Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we make assessments when we look one another over. Other than the obvious signals to financial status and, of course, taste, the choices a man makes about what he puts on himself offer clues to his character.

One of those clues – something that impresses me about a man – is his shoes. It’s not about an expensive pair of shoes. I’m actually rather unimpressed with obvious displays of prestige or the perception thereof. What does impress me is when a man selects tastefully and takes care of those selections. A brilliant shine and a well-tended heel say something. Dull shoes with worn heels say something else.

Though a good shoe with a good sole can offer a lifetime of wear with proper care, maintaining the soles and heels can get expensive over time. My workaround is taps.

The shoe taps of which I speak are not the dance taps designed to make the clickety-click for practitioners of hoofery. I’m talking about the taps intended to discreetly shield the heavy wear area of the shoe’s sole and heel, thus preventing wear on the actual surface areas of the soles and heels themselves.


I wear brogues or bluchers every day (though never the same pair on consecutive days), and I would need to get my shoes re-soled and re-heeled annually at least. A re-soling of a pair of Goodyear-welted brogues can cost $80 at my local cobbler. That adds up, particularly when you’re talking about several pairs of shoes. Taps, which wear out every six months or so, cost $4. (Eventually, tapped shoes will need to be re-soled, but very infrequently.)

So in addition to regular shines, cedar shoe trees and a day off between wearings, I have my cobbler put taps on my leather-soled bluchers and brogues. While some men prefer to have a thin layer of rubber put under the sole, I’ve always preferred taps. They’re a cheap, simple and effective way to save the soles and save one’s reputation as someone who respects the details.