I've owned my first pair of Aldens for a couple weeks now and just wanted to thank you guys for providing a great forum. I based much of my purchase decision on your posts and it was on this thread that I heard about the Tom Austin sale that made it possible to get my first pair. I bought a color 8 longwing floor model that was lovingly restored to somewhat match the left, which sat quietly in a box since 2002. They couldn't be considered firsts or even seconds, but it's the imperfections and mismatched color that endear them to me.
Though this will surely be shunned by the argyle devotees, I usually wear mine without socks. I prefer the feel of the shoes directly on my feet and think the aesthetic bears a sense of candor to which I'm partial. I get a lot of crap for this from the older crowd at work, but I enjoy that as well. I might even be referred to as a 'hipster' by a few, but my intent to support quality, American made products is as genuine as the next person posting here.
I've bought three shoes in the past couple months and am hoping my spending soon begins to wane. In addition to the #8 longwing, I have the The Bureau Kudu Boot and may be getting some #8 Indy Boots if I'm lucky enough to end up in the minority who has a decent experience with North River Outfitter. I'm surprised by the lack of love for kudu on this thread but caveat this sentiment by saying I do not own any chromexcel. It's a bigger test of will to rest my kudu boots than anything else I own.
Anyway, thanks for maintaining such a quality thread. I'm having a lot of fun on here.