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Help a mid-late 20s guy with his shoes!

DougFunnie

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Hi everyone! Obviously I'm new here, but I've been reading the forums quite a bit lately. I'll try to keep this as short as possible, but I want to answer everyone's questions ahead of time, so it will probably end up being long.

Age: 27
Occupation: Research scientist for an engineering firm (defense contracting)
Locale: Florida

I'd say my dress environment breaks down to:

  • 30% Casual
    • Sneakers and t-shirt would be acceptable, though I almost always at least wear leather shoes and a polo
  • 50% Less Conservative Business Casual
    • Many colleagues would wear jeans and a polo, but I usually try to at least wear an OCBD and chinos
  • 15% More Conservative Business Casual
    • I'll typically wear an odd jacket, forgoing a tie about half the time
  • <5% Business Dress, but not UCBD
    • Full suit, with more casual suits almost always being acceptable


I'm trying to make the most of what I already have. Here's what I'm thinking would be a good minimal lineup to start with. I already own most of these, with the cap-toes being the only exception.

*** = haven't purchased yet
Black Cap-Toe***
Burgundy/Dark Brown Cap-Toe***
Brown Blucher - currently have:
700

AE Mctavish - Black
700

Medium Brown Chukka
Casual suede shoe
- currently have:
700


...along with some casual sneakers, trainers, etc.

So, my questions are:

  1. Are dark brown cap-toes a good fit for me at this point or should I go slightly less formal? I know I'll eventually get a black cap toe, so I'm thinking about a dark brown full/half brogue instead.
  2. Should I bother replacing the brown Bostonian bluchers with something higher quality? I'd definitely prefer a lighter color and slightly more casual look.
  3. What other shoes are missing? I'd love to get something like a Strand in walnut or bourbon, but I'm afraid it wouldn't get much use at work since my customers are usually stuffy old military Colonels or other government employees. Am I underestimating their sense of style?

I'm looking to have a minimal lineup for now, which I'll add to as my work needs change. Certainly open to suggestions for what to add in the future. Thanks!
 
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GBR

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Far too long to read and comment. What nonsense is this "try to keep this as short as possible,", you have failed miserably. As you are a research scientist, do some here.
 
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DougFunnie

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Far too long to read and comment. What nonsense is this "try to keep this as short as possible,", you have failed miserably. As you are a research scientist, do some here.

Alright, I cleaned it up a little. Just trying to prevent multiple questions about how I typically dress for work, what I already own, etc.
 

Fred G. Unn

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My $0.02:

1) Dark brown cap toes are way too formal for your mostly business casual environment. I'd get a dark brown wingtip blucher and a dark brown suede chukka for your next two purchases.

2) Eventually sure, but now those might be your most practical business appropriate shoes. What color is the trim and laces on those AEs? Black shortwing balmorals with contrasting trim are not very practical shoes IMO. Might be fun to wear out at night, but not really work appropriate IMO. The Clarks are fine casual shoes. Replacing the Bostonians is fine, but you need some more work appropriate shoes first.

3) Stand in walnut is NOT a versatile shoe, I'm not sure how it got that reputation. By your own numbers you are wearing a suit less than 5% of the time, so you need to be buying bluchers not balmorals. The Strand is a fine shoe, but you need several others before you should consider it.
 

nickrut

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My $0.02:

1) Dark brown cap toes are way too formal for your mostly business casual environment. I'd get a dark brown wingtip blucher and a dark brown suede chukka for your next two purchases.

2) Eventually sure, but now those might be your most practical business appropriate shoes. What color is the trim and laces on those AEs? Black shortwing balmorals with contrasting trim are not very practical shoes IMO. Might be fun to wear out at night, but not really work appropriate IMO. The Clarks are fine casual shoes. Replacing the Bostonians is fine, but you need some more work appropriate shoes first.

3) Stand in walnut is NOT a versatile shoe, I'm not sure how it got that reputation. By your own numbers you are wearing a suit less than 5% of the time, so you need to be buying bluchers not balmorals. The Strand is a fine shoe, but you need several others before you should consider it.

On number 3 - I'd disagree with you. In my opinion, Strands in Walnut are wearable with jeans, chinos, slacks and potentially suits (if not a totally formal situation). Now whether or not you like the way they look in jeans and whatnot comes down to personal preference but IMO they are acceptable in most scenarios assuming the colors you're wearing go with the walnut color of the shoes.
 

Fred G. Unn

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On number 3 - I'd disagree with you.  In my opinion, Strands in Walnut are wearable with jeans, chinos, slacks and potentially suits (if not a totally formal situation).   Now whether or not you like the way they look in jeans and whatnot comes down to personal preference but IMO they are acceptable in most scenarios assuming the colors you're wearing go with the walnut color of the shoes.  


