I recently had the very good fortune to travel to New York City for the annual James Beard Foundation’s award ceremony. In my industry, it is the penultimate recognition, something often referred to as “the Oscars of the food world.” Secretly, I prefer to think of the Oscars as “the James Beard awards of the movie world,” but I digress.
The invite, of course, dictated ‘black tie,’ something that was exciting and scary, and forced me to consider whether or not, at 29, buying a proper tuxedo was in the cards. After seeking advice of those infinitely more stylish than myself, I opted for a well fitting black suit because, as my friend K. Cooper Ray said, “you’re young, and you can get away with it.” As a very talented designer of modern formalwear, I trust what he says.
The suit was a fairly straightforward number, and as the first one I’ve ever owned, I kept it fairly traditional, and just ensured it was smartly tailored. The real place to have fun, I realized, was with the shoes; I didn’t own any black shoes, previously, let alone a nice pair of dress shoes. I carefully scanned the internet, sought advice, and did my research. In the end, I snagged an insanely well-crafted pair of single-strap monks from Church’s of England. To put it mildly, they were not cheap; the whole process got me thinking about clothing, watches, and other ‘buyer’s remorse’ inducing purchases.
When you are a young man like me, and you have a child, being careful with your money is paramount. I don’t often splurge of big ticket items, having chosen instead to buy a modestly priced, decently made pair of shoes most of my life. The rub is that they ALWAYS wear out within a year or two, and can rarely be resoled, because they are produced poorly in the first place.
Instead, invest in a beautiful pair of shoes that will last. What’s wrong with passing along a perfectly patina’d pair of shoes along to my son when he is my age? From what I can tell, my Church’s can be resoled again and again over the rest of my life, and one day, when I pass them along, I’ll be able to tell my son about the events they’ve seen, the dance moves they’ve helped, and the streets they pounded.
Makes sense to me.
Brooks Reitz is an entrepreneur and restaurateur based in Charleston, SC. He has been recognized nationally for his work in the restaurant world and for his company, Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., which produces small batch cocktail mixers for home and restaurant use. He writes about drinking “the good stuff,” and is the father to a crime-fighting 4-year old boy.