I would generally describe the shoe as substantial but definitely refined. I could easily wear them with a khaki summer suit and then jeans in the fall. Carmina lasts strike me as really versatile and could easily be dressed up or down. And you are right, I sized down from a 10.5D US (Alden Plaza, TTS, etc) to 9.5 in the Carminas. But it may differ for you depending on your feet.