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Peter Eatroff stands out in a crowd.
The 42-year-old New Yorker is easily spotted by his green hair (which changes color periodically) and funky footwear, including punk essentials such as Dr. Martens, John Fluevog and Shellys. It is a trademark look he rarely tinkers with, even on the job as a presentation consultant in the advertising and publishing fields.
Eatroff is the first to admit his appreciation for fashion did not develop by chance. “My family was in the garment business,” he said, referring to a grandmother who was a milliner and a grandfather who owned a men’s clothing store in New Jersey. “I’ve always had style.”
His ongoing search for unusual, offbeat shoes to add to his collection has had him rummaging through punk and goth boutiques, thrift shops — and even garbage cans.
And the hip downtowner’s eye for fashion doesn’t stop at his shoes. According to Eatroff, he also has a weakness for vests and owns about 30, including some in brocade and with sequins. As a result, friends say he is a creative dresser no matter where he goes.
Here, Eatroff gives Footwear News a glimpse inside his colorful closet.
Pairs owned: 32
Brands: Converse, Dr. Martens, John Fluevog, TUK, Underground, Trash & Vaudeville, Shellys and “a bunch of other weird off brands.”
Personal style: “Some sort of post-punk-new-wave-gothic-neo-dandy look. I think that would mostly make me a 1980s new Romantic, which is essentially a distillation of Victorian-through-1940s fashion. Ultimately, my wardrobe is fairly eclectic, and I like being able to change my look based on my mood.”
Most comfortable pair: Standard eight-eyelet Dr. Martens. “They just fit right, and it only takes a day or two to break them in. You can break them in really fast if you sleep with them on. They look heavy and clunky, but I feel like I’m wearing nothing at all.”
Most uncomfortable pair: “Oy! I got this pair of brown wingtips in a thrift shop when I was in college. I was a different person back then, wearing brown. They looked cool, along with a porkpie hat for my head, but they felt like they were made of wood — and not soft wood, but heavy oak. I still have them, but I can’t wear them for more than 10 minutes at a stretch.”
Biggest mistake: “I can’t acknowledge making any kind of mistake. People tell me that’s a personality flaw. I think the only shoe mistake I ever make is not buying a pair when I see it and regretting it later.”
Most spent: Eatroff tries to avoid heavy price tags and doesn’t own “any outrageously expensive shoes. I did spend $130 on a pair of black-and-white Dr. Martens brogues at Trash & Vaudeville. They are a great complement to my vest collection and snazz me up when I need it.”
Least spent: Zero dollars on a pair of Dr. Martens. “I found them in the garbage, [but] that’s a little deceptive because I had to spend $40 to resole them. ... I also have a pair of thrift-shop wingtips that set me back 50 cents in 1986.”
On finding sales: “I am a big sale whore, so I have a lot of cheap shoes. I used to shop on Eighth Street in New York all the time, back when it was nothing but shoe stores and head shops. It was a real paradise for $20 disposable shoes.”
All-time favorite pair: Shellys buckle-and-zipper boots purchased during a school trip to London in 1984. “I was really gung-ho about getting a pair of floppy yellow boots, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I found these at Shellys on King’s Road. I felt very punk rock when I put them on. Growing up, I loved wearing them out at night for long walks down empty streets because they made that nice solid, satisfying, loud clacking sound. It was that creepy walking sound from film noir.”
Most attention-getting pair: Black-and-white checkered creepers. “But that’s largely because I wear them with my black-and-white checkered socks, black-and-white checkered pants, black-and-white checkered shirt, black-and-white checkered tie and black-and-red checkered belt — it’s always nice to add a bit of color. It makes me a very interesting piece of op-art, and no one can look at me for more than a few seconds at a time.”
Favorite Saturday night shoe: Black-and-pink buckle shoes with pointy toes. “They are such roach-killers. Unfortunately, they stand out so much that I can’t wear them very often.”
Style you’d never be seen in: Flip-flops. “No one should ever wear flip-flops. It says to the world, ‘I’ve given up.’ It’s like wearing sweatpants out in public. I just want to stomp on any feet I see in them. Of course, Crocs are now encroaching on that space. They are really just uppity flip-flops.”
Biggest gripe: “Workmanship is really lacking these days. The soles always wear out too quickly. It’s hard to find a good shoemaker and there is never enough arch support for those of the flat-footed persuasion.”
Dream shoe: “I don’t really have a dream shoe, because that sort of thinking only leads to disappointment, like walking all around London looking for floppy yellow boots.”