWT you've probably seen the ridiculous and insane zootsuit nonsense they have available for attention-seeking prom-goers). From what I ascertained from the measurements and the subsequent first and only fitting was that essentially they take an off the rack tuxedo jacket in your general size (in my case 42L) and simply alter the sleeve to the appropriate length. The pants are even easier: side tabs accommodate a range of waist sizes and the leg is cut full and flowing for all. The pant length is hemmed to taste.
This is me in a rental tuxedo.

To the right is a photo of what I looked like on the day. Forgive that my expression makes me look like a total dork and that my jacket is unbuttoned. I was taken by surprise. Even so, you can see that the jacket falls fairly straight down my sides and does little to flatter my body shape. It is difficult to see in this photo but the most bothering part of this outfit was the pants. They were just too big through the thigh and lower leg (something very difficult to do with me). I felt like I was wearing Hammer Pants. In fairness, I don't think I looked completely horrible. My experience just left a bit to be desired. This article will give you more of what to expect if you're going the MW route. All complaining aside, the ceremony and reception were truly beautiful and I would never, ever hold anything against the bride and groom because they are my de facto family. This is simply a case study in trying to dress one's self without the assistance of someone who sells you the use of a garment for 24 hours for $150. To me this is a waste. This is akin to paying rent and living in an apartment for your entire life. You get to park your body in it for a little while but own nothing at the end of the lease. You can also do nothing to customize it because you don't own it. Anyway, here's to investing in real estate formal clothing.

So, another friend is getting married late this fall and has asked me to be a part of his wedding party. I have refused to make the same mistake of renting a schlubby tuxedo for nearly half the cost of one that fit me that I could own for as long as the seams held up. The groom-to-be has chosen the same suit from the Men's Wearhouse as my good friend last year. And after looking at a bunch of tuxes I have concluded that a two-button, notch lapel jacket is a two-button, notch lapel jacket. There's a reason why its design has changed so little in the past few generations.
P.S. - I hope Idris Elba is the next Bond.
So for this wedding, I have resigned myself to acquiring my own tuxedo (I may have to rent some accessories from MW to be in the cool kids club but I'm fine with that). I looked up the same CK two-button that MW rents for $150: it retails for $350. Granted, there are extras included in that $150 but those are extras you can use over and over again (shirt, tie, waistcoat, studs, links, shoes, etc.). Still, I'm thinking the cost of getting that suit altered is gonna push the total cost higher than I'm comfortable with. Another idea: Internet made-to-measure. Enter Indochino. You may have heard of them before. They offer custom suiting based upon user-submitted measurements. They also offer a classic tuxedo for $359. They offer a ton of extras (lapel style, vents, ticket pocket, your choice of lining color), the sizing is based on your own measurements and the fit is guaranteed (they give you a $75 alterations credit to use with your local tailor if the garment doesn't fit you at first). I'm giving them a whirl for this upcoming wedding and hoping to look like James Bond (as the product description explains). They're also having a promotion right now with tuxedos where you get a shirt and two accessories free with code "TUXEDOPROMO".

From what I've read online on people's experiences with Indochino, reviews have been pretty good. Most agree that the fabric quality is not phenomenal but pretty good for what you're paying. Most people have to use the $75 credit and take a trip to the tailor at least once. This is simply the nature of the beast. You shouldn't expect a bespoke quality fit based on no actual fittings of the suit. Anyway, if the tailor can't do anything to make it fit you for $75, Indochino will cut you a new suit. Read this guide before you start anything.

Anyway, I'll be sure to let you guys know how it works out. I'm excited.

Aside: Don't Indochino's trenches look awesome?