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First quality dress shoes

theryeguy

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TL/DR: First Good dress shoes for early career

Hello. I'm new here to the forum, but it seems like there is a lot of good information. I am just starting to progress in my career to the loins t where it warrants investing in some quality dress shoes. The environment is mostly business/ business casual so I have a wide range of appropriate styles. I know there is a lot of advice on here, but it can be overwhelming. I have narrowed down my search at this point to AE factory seconds, Herring, or Yanko. I would love something like Carmina, but it is not feasible for me at this time. Any suggestions on what have been proven? I guess for more info, I am fairly traditional, but not overly so. I do like some contemporary designs and styles. I want something that will last and that will justify a second or third pair if I like them. Sorry for the long post, but 300 dollars is a significant investment when upgrading from Cole Haans on clearance. Thanks for any help. Any other brands or style advice is welcome.
 

theryeguy

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If more info is needed regarding my preferences or budget I will gladly elaborate.
 

johng70

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AE are certainly great shoes and will last. Getting factory seconds is a great way to cut costs - I have 3 factory second pairs (and about 5 "firsts" if you will) as well as shoes from Alden, Carmina, Rancourt & Co and White's boots.

However, there are 2 important considerations:
1. Find some place where you can actually try on some AEs. As you move into these types of shoes you're now into shoe lasts that are no longer one size fits all. Some of my AE shoes are 9.5D and some are 9.5E and dome lasts just don't fit my feet well at all - even though on a brannock (the device for checking your shoe size) I'm a simple 9.5D - that doesn't mean every 9.5D shoe fits well. For cheaper shoes, they generally are more loose fitting so they fit a larger group better. You can then buy other shoes in that last/size but figuring out which lasts fit you and which don't and what size fits you in a given last is an important start. Otherwise, you end up with uncomfortable shoes - and expensive shoes should not be uncomfortable. AE especially should fit well right out of the box.

2. You need at least 2 pairs of shoes - so, you'll still need another older pair so you can alternate shoes. 2 is just the minimum but it lets the shoes dry out between wearings (and make sure to use shoe trees in them to help dry them out and help them keep their shape).

Beyond that, mid to dark brown are going to be the most flexible color - then oxblood/burgundy and then black (if you have black pants, black shoes are still the only great match).

Next up is the type of sole: leather is most traditional and looks nicest - UNLESS you're outside in wet or snowy conditions. Then, you'll want overshoes and/or rubber soles. Getting leather soles wet is not a great idea.

Finally on style of shoe - a lot of people here say a cap toe oxford (like AE Park Avenue) is a must have first choice - that's a rather formal shoe. Great shoe for suits. For business casual and casual there are, IMO, better choices. Personally, I like the Fifth Ave and Strand - still look fine with suits in many occasions and more appropriate with business casual. There are a lot of styles AE offers but I would suggest finding a storefront that sells them so you can try on a couple of the different lasts and find a size/last that feels good and then look at shoes in that last.
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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AE are certainly great shoes and will last. Getting factory seconds is a great way to cut costs - I have 3 factory second pairs (and about 5 "firsts" if you will) as well as shoes from Alden, Carmina, Rancourt & Co and White's boots.

However, there are 2 important considerations:
1. Find some place where you can actually try on some AEs. As you move into these types of shoes you're now into shoe lasts that are no longer one size fits all. Some of my AE shoes are 9.5D and some are 9.5E and dome lasts just don't fit my feet well at all - even though on a brannock (the device for checking your shoe size) I'm a simple 9.5D - that doesn't mean every 9.5D shoe fits well. For cheaper shoes, they generally are more loose fitting so they fit a larger group better. You can then buy other shoes in that last/size but figuring out which lasts fit you and which don't and what size fits you in a given last is an important start. Otherwise, you end up with uncomfortable shoes - and expensive shoes should not be uncomfortable. AE especially should fit well right out of the box.

2. You need at least 2 pairs of shoes - so, you'll still need another older pair so you can alternate shoes. 2 is just the minimum but it lets the shoes dry out between wearings (and make sure to use shoe trees in them to help dry them out and help them keep their shape).

