Originally Posted by dstunbound
I posted a week or two ago about starting a new job and needing some real suits (as opposed to the JAB stuff I had), and got some great responses. Now, I need to add a real pair of shoes to these suits. The new job is with a financial firm in CT where I will be wearing a suit daily and be client facing some days. It's definitely a little bit more conservative locale (think country clubs and hedge funds), but I want to look good and have the shoes add to my look. I also to be able to own these for a long time, and I aim to be living in NYC sooner than later. I currently have a pair of basic black J&M - http://images.johnstonmurphy.com/images/products/1_52950_FS.JPG - and a pair of CH burgundy penny loafers - http://www.peltzshoes.com/resize/ResizeImg.aspx?img=/images/vendors/COH/03504/03504.jpg&height=360
Ideally, I would like to keep cost under $250, so I reached out to AE to get their list of seconds/discontinued, and I'm going to their store later to get my size. Any thoughts in general on the type of shoe to get next would be very helpful. If AE seconds aren't the way to go, by all means let me know. I'm sort of leaning towards a dark brown wingtip, but open to a lot. I like the look of Monks, but don't know if I'm ready for that with my first real shoe.
Cap vs. Wingtip?
Oxford vs. Monk?
Dark brown vs. light brown?
etc etc etc
For the suits I ended up getting up a Suitsupply Napoli charcoal suit, and two BB Fitzgerald suits, one in navy (summer weight) and one in navy stripes. I also have a a similar navy light striped Macy's suit, and will occasionally be wearing chinos and a navy blue blazer.
Thanks, it's a long post, I know, I appreciate the feedback (I seem to get more and more confused the more threads I read).
Like everything else the answer "depends" on things like what suits you are going to wear. Styles of suits, colors and quality of fabric etc.
It also is important to know what you wear when you are casual because it is good to plan a shoe cupboard around using some of your shoes for both business and casual wear.
In this case you obviously want to start with a shoe which is suitable for the office, right?
Do you want one pair? Or are you going to consider buying more than one pair because rotation is essential.
Since you need to rotate you will need to consider at least one pair for use exclusively for business and formal wear and the second which can double up as business and casual.
Level I AE are good, even for those who can afford higher priced shoes. I own thousands of dollars worth of shoes, some of which cost a few thousand dollars each, but I still always own at least 2 or 3 pairs of Union built, USA sourced Allen Edmonds shoes. Anyone who tells you they are not good quality is either a snotty little snob or just ignorant. AE is a good quality shoe, provided, of course, that you do not buy one of their products which is outsourced to some South American or Asian country.
Another entry level shoe of superior quality is Alden.
Level II If you want to go more exotic, well then I would start with looking at Crockett & Jones but I prefer to guide you towards Cleverleys because they are better priced than Edward Green, which is the next step up, in my opinion. Going English quality shoes definitely means improved comfort but it also means a better range of styles. They can be longer lasting in many cases, but they are also more expensive.
Edward Green used to be the best English company to deal with but they are falling in quality and service so I would buy my Edward Green shoes soon, before they are no better than your common or garden type Crockett & Jones.
Level III Then look at John Lobb and Gaziano & Girling. G&G take the crown of the bench grade shoes and the MTO grade shoes. John Lobb don't really give you much choice with their MTO program whereas G&G do.
Until not too long ago Edward Green used to be right up there with the very best, but that has changed recently. Also, Edward Green cannot make up their minds what their MTO and Top Drawer means, so I won't confuse you with those choices. Too many people have been caught with very unpleasant experiences with Edward Green lately and so I feel reluctant to push the recommendation, although, their leather is certainly superior to most English brands, including John Lobb and G&G, their attitudes towards customers has definitely changed for the worse.
Vass kind of fits between Level II and Level III. Vass is a good shoemaker with really good lasts. He uses superior leathers and good shoe making techniques, but he is known to produce the odd catastrophe or two. Still, they are normally very pleasant to work with. I deal with Lazso, the son-in-law at their Budapest store, and he manages to speak the odd coherent bit of English and is always very friendly.
Then you could look at other exotics like JM Weston or Corthay or even Swiss Bally.
Then back to Alden. For black and #8 cordovan they are the way to go, superior quality and USA Union made. I normally only buy their cordovan boots, but that is a matter of taste. They produce really great shoes too, both in calf hide as well as cordovan.
Ralph Lauren and BB is a good source of custom made shoes from Alden, AE, C&J and Edward Green, but normally it is best to wait for sales because they are a little on the expensive side I think.
PM me if you need any more advice, I am happy to give you a hand with selecting good shoes and also to introduce you to good suppliers.