Freshman sociology major Steve Spangler caught my eye in a stairwell. He was walking down, I was walking up, and even before I saw him, I saw his shoes: beautiful Coach slip-on sneakers.
Now, the one thing I covet more than any other fashion item this season is a pair of the new Coach rain boots. But leave it to every Web site, department store and brand boutique in the tri-state area to be sold out of my size.
Size 8. You know, the most common women’s shoe size on the planet?
According to a Nordstrom employee, that is a fact – and a darn compelling one as far as I am concerned – but it sure didn’t convince any retailers to stock a few extra pairs.
As you might imagine, the sight of all those symmetrical C’s plastered on this stranger’s footwear sparked pangs of jealousy and bitterness within me. Still, I know a well-dressed young man when I see one, so I sat him down, complimented his shoes, and we talked fashion.
Spangler described his personal style as neat, urban and eclectic.
It struck me as interesting that the first word he chose was “neat,” but as I gave him the once-over, I realized it was actually the perfect word for his style.
He wore sleek, black, square-framed Nine West eyeglasses. His track jacket and jeans looked like they were constructed specifically for his body. And, well, you already know how I feel about those shoes.
Spangler also wasn’t kidding when he said his style was eclectic. He doesn’t read fashion magazines and can’t name anyone whose style he tries to emulate. Rather, he said, he is constantly mixing different aspects of what he sees around him to make what is new and trendy his own.
His brands of choice are Kenneth Cole, Louis Vuitton and Banana Republic, and his favorite items of clothing from his own closet are a green argyle sweater vest and a Madonna track jacket.
Although Spangler is only a freshman and grew up in the suburbs, he said he has always thought of his style as urban.
“It’s not that moving to Philadelphia has changed my style,” he said. “I just feel like my style is more suited for here. The city is a better fit.”
For a daytime look, Spangler described his look as casual, layered and form-fitting. He emphasized a clean- looking pant, and said that often when he goes out at night he keeps the same jeans on.
“A good dark wash, boot-cut, fitted pair of jeans can take you from day to night,” Spangler said.
When transitioning from the school day to nightlife, Spangler trades plain tees and sweaters for H&M button-downs, and casual slip-ons for his favorite Louis Vuitton dress shoes.
When it comes to dress shirts, he said he picks H&M because they have a more unique, European style with an emphasis on fit and form.
“A lot of mainstream stores like Gap and Express keep it casual and simple, which is fine, but I like how H&M really pushes the style envelope,” he said.
As for shoes, Steve said that during the day its all about comfort and casual style, but at night, footwear should accent and tie the whole outfit together.
“Shoes make or break any look,” he said. “Absolutely.”
I agree. So until I get that call from the Macy’s sales representative saying the boots are in, just cut me some slack on rainy days.
Mary C. Schell can be reached at email@example.com.