Details make the difference, particularly in shoes.
Unlike much of fashion, shoes must first serve an important structural function. The best-looking shoe that's uncomfortable is a waste of money that will sit in the closet.
So there's not a lot of variation in the basic structure of footwear. Sure, you can get boots, high-cut, low-cut, pointy toes and stubby toes, but the space to hold a heel and the space to hold the ball of the foot, as well as the support for the arch and instep, don't change much.
David Lewis, one of the founders and the creative director of Winnipeg's Jose and Markham Footwear, said the places to make footwear stand out are in colour, construction and details.
"I've got this pair of black dress shoes," he said. "If I have a business meeting, I put in some black laces and dress them up. Then after work, I can throw in some coloured laces, wear them with jeans and really make the look pop."
One hot design on the Jose and Markham floor is the Full Windsor -- Blood.
This high, lace-up boot is blood red, and a great choice to dress up a pair of jeans or dress down a dress pant or suit. "You put these on and you instantly get your own look," Lewis said.
Jose and Markham is a footwear designer and online retailer, as well as having a showroom at 73 Princess St. Lewis said the firm's goal is to create "collections," sell them out and move on to other "collections." In this way, Markham men (as they like to call their customers) can be reasonably assured of some individuality. Having the same shoe as 10,000 others in the city is no way to stand out.
As for rules, Lewis is another to say the key is taste and look. If something looks good, it's good. But one thing that's out, at least for now, is the stubby-toed Men-in-Black kind of shoe. A shoe that tapers toward a rounded toe is today's hot style.