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Thread: best sub $150 everyday business casual shoes

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    best sub $150 everyday business casual shoes

    Hello all,

    If you've read some of my past threads you'll know that I'm laser-focused on expanding my wardrobe, piece by piece. I just got a watch, now I'm turning my attention to shoes.

    I work in the tech sector, so the dress code is pretty casual. Dark wash jeans are common in my office, as are chinos. Here's the type of outfit I wear on a daily basis:



    Right now I'm rocking the look with clarks, but I want to step it up a bit. Here's my wishlist:
    - brown leather (I'm ok with anything from tan to a burgandy)
    - the cheaper the better. Ideally I'd pay less than $100, but I'm willing to pay up to $150 for notably better quality.
    - soft leather - I have had too many shoes that remain stiff, rigid, and uncomfortable. I want something that will soften up after a few weeks.
    - relatively durable. I'm just wearing these around the office, but I'm not super gentle on my shoes. I want these to last for at least a few years.
    - stylish.

    To address the last point:
    - I want something simple and timeless that can be dressed up or down.
    - I'm not a fan of wingtips (too much broguing).
    - I'm open to either dress boots or oxfords.

    I love the look of the AE fifth avenues. (AE's are not in the running due to price point)
    I've long considered picking up a pair of Stafford Gunners (in cognac)
    I tried on BR's Jeremy oxfords today (Joe described the leather as "terrific" on the main site).

    Thoughts on the three shoes that I've mentioned?
    Suggestions for shoes I haven't considered?

    Shoe connoisseurs, I'm calling on you: make me look sexy. Thanks in advance for replies.
    Last edited by Danny; March 10th, 2016 at 11:02 PM.

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    Varsity Member JohnG's Avatar
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    Check out the Florsheim Constable Chukkas. Regular $220 on sale for $149.90. Classic style, Goodyear welted and 4 leather or suede options:


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    @Danny

    I just picked up a pair of Allen Edmonds McGregors on closeout at the Shoe Bank for $137. There is no visible flaw in them, and I got them in oxblood, a red shade of burgundy that is partly achieved by burnishing and so very liable to tiger striping and other discoloration. If you can find them in your size in dark brown or chili [reddish brown/mahogany], I'd start with that. Perhaps bourbon [which is basically a medium-brown], which is in my view a more beautiful color than either of the other two, but the problem is that seconds might suffer from tiger striping. Or ask the Shoe Bank associate to send you photos of the shoes in advance. I wouldn't start with oxblood or walnut [light brown/tan] as your first pair.

    I think that the Fifth Avenue is too formal for your needs, and it's out of your price range. Even in the closeout bourbon, it's $177. Also, the cap is very close to the toe and many think it's too short.

    As for the Banana Republic shoes: I own two pairs of their suede shoes and have found them to hold up much better than I expected. I've now had them for almost a year and a half each. Neither shows much sign of wear and I've had no problem with sole separation. I don't own any leather shoes from BR, but I think that the Jeremy looks nice. Ordinarily, I'd expect "chestnut" to be a medium-brown and so close to AE's bourbon, but the photos on the website make it look more like a red/purple burgundy and so more like AE's oxblood or merlot. As I said above, I wouldn't go with burgundy until you have at least two shades of brown shoe (I'd get one of the three following combinations: 1) dark brown and medium brown, 2) dark brown and light brown/tan, 3) medium brown and reddish brown/mahogany).

    You want to jump on the Jeremy, as sizes are starting to fly off the shelves. I imagine they'll restock at some point, but not before the current sale ends.
    Last edited by srlclark; March 10th, 2016 at 10:54 PM.

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    @Danny

    Sorry, I didn't read your original post carefully enough: I just noticed that you don't want wingtips. Given that, you're probably out of luck with AE. But if you're willing to go up just $7 to $157, you could get a bourbon Lexington. Lexington is basically the blucher/derby version of the Park Avenue, so it's about as formal as a blucher can get. Here it is in 10D (the default size for searches on the Shoe Bank): http://www.shoebank.com/FactorySecon...DIM=D&SIZE=100.

