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Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Mild Mannered, Sep 27, 2009.
I'm your huckleberry. I prefer calf over shell - by a long shot.
Call my tastes pedestrian, but I too prefer calf, regardless of price.
I have no problem with your preference. I couldn't disagree more, but I have no problem with it.
Having said that, I have no disdain for calf; indeed, I recently ordered a pair of black calf monks from C&J.
I found shell to be a pain in the ass - not worth the time or money...
for you at least... i'm sure there are many others like myself that find it rather soothing to take proper care (and time) to bring a shoe to such a shine and luster... just like i thoroughly enjoy ironing my shirts to perfection and taking the time to properly detail my car
its ok taking the easy way out, we forgive you
I find shell to be less effort than calf. It can handle rougher treatment than calf, looks better when its beat up than calf does, and restores to near perfection far more easily than calf. It's all but impossible to tear shell, while I've seen many, many examples (and lived a couple) of calf shoes that have been scraped / gouged / torn to the point of requiring major surgery or tossing away.
That said, each has its place. I only have 2 pairs of shell, although I am considering a third: brown shell Strands are high on my list at the moment.
ah, didn't read this lop sided comment first... lol.. while i won't disagree with you, i love the shell more, i will say that calf is more comfortable in terms of flexibility, they feel lighter on the feet. but honestly, calf has its pros as well compared to shell, regardless of the dramatic price difference
Funny that you say that because i find it more effort... if calf gets wet, it dries and you can't even tell.... shell looks like hell, time to get the brush out.... and although calf isn't as durable as shell no doubt... however it definitely takes a lot to make it noticeable if calf gets that scraped up. Shell? ha... i have to brush the hell out of them when i'm done polishing because I "scratched" the eyestays with my goddamn fingernail re-lacing the shoe
so ya... shell is more durable, but it certainly isn't less forgivable, it shoes a goddamn fingerprint for christ's sake
but i love my shell strands... she's a bitch, but i love her
Aside from the Burgundy Cambridge, or MAYBE the Burgundy Shell McNeil, I too far prefer calf over shell, in terms of aesthetics. Microcreases and all. Im certainly no fan of the walnut shell. Ive tried and tried and tried to see the beauty in it in everything from the boots to the shell strands, and its just not doing anything for me compared to walnut calf. For the most part walnut shell just looks like a shoe dipped in peanutbutter. And while that may sound tasty, it isnt appealing to my eye. And black shell is just inconsequential either way.
Some good comments -always a good discussion topic. I personally love the color variation that can be found in the non-black shell colors. In my opinion a burgundy or brown shell cordovan shoe is much better looking than a similar shoe done in calf.
The color variation in shell and the thickness of the material make them less formal, but that is not much of an issue for me. If I need formal, I'll break out my black PAs or black shell Leeds. I also like black shell better than black calf, due to the translucent finish and better appearance of the creases.
As far as care requirements, after initial break in (and spewing on the case of shell), I think it might be a wash, unless you get a pair of shell shoes that get the dreaded "welts" with water. I wear shell almost every day, and lately have gotten very lazy about brushing. My shoes probably go 5 wearings (10-15 weeks) with no brushing or care, then I break out the damp cloth and brush, along with edge dressing, and spend an evening. I do the same with my two pair of calf shoes and they start looking similarly in need of care at about the same interval. I don't routinely get my shoes wet, however, so I can't really comment on that.
I give my calf shoes roughly the same treatment as my shell, that is a damp cloth followed by brushing, with a little cream or polish as needed. They look fresh and shiny for the first couple wearings, just like the shell shoes do. The difference is that shell actually looks better as it ages and gets character, while calf looks wrinkly and old as it ages. (of course, the really nice calf ages better then cheaper calf, so it does vary).
No doubt shell is more expensive, but theoretically they shuld last me longer, and I find a different level of satisfaction when wearing them. For me, that is worth the extra cost, but I certainly understand how others can feel differently. I look forward to how my shell shoes will look in a couple decades.
This is a great discussion! I've just begun my affair with shell; so far have one pair (walnut shell Dalton's no less, which I love). I have some #8 Alden pct boots on the way. My input to this discussion is that for me what is the most easy to care for is CXL. It's not supposed to have a "shine" so a little brushing and cleaner/conditioner once in a while and you're good to go. Plus, scuffs rub out so easily. Of course that won't cover dressy situations but that's less of a priority for me so...
I have more calf but am hooked on shell!
Love it! I want to try a 00 last shoe. How do they compare to the 5 last?
It appears my post from a few hours back has generated some discussion.
Before I respond to the above comment, I will provide some context by quoting a portion of one of my earlier posts and then moving on from there:
"Alden and AE each get their shell form Horween, but each adds a different finish to their burgundy and black. In the end you have:
glossy black (Alden) v. somewhat opaque black - sometimes almost gray (AE)
glossy burgundy/deep purple (alden) v. somewhat opaque burgundy/brown (AE)
If you have burgundy and black from each maker, and you make a side by side comparison (and I have), the difference in shine is rather stark (and again, some prefer a high shine (Alden) and some prefer a much more subdued shine (AE)). With respect to burgundy and black, personal preference plays into the equation. I prefer Alden's finish on its black and burgundy by a large margin, but that's just me."
Moving on ....
In some ways, if one's only experience with shell is AE (which might be the case given this thread), then they may have not gotten a full flavor of shell's qualities. This is not a criticism of AE shell (after all, I have owned or do own AE models in black, burgundy and dark brown), but it is an acknowledgement that AE shell, because of its somewhat opaque finish - at least with respect to black, burgundy, and dark brown - does not possess (or does not fully possess) , IMO, some of the qualities shell lovers look for - i.e., high shine, easy care - which all of my non-AE shells possess. Some like the opaque finish. I get that. And have no problem with it.
But if the care needed to keep my non-AE shells looking "like new" is compared to the care needed to keep my calf shoes looking "like new" (calf from Alden, AE, C&J, EG, Lobb, Sargent, etc.), it is not even close. The former requires far less care than the latter. This is demonstrably true. All that is needed is a quick wipe-down with a damp cloth, occasional horsehair brushing, and very infrequent polishing (a minimum of 15 wears). While I don't go as far as some - that shell needs no care - there is no question it needs far less care. The nature of shell cordovan leather simply allows for less care in a way calfskin does not. This is fact, not opinion. Don't get me wrong, some shell lovers do care for their shoes an awful lot - such as horsehair brushing after every wear, etc. - but this isn't necessary (as per Nick Horween of Horween Leather, the foremost supplier of shell to the world).
And the notion that calf is more comfortable than shell is truly mindboggling, and makes me wonder what shell models are being compared, and how, or even if, the said shell models are properly broken-in. Shell on a double leather sole takes time to break in. There is no doubt about that. But once shell is properly broken-in, the notion that calf is more comfortable than shell, based on my experience, would require a significant departure from good sense.
I have 37 shell models, shoes and boots, from Alden, AE, C&J, Florsheim Imperial (vintage) and Hanover (vintage), and 25 calf models from Alden, AE, Hanover (vintage), Alfred Sargent, Crockett & Jones, Edward Green, and John Lobb. I used to have far more calf models than 25, but have gotten rid of many over time.
i like my tan McTavishes the way they are, but I gotta say those look sweet. Wouldn't mind seeing more pics when you get a chance. And where do you buy Neatfoots oil?
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