I'm a student of limited means trying to refresh my wardrobe to something dressier. I've gathered enough money to make a reasonably significant purchase - and I've put the retirement of my ratty brown trainers at the top of my list (not least because they're too large and hurt my soles). I've scouted out the mall near me and the dep. stores in town to no avail. Classic makers such as Loake, Barker, C&J etc. aren't readily available here - I haven't checked the smaller cobbler's shops, but I doubt they have shoes in my price range (<200GBP or 2000SEK).
So I've decided to buy shoes online. I find full-brogues to be too richly decorated and ostentatious, while unadorned oxfords seem too ordinary, so semi-brogue oxfords it is (though I'm still open to a blucher if it'll take more of a beating). I can only afford one pair of shoes at the moment, so they must work well as beaters, must last as long as possible, and they must have some form of rubber soles as the ground here is more often wet than not. G-fit is also a must, as my feet are v. wide.
That narrowed my choices down to these, all roughly 185GBP (210 shipped) and all roughly at the same level of preference:
- Barker's Leybourne semi-brogues, also 386 last
- Herring Shoes' Lambeth semi-brogues, made by Barker in the 386 last
- Loake's Tweed semi-brogues with half-rubber soles, 026 last (bit doubtful the soles here will fare as well, as the leather is still there and may be damaged from moisture/salt)
- Barker's Windsor full-brogues in leather soles, 69 last, considered b/c of the sale. Will resole to rubber.
- Any additional suggestions will be considered and highly appreciated.
Can anyone with experience with these brands comment on the leather or the construction? Would the shoes last long if I were to wear them almost every day (but used shoe trees)? Are there any significant differences here in quality? The research I've done here and elsewhere tells me they're similar, but perhaps there's more. I've no idea in terms of longevity, but I don't have much choice in the matter.
Since I can't try these shoes on personally, it's going to be difficult to make the purchase. Can anyone comment on the lasts? Are they (in g-fit) narrow, wide, tall, short? Are they true to size (and for people who have tried the shoes on - what would the EU44 be in these lasts? I've referred to the maker's tables for now, but I'm curious if they differ in RL). How high are the insteps and arches?
Lastly, are these shoes stylistically/aesthetically "okay"? Would they be out-of-place in a dress shirt and chinos/jeans outfit or w/ a sportcoat?
Thanks for any comment or advice that you can offer.