While I am usually inclined to take a lady's advice, and Aldens tend toward the overly practical (not exciting) - if you're looking for a solid quality pair of reliable brown shoes for everyday use, you really can't go wrong with them/Allen Edmonds. If you want a little flair, you can get a split toe, or some brogueing. I'm 24, and I understand not wanting to look too "old-fashioned" (no offense, mature shoefolks), but IMHO you don't want to go too trendy for an everyday shoe. There are some very nice European lines that are a little flashier than the Americans, try Santoni.
They may push your price limits at retail though. Maybe something like this.
You mentioned you don't want to have to replace anything too quickly, the best remedy for that in my case was buying more shoes to rotate
I have some lower end, mall shoes in my closet for variety and rest for my nicer pairs. Alexis, I hope you're kidding with the DnGs