A couple of times in the last month, I’ve been to town for things like the doctor’s office, the Tractor Supply store, and a “cheater burger” along the way; the usual stuff.

On these trips, I started to notice people’s shoes.  They’ve changed – even here in the outback.

When we moved here 2003’ish, this part of East Texas was clearly divided between local and city slickers.  The latter were universally noticed for their footwear.  Locals, whether at the barber shop or hardware emporia were wearing the ‘uniform of the day’ – generally a cowboy shirt, Wranglers, and boots.  If you were just off the tractor and needed a part, those ubiquitous rubber boots worked fine, too.  Said you were from around here, not there, and you knew most copperheads bite slow and rubber boots are problematic for ’em.

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On my recent field trips, however, the change of footwear was amazing.  Everyone has gone Texas utility grade footwear to pretty much anywhere comfort-oriented.

Fashion?  What’s that?

I was expressing my frustration on the disappearance of fashion with a friend of my of 40 odd years.  She, a successful serial entrepreneur, has noticed the same thing.

It’s not just shoes.  It’s the whole personal appearance package.

Let’s start at the top:

Women today seem to be wearing less make-up.  My friend, and my wife Elaine too, both “put on their eyes” as part of their morning routine.  “I just want to look good...” explained Elaine.  “It’s part of the whole package – boardroom ready” explained my friend.

I totally get that.  I shave, shower and put on Lotion 9 a concoction made over in Louisiana that smells for all the world like Hoppe’s #9 Gun Solvent.

Most young people today look – at best (being generous here) –unkempt.   No pride in grooming to speak of.  Maybe that’s because my recent survey was done in Palestine, Texas.  But, I think it’s a general and widespread phenomenon.  We’ll find out on our travels this weekend.


Maybe it comes from the crap we are loading into young people’s brains in school:  We aren’t trying to raise kids to be winners anymore.  We’re told they don’t need to do that…just be in the race and it will all work out.  Pure left-wing, weak-willed, molly-coddling academic bullshit embodied in curriculum that spends too much time selling sex changes and “sensitivity” and not enough time teaching how to kick-ass, take names, do great in subjects like home ec, shop, foreign languages, and math.

From here, it looks like we’re teaching too much how to be not what school is really for:  How to Do. How to BE is a home value, doing is what school’s for.

Not in this world, though; Instead, too much “political correctness” and “inclusion.

If you want to be “included” in our circle, don’t look like you just got up from a two-day binge.  Three days of beard should be gone by Monday morning.  And so on.

Then there’s the matter of clothes.

Elaine’s been “coordinating” clothes with Judy this week.  Who will wear what.

“The plan” has gone from  “let’s wear jeans...” to Elaine trying on a pair of very fitted off-white knit pants that look good enough for the Melania type she is.  Yowsah...eye treats.

The great neutering of America is in play.  Our potential adversaries aren’t working to “go soft.”  America’s will-power and with it, internal energy focus (chi/qi) has been obsoleted.  Does the world Shaolin mean something?  Anything?

Judy will likely dress likewise…since in our circle, the grown-ups get to do what they want (we can afford it, after all): dressing down is for slobs, not us.

Poor people are generally lazy.  Dents in cars (and car washes) for example, don’t seem to matter.  Unless it’s a “brag brand” sneaker, neither do their shoes.

To be sure, I will be spending most of my time in “George’s Business Casual Uniform.”  A pair of pressed khaki Dockers, a short sleeve button down Oxford cloth shirt (tails out), and a well-polished pair of solid business loafers.  Shined business loafers..

At the good restaurants?  Shirt tails in, micro-fiber suede jacket on.

I’m coming to the point now:

Shoe shines.

On my “field trips” most everyone was wearing shoes that could not be polished.  If they could be (and a few could), it would have required something the Millennials seems to have skipped:  The Personal Appearance lecture.

Kiwi Select Shoe Care Valet, One Kit will set you back $46 bucks.  But, at least then you will have no excuse.  A decently shines pair of shoes can be had, though it takes a bit of commitment.  Shoes shined is like trimmed fingernails that are clean and strack…part of the package.

While that $46 dollar kit is steep, it’s a one-decision purchase.  An olde farte like me, who  has been polishing shoes for more than 60-years, is entitled to make a different choice than the “rack” S.C. Johnson Kiwi brand of polish.

I happen to love Lincoln shoe polishes.  I have a (late) friend named “Joe” (or was it John?) to thank for that.  Story:

Back in my early news-chasing days there was a shoe-shine stand on the Third Avenue side of the King County Courthouse in Seattle.  The 521 Café across the street had the best roast beef with onions and tomatoes in town, too…on fresh Gai’s Bakery French bread….ah, the times, eh?  We were the “new” San Francisco.  I knew the local Dirty Harry types well.  That was the beat.

The shoe shine fellow, the older one who ran things, was name Joe  (John?).  I’d come by a couple of times a week, generally at mid-morning when all the attorneys were busy upstairs in the courthouse arguing this & that… I’d tip well.

“Joe…what do you hear?” I’d begin.

And then, for a $5-bill, Joe would tell me all the news.  This ran from what a Grand Jury was doing to police this, to murder case that, Vice that and narcs something else…the stuff of genius, good reporting, and the reality of big city law.

I bought tips from Joe – and with the tips, he taught me about Lincoln shoe polish.  “Take some time to put on the edge dressing, too…” he’d tell me for when I’d have do polish my own.  Lincoln still makes a fine sole and edge dressing.

The 1970’s and 1980’s were a time when people understood their LOOK said more about them than anything.

Hard to put it into words but you take the police chief’s aide, Bud.  Always dressed to the 9’s.  Other people in the news world at the time managed their look differently – like Hugh, the Fire Department’s press contact.  He was distinguished looking:  a serious public servant trying to do good and contribute to the fire service.

These guys had nailed personal style. Bud dressed like a floor manager at a casino these days and Hugh looked like the high-end Ivy league academic. Leather arm pads on the wool jacket.

See it?  Both men rose to what their projected-images were and both were great, high-value people. (May they RIP.)

The magic to all this isn’t just about shoes.  It’s a bigger, simpler lesson:  Don’t Dress like Who You Are.  Dress Like Who You Want To Become!

Today, people don’t seem to “get” that.  Start with a classic like John T. Molloy’s Dress for Success. Dressing well is out of style…so is American excellence.

I’m can’t change that.  But, as we wander toward the exit, it’s worth mentioning. We is who we is.  Elaine’s the “hot” one in this outfit. I’m the geek.

This weekend, if you see a couple of very stylish women walking around when men who have their shirt tails out at the Winstar just over the Oklahoma side from Texas, odds are pretty good both will be wearing what?

Well-shined shoes.

Ask yourself this:  What came first?

I wish I were younger and had time to do a study comparing grooming and appearance to eventual (after-tax) income and success.   Next life, maybe.

Better yet?  Do your own study.  Then ask “Which came first:: Appearance or success?”

The school answer – pandered to the neutered masses to take down America – is appearance follows.

Wrong.  Testosterone, estrogen, and “a look” never go out of style.  Liberal ideologists notwithstanding.

Check their shoes.

Write when you get rich (and can afford a shine)


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