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    @JohnG - I already have Clarks chukkas -- what makes these worth twice what a new pair of clarks cost?
    @srlclark The tiger striping thing really freaks me out. Are you saying that there's risk for discoloration AFTER i purchase them? Also, I love the fifth aves, even if they're a bit formal for my needs. This may be an ignorant question, but why is the lexington more casual than the fifth ave? As I noted above (and as you did too) the AE's are out of my price range though, so I'm not really considering them.

    The BR shoes felt stiff in store (ok, they were right out of the box so they obviously need breaking in), and seemed a bit plain for my taste. The color on the website is a bit lighter than real life -- here's a pic from the store today



    I'm not going to be tempted into buying a pair of shoes prematurely. Worst case scenario I talk to BR customer service and get a rain check for the jeremys at this price (if they do that). I don't really buy things hastily.

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    I have a pair of Johnston and Murphy Conards that feel really good and I get a lot of compliments on. http://www.shoebuy.com/johnston-murp...-_-none-_-none

    There are probably better built shoes in that price range, especially on sale, but I like them quite a bit.

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    No, they'd have tiger striping when you received them. It'd be from inaccurately applying the burnishing. Bourbon - now discontinued - was made by taking walnut leather and then burnishing it on a black burnishing wheel. That sometimes resulted in tiger stripes where the black was applied more thickly in some parts of the shoe than others. Oxblood is made in a similar way, but I'm not sure exactly which colors are in question. I think it's black burnishing but not sure what the original leather color is. Some type of red.

    Fair enough if you're not sure on the BR shoes. They have free returns, so I'd buy them and return later, but I can understand why you wouldn't want to do that. I tend not to be hasty either. I've been talking to you about buying the Ludlow cotton blazer for months, and it's still about #5 or #6 on my list of upcoming purchases! Mind you, I'm more likely to buy cheaper items such as chinos on the spur of the moment. This weekend, I need to pick up a pair of running shorts for $10 or so from Old Navy or somewhere like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Danny View Post
    @srlclark The tiger striping thing really freaks me out. Are you saying that there's risk for discoloration AFTER i purchase them? Also, I love the fifth aves, even if they're a bit formal for my needs. As I noted above (and as you did too) the AE's are out of my price range though, so I'm not really considering them.

    The BR shoes felt stiff in store (ok, they were right out of the box so they obviously need breaking in), and seemed a bit plain for my taste. The color on the website is a bit lighter than real life -- here's a pic from the store today



    I'm not going to be tempted into buying a pair of shoes prematurely. Worst case scenario I talk to BR customer service and get a rain check for the jeremys at this price (if they do that). I don't really buy things hastily.

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    @Evenflow -- if the quality isn't there on those expensive Johnson and Murphys, why not pick up a cheaper pair like this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Evenflow View Post
    I have a pair of Johnston and Murphy Conards that feel really good and I get a lot of compliments on. http://www.shoebuy.com/johnston-murp...-_-none-_-none

    There are probably better built shoes in that price range, especially on sale, but I like them quite a bit.

    To be fair to J&M, their styling tends to be pretty good. There are some clunkers but for the most part, they lowered costs by outsourcing labor, using construction methods that won't hold up for as long (e.g. gluing the soles on rather than using a welt), or using cheaper leather, not by paying less attention to detail on styling. The Conard is a very good-looking shoe. At a higher price point, I think the Hannigan collection are very handsome. By contrast, Cole Haan tends to make some very gaudy shoes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny View Post
    @JohnG - I already have Clarks chukkas -- what makes these worth twice what a new pair of clarks cost?
    Close to a classic dress boot shape (you said you wanted something simple and timeless you could dress up or down), goodyear welted, Horween leather (if that's what you want instead of the suede) and just under you're price limit.

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