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Thread: Versatile business casual shoe recommendations

  1. #1
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    Versatile business casual shoe recommendations

    Hi everyone,

    I am looking for opinions on the next shoe I'd like to add to my collection. I work at a school as an administrator in our international exchange program. Dress code is business casual--lots of chinos, oxfords, and ties. I currently have a pair of Redwing Iron Ranger boots that I wear with denim on Fridays (during the cooler months), AE walnut Strands, and Clarks desert boots. I often find myself wanting to wear something a little more casual than the Strands but that's not a boot.

    My considerations:
    • I've been thinking about a Longwing or Plain toe blucher but can't decide which direction to go.
    • I'd like something that can be worn with chinos, cords, wool slacks (on the more Business casual end) and perhaps slim, nice denim (I wear Gustin jeans).
    • Starting this fall I will be traveling about 6 weeks a year overseas, meeting with partner schools and doing some recruiting (mostly in Asia); therefore I'd like something that feels really good to wear and is pretty versatile.
    • Budget would be around $200, if possible; I'm fine with factory seconds and/or eBay.


    Specific shoes I've been considering and some thoughts:
    • Grant Stone Longwings or Plain Toe in Crimson Chromexcel: I really like the look of these but they seem expensive for made in China shoes. If someone can convince me otherwise, I'd be open. I really like the little bit more causal look to them. Again, just not sure if I should go with Long wing or plain toe.
    • Allen Edmonds Macneil 2.0 in brown grain or chili. Would this look ok with denim? Since I already have the brogued Strands, should I focus more on plain toe?


    • J.Crew/Alden PTB in brown chromexcel: I love the look of these but way out of my price range. Is there a comparable option at AE or somewhere else?



    I like to operate with a fairly minimalist mindset with regards to wardrobe (and other areas of my life) as much as I can so I'm approaching my shoe collection with versatility, quality, and responsibility in mind.

    I look forward to your thoughts!

    P.S. I'm also going to be asking about a blazer/sport coat recommendation for the same purpose as my shoes above, so if you have recommendations on that, please do share!
    Last edited by aaronh; May 18th, 2017 at 12:48 PM.

  2. #2
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    There are lots of options for PTBs on the Allen Edmonds shoebank (at least in my size). There's even a PTB in chromexcel, I think it's called the Academy but it has a natural welt that makes it more casual than business casual.

    http://www.shoebank.com/
    Allen Edmonds Leeds 2.0 in brown grain
    AE Badlands
    AE Kenilworth
    Brooks Brothers San Marco in brown grain

    A word on chromexcel. It is by it's nature a bit more casual because it does not take polishing. You just wipe them down to clean off dirt/dust and then brush. They have enough oil in the leather that it will pull up with brushing and scuffs/scrapes will blend in. I've had a pair of AE Long Branch boots in golden brown chromexcel for about two years now and I love them. I wear them constantly and they show it. The leather has darkened significantly and there is lots of "character" due to scuffs, scrapes, sweat, dye transfer from wearing jeans, and everything else they've been through. Just know that a pair of chromexcel shoes will not maintain the same consistent, even color and smoothness that a pair of calf leather shoes maintained with shoe polish will.
    Last edited by thedrake; May 18th, 2017 at 02:22 PM.

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    While I have been loving brown grain lately, I think it may appear too casual. The Dundee 2.0 or Kenilworth would be good options in brown. For travel though it would be nice to have a dainite sole or a topy applied since you will not be able to predict the weather.

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    What about the AE Oak Street in brown? $177 @ Shoebank or the Rudolph @ $149

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    I am in the same market as OP: casual leaning shoes that work with chinos and jeans. I have been wearing a pair of Tom's Oxford Brogues in Brown Chambray for the last year or so. While I like them, the fabric is starting to wear and I have been hard on the foam sole. I've come up with three different options (which may also work for OP) and would appreciate some input:

    -Allen Edmonds Strandmok;
    -Allen Edmonds Cove Drive; and
    -Sebago Smyth Cap Toe.

    As you can see, I kind of like wedge soles. They seem to alleviate foot pain when standing for long times and take pull otherwise formal shoes in a casual direction. However, both the Cove Drive and Smyth are a little plain. Ideally, I would prefer a shoe with some brogueing or other character.

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    Shoes:
    Longwing is a nice option and easier than PTB IMO since those are much more dependent on the last to avoid the clown look. I also like chukkas without crepe sole, penny loafers and Norwegian split toe bluchers. All these can be worn with the items/pants mentioned.

    Here we go:
    1. Keniworth in brown. These are slim enough to work well.
    2. MacNeil 2.0 in brown or burgundy. Grain leather can work fine in your setting. FSTB has a blog post about wearing these with a suit (!) and they look fine.
    3. Dundee 2.0 in brown or the chocolate brown suede chukka from Velasca. I have the Velasca ones in lighter brown suede and I really like them.
    4. Velasca also has I think longwings with dainite soles which can work well.
    5. For loafers, there are plenty on the AE website and you should try to get to a store to try them in for better fit.

    In terms of blazer, just get s navy blazer in wool with minimal shoulder padding, proper lapels and partial lining (patch pockets may make it too casual but either way it is fine). Suitsupply or Spier and Mackey get my vote for good value.

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    Out of all my options, I would get no 4 and 5 since you get good use out of your clarks desert boots. If those were not in the rotation (I only like those in very casual looks), I would go with no 3 and 5. If loafers are not your thing, I would replace 5 with 2 in these combinations.

    Cheers

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    Thanks for the thoughts. I am still undecided between plain toe and Longwings. I also really like the AE Academy, but I wish it came in a darker color. Could the "natural" color be darkened with shoe polish? Or is that risky? Also, what do you guys think about the Alumnus? Is that wearable with denim?

    Any thoughts on Grant Stone?

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by aaronh View Post
    Thanks for the thoughts. I am still undecided between plain toe and Longwings. I also really like the AE Academy, but I wish it came in a darker color. Could the "natural" color be darkened with shoe polish? Or is that risky? Also, what do you guys think about the Alumnus? Is that wearable with denim?

    Any thoughts on Grant Stone?

    Thanks
    I'm partial to the longwing. I work in a very causal environment and spent a lot of time thinking about this issue. For me, the longwing strikes the right balance between casual and dress. I can wear them with suit if needed and they look great with jeans. Plus, I like the visual interest much more.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaronh View Post
    Thanks for the thoughts. I am still undecided between plain toe and Longwings. I also really like the AE Academy, but I wish it came in a darker color. Could the "natural" color be darkened with shoe polish? Or is that risky? Also, what do you guys think about the Alumnus? Is that wearable with denim?

    Any thoughts on Grant Stone?

    Thanks
    The Academy in Natural is chromexcel leather and should not have shoe polish applied to it. Directions for polishing https://ashlandleather.com/pages/ash...ntenance-guide

    And here's a leather conditioner that is appropriate for chromexcel https://www.hangerproject.com/saphir...her-cream.html

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