The Nike Flyknit Racer is Nike’s love letter to speed. A low-top, ultralight biomorphic marathon flat turned sneakerhead darling, the Racer just also happens to be one of my favorite silhouettes of all time. Yet, today is not the day for objective analysis (for a proper review, read my full thoughts about the shoe here). Today is a day for gratuitous celebration – and I do mean gratuitous.
While my black and white “Orcas” Flyknits are a minimalist dream straight out of “Sin City”, my latest pickup – the 2017 re-release of a colorway known best as “Multi 2.0” – is full-on “City of God.” I bought these splatter-painted stealth fighters for $150 retail at Philadelphia’s UBIQ last weekend.
Rather than bore you with trite witticisms about how hard it is wear bright colors, I offer something more: a sartorial version of Breaking Bad’s “no half measures” speech that I’ve dubbed the Clown Shoes Dilemma.
The CSD, as it were, models the two (2) ways to look reliably fresh dressed in eye-catching, LOOK AT ME! kicks. If you clicked that link expecting anything other than what you got, I’m so sorry.
Anyways, here’s the Dilemma: on one side of the excluded middle, you have Internet Minimalist. This is a mildly self-loathing term for the sort of architectural, basics-heavy dressing favored by style forums like reddit’s /r/malefashionadvice or, well, StyleForum. Dressing in Internet Minimalist means simple cuts and neutral colors everywhere but your shoes – natural conditions to highlight your technicolor gunboats. Boring? Maybe. Stylish? Guaranteed.
Then, there’s the alternative.
The other side of the Clown Shoes coin is a style functionally opposite of the one described above: the Peacock in Tones. Basically, just color-match every single article of clothing to your shoes and ride that wave ‘til it crashes. Let early 00’s Kanye be your spiritual guide, and for the love of Yeezus, separate your whites before doing laundry. High-effort? Yes. High reward? If you own the ridiculousness of your look, the world is yours. Just wear something else for the interview. For an example of this done ruinously well – in senses both stylistic and financial – check out Leo “Gully Guy Leo” Mandella on Instagram (@gullyguyleo).
Why the “dilemma”, then?
Because between Uniqlo and Charybdis lies an uncomfortable middle which projects to the world an uncomfortable assertion: you don’t know how to dress yourself intentionally. This is different from “effortless chic” – even the most bedraggled, scarves-in-the-summer Brookylnite can spend hours ruffling their coiffe to just the perfect level of disheveled.
What the DMZ between North and South Clown Shoe represents the opposite of every desirable grooming norm: an unconfident “half-measure.” On one side, there’s the person so afraid of “blending in” by dressing in pared-back clothes that highlight their ridiculous kicks in a tasteful way that they ruin their outfit’s color palette with obnoxious apparel. On the other, there’s the aspiring Mardi Gras mummer who figured a step away from the end of the color-committed diving board would paradoxically improve their heights. That person – and their navy blue chinos when everything else says “Infrared” – ends up flopping just as hard.
As I tried on the Multi 2.0’s last Saturday, visions of what I’d wear with these oil-slicks-made-sneakers flashed through my head. Considering my personal style leans heavily towards the Internet Minimalism described above (you are reading this on the Internet, after all), most of those visions involved black-white monochrome with the ultralight ultra-bright’s on my feet providing the sole pop of color to this pre-tornado Kansas scene I call my wardrobe.
It’s far from blue-sky thinking, but the result – wearing shoes I irrationally love more because I feel confident about my ability to tastefully display them – is well worth the limited selection. The real takeaway from all of this: if you fall in love with a pair of obnoxious, “hard to wear” shoes, there are well-established ways to pull them off. Avoid the half-measures, indulge your childish impulses, and whether it comes to buying the shoes or committing to a cohesive personal style, I offer only the following…
Thanks for reading.