Many folks will tell you that the tie, suit or shirt makes the man.  I totally disagree. You can have the best seven fold tie with that perfect custom-made suit or shirt, but gentlemen, unless you ensure what’s on your feet are the best you can afford, you’re mistaken. There. You heard it from me. The shoe and/or the boot makes the man. Period.

Now don’t get all bent out of shape saying you can’t afford expensive shoes. Quality is quality, and some of the best men’s shoes made today are a product of Nashville, Tennessee. Johnston and Murphy ( has been making a quality product for decades and even their best shoe won’t break the bank. 

Another superior shoe and boot maker that won’t have you mortgaging your home are the folks at Allen Edmonds ( They have a fantastic product and I’m a huge fan of their dress boots. Both of these companies are producing incredible footwear that’s sure to please even the most discriminating dresser. The good thing about both of these companies is that they produce a wide selection of styles, colors, and sizes, coupled with the fact that they host regular and frequent sales. 

Of course, those of you with deeper pockets can always branch out and let your conscience be your guide when it comes to dressing up your feet. From Lucchese cowboy boots to Christian Louboutin high top flat sneakers and Gucci drivers, the world is at your feet when it comes to men’s foot fashion.   

And the “foot note” to the story is if you take the time to take care of your shoe investment, it will pay off in the long run. I am happy to say I have four pair of shoes that I’ve had for 30 years. Yes, they have been re-soled and re-heeled several times, but if you follow these very easy steps, the shoe investment you have made will also extend the lifetime of your shoes.

•  Shine and/or clean your shoes regularly. If you don’t know how, learn or become a regular at your local shoe shop

•  Use cedar shoe trees to maintain the shape and absorb odor

•  Rotate your shoes and never wear the same pair two days in a row

•  Use a shoe horn

•  Weather-proof your shoes with mink oil or water repellent 

•  If your shoes get wet, stuff them with newspaper to absorb the water and don’t set the soles on a surface but let them sit to the side to air out and avoid molding or creating holes in the soles.

•  And this is very important! Watch the weather.  If there’s a chance you might get caught in the rain and/or snow, use some common sense.  Don’t wear the very best shoes you own, no matter what the occasion when you know the weather might ruin them.

I hope this helps you the next time you want to step out, step in!  Until next time, if you can’t be bright, at least be brilliant. And keep those emails coming.  I love hearing from all of you at

J.T. Thompson is the Executive Director of the Lotz House Civil War museum (located at 1111 Columbia Avenue) in Franklin and is an active member in the preservation community in Middle Tennessee.

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