V MALOUF STUDIO | Design Strategist & Experience Specialist

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In defense of white shoes

White shoes get a bad rap. Growing up they were a punchline, the kind of thing my Uncle Herb wore to pool parties with black socks.

I bought my first pair in my mid 20s, the canvas Spring Courts below. They looked great out of the box, but I actually loved them a little bit more the dirtier they got. They reminded me of my grandfather's old pair of New Balance canvas "tennies" that he'd just throw in the washing machine at the exact moment they couldn't take any more dirt.

The thing that stresses some people out about white shoes is exactly what I love: they have a memory. Like all of my favorite things to wear (waxed canvas jacket, really good denim) they get better with wear and abuse. They actually acquire street cred.

I've seen a lot of people wearing Stan Smiths lately. Most favor the shiny, puffy, fresh-out-the-box look. But I know the true believers when I see them rocking shoes that look like they spent the day cleaning pools.

The essence of great American dude style is wearing something that looks like you never took it off. It's a kind of low-key uniform. My grandfather has the kind of style that I still can't touch. Even in sweatpants and a t-shirt he looks like Paul Newman. When I pattern myself after him it feels the most natural, although I can't help but add a Hockney-esque dash of color.

My grandfather always wore clothes to work. He always had a pocket t-shirt, the pocket stuffed with an old pencil or a bit of notepaper. I always picture him covered in a thin coat of sawdust, his hands always seeming a little too big for his task. (Miraculously he always managed to pull off whatever he tried.) He dressed with a perfect sense of preparation. And when he dressed up in his lone rugby shirt andmilitary watch, he somehow looked sleeker and sharper than most dudes in a tuxedo.