Mr. Bashlow is a lawyer by profession, and a fiction writer in his leisure time. Among his vast interests, suits and shoes occupy a good position. If you can check his Instagram, you will be amazed by the countless models he owns.
It is very happy to interview this very knowledgeable gentlemen, and this is one episode of consumer interview series.
You have so many interests, where do suits and shoes rank?
My first love is my family, of course, and I also enjoy writing and my garden.
I believe very strongly that first impressions are based heavily on what one wears, so dressing the part one wants to show the world is critical in people thinking positively of you.
That said, I have been interested in menswear for a long time and genuinely enjoy dressing as well as I can. I started with suits and sport coats and have gradually migrated to more casual wear. My first clothing love is on the more formal end of the spectrum.
Do suits and shoes give you inspiration on writing?
Yes, clothing plays an important background role in my books. Though less true today, historically, clothing differentiated economic classes. Where my books involve social classes (my current manuscript, The Master’s Mark, involves a fictional nobility), what the characters wear sets the scene for how they view each other and the assumptions—sometimes incorrect—that they make.
As a lawyer, it seems you have more casual and workboots than dress shoes, is that ture?
Hard to say. I like all kinds of footwear. Ideally, I would wear my classic shoes more often than I have been. Over the last few years, I have become somewhat obsessed with trying to mix elements of classic menswear with heritage clothing. It’s much trickier than I expected, and I am often unsuccessful. For example, I don’t think a pair of chunky work boots (or white sneakers) go well with suits. I know this because I’ve tried it. So, mixing the two types of clothes requires something a little more casual—an OCBD and a sport coat with casual tweed and slightly sleeker boots; longwing derbies with jeans and a flannel shirt; or a heritage shirt with a casual sport coat.
It’s all very situational, of course, and the default rules for texture, pattern, and shape are important elements.
What kind of shoes are you enjoying? What pleasure do shoes bring to you?
My favorite shoe style is the single monk strap. Always has been and always will be.
I think it works well with everything other than jeans.
I don’t love double monk straps. I have a couple, and like the ones I have, but I usually avoid them.
My second favorite is probably a tassel loafer. They have sort of an inherent elegance to them that doesn’t exist with other loafers.
I do love boots, too. I prefer those that hit that smart casual sweet spot.
In you Instagram, you seldom post tailorings, are you also an enthusiast of bespoke suits?
I love suits, and I do have a bespoke tailor and made to measure tailor whom I use more or less exclusively. The bespoke tailor is in Washington, DC and the made to measure tailor has his shop in Hong Kong. I have a suit from WW Chan and love it; I just haven’t had the opportunity to visit them again.
The reason I rarely post full pictures is that I gained weight during COVID and haven’t lost it. I’m a little self conscious about it, so I have been sticking to the bottom part of my clothing. I’ve been hitting the gym regularly, though. When I lose a little more weight, I will start posting full outfits. I did try a couple of flat lays. They’re pretty bad, so I’m practicing but not posting them for now.
Among so many brands you have tried, list top 3 and the models you have.
Tough question. I don’t typically think of footwear in terms of brands so much as I think about it in terms of the specific shoe styles. Makers have styles I love and styles I like less, so I wouldn’t say that I have particular brands I favor. Also, I have not tried so many brands that I can only speak to the ones I know. I have a very high arch and instep, so some shoes just don’t work for me even if I love them. Japanese dress shoes are particularly hard for me to wear.
To answer your question, though, and limiting my choices to ready-to-wear brands, I would probably say Paolo Scafora, Enzo Bonafe, and Altan on the more formal end.
On the boots side, I would say the White’s Boots semi-dress and Otto derby, Grant Stone, and Alden.
For sneakers, I really like everything Spingle makes, Vans, and my Oliver Cabell GATs.
For cowboy boots, I really like Republic Boot Company and Chisos.
There are a ton of great MTO, MTM, remote bespoke, and bespoke makers out there, too. There’s just so much to explore.
A tough question, with such a huge collection, do you think the shoes do not get the love they deserve?
Yes, absolutely. My collection is way too big. I’m actually in the process of trimming it back, and have decided not to buy new shoes for the next 18 months (aside from what I ordered before I made the decision). I want to wear what I love and what fits more often.
Do you have any thought about the welted shoes industry globally?
Unfortunately, no. I’m not in the industry. I just wear the shoes.
If some one just enters this market to buy shoes and he is not as affluent as you, what advice do you have for him?
I don’t know that I’d call myself affluent so much as I pick and choose what I spend my money on. Entry level shoes aren’t that cheap, so I’d probably look at the $250-$350 range. If I were suggesting an “entry level” shoe at that approximate price point, I would probably recommend the following, in no particular order: Grant Stone, Limes Shoes in Portugal, Caulaincourt, and NPS/Solovair.