Pros: low maintenance, form fitting, pairs well with jeans or dark pants
Cons: best way to fit is in the store (not online), long break in period
I took my wife to visit my brother in the bay area recently. I specifically set aside part of a day to visit the Alden Shop in San Francisco. When I went in the store, they measured my feet and gave me a few different sizes to try on in a plain black oxford style lace up shoe. After they figured out my size in that last (not sure what last it was?), I had them take out the Alden LWB (#8) in a size 6E (6 C/E). The shoes literally fit my feet like a glove! In the store, I didn't notice that the shoe box pinched my pinky toes a little while walking. I started breaking them in the first day I got them and I wore them for most of the second day as well. When I returned home, both of my pinky toes had blisters on them (not the kind you can pop). I should have wore them at home for a few hours at a time (as is recommended on this forum) instead of taking them out for an entire day the second day after purchasing them. Thankfully, I found something at Walgreens specifically for blisters on toes (it's called Advanced Healing Blister for Fingers & Toes by Band-Aid) which works so well you put them on and don't have to change them for days. It literally melds to your skin. They are a little pricey for bandages, but well worth it.
I bought some really thin dress socks, but I could still feel the toe box rubbing on my pinky toes. My next step (which ended up working) was a combination of the wet sock trick (only for an hour or two) followed by wrapping two socks over the top of my shoe trees and jamming them into the shoe for 1.5 days (pull one sock over the top of the shoe tree, then fold it over itself and do it again with the other sock). At first, it hurt just to stand in these shoes as the foot bed wasn't broken in. Once the foot bed molded to my feet (as so many people who buy Alden shoes say) along with the sock method, I am able to wear my regular thickness dress socks. The shoes feel amazing to walk and stand in now. Who knew dress shoes could be so comfortable? The break in period for these shoes does require some patience. I almost went to the shoe cobbler and thought about buying a wooden (with metal) shoe stretcher, but I'm glad I didn't do either of those things. I think next time I will try to tough it out (and put the bandages on early during the break in process to prevent blisters) to see how they naturally mold to my feet (okay, maybe half a day of the sock method for 2 days). My only concern is the purchase of future Alden shoes. Since I'm a 6E in a Barrie last, I'm not sure what that means for other lasts (especially for their non-boot suede lace up shoes).
For anyone out there with pinky toe rubbing issues, just bear with it until they break in. Take care. I have some photos in my profile of the shoes.