I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on that. OP, generally speaking, you want the various elements to match in terms of levels of formality. For shoes, sneakers are less formal than bluchers, which are less formal than balmorals. Additionally, any broguing decreases the formality as well so a full brogue wingtip is less formal than a half brogue perf cap, which is less formal than a plain cap toe. The type of leather used also plays a role here as well, with calf being the most formal for a business situation.

For trousers, sweatpants are less formal than jeans, which are less formal than chinos and cords, which are less formal than worsted wool. My problem with the Strand, although it is a fine shoe, is that as a half brogue balmoral it is a fairly formal shoe. A business classic for sure (well maybe not in walnut) but it’s a shoe that on the formality scale is more appropriate to be worn with wool trousers than with jeans and chinos. If you dress up jeans or chinos by adding a SC, well then maybe, but personally I don’t wear a balmoral unless I’m wearing worsted or flannel trousers. We all see people doing this everyday, but the look is a bit incongruous IMO since the formality levels don’t really align.

I still think a dark brown wingtip blucher should be your next shoe since your wardrobe is almost entirely on the casual end of the formality spectrum. Pick up a black cap toe bal when you get a chance or find a good deal for that 5% of the time you are wearing a suit, but in the meantime get a dark brown wingtip blucher that will be appropriate for the other 95%.

This shoe made for Brooks Brothers by Crockett & Jones would be a fine addition:
http://www.brooksbrothers.com/Peal-...ar_MH00442_Color=DKBR&contentpos=22&cgid=0522
700


It’s currently 25% off bringing the price down to $486, and the Dainite sole will be appropriate for inclement weather too.

For something less expensive, the AE Shoebank has dark brown MacNeil longwings for $299 that you might want to consider too. Obviously you need to be using shoe trees and have a large enough rotation that you are never wearing shoes two days in a row as well.
 

velomatt

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I think, if you decide to dress more formally, than your colleagues, your pants are going to be primarily black, blue and brown. Maybe, some chinos and dark jeans thrown in.

I'd get these Eugene Derby lace ups from AE. In black and brown. (or something similar from another maker)

I think they're the right level of formality for your work environment, they're versatile enough to be dressed up or down to cover ~99% of your wardrobe needs at the office. I agree with the above that the Mctavish should be banished from your work rotation unless you're working on a Saturday.

 

Fred G. Unn

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your pants are going to be primarily black, blue and brown. Maybe, some chinos and dark jeans thrown in.


Probably not. Black isn't really appropriate for a work environment, and blue (navy) wool trousers alone often look like you've lost your suit jacket. The most versatile will be shades of grays, browns, olive, etc. Lighter brown shoes won't work with gray in the way a dark brown pair will.

I'd get these Eugene Derby lace ups from AE. In black and brown. (or something similar from another maker)


That line of AE is glued. One of the big advantages of AE is that most of their shoes are goodyear welted so they are recraftable. Those are not. If the OP is upgrading his shoe rotation, it's time to get away from glued shoes. If you want a split toe blucher from AE, get the Delray (I have these in dark brown.)
http://www.allenedmonds.com/aeonline/producti_SF1208_1_40000000001_-1?style=1298
 

velomatt

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Probably not. Black isn't really appropriate for a work environment, and blue (navy) wool trousers alone often look like you've lost your suit jacket. The most versatile will be shades of grays, browns, olive, etc. Lighter brown shoes won't work with gray in the way a dark brown pair will.
That line of AE is glued. One of the big advantages of AE is that most of their shoes are goodyear welted so they are recraftable. Those are not. If the OP is upgrading his shoe rotation, it's time to get away from glued shoes. If you want a split toe blucher from AE, get the Delray (I have these in dark brown.)
http://www.allenedmonds.com/aeonline/producti_SF1208_1_40000000001_-1?style=1298

Yes, grey, d'oh! Was trying to type my response quickly and missed the most obvious. That should be in the list with out a doubt.
And some shades of grey will be ok with brown shoes, while others will be ok with black shoes. I suggested a pair in both colors.

Of the research scientists I've known, I do not think leather is an appropriate sole material. They are in and out of labs, usually moving around quite a bit on their feet and depending on what type of defense work they're doing, may even be outdoors or crummy conditions. If the OP is in a literal office, and you can afford the Delrays (may not be able to get black and brown), I say go for them. My hunch (which is why I suggested the rubber soles) is that his work may push him more toward rubber.

I still think that style, the split toe blucher, is the right 'look' for where he wants to go with his wardrobe.
 

Fred G. Unn

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I still think that style, the split toe blucher, is the right 'look' for where he wants to go with his wardrobe.


A split toe blucher is a fine option, in fact I'm wearing these right now:
http://www.afinepairofshoes.co.uