I arrived for a work related event, popped my bags in the room that would be my living quarters for the next 48 hours and headed off to the Conference room where we were to have an initial briefing.
Sat next to a mate of mine. Let’s call him Richard. Crossed my legs. Looked across as my mate also sat cross-legged. Realised that we were wearing identical shoes; they even looked to be about the same size. And we were going to be locked into the same setting for the next 48 hours.
I figured, OK so I noticed, but did he? Probably not. Fat chance. After the briefing we met up in the bar and as I sat next to him he said in a conversational tone, ‘I see we have the same taste in footwear.’ Busted.
I figure, OK so I noticed, and Richard noticed, but would anyone else? In a word, yes. The person who had been sat next to him in the briefing session used to be a shoe salesman in a previous existence. He still noticed people’s shoes before their faces.
At one stage he got very confused why it was that one shoe appeared to be attached to the bottom of a grey pair of jeans whilst the other was attached to a blue pair of trousers. Took him a little bit of time to realise that the shoes he was looking at were actually attached to two different pairs of feet, who just happened to be sitting next to each other.
He thought this was really quite amusing so shared it with the rest of the people at the table in that bar. They also thought it amusing. Luckily I had another pair of shoes with me. My mate didn’t. So he won the toss and got to wear the shoes whilst I opted for the alternate pair
The shoes are near perfect for the task for which I purchased them. They are a pair of suede/nubuck brogues in dark tan, with a rubber sole. Reasonably smart looking but clearly casual. Incredibly comfortable when being worn for long periods, they will never need polishing and are just as great with jeans or cords as with a pair of smarter trousers. In fact they are the perfect pair of travel shoes for the kind of 48-hour working trip that I was on.
Clearly my mate was of a similar opinion. So was it pure coincidence? Do we have similar tastes or needs or shop in similar stores? Probably. But I have come to realise that there is more to it than this.
I had been on a similar trip some months before. Whilst away I thought to myself that I needed a pair of shoes which were really comfortable, ideally in suede or nubuck, which would need no polishing, and smart enough to wear with smart trousers but casual enough to work equally well with jeans, cords or linens.
Whilst on this trip I noticed Richard wearing a great pair of suede/nubuck dark tan brogues which were pretty close to what I had in mind. Some time later I was in T K Maxx and came across a similar shoe. That it cost under £20 meant it was a no brainer. What I hadn’t realised at the time of course was that it wasn’t just similar; it was identical. But that’s where this story started.
So what do you do when your mate has the same shoe? Well first of all you compliment him on his discerning good taste.
Second, you have a laugh about it. Clearly it’s not ideal but some perspective is also useful; hardly the end of the world is it?
Third, you try to make sure that your shoes are in better nick than his. Annoyingly, I appear to be losing on this front; whenever I see them Richard’s shoes appear to be wearing better than are mine. I guess the grass is always greener, or in this case the brogues are always better…
Fourth, you obviously try not to wear them for precisely the same occasions. Unfortunately, since Richard lives at the opposite end of the country I see him when we meet up for work related occasions. In other words, precisely the kind of occasion in which I am likely to bring along the perfect travel shoe. So, of course, will he.
Fifth, if he’s cooler than you are, rejoice. Having the same shoe can only be a good sign. However, if you are wearing the same shoe as someone who has no sense of style, perhaps it’s time for quiet and dignified despair.
Luckily you are in the right place if you are in need of some style inspiration….