Beyond that, mid to dark brown are going to be the most flexible color - then oxblood/burgundy and then black (if you have black pants, black shoes are still the only great match).

Next up is the type of sole: leather is most traditional and looks nicest - UNLESS you're outside in wet or snowy conditions. Then, you'll want overshoes and/or rubber soles. Getting leather soles wet is not a great idea.

Finally on style of shoe - a lot of people here say a cap toe oxford (like AE Park Avenue) is a must have first choice - that's a rather formal shoe. Great shoe for suits. For business casual and casual there are, IMO, better choices. Personally, I like the Fifth Ave and Strand - still look fine with suits in many occasions and more appropriate with business casual. There are a lot of styles AE offers but I would suggest finding a storefront that sells them so you can try on a couple of the different lasts and find a size/last that feels good and then look at shoes in that last.
I would agree with everything mentioned by @johng70. I would add aside from trying the shoes on (as fit is undoubtedly the most critical component as you ascend on your shoe journey), keep either a mental ledger or a written one of the lasts and your corresponding sizes.

Whilst there are a myriad of shoe companies out there, if you are familiar with last sizing, that will go a long way towards purchasing shoes without trying them on. I would head over to Alden, and Meermin if only to try on a few pairs.

Factory seconds are your friend here, so purchasing two pairs (Fifth avenue and Strands) would be fantastic. The black captoe would be my first choice, but considering you mentioned a business casual setting, they would be a reach. Perhaps a dark brown, or medium brown and Burgundy would be much more versatile.

If you can determine your size based on the aforementioned last, reach out to Herring and/or A Fine Pair of Shoes to purchase a pair from them would be prudent. Carlos Santos, a very well regarded brand, makes shoes for AFPOS at half the cost. Which ultimately means you can procure two $300 pair of shoes for the price of one.
 
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theryeguy

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That's all great advice. I have a heard a lot of good things about Carlos Santos, but they are a little hard for me to find. I'll have to check out the link.
 

theryeguy

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Also, are the AFPOS house brand all made by Carlos Santos? Is there a big drop in quality from the branded CS shoes?
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Also, are the AFPOS house brand all made by Carlos Santos? Is there a big drop in quality from the branded CS shoes?
Yes the AFPOS are made by Carlos Santos, provided they say made in Portugal. Not much of a drop. Same construction slightly lesser leather quality. To quantify it, I would say 1A to 1B so minor differences.

You can probably head over to their thread (AFPOS) and read about the positive experiences, as well as see the shoes "in the wild".

Another point in sizing, hopefully you can obtain your size from a Brannock Device. This would further assist an online retailer to suggest proper sizing.
 

theryeguy

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I really like the idea of the AFPOS oxfords since I probably need 2 pair of shoes. I'll have to get an accurate sizing done. Any suggestions where this can be done? Or would trying a brand I have access to and contacting the seller with my size in a specific shoe work?
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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trying a brand I have access to and contacting the seller with my size in a specific shoe work?
This is exactly what I would do. Try on a brand you have access to AE, Alden, etc.. Get them to measure you. Remember those measurements and convey those results to the online retailer. Conversely, you very well may just walk away with a pair of AEs once you try them on.
 

Sfroide3

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I can not agree more than everything that was said. Also remember that if you use paypal, you can ask a refund on the return shipping cost up to 25usd (max 10 times per year). It is extremely useful when buying new shoes. The best quality for the price is probably going to be Meermin and Carlos Santos. AFPOS shoes are on sale now depending on your size. You can find some brown captoe oxford for 95£ which is a bargain. I don't know if they fit big or not. CS shoes run usually 1/2 bigger than most other brands. For example I am an AE (wingtip boots) US10, CS (all lasts that I own) UK8.5, Meermin UK9 to UK9.5 (depending on the last).

I think figuring out a good last from one shoe company and buying 2-3 pairs is a very safe and intelligent start. It gives you time to try different lasts and brands later. If you are close to NYC there is a Meermin store. Otherwise it's going to be online.
 

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