"~~Hi Guys. Long time lurker, first time poster. I recently tried a couple pairs of Allen Edmonds McAllister wingtips, one purchased online, and one from the San Francisco AE store. Overall I was disappointed enough to return both pairs. My foot measures right between 11 and 11.5, and also right between medium and wide, so finding the proper size on that long narrow last was tricky. The SA and I decided that the 11D was sized the best, although it was tight, and I proceeded to take the shoes home. The two problems I immediately had was that the shoes were horrendously uncomfortable (not just tight but stiff), and the leather on the sides of the shoes "winged" out just while I was standing there. Going to a wide size gave me TOO much width, and the leather did the same thing. In addition, on one of the pairs the upper wasn't even stitched to the sole symmetrically on each shoe! Now, I'm certainly not as knowledgeable as many of you, but am also not a total shoe noob, having several pairs of Ferragamo, Gucci, Magli...ect, and this is the only time I have run into this "winging" problem, and certainly the most uncomfortable a new show of any type has been. In fact, when returning the shoes, I purposely wore a pair of Ferragamo Tramezza shoes to illustrate how that pair kept it's shape, which was possibly not a fair comparison given the price point difference, but it IS Allen Edmonds who touts their fine construction after all, so fair enough. To AE's credit, their sales staff was a pleasure to work with, and agreed that the shoe should not be performing like it did. I received a full refund. Now to my question. I REALLY want to like AE, but all the styles I enjoy are built on the 65 last, which just may not fit my foot well. However, regardless of which last, I came away from my first experience with AE disappointed in the quality of the shoes in general. Your "Allen Edmonds Appreciation Thread" though has thousands of posts, seemingly from dozens of fans, but is their quality on par with what it once was, or has it gone markedly south?"
I had a similar issue with the AE sizing on the 65 last. I had originally purchased the Park Avenues in 7.5E from the Michigan store after being measured by the sales rep. They were very tight width wise, but the rep said they would break in after a dozen or so wears. They loosened up a little, but never felt comfortable or "right". I called AE customer service, and was set on exchanging them for a pair of 7.5EE, but the AE phone rep talked me out of it, and recommended 8E instead. Here is the way she explained the sizing to me:
~~the size increases in length 1/6th of an inch and ¼ quarter of an inch in width each half size. If you just change the width and stay in the same length, the width changes 3/16th of an inch in both the toe box and the heel.
I found that by moving up to the 8E, I was able to get adequate side and toe box relief, while still having a good, snug fit in the heel. Might be worth a shot to try on a pair of 11.5D in your case to see if that helps the fit. The pair you purchased was clearly way too tight, which probably contributed to the winging issues you were having.
From my understanding increasing the length will gain a slight width increase. the 1/6th and 3/16th is just standard for moving around different sizes. So the 8E prob gave a tiny bit more room. However I'd be worried about the foot falling in the correct locations in the shoe. I know I size down to an 11.5 in the 65 last in order to get proper placement from a 12D in most shoes. Found an 11.5 in the 108 was better as well. Its just the quirkiness of the lasts used.