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Durability question

GratefullyBlessed

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Hello, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving. I've been a lurker on this forum for a couple of years and would like to thank many of you for the knowledge and advice which I've seen shared.

Over the last few years I've advanced in my career and have really learned to appreciate how being well dressed has been a huge advantage in my progression. Now I'm at a point where I'm interested in high cost items like Crockett and Jones, Alden, and the like. I find some of the things I want to be just amazing to look at.

But I have a principle which I try to follow with my money, that if I spend money on something or someone out has to be an investment. This way it's never a waste. If I'm going to spend a thousand dollars on a pair of shoes or boots, for instance, how long will they last? Do they need to be babied in order to keep them looking great?

I currently live in the Chicago area, where winters can be brutal, which leads to my main question. Do I have to worry so much about brands like Crockett and Jones, The Carmina, etc... holding up and still looking good in such environs? Are they really made to handle such weather?

I came across a pair of Shell Cordovan Alden boots that looked so nice that I thought to myself there's no way that can handle Chicago weather and look that freaking good doing it.

Thanks for any feedback.
 

madhat

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Agreed; I wore shell today in sleeting conditions.

They can absolutely handle the weather, if you treat them with respect. If you want to stand in puddles, soak them through and continue to wear them all day then dry them by the fire, wear them every day of the year, never condition or use shoe trees, then no quality leather footwear isn't for you. If you are willing to learn how to care for your shoes, and follow through, they will serve you for years and years (with occasional recrafts and resoles).
Not mine, but the owner of these Alden shells wears them hard as work boots. He's put years into these things, and I think they look amazing with their patina:
jdkfmcjmf3jz.jpg

If he wanted to keep them looking fresh, he could keep them polished to make the color consistent.
 

papa kot

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I lived in Chicago on-and-off and can tell you first hand that Cordovan is great choice for the Windy City. Here are some aspects you may want to consider when getting started.

The most frequent mistake people make when upgrading your wardrobe is too much and too soon. Before you jump in all the way into a few expensive pairs of shoes, try on a pair or so. When it comes to Cordovan, do as much research as possible to ensure that your sizing is proper. Cordovan waves or wrinkles make shoes unique and also prevent most sellers from offering return policies. If I were you, I'd choose the shoes on the same last but in calf to see whether you like the fit. Only then go Cordovan. That or prepare to take a bath and re-sell your new shoes for a decent markdown.

The second mistake is forgetting that proper shoes need proper care. To this day I recall my friend's advice when I was looking at a pre-owned BMW M3: You may afford a car, but don't forget that the manufacturer created the vehicle for a particular audience that does not frown upon spending thousands on a simple break service. The advice stuck with me, as it applies to all find things in life. When you drop several hundred bucks on shoes, expect to care for them. Most people who have expensive shoes don't wear the same pair every day and have time and means to provide proper service. Also, consider shoes from the makers that offer re-crafting (e.g., Alden, AE). Carmina, to my best knowledge, does not have a re-crafting service in the US. It is not a deal breaker for me, but it forces to baby my Carminas.

Given the weather you enjoy throughout the year, I'd also recommend galoshes or a two-shoe arrangement for odd weather. You have a pair of boots that you wear to the office and then change into the office shoes while you're there. I've subscribed to this methodology with great success when I worked in Chicago and even further up north.

Good luck!
 

GratefullyBlessed

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Agreed; I wore shell today in sleeting conditions.

They can absolutely handle the weather, if you treat them with respect. If you want to stand in puddles, soak them through and continue to wear them all day then dry them by the fire, wear them every day of the year, never condition or use shoe trees, then no quality leather footwear isn't for you. If you are willing to learn how to care for your shoes, and follow through, they will serve you for years and years (with occasional recrafts and resoles).
Not mine, but the owner of these Alden shells wears them hard as work boots. He's put years into these things, and I think they look amazing with their patina:
View attachment 1289260
If he wanted to keep them looking fresh, he could keep them polished to make the color consistent.
Wow! You just helped me pull the trigger, sir! Well played!
 

johng70

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I would offer some additional advice:
1. What does the most damage to shoes isn't the wet, it's the salt. I highly recommend over-shoes in the snow for that reason. Additionally, walking around in snow/water with leather soles is going to get you wet feet. So, either overshoes or rubber soles are needed. I'm not a big fan of rubber soled dress shoes which is another reason overshoes are great.
2. You need at least 2 pairs of shoes, preferably more, in your rotation. So, rather than a single $1,000 pair of shoes or boots, you might consider 2 pairs for a lesser amount.
 

johnnymiz

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if you are going to buy alden boots for chicago winters, make sure you get them with either commando or all terrain soles. alden leather and neocork soles are no bueno for slippery conditions.
rain into snow here in nyc today... wearing alden chamois (nubuck) tankers with commando soles to deal with it. tomorrow will prob be alden color 8 shell cordovan perforated cap toe boots. they get the job done in style.
 
Last edited:

ter1413

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Pick up 2 pairs of ^.....rubber shoe covers. Keep one at home and one at the office. Invest in a good umbrella. Also keep a spare at the office. They will help extend the life of your shoes.
 

MarkinNYC

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Hello, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving. I've been a lurker on this forum for a couple of years and would like to thank many of you for the knowledge and advice which I've seen shared.

Over the last few years I've advanced in my career and have really learned to appreciate how being well dressed has been a huge advantage in my progression. Now I'm at a point where I'm interested in high cost items like Crockett and Jones, Alden, and the like. I find some of the things I want to be just amazing to look at.

But I have a principle which I try to follow with my money, that if I spend money on something or someone out has to be an investment. This way it's never a waste. If I'm going to spend a thousand dollars on a pair of shoes or boots, for instance, how long will they last? Do they need to be babied in order to keep them looking great?

I currently live in the Chicago area, where winters can be brutal, which leads to my main question. Do I have to worry so much about brands like Crockett and Jones, The Carmina, etc... holding up and still looking good in such environs? Are they really made to handle such weather?

I came across a pair of Shell Cordovan Alden boots that looked so nice that I thought to myself there's no way that can handle Chicago weather and look that freaking good doing it.

Thanks for any feedback.
I have no experience with cordovan leather but I live in NYC and wear C&Js everyday to work. Regular leather, regular leather sole, bench grade. They last about 10 years for me in conditions that I suspect are very similar to Chicago's. I use shoetrees, regular conditioning, resoling, rotation, etc.
 

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