It's Easter weekend and I spent part of Good Friday cleaning and polishing shoes. I passed by the office Black Saturday and when I got home, the maid had lined up all my shoes on the table so I couldn't help but snap another photo.
Here's what I wrote before Style Forum crashed, with a couple of quick updates. I apologize for the lack of rug, but this is a tropical country after all.
I'd love advice on what I should be on the lookout for in the next few years, though I'm pretty much covered. I think I'd love another light brown shoe (tan, burnt pine, etc.) in a more casual style such as a wholecut or plain vamp monkstrap, a pair of burgundy loafers, and maybe a pair of caramel or similarly light, yellow-brown wingtips since they look so good with jeans. Depending on circumstances, I may also need to buy a pair of plain black cap toes.
(TOP LEFT) ADIDAS BLACK SAMBAS, purchased at Filene's Basement beside the White House
This is a nod to Style Forum Streetwear.
Not much to tell. I hadn't worn sneakers in a few years, and didn't bring any with me on my US trip. After walking from the Lincoln Memorial to Capitol Hill in leather soled boots, I figured I needed sneakers ASAP. Just my luck, there was a pair of the Sambas I wanted, in my size, in the Filene's beside the White House, so the rest of my trip was more comfortable. The relevant part is that I worse these while buying the other shoes...
(TOP CENTER) POLO TELLMAN / CROCKETT AND JONES HANDGRADES, purchased at Ralph Lauren Rodeo Drive
Yes, these were what I was buying when I was insulted by the diabolical Darth Todd. That ugly incident aside, these are memorable because I purchased them with a frat brother who listened to my brief summary of this forum's advice and bought the exact same pair as well. The nice associate helping us thought there was only one pair on the shelf which was why it was marked down, but it turned out there were four more pairs misplaced in the stockroom, including two right in our size, as though decreed by fate. Further, diorshoe purchased the same shoe shortly before I did, and the mirror shine photos he posted spurred me to do the same for his shoes' cousins.
To add to the hilarity, my frat brother and I concocted a story that the older brother we were staying with in Los Angeles was so rich that he decided to take us to lunch at Beverly Hills one day becuase it was the closest place to his office at Wilshire. While there, he decided to give us souvenirs and figured dress shoes would be nice. So we walked into Ralph Lauren and he wanted to give us the Mackays, but we said we were too embarrassed to accept anything more than the second-tier, $600 shoes. When I actually wore my C&Js to a frat party in another city, however, testimonies from the shocked brothers there cemented our LA host's international reputation for profligacy, which he is currently enjoying.
While I still wonder whether the single line of broguing on the cap on the Benton (C&J Belgrave) would have looked better, the price aside, I have received a good number of compliments, down to a pregnant stare from a partner better dressed than most in my new firm. The combination of plain toe balmoral style with the light tan color makes them wonderful with everything from light gray slacks to dark jeans.
(TOP RIGHT) EDWARD GREEN CHESTNUT MALVERN IN 606 LAST, trial eBay used shoe purchase
I think I got lucky with these, since I figured I wanted Malverns to have a bit of variety from the 888 last, and someone posted a pair of used Malverns in roughly my size. I won the auction and a European uncle advanced the check.
When they arrived, I was right that they had far from the wear one would expect from a pair made in the late 80's, not even at the heels. I just had to clean and polish them. In retrospect, I bid a tad high, for used shoes, but they're in pretty good shape.
Now, there are a few fiascos associated with this shoe. First, the former owner was so kind that he sent cedar trees with them. Unfortunately, these EGs are in UK size 8, and the shoes he sent were marked "9" so they ended up widening the heels, though that was fixed simply by putting in a different pair of trees. It was a tad scary, though.
Second, I projected that I'm a US 8.5E, and these are UK 8Fs, so I thought it'd be a perfect fit. THEN Hilary Freeman from Edward Green told me their UK F is in fact the same width as the US F width. I think she was thoroughly amused by this blooper, so she got the numbers inside the shoe and mailed me a pair of full-length sockliners, to raise the toes and push the foot further back. They worked and the shoes fit great, with wiggle room. The only problem is that the shoe repair service I used had never seen Edward Greens ever, and couldn't figure out how to preserve the foam under the ankles, and they used harder cork as padding without telling me.
Third, I still cannot for the life of me figure out how to polish these following the original matte orange color. At present, I'm using Meltonian cognac cream and Kiwi burgundy polish, and might cut down the reds in the future.
The former owner was a jolly e-mail correspondent. After we worked out the confusion with the shoe trees, I told him that the week after I got the shoes, my firm's hiring partner stopped in the corridor to stare at the shoes, and we had a good laugh.
(BOTTOM LEFT) RALPH LAUREN PURPLE LABEL BLACK MACKAY, purchased from Manhattan Rhinelander Mansion
These were the first dress shoes I bought myself, and I think I made a great choice. The salesman, Scott, told me he wouldn't let me leave New York without buying them, considering the sale. For an RTW, they fit me amazingly well (unlike the C&Js which are slightly loose around the heel), and the 888 last is simply magnificent.
What happened was that I read the Style Forum thread about the Ralph Lauren one day 40% off sale with additional 15% off on the midnight of that day, and could not purchase via Polo.com because I had no idea what my size was. Nevertheless, I went to the Mansion the following day, where the Mackays were being sold for $553.
When I mentioned it, Scott told me that the additional 15% off was good only for the previous day. However, I said I had flown all the way from Southeast Asia so he said he'd give it to me. Not only that, since it was my first time in the Mansion, he insisted I try every style they had, from Purple Label loafers to cordovan chelsea boots. He did this, mind you, knowing I would not be buying anything but cap toe balmorals.
After this extremely pleasant exercise on the Mansion's sofa beside the fireplace, I saw Scott's C&J tan monks paired with his navy suit and resolved to buy a pair of those in cap toe, the Benton (Belgrave). However, Scott made an honest mistake in how they fit and would break in, and I gave up and returned them in the Beverly Hills branch.
There, the frat brother with me flipped over the Tellmans and discovered they were marked down 65%, and I swapped the original shoe for the two Tellmans we wear.
Incidentally. It was cold out when I bought this shoe, so I lingered in the Mansion's fireplace area. While there, I filled out my application form to Harvard Law School's graduate course...
(BOTTOM CENTER) JOHN LOBB DARK OAK JERMYN II, online purchase
Emboldened by my experience with the Malverns, I saw that Susan Redgrift was selling a pair of Jermyn IIs in my size. After several quick PMs, jcusey advised that dark brown would be a great color for this great shoe, and Susan gave me detailed measurements, plus a close-up photo of a one-inch gash on the right side of the left shoe (easily covered by wax). To make a long story short, I went for it.
Unfortunately, this was a bit of a fiasco as I incurred quite a bit of additional costs in bank transfer fees, shipping, and customs. Yes, customs pounced on this because they saw it was an unused pair, and claimed they put duties even on gifts. (Susan had the presence of mind to list the cost as GBP50, though that was still a bit given the tariff rate Philippine customs used.)
Anyway, they're great, and I wear them or the Malverns on Saturdays with jeans. My only problem is that the 888 last just fits a lot better on me. The Lobb 7000 is a wide last, and it's a bit wide at the heels as well; I think I'm sticking to EG for future purchases, if any. There's not much I can do aside from trying to reproduce Hilary's sockliner trick, but the trees I got with the Malverns fit well in these, so it's not all bad.
Nevertheless, you just have to look down at the smooth, polished vamp to understand why jcusey called this the most sublime RTW shoe in the world.
(BOTTOM RIGHT) RALPH LAUREN PURPLE LABEL MACKAY, purchased from old classmate in grad school
This is the best story of them all, one I have not yet told in full.
One night, for only two hours, a glitch in Polo.com allowed Style Forum members to stack their 40% off sale with the 15% HOLIDAY coupon. At the time, I had not yet tried on Edward Greens, so did not place an order. Later, a kind member informed me that he had purchased two pairs to be sure about his size, and happened to be returning the pair which was in my size. If I were willing to pay for shipping, he would sell them at cost.
The dilemma, however, was that I was a tourist from halfway across the world, with very little recourse if a total stranger just pocketed money sent to him. I consulted with j and other mods, and was about to try Escrow.com when I found an old classmate studying in the same unversity as my anonymous benefactor (I had lost touch and thought she had graduated). Despite the confusion in scheduling the handoff, the kind forum member patiently arranged a meeting with my old friend. She purchased them for me, then carried them in her luggage all the way back to Asia, where I purchased them from her for 50 cents less.
As you saw from the previous post, however, an imperfection in the heel construction resulted in a bulge on the right side of the left shoe's uppers, and jcusey and shoefan affirmed it was not supposed to be there. Diorshoe poetically described how the cosmetic imperfection gave the shoes character while many others opined they should be exchanged promptly, and I found myself agreeing with the latter.
My friend, however, felt a bit hurt when I mentioned it, and proceeded to describe to me in detail the trouble she had gone to. Aside from carrying the bulky package with heavy shoe trees inside halfway across the world, she had flown out of New York, and the idea of this svelte friend pulling two heavy suitcases in and out of the subway truly touched me. She repeatedly reminded me that it was the heaviest shoebox she had ever carried, and for a considerable distance at that.
I can no longer bear to part with this particular pair, and keep the supposed defect as a constant reminder to count one's blessings, and most of all the friendship of longtime friends and kind strangers.
I hope you enjoyed this post from a first-time shopper; I put a bit of effort into it, out of respect for all the great advice I got on this forum. Good luck to other new members who are beginning their careers, and restructuring their wardrobes from the toes up.