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Is it okay for a man to wear ankle boots with a suit?

Canali slip-on ankle boots

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

The question

Slip-on boots with suits: Yea or nay?

The answer

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I was just in Paris, where the men, let's be honest, dress a whole lot better than they do here, and I noticed this combination a few times. I find it jarring: The best match for a suit and tie is a pair of plain lace-up shoes.

The ankle boot – whether it laces up or slips on as a Chelsea does – says weekend to me, no matter how burnished and soft its Italian leather. Some lace-up boots make me think of manual labour – they have something of the lumberjack about them, no matter how fine their soles. But that's my deep-rooted WASPiness coming into play. (I also believe weddings should be in the morning.)

The French walk around with navy suits and cufflinks and knotted cotton scarves and dark-brown Chelsea boots (European men are eschewing black shoes) like it's Sunday every day. And if it's acceptable in Paris, who are we in Moncton and Lethbridge to disdain it?

So fine, do it if you want to look of-the-moment. I still won't, much as I love Bordeaux and Camembert.

Novelist Russell Smith's memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a style question? E-mail

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