I misread a post or two above as suggesting leather-soled shoes. I had also been doing a search of this forum for similar topics and must have confused replies.
Part of my reasoning is that I imagine higher-end dress shoes look better when clean and polished, but worse when dirty and scuffed, than do cheaper options. The "picture in my head," if you will, is of my black calfskin PA's. They glow after I give them a polish, but once they lose their luster and have a few scuff marks on the toe, they don't look quite so nice. If I were to walk through salted snow for five minutes, they'd look like hell (I imagine). Compare to the boots I posted above. They don't appear to be scuffable and are naturally matte - and, given their "ruggedness," would look better when salt-stained than a dress boot. This might be entirely off-base, but it's a key assumption upon which I've been acting. (Also - cordovan leather can be treated to be water resistant, but isn't it ruined by salt?)
I'm also concerned that comments from the international community with respect to style are of less value to me than those of my countrymen might be. What is common and conservative dress in one country - even in one city - is different from the next. I appreciate the help, but I think that the best thing for me to do is to keep my eyes open the first time it snows and emulate what my better-dressed peers do.
P.S. Ernie: Market for an associate at a large firm in Manhattan is $160,000 starting, plus bonus. As a young man with few expenses, I am not so much concerned with the price of a pair of quality boots. (I hope that reads as matter-of-fact, as intended.)
Thanks again for the posts in this thread.