Dudes, buff feet before baring them

Ellen Warren / Chicago Tribune /

Published Aug 8, 2012 at 05:00AM

CHICAGO — Big or small, flat or fat, it's a fact: Feet are not our best feature.

Sure, feet are functional. But something to brag about? Hardly.

And yet, as soon as the weather warms up, swarms of sandal-wearers appear, unabashedly displaying gnarly toes in ugly and often unsuitable footwear.

Yes, men, I'm talking to you.

“Any man who is going to be wearing any type of open-toed footwear needs to attend to his feet,” said Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom's fashion creative director.

Yet even the briefest outing to a public place will tell you that most men in sandals have never, ever given the appearance of their feet the slightest consideration.

Curled yellow toenails? Check.

Dirty feet crying out for a solid soap-and-water scrubbing. Check.

Dry, flaky, calloused, gross-out heels? Check.

So, I've set out to change that.

For starters, fellas, get a pedicure. “Anyone showing his toes should get a pedicure,” said style expert Joe Lupo, creative director and co-founder of Visual Therapy.

One of the great luxuries in life is a warm foot soak and a lotioned foot massage that is all part of a pedicure. If you think it's not manly, you're simply wrong. I've had cops (not in uniform) and burly construction workers sitting next to me at the nail parlor with their feet in a whirling, bubbly bath. They're smiling!

Not convinced? Then at least give yourself one. Cut those toenails, moisturize.

If you're feet aren't sandal-worthy there are plenty of full-coverage casual options that totally hide your flaws — including deck shoes, espadrilles (canvas, like TOMS brand) and huaraches. (I spotted some handsome closed-toe ones by Steve Madden at Macy's for $85.)

Guide to better summer footwear

For all you guys who are committed to sandals, I went shopping to create this guide to help you make better choices.

Don't ...

• Even think about wearing socks with sandals.

• Wear rubber flip-flops anywhere but the beach, pool or other watery place.

• Show your feet if they're ugly/dirty/gross.

• Wear sandals to work unless you're a lifeguard.

Do ...

• Get a pedicure or give yourself one.

• Buy leather instead of rubber sandals for street wear.

• Avoid Velcro closures except for rugged hiking sandals.

• Break them in at home if long walks loom.