From the shoe owner's perspective, it is somewhat noticeable, from the perspective of others simply observing the shoes, certainly not noticeable. (except for those of us here). The real differences are in the details - in the C&J (for RL) shoes that I have, there are absolutely no stitching errors, double-stitches or holes missing thread. The soles are stitched perfectly. The heels are attached without any errors (not true for some of my AE or Aldens). The fit and finish is just a notch above. However, I will say I have gotten perfect shoes from AE also - just not every pair.
The question (rightly asked) is whether it's worth the price difference.
Great! - Enjoy your sabbatical and take care of your shoes. Please post pics. There are not enough pictures of well worn-in shoes on this thread! Instead of a "cold turkey" sabbatical, I have chosen to strategically add to my collection, when a deal is too good to pass up, and only for a specific $ amount per year.
It seems the focus around these fora is about acquiring, when it should be (in my estimation) about enjoying and caring for the shoes and clothing items we have. To that end, here are my shell MacNeils today (about 18 months old at the moment).
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
(as a side note, can you tell I just got a new phone with a decent camera?) More pics to come!
LOL - once you cross over the line (more shoes than your wife) you get comfortable with it. For me, it's more about how much closet space I'm given. I don't want to be the guy who needs to store shoes in other closets in the house.
Very well said!! Thanks for reinforcing that and reminding me not to be so obsessed about holy grails.