While I don't have the Norwegian front cordos from Alden of Carmel, they are very very very high on my wish list. If you are thinking of spending ~$500 on shoes they are likely the better buy b/c you can (as you say) get RLs on sale. That said, it depends on how flexible you want them to be. The RLs can work with a jeans look on weekends or with dress trousers to work. I would hesitate to pair them with anything but a heavy 'country' suit. The Aldens look (to me at least) slightly dressier than the RL wingtip cordo shoes due to the last shape. I'd also recommend looking at a pair of Alden norwegians at yr friendly neighborhood shoe shop to get a sense of their look - the ridge looks to me almost like melted wax - it is not the nice, contrast-stitched and linear look that you see with Italian calfskin shoes. None of this is to knock the Darltons. I got a pair on Ebay for about $300 a few weeks ago and love them. I also own the RL McCallum Chukkah (official boot of the SF). What is nice about Ralph's take on cordo is the brownish-red tone that the shoes have. I don't know if this is true for AoC, but the Alden cordo monkstraps that I own have a very uniform dark red color. They start to antique and look interesting with creasing and wear, but they are glossier and dressier at the outset and, assuming that you take care of them, will stay that way. The RL shoes start off with a bit more character and, even with polishing, keep a bit of color variation that the Aldens don't have. But hey, trying to figure out how to spend that $500 on shoes is a nice problem to have.