Getting the look right – ‘elevator wear’

The mistakes to avoid wearing elevator shoes. The case of Robert Downey Jr


One thing that really helps to carry off wearing elevators with total discretion is to get the rest of what you wear with them exactly right. I have mentioned before how strange it is that some guys in the public eye and with plenty of cash can so easily get it wrong – wearing huge great thick boots under a suit and making all the mistakes it is possible to make.

What is so strange about all this is that it is so easy to get it right – these are mistakes that are so easy to avoid and the rules are just very very simple. This piece is about just one person that got it wrong and how easy it would be to have got it right. I stress I am not a negative person and I myself have had nothing but outstanding experiences wearing my elevators. This is really to help avoid basic errors.

So I want to show you a shot of how spectacularly wrong it can look. Robert Downey Jr is on a red carpet in a grey suit, and these truly horrendous looking black boots with the tapered leg of the trouser hem are causing the whole lot to ride up high on the elevator showing for all the world how it is not to be done.

Making it Better

I want in this piece to just use this one shot to tell you how in fact it COULD be done even with a very similar look.

Firstly in a formal suit, irrespective of the degree to which you might want to wear something like a pair of sneakers/trainers (if the look is in style, and it is very occasionally), doing it like this you have to remember that wearing this type of boot totally absolutely and completely fixes the eye on your footwear first and foremost – and the more extreme you go the more the eye is drawn. I have seen other shots of him wearing huge great thick soled white sneakers with lifts below suits and whatever he might think, this is not a look for the average guy to pull off in elevators.

And if people are looking at your footwear because their eye is drawn, you have to get it totally right or this type of fashion disaster is really one of the few I know that can make others say “they look like built up boots”.

So take this look. Ignoring the boots, the suit on its own is fine if that’s your thing (I almost never wear suits but they can look cool I know and are important in many careers). But you cannot have all of these three things at once in a suit if you are adding A LOT of height: a narrow leg, a grey suit with thumping great big chunky contrasting black boots like this that are completely sat there like bricks at the bottom of your legs.

Art of compromise

So how could this look have been improved. Well, it’s about compromise.

In this shot of RDJ, altering it all slightly, he could have got away with wearing those massive boots, although I myself do not like them. He would have needed to wear a pant leg that is less narrow at the base – as it is, just look: they ride up because they CANNOT spread over the upper and down to the heel of the boot. Two inches of crumpled hem all straining to get over the boot. “Can’t do it RDJ, sorry!” This is really basic science in a way. They HAVE to gather in that unsightly way ABOVE most of the boot because the slim cut of the material cannot get over the size of the boots and general thickness – and so you have the very unusual sight of actually being aware of that raise of the upper where the laces are which comes from jamming so much lift in.

Just looking at that shot makes me want to go over there (it was actually taken a few hundred yards from where I run a club in London), stretch the hem left to right till it’s two more inches wide, possibly split the hem, and then satisfyingly pull it right down over the boot. Phew – job done. More sensibly he should just have had the pants made to drape further down – or $20 at the tailor’s to alter, surely not too much money for him? Put your finger over the boot in the picture just above the heel and sole, imagine it to be that grey pant leg fitting properly draped over the boot. You will see that the boots are barely visible, and the extra sole and heel not noticeable. And that would be way better than what you see in the shot.

Ideally though, with the colour of such elevators, the suit should be way darker (or elevators lighter!).

Easy to avoid mistakes

The other compromise in this situation if you want that type of suit leg, or that trendy-at-times sneakers and suit image, is that you have to either go lower in height or go way more discreet – suit and boot the same colour, then you can take an inch or two OFF the leg and make sure it is really tailored tight in to sit right on the boot, not crumpling up to show off the great lump of extra height. I have done this for example with my skintight skinny jeans I wear (black with black boots, almost always my 4” ones) – in essence the whole area looks as one and blends in. But I stress I have done this with quality elevators which are made to look right – these ones on RDJ (highest paid actor for some years) are clearly NOT right.

So had that suit been black alone it would have helped. Black and properly hanging (just a bit of alteration) over the boot. Another plus.

The mistakes the guy made are so easy to have not made. The key being that the boots must get some proper cover if they are very high (4”+) in your average type of suit like this, or they must be lower. Colours should really not clash like this in a way that highlights the boots unless the styling is very cool and modern. Then they CAN scream at you. Indeed there IS an argument for wearing boots nicely exposed and I am going to address that over the next few articles – along with other aspects of how to get the look right. This is the start.