OP, I went down this same road a few years ago.
I took my wife to Iris in New York on the recommendation of the people at Leffot. http://www.irisnyc.com/
... Iris has lovely shoes but from a construction and durability standpoint the shoes at Leffot are a much better deal. In my experience the materials will be just as nice. But it's rare to find goodyear welts etc. on anything but boots. The idea that you will pay more to get something that can be resoled ... not sure it will be realized in the women's shoe stores.
Speaking of boots, Lucchese and Frye are good options for women's boots. Also look at R.M. Williams ... they offer a greater variety of heels. I'll second the comment about C&J's lady shoes not having a high enough heel. Unless your girlfriend is 5' 8", she will probably want more of a heel than you can get on the C&J jodphur, for example.
The final observation I'll make is that it may not be second nature for a women to take good care of her shoes. Since they do not buy them expecting ten years of life, they do not care for them the way men care for their Aldens. Women don't sit around and polish their shoes on Saturday morning. For sure they did not see their mother doing this as they grew up. The whole shoe-shine thing is a man thing. So if you buy your girl shoes expecting her to have something like your Alden experience, you might expect to be the person who puts in the trees and conditions and polishes and repairs the gouges. Don't be surprised if you drop an Edward Green-sized sum on some fine boots and then find her caring for them the same way she cares for the rest of her boots.