Suitable's commentary on men's socks last week prompted more reader feedback than expected. Since we're already at street level, let's explore footwear options when the weather goes from fair to foul.
I suspect that most men who travel to and from an office will identify themselves as one of the following: boot 'n' shoe dude, galosh guy or rubber-soled man. No matter the method, the objective is to avoid salt stains (on pants and on shoes) and wetness.
And now that winter is nigh, it's time to decide how you will get through the season high, dry and in style. Here's the lowdown:
Boot 'n' shoe dude
Many men go this route, wearing heavy, waterproof boots while in transit and keeping pairs of shoes under their desk, or bringing them back and forth. "There's nothing wrong with taking your shoes to work," says Alon Freeman, Holt Renfrew's men's wear market editor.
sThis way, you don't have to worry about ruining them, especially since mucky streets are not conducive to high-end footwear (antique detailing, elegant oxfords).
When considering new boots, by all means buy Sorels or Pajars: Not only are many styles available for less than $150, but they also do double duty on weekends.
This may seem obvious, but pant legs should be tucked in. "Salt stains on your suit are worse than looking goofy on your way in," Mr. Freeman says. "Plus, when you're wearing a heavy parka on top, everything evens out."
Most commonly associated with gents who uphold the traditional office dress code of suit and tie, "they aren't particularly glamorous," Mr. Freeman says.
One exception, however, is Swims, a modern galosh line from Norway ($130, available at Holt Renfrew or swimsstore.com).
Swims have the same slip-on ease as standard rubber overshoes, but are more sturdily constructed and come in a variety of colours, from neutral black and brown to bold purple and green.
"They may seem daring on the shelf, but remember that you're just wearing them to and from the office, and some people appreciate eccentric," Mr. Freeman says.
The downside: Even though Swims also offers a boot version (called the Mobster), the classic style - like standard galoshes - does not cover the ankles, which means they are no use after a heavy snowfall.
A shoe for all seasons - specifically, a black slip-on with a chunky rubber sole - is one of the greatest fashion mistakes a man can make. It may solve the issue of trudging through light snow, but it is exceedingly unflattering and uninspired. A casual workplace is no excuse, either.
Men's image consultant Leah Morrigan's advice on men's socks last week also applies to shoes. To refresh, always bear in mind the importance of balance.
"Thicker soles do not work for suits, period," she says. Save them for denim, if you choose to save them at all.
For most offices, the best replacement if someone does not want to be always changing footwear is waterproof leather. Browns currently sells a number of styles (from $138 to $450) that look refined thanks to a thinner rubber sole. Some are even lined in sheepskin, a popular feature in many expensive Italian shoes.
"You don't want to bake your feet to death but you want to stay dry," says Stuart Rice, the company's regional marketing manager.
As versatile as the footwear may be, they will inevitably get salt stains.
Vinegar and water is an option, albeit sometimes a harsh one.
The best strategy, says Mustafa Ali at Kaner's Handbags & Shoe Repair in Toronto, is to apply a desalter (available in Tana or Kiwi brands) immediately, and often more than once, because salt can penetrate leather. A waterproof polish or spray will create a barrier.
Mr. Rice says he layers Tana Style 16 up to six times as a safeguard, adding he also applies it to his ties. "So you don't get sloppy when you're eating soup," he says.
Perhaps he's a goulash kind of guy.