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Need help picking dress shoes. Status: First pair of oxfords ever

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    Need help picking dress shoes. Status: First pair of oxfords ever

    Hey all,

    I've recently started to upgrade my wardrobe (past jeans and Hollister button downs/polos). I've come quite a long way with dress pants/shirts, ties, belts etc. What I haven't touched on at all has been shoes. So I come here for your help and advice in this endeavor. FWIW I'm 24 years old.

    These past 2 weeks I did some research on types of shoes etc. I've found that I like oxfords over bluchers (almost across the board). I finally found the respect for AE that it deserves (I used to think AE meant American Eagle clothing and always got confused.. I know I know). I like cap toes and I like brogue as well. I can't stand square toe but can probably survive a very slightly squarish round toe look (from my understanding it's a European thing).

    My current semi dressy shoe status:

    Calvin Klein Black Apron Toe Loafers in textured (not shiny or smooth) leather. (picked up off clearance because I needed for interviews)

    Timberland walnutish brown leather boots (impulse buy based on sale vs style before wardrobe upgrade.)


    I would like to know what I'm going to buy so that when they come out with a good sale I'm ready to buy as opposed to thinking about it and missing the sale.

    Ideally I'd like to pay a max of $230 for the Brown and less for black based on Joe's argument that brown's get used more so price compromise should be in black.
    This is based on the fact that most of my shirts are $20-25, ties $5, pants $30-50, and suits $150-200. (I'm lucky in that I had almost all of them made on a trip to Pakistan a few years ago = my jump into dress clothing).

    From my searching I have found these shoes to be my favorites what I need help with is color! (I also liked some Salvatore Ferregamo types but in all seriousness cost is an issue so lets not go there)

    As a starter I thought a black, a light brown, and a dark brown would be the ideal combo (let me know if that is correct). I don't have the budget for all three now but I want to know exactly what I want before a sale (possibly even ebay for used).

    If I had no cost concerns I'd be highly motivated by black park ave, and walnut/choc brown for strands/fifth ave. The question is which is best in which color? Strand in the choc brown and fifth ave lighter or vice versa? Also considering the all one piece upper brown from J&W. (Ferregamo makes that type too but it just cost 6x the amount) Finally since I'm relatively new to this if you have other (possibly better or cheaper) suggestions I'm open to them.

    #1: AE fifth avenue: http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/allen-ed...dsearch&pprd=0

    #2 AE Strand http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/allen-ed...dsearch&pprd=0

    #3 AE park avenue http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/allen-ed...=keywordsearch

    #4: Letson Medallion from Johnston and murphy http://www.johnstonmurphy.com/product.aspx?pid=87584

    #5 Letson cap toe J&M http://www.johnstonmurphy.com/produc...7562&VID=87573

    This was long so a quick summary: Remember this is in the context of someone with not even one pair of lace-ups but wants to build a nice collection of about 3-4 shoes with minimal redundancy and max versatility.

    Is it ok to get all Oxfords and no Bluchers?

    Is one black, one walnut-ish brown and one dark chocolate brown a good range/combo of colors to shoot for?
    If so, what color should I get first? (budget limits multiple buys)

    Is it better to skimp on the black shoe as opposed to the brown?

    Would it be best to get black shoes in a simple design (no brogue etc just a captoe) and brown's with design?
    If so, then for the brown should a lot of design be highlighted with a light brown color or dulled a little bit with a dark brown color? (example: AE Strand)

    Finally let me know if you have any shoe suggestions for a newbie (company or specific model) that I may have overlooked.

    Thank you for your time and advice!
    Last edited by Giatros89; February 8, 2013, 02:30 PM.

    #2
    I don't know. Whenever I'm this undecided about a new area of clothing that I'm just getting interested in, I like to slow down. My advice: don't get any of those choices, at least right now. Wait and look around more, see what else strikes your fancy, maybe do a little more Web research. Don't spring for anything, including any of those choices, unless you really, really like the shoes. Best too if you can actually see them in real life, in a real brick and mortar store, and try them on. But don't buy anything you don't fall in love with.

    Comment


      #3
      I've done quite a bit of web research and went into a Nords and a Salvatore store. Found that AE 10.5 fits properly but the problem was they only had the kenilworth in my size. I tried on a few others and even browsed through dappered (shoe posts), nords online, and bloomingdales. The oxford, captoe +/- brogue look is definitely something I'm interested in. The questions above are specifics that I figure people with long term experience with shoes would have opinions on. Example: best colors to have, or light/dark for highly decorated shoe etc.

      Comment


        #4
        I say go for a Park Ave in Merlot. Versatile color and classic. After that get the Strand in Walnut. If you are military the Exchange has killer pricing on them and no taxes.

        Thats what I would do but to each his own. 1 thing is for sure those 2 shoes are solid and can be the staple of a wardrobe.

        as far as black i think its a safe bet and conservative. park ave black is popular. But those browns and merlots age better and show their quality easier.

        Comment


          #5
          I didn't see anywhere in your post where you said what you needed these shoes for. There is a huge difference in where you would wear a strand in walnut and a park ave in black.

          If you want to make sure you have a full set of nice dress clothes for anything from a funeral to a wedding to a job interview, Park Ave in black. Hands down. It may not be the most stylish choice, but it is appropriate for any of those situations.

          If you are looking for the most versatile shoe you can get, then start looking into the browns, because there are easier to wear in more environments. In this case, I would recommend something less flashy - stick to a dark brown, minimal design. The 5th Ave in brown would be an excellent choice.

          Before I would consider a shoe like the Strand, I would cover the basics.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Giatros89 View Post
            Is it ok to get all Oxfords and no Bluchers?

            Is one black, one walnut-ish brown and one dark chocolate brown a good range/combo of colors to shoot for?
            If so, what color should I get first? (budget limits multiple buys)

            Is it better to skimp on the black shoe as opposed to the brown?

            Would it be best to get black shoes in a simple design (no brogue etc just a captoe) and brown's with design?
            If so, then for the brown should a lot of design be highlighted with a light brown color or dulled a little bit with a dark brown color? (example: AE Strand)

            Finally let me know if you have any shoe suggestions for a newbie (company or specific model) that I may have overlooked.

            Thank you for your time and advice!
            #1: Yes it's ok to have all balmorals, but the one's you choose to wear more casually should have more brogue.

            #2: Yes Black, Walnut and a dark brown will get you far and be compatible with many fits

            #3: Other will have various opinions on this. I use to think I "needed" a black shoe. But to be honest I rarely ever wear them. If you need a black balmoral for work do it, but if it's something you are only going to whip out for formal occasions every now and then, go with something from Ebay or the thrift store.

            #4: If you are going to have one black shoe then it should be a plain or a plain captoe. As far as how much broguing you want on your brown shoe that will just depend on you. More broguing would allow you to wear them with less formal attire like Jeans.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Duvel View Post
              Whenever I'm this undecided about a new area of clothing that I'm just getting interested in, I like to slow down. My advice: don't get any of those choices, at least right now. Wait and look around more, see what else strikes your fancy, maybe do a little more Web research.
              I'd have to second this piece of advice as someone who only recently (about a year ago) took the dive into this world of higher quality clothing. I remember reading all about AEs and getting really excited to score my first pair, but now that I think back I'm fairly certain that jumping straight in would have been too big of a shock to my system. Instead, I did what Duvel suggested above. I took it slow. I picked up a couple pairs of lower-priced (think $80-100ish), but still well-made shoes and wore the absolute hell out of them in any situation I could imagine. This not only got my used to wearing "dressier" shoes, but also helped to tailor my needs/desires and primed me for my later purchases of the more expensive pairs. Without this trial period I don't think I would have been able to build the confidence/pairing knowledge that I've since gained. Food for thought.

              Comment


                #8
                I generally agree with everything that Acoustic posted.

                Originally posted by Giatros89 View Post
                My current semi dressy shoe status:

                Calvin Klein Black Apron Toe Loafers in textured (not shiny or smooth) leather. (picked up off clearance because I needed for interviews)

                Timberland walnutish brown leather boots (impulse buy based on sale vs style before wardrobe upgrade.)
                Neither of these shoes are dressy, nor are they appropriate for work.

                Originally posted by Giatros89 View Post
                As a starter I thought a black, a light brown, and a dark brown would be the ideal combo (let me know if that is correct).
                I would suggest a black cap-toe oxford (no brogue) as your first black shoe, and then two dark brown shoes with varying levels of brogue. Maybe a cap-toe and a wingtip. Dark brown is highly versatile, whereas light brown is highly situational. A black cap-toe oxford can always be worn in a situation where black shoes are appropriate.

                The AE designs that you listed are all classic styles. Every decent shoemaker will offer a variation on those styles. I recommend that you take a look at Loake, Herring Shoes, and Barker in addition to Allen Edmonds.

                Originally posted by Giatros89 View Post
                Is it ok to get all Oxfords and no Bluchers?
                Yes. I prefer oxfords as well.

                Originally posted by Giatros89 View Post
                Is it better to skimp on the black shoe as opposed to the brown?
                I wouldn't skimp on any of them.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by bruschetta View Post
                  I generally agree with everything that Acoustic posted.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I *think* - and please, fellas who actually own them and wear them feel free to correct me - the Kenilworth runs a tad bigger for many gents than several other popular AE offerings. If that was the only one they had in your size, I'd keep looking and trying other shops/locations until you find the actual model you plan on getting. Maybe I'm making more out of it, maybe not. I recently auditioned the Kenilworth, the Park Ave, and the Strand all in the same sitting. The Keni did feel a little looser in the toe box, but if they fit me better in all other areas, I probably wouldn't have went with a different size anyway. It wasn't that big of a diff on me, but it may be on you.

                    If you can only get one pair up front, I would say go with the brown, as Acousticfoodie describes you will get more versatility out of that color. Or... as javadave advises, the Merlot/Burgundy/Cordovan color option is VERY versatile as well. Probably my favorite color option in a shoe, because of that versatility, and the fact that they are a bit more uncommon than brown.

                    The Kenilworth is a great option for the best bang for the buck choice - wearable in numerous situations/settings/outfits, but it *is* a blucher. Maybe look for something similar, yet in oxford form, since that's what you want explicitly. I'm going to be looking for something similar looking to the Kenilworth, but on a last which fits my flat feet better than the 5 last.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by yoyorobbo View Post
                      the best bang for the buck choice
                      *buck*... Doh!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Hey guys I'm so grateful for all your help. To clarify. I would like to wear these shoes to work with dress pants/shirt and tie and also when I go out to dress up jeans with sweater+button down etc.
                        I think first I'll aim for the AE Fifth avenue in burnished brown (dark brown): http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/allen-ed...oxford/3039158 I think these would be ideal for "dressed up" for work and even for extra formal affairs like weddings.

                        Afterwards I'll go for the Strands in walnut for more casual/going out stuff: http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/allen-ed...=keywordsearch
                        I noticed the strands look good in burnished brown as well but getting two of the same color seems redundant.

                        I'm hoping I can find these shoes on sale for ~$200-250? Is this reasonable or should I start looking at used/ebay? Or alternative brands that can be had in this range?

                        One person suggested other brands but the prices were even greater than AE except for Loake shoes which look amazing and are also on similar price points! However, I have no idea where I can find them in NY to try on etc.

                        Quite a few people said to get cheaper shoes and beat the crap out of them for more comfort wearing dress shoes and better ideas of color combos etc. To those people I ask "Would you mind naming specific shoes that fit my preferences?" By preference I mean the stuff I've chosen so far. I also wonder if the "cheaper shoe is ~$150 and the AE's can be had on sale for ~250 (so i'm hoping) then would it not be worth getting the AE's which are supposed to last approx 10 years if you take good care of em?

                        As for thrift, I live in Long Island, NY. Anyone have any good recommendations? I look at the "put this on" website thrift posts but they just said look in good neighborhoods etc.
                        Last edited by Giatros89; February 8, 2013, 10:05 PM.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          For AE, just email [email protected]. Your wallet will never be the same. For Loake there are lots of choices, the most convenient being Charles Tyrwhitt (http://www.ctshirts.co.uk/mens-shoes...||||||||||||||) which has several stores in NYC. Century 21 is amazing in NYC and if you're on LI, check out the LI or Rego Park store:
                          http://www.c21stores.com/stores
                          There are awesome thrift stores in NYC too! I'm a bit protective of my favorite, but a little Googling can figure them out.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Giatros89 View Post
                            I'm hoping I can find these shoes on sale for ~$200-250? Is this reasonable or should I start looking at used/ebay? Or alternative brands that can be had in this range?

                            One person suggested other brands but the prices were even greater than AE except for Loake shoes which look amazing and are also on similar price points! However, I have no idea where I can find them in NY to try on etc.
                            The Fifth Avenue and Strand are good choices. However, I don't think that two brown shoes would be redundant.

                            If you don't mind waiting, AE holds sales on seconds a few times a year. They usually offer sales that are two for $300 ($150 each) or two for $200 ($100 each). Their spring sale should be coming up.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Fred G. Unn View Post
                              For AE, just email [email protected]. Your wallet will never be the same. For Loake there are lots of choices, the most convenient being Charles Tyrwhitt (http://www.ctshirts.co.uk/mens-shoes...||||||||||||||) which has several stores in NYC. Century 21 is amazing in NYC and if you're on LI, check out the LI or Rego Park store:
                              http://www.c21stores.com/stores
                              There are awesome thrift stores in NYC too! I'm a bit protective of my favorite, but a little Googling can figure them out.
                              Thank you! I'll check those out. As for the thrifts I live in LI i'd probably go max 4x a year at best. I read about people being protective which is cool so no worries but if you'd like to PM me (less public) I'd be eternally grateful.


                              Originally posted by bruschetta View Post
                              The Fifth Avenue and Strand are good choices. However, I don't think that two brown shoes would be redundant.

                              If you don't mind waiting, AE holds sales on seconds a few times a year. They usually offer sales that are two for $300 ($150 each) or two for $200 ($100 each). Their spring sale should be coming up.
                              What are "seconds"? That sale sounds phenomenal!

                              Comment

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