Visual Weight

Vision is very spatial, it is how we judge distance, depth, size and shape, but we also use it to get a sense of weight and balance.

Everything you wear has visual weight and balance (or lack of balance). For example a double breasted suit jacket has a lot of visual weight because of the extra fabric, the additional buttons, and the style itself. Because of this the suit trousers should be cuffed to give balance to the suit from top to bottom.
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An example of visual weight imbalance would be wearing a modern close cut jacket with narrow lapels with double pleated trousers.

This same visual balance applies to your shoes as well. Some shoe designs have a heavy visual weight to them, while others have a very light visual weight.

The visual weight of your shoes should be consistent with the visual weight of your outfit whenever possible.

There are four things that give shoes visual weight, in the following order:
1. The welt and sole
2. The shape of the Last
3. The leather type
4. The shoe style

The welt and sole are listed together because the sole thickness is defined to some degree by the welt method used. And, the welt itself can add visual weight to the sole. You can also get shoes with double thick soles which not only add visual weight, but physical weight as well.

A Norwegian welt has the most visual weight of all, followed by a Goodyear welt. Soles that are attached by Blake stitch, Rapid/Blake, or Bond welted can have a very light visual weight.

Rubber soles also typically add more visual weight than leather soles.

Each shoe manufacturer has a variety of last shapes (some more than others) that vary from round bulbous toe to narrow chiseled toe. The more slender and tapered the last, the less visual weight the shoe has.

Next to impact visual weight is the leather type as follows (heavy to light):
1. Suede
2. Leather with natural wrinkles (like elephant, buffalo, etc…) or induced wrinkles.
3. Embossed grain (like pebble grain, hash grain, etc…).
4. Exotic leathers (like crocodile, lizard, etc…).
5. Shell Cordovan, waxed leather.
6. Calfskin, cow hide.
7. Patent Leather

Finally, the shoe style impacts the visual weight as well. The visual weight of a given style is directly proportional to the style complexity. Basically the more decoration on the shoe the more visual weight it has.

To illustrate the visual weight difference here is a buffalo hide, saddle shoe style, with a bulbous toe and a rubber sole compared to a calfskin, wholecut style, with a tapered toe and blake stitched leather sole.
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