Shell can be dressed up or down.
Balmoral is more formal.
Plain-toe is just elegant to me (see: whole-cuts)
Plain-toe looks better with shell creases than calf creases
Add brouging if you'd like to dress it up - preferably ram-style
I'd wear it to work - perfect business casual shoe.
Personally not in to wing-tips or straps (though I like the austerity). Not looking for a cap-toe.
Maybe a suede austerity?
I agree with your assessment of shoes,i.e.. Shell can be dressed up or down ( people who say shell longwings etc... are neither formal or business appropriate don't get the style ( not fashion) convention that has been generally accepted for the better part of the last 70 yrs. Europeans and some in their 20-30's never "got or will get" shell. My only subjective disagreement is that whole-cuts, or plain toes look better with shell for the folds or creasing. I love wholecuts, just bought that shoe in Ama calf and love them, but think you need a stitched vamp, wingtip, or cap to break or minimize the shell creasing. I think in a wholecut or plain toe it is too prevalent and detracts. Many would disagree with though and American maker's bread and butter were always shell plain toes.
P.S.- I know this is the Meermin thread, but Carmina was mentioned and as for the desired suede Austerity, I think the Carmina Mallorca store may have one in a tan snuff. ( Pepe would make a beautiful one though, and on the Hiro last, I think would be beautiful) . I have a friend who popped in at Carmina Mallorca and took pics of what small inventory of 12UK they had, and think he found the austerity suede in a smaller size as I too want that shoe in a Simpson or Forest last, different as they are. I found a pair of shell Cuero Simpson wings in both the Paris and Mallorca store and price difference was 550 Eu Paris vs. 505 Mallorca (inc VAT). Anyone who wants Carmina and is willing to pay that difference between Paris and Spain, should contact Miho at Paris@Carminashoemaker. She is incredibly helpful and patient, and Paris has great inventory, at least in my hard to find size. Furthermore, Paris is finally setting up direct Paypal as Betty has for Spain purchases and should have on that poor, neglected stepchild of an "e-boutique" they seem to have forgotten