Which NATO world leader has the best taste in shoes?

    11 December 2019

    As you might expect, the NATO summit here in London got me thinking about shoes. It is germane to consider these important matters while others can worry about Brexit etc. Watching the military alliance plod through Buckingham Palace, I was reminded of the advice that was elucidated to me by women when growing up, which is that they can tell a lot about a man by his shoes. Here is what I discovered, and here is how they ranked:

    Justin Trudeau

    Justin Trudeau Attends An Audience With The Queen At Holyroodhouse

    Justin Trudeau Attends An Audience With The Queen At Holyroodhouse (Getty)

    As a Canadian citizen, I grimaced seeing Justin Trudeau doing his hand-claspy thing when shaking Her Majesty’s hand. It’s either condescending or the worst kind of faux-mawkishness that people who are very fond of themselves do at social occasions. To make matters worse, he was wearing brown capped-toe Oxfords. ‘No brown in town’ is not actually a thing: one can wear brown shoes with grey or green tweed suits, but absolutely not with navy. This can be forgiven as an innocent mistake had he not got considerable form on this faux pas. It reveals a misguided attempt to be different but in that miss-the-mark trendy Dad way. Should he insist on colour, a switch to burgundy would serve him well… ish. 2/10

    Boris Johnson

    HM The Queen Hosts NATO Leaders At Buckingham Palace Reception

    HM The Queen Hosts NATO Leaders At Buckingham Palace Reception including Boris Johnson. Credit: Getty

    Boris can teach Trudeau a thing or two with the semi-brogue capped-toe Oxfords that he wears uniformly save for the occasional full brogue (hard to pull off, don’t bother). Whoever told him to do so forgot to teach him about shoetrees or polish. When you wear shoes in the day, your feet give off heat and perspiration that permeates the leather and manipulates its shape. So at the end of the day, while the leather is still warm and supple, you need to put your shoetrees back in and your shoes will cool down over the shoetree and hold their intended shape. Or don’t, and as with Boris, the shoes bow upwards at the toe and looks awful. Were he to properly polish his shoes, they would be protected from both weather and overuse. Their shoddiness betrays an unstatesmanlike laziness that needs ironing out if his premiership is going to have the kind of gravitas that his idol Churchill exuded. 4/10


    Jens Stoltenburg meets The Queen

    Jens Stoltenburg meets The Queen

    Very typically Scandanavian shoe-wearer. The emphasis of his black, plain toe Derby’s is on the soles, which sit wider than the upper, and the structure which is bottom heavy, is a fairly consistent design trope of the Scandanavian and Austrian shoemaking traditions. British shoemaking is much more focussed on the sculpted look and structural integrity of the upper, but with Stoltenberg, it is a collapsed upper that is probably nice and practical, but has little in terms of charisma, and a thicker sole. Ideal for someone who means business but not much else. 5/10


    Credit: Getty

    I’m actually not entirely opposed to Trump’s style, so long as I take it on good faith that his consideration for drape and convention-defying formal wear (see his waistcoat when wearing white tie), is intentional. Sartorial know-it-alls tend to like people who know rules but break them. He clearly knows he is not a great shape for suits – something our own PM would do well to consider – and uses drape to mask it. Bulbous ankles however aren’t easily concealed and sit wider than his actual shoes, which is remarkable. This is body shaming though so let’s leave that and consider that his shoes are perfect statesmen shoes. Well-structured, well-polished black capped-toe Oxfords with a slight but not ostentatiously chiselled toe that complements the foot and makes it seem sleeker than it probably is. Make of the master manipulation what you will. 6/10

    Prince Charles

    Prince Of Wales And Duchess Of Cornwall Attend The Royal Film Performance Of "1917"

    Prince Of Wales And Duchess Of Cornwall Attend The Royal Film Performance Of “1917” (Getty)

    A masterclass. Spectacular polish and care on a pair of shoes that can easily be decades old. From the shape they look like his trusty John Lobb bespoke shoes. If the monarchy is meant to be the level above politics, then this is how it is exhibited. 10/10