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Edited by Slickman - 5/24/12 at 5:26am
These are your choices, the way I see it:-
1- the Albert pump, preferably in suede with formal black piping - this is the real gentleman's traditional choice and has been for centuries. The shoe is obtainable from various outlets, but my personal favourite place to buy them would be Gieves & Hawkes, although Brooks Brothers used to stock a C&J version until very recently. Price, around GBP 80 - 120, depending on store.
2- Mezlan two tone patent, very elegant, very comfortable, very attractive and easy to maintain. Very practical to own and cheap. Better quality than Allen Edmonds in my opinion, but at much lower prices. This shoe is easy to obtain from Shoemart at discounted prices today.
3- Edward Green - pricey but outstanding quality. Very traditional style for a patent leather shoe, and, of course, the 2 eyelet lace up is traditional, although not my cup of tea, it is an amazing shoe.
4- Gaziano and Girling - this is the modern expression of a formal shoe. Stingray Sinatra or Cooper, around GBP1300 -1600 per pair they are not cheap, but these a modern gentleman's answer to the formal evening "black shine" shoe.
Many patent leather shoes look tacky and cheap, and, if you don't want to spend a lot of money on a shoe you don't wear a lot, buy the Suede or velvet Albert slipper, and matched to a formal black tie tux trouser, you will be amazed how elegant and comfortable it is, it will be obvious why traditional gentlemen have always used this option as a standard "uniform dress" for dinner and Opera wear. It is classier than the patent leather pump, which is actually originally used as a "morning attire" rather than "evening attire"
The second choice is the Mezlan from Shoemart because that is a very practical and very good quality shoe to own at a really good price. It looks just as elegant as the expensive patent leathers and the calf hide two tone give is a lovely formal appearance to perfectly match a modern tux.
C&J Templar is also great and the patent leather lace up from Tim Little is another good quality buy.
I attend a lot of Operas and formal evening events, and I use the Albert 90% of the time. When patent is "required" I use the Mezlan and everyone thinks they cost a fortune, they really do look good.
For weddings they are perfect because they do not "crease" and are not stiff like usual patent shoes.
Where it is overbearingly formal and patent is required I use Edward Greens or G&G stingray.
I have owned a lot of patent shoes and formal shoes, and I would NOT buy any of them again except the above 4 or Tim little, or C&J Templar.
Anyway, that is just my opinion.
The trouble with he ASW is the stitching pattern along the vamp. That is so non-traditional that you might as well wear a pair of polished and waxed calf hide whole cuts like the C&J Wembleys and brighten them up with a good shine using Saphir Md'Or wax.
The whole idea of black tie is to "tone down" - I know that sounds weird, but the idea was that men should all wear understated and uniform dress with limited color and limited pattern/style. This is so that the women could flaunt their styles, colors and dress better.
The minute you start moving towards obvious lines and highly visible patterns, like the stitching on the ASW, then you stray from the idea of the plain understated black tie/tux/formal thing, in which case, you could go for a pair of green or pink or even just a pair of those sneakers with the flashing LED lights along the sole.
C&J and Alfred Sargent used to do a patent shoe called the "Templar", can you find a pair of those?
what about these:-
Very very elegant