First of all, thank you for a very detailed answer.Words (Click to show)
I'd like to begin by saying that I can buy very expensive stuff, but I won't, and here's my reason. I will be wearing these shoes to school (well, private school where I have to wear polos in the spring and suits in the winter - so don't laugh at me for buying dress shoes for school!). My school campus (especially the extensive gravel bits) is like a shoe destroying machine. I bought a pair of dress shoes in September 2012 for school and now they barely qualify as shoes. The front has all but turned green from scuff marks, and I also step on my heel very steeply (I don't know a better way to describe it) - but I have already chiseled away so much of my right heel that the wood is showing. The last thing I'd like to do is torture my first pair of Allen Edmonds to death like this. So, I have decided not to invest in nice shoes until later - when I really need them (half the people in my school get away with wearing boat shoes so $300 dress shoes really aren't imminently necessary - I hope you'll understand my logic).
I was also wondering how Samuel Windsor makes shoes that cheap! I mean, I read that finding goodyear welted shoes even under $200 is a miracle - here they are for $50! I would say that they have been doing some serious photoshopping, but you say they are great for the money. How would they compare to other cheap brands like Clarks?
Well, I was also wondering about these very attractive tassel loafers: http://www.johnstonmurphy.com/product.aspx?c=1208&pid=66980&VID=67016&SEARCH=breland#tabRatings
They are not square toe, the leather appears to be slightly less... dickskin, if I may, and they have leather soles. Am I taking a step in the right direction now? And, same with the Meltons (http://www.johnstonmurphy.com/product.aspx?c=1215&pid=38301&VID=38301#)?
P.S. On an unrelated note, I found it peculiar that you put John Lobb over Edward Green. I used to think it was the general consensus that Edward Green is sort of the "one and only."
You're welcome, my friend.
1. Dress shoes are always appropriate; I wouldn't dream of ridiculing a man for dressing well. As for the wear problem, you're being silly. If you're heavy on your heels, you might like to consider a Dainite sole (or similar) that is very hard wearing. Also, steel taps can be put on the edge of the heel and the end of the toe if you want to stay with leather, and will prevent these problems completely. As for scuffs on your shoes: be more careful, and as we all live in the real world, polish them! Shoes are designed to be robust and designed to be used, so don't be afraid of them. With careful use of brushes and polishes, there is barely anything you can do to your shoes that cannot be covered up or transformed from damage into "character", at worst. So don't just wear crappy ones and think of them as disposable. Your logic is flawed - that one pair of $250 (sale, on now) Allen Edmonds can be reinforced and last you the whole time with proper care. Or how about a Dainite-soled Church's suede chukka for your summer chinos, at $150 as a second? (An example of something I saw on Herring's site). Your options are wide, don't compromise too much if you don't have to.
2. Samuel Windsor and their like can make Goodyear welted shoes that cheap because Chinese factory workers don't earn shit and work really long hours with no pee breaks. Just as Loake can make a brogue on the 26 last in India and sell it for $150, whereas the near-identical shoe made in England costs $300. Clark's have a different model. They have a chain of high street stores, and I grew up wearing their shoes as "good quality". The best thing about them was they were the only place on the high street that measure children's feet properly. But as a man, I wouldn't ever shop there, because those overheads of physical shops mean they sell a glued together turd for your $50.
3. Tassel loafers, good idea for your summer casuals (and so much nicer than boat shoes). But these are indescribably horrible. Leather that looks like it's been lining the back seat of a Bangkok taxi for the last ten years, and glued together. And is that kiltie really a plus? Personal thing, I suppose. But it costs $140! Whatever your size is, I'm sure we could find a dozen things that are both better looking and more durable within $20 of that price, in about ten minutes. Really, you must be kidding.
4. These captoes do look like they might be Goodyear welted. But I can't be sure. Some shoes are made with a stitch around the "welt" and a stitch around the sole as a fashion effect (and I've been caught out myself buying a pair, only last year), hiding the fact that both sets of stitching are different sizes, entirely decorative, and the sole is glued on by a monkey. But again, even if these are welted, that's only fifty bucks shy of some of the Allen Edmonds shoes in their sale, or any number of the other options mentioned previously. And check out that nasty plastic-looking leather. For $175 plus shipping? Fuck right off, Johnston, and tell Murphy to accompany.
Be brave. Try something else.