Our guest today, Sonya Glyn is one of the most clearheaded specialists on style nowadays, a fact proved by her more than 20.000 followers on Instagram and her almost 100.000 subscribers on Sartorial Talks, the Youtube channel where she collaborates with her husband, Hugo Jacomet. We were interested in knowing her views and opinions about style and slow fashion. She gave us really captivating keys to understand better the meaning of these concepts in our times that we want to share with you.
Do you think that although we are living times characterized by low-cost fashion philosophy and cult of novelty there is still a strong attraction to all which means essence and prevalence?
The fall out from Covid-19 has given us a different landscape, in terms of fast fashion, compared to just six months ago. The Business of Fashion (April 21, 2020) tells us of high street malls closing, shipment refusals, and massive employee layoffs. At Sartorial Talks and Parisian Gentleman, we have witnessed many Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter clothing and shoe collections being canceled and replaced with once-a-year offerings.
This change of landscape will give us all a push away from fast fashion and towards finding our own style, making us less dependent (and less influenced) by trendiness. We haven’t even begun to talk about sustainability, which to me, means buying less but buying better, and passing clothes on instead of throwing them away. Not rocket science for classic wardrobe lovers.
It is easy to fall in love with classic style. There are so many vintage books, movies, and even current day cultures where we can observe those “living the life of classic style” and once our attention is caught, so many are on the hook with a hunger to build a classic wardrobe. I believe so many who look for branding and fast fashion, simply have no idea what the classic style culture encompasses—or what wearing a great suit with an incredible pair of shoes feels like.
How did you develop your passion for fashion and especially for shoes?
I like the word “style” instead of the word “fashion”, since fashion fades at such a rapid pace. But not so fast. Did you know style also fades? Consider the classic suits and shoes of the 1970s, which we thought we would never see again! Yet 50 years later, the 70s have shown a sign of a renewal, if we look things like Aloha shirts and open classic shirt collars resting over jacket lapels. Yet, of course, changes in style move much, much slower than changes in fashion.
As a child, I explored the world through my mind. No one would have called my clothes “stylish”. But I think I had stylish thoughts, ha! The clothes I wore needed to “feel” beautiful, but I was not an imaginative dresser. I knew what I liked, but did not shop much, nor DID I care much about shopping.
After I graduated from university and a Fortune 500 company hired me, wow were my eyes opened! I saw the most well dressed, and terribly dressed people you could imagine. The chasm of those who dressed well and those who dressed poorly was so wide, that I was compelled to be in the former group. I bought Brooks Brothers, but my shoes were haphazard, like many women’s shoes. My shoe choices could be classified as “fast fashion shoes”, and what a mistake I made. Today I see sharp dressers who downgrade their look with crappy shoes—and women seem to be first in line with this infraction.
Years later, I discovered the word “Bespoke”, after meeting Hugo, my husband, in 2011. And my entire sartorial world changed. I couldn’t get enough education about style, and wrote article after article on Parisian Gentleman, documenting everything I could about how to spot a good suit and a good pair of shoes!
Today, all that I own needs to be of a “certain caliber’, not always expensive but at least well made. And if an item is not of a certain caliber, I give that item away. Now, I am able to get dressed with less, but feel instantly stylish and put together, without the clutter of excess junk-clothes and shoe.
As an expert about style and fashion, how important are the shoes in a personal look?
I don’t exaggerate when I say that shoes make or break your total look. Our dentist from Chili, Edwardo Mann, met us in Paris a few years ago, wearing a sports jersey and faded jeans. When we took him to a local shoe shop in the city to treat him to “a real pair of shoes”, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Even with his old jeans, these new shoes improved his look by 1000 percent! So not only can a bad pair of shoes downgrade a great outfit, but a good pair of shoes can upgrade a bad outfit.
When you choose a pair of shoes, which elements you prioritize?
The first element I look for in a good pair of shoes is overall quality because if the quality falls short, nothing else matters. The next thing I look at is whether the shoes communicate who I am. I ask “is it a Sonya shoe?” Intuitively the answer will be a definitive yes or no. There is something I know I do not like, for example, shoes that make my feet look big, or shoes that have been made with a funky looking “last”. The shape of the shoe from heel to the tip of the toe is important, and when the shape is proportional and balanced, you know it when you see it.
As a woman, I also look for a “twist”. Lottusse has crafted pink shoes and custom spectators for me, and I adore these surprise elements. No question, comfort is huge, because when shoes make your feet hurt, I want to toss them straight in the garbage bin, because I don’t want to inflict suffering on someone else. Comfort is just as important as anything else listed here, and every shoe out of the many pairs I own of Lottusse (so far) has had zero days break-in time, with the exception of a pair of pumps which was too small for me.
It’s used to be said that we can know properly a man through his shoes. Do you think it’s the same case for women?
Of course! Women who wear bad shoes can change their entire appearance simply by slipping on a pair of beautiful shoes. Even a bad outfit will suddenly look better with great shoes. Why didn’t I learn this point earlier in life? My teenage years would have been much more stylish if I understood how a stylish pair of shoes can upgrade one’s overall appearance.
In your opinion, which keys can give us a pair of shoes about the person is wearing them?
Well, I don’t like to judge people and find it disturbing when people cast judgments on others. We have no clue what a person is going through in life if he or she has stable mental health, or what the financial circumstance is of a given person. Thus, this answer is directed to those who are at a place in life to pay attention to the power of a good pair of shoes. If such a person’s shoes are cheaply made, unkept, disproportional in shape, or void of style, there is no question that person will make an immediate negative impression on others—it’s almost subliminal and likely subconscious. If you need to make a good impression or enjoy the feeling of being stylish, keep paying attention to your shoes (also moisturize them every 5-10 wears and put wooded shoe trees in the night to absorb sweat and help them keep their shape. Also, if your shoes wear out after some years, why not take them to a patina specialist and have them painted!
It seems that today’s shoes are still the fashion item that better keeps an idea of timelessness. What do you think about its role in slow fashion nowadays?
Again, I think we are talking about a lack of education of those who buy seasonal shoes which are worn and thrown out after a few months. Bruce Boyer says to buy less but buy better. Who can deny that it is better to buy two pairs of well-built shoes and swap them out, than to buy 10 pairs of shoes which are loosely glued together and built with tacky leather?
What would you advise a person who is deciding which shoes are the best to reaffirm his or her personality?
I love this question! G.K. Chesterton described his childhood as a fantastical wonderland, with a fascination with the unseen. When he saw the front of a house, his mind wondered what the back of the house would look like. When he saw a winding road, he felt the adrenaline rush of thinking about what may lie around the corner. When you select a pair of shoes, ask yourself if the shoes you consider triggers your imagination. Do you wonder how the shoes would feel on your feet, the places you would go while wearing them, and the mood you will create when you step into the room? There are many more elements, but if a pair of shoes starts triggering your imagination when you see them, this is a cue to investigate further, because if an emotion is triggered, your personality is already in progress in terms of expressing itself.
What would you feature about shoes and other crafts made by Lottusse
I think I have featured at least 5 pairs of Lottusse shoes I’ve owned on my Instagram page @sonyaglyn. Because of the wildly positive experience with your shoes, I agreed to this interview and my curiosity is piqued to try your other products to see if the result is the same.
Tell us a bit about your upcoming projects?
There is so, so much we at Sartorial Talks and Parisian Gentleman want to do! We are increasing our frequency of Sartorial Talks on our YouTube channel, seem to always have a book in progress (recently we are translated Souliers the English version of Shoes), and our Sartorial Talks Patreon page is growing. I would like to get in the groove of making more Sartorial Talks Podcasts, publish more articles, and work on two secret back-burner projects. There is always a project in progress, and that is one of the secrets of life: Live in the present but also live in the future, that is, always have a project!
Follow her at:
Sartorial Talks (Youtube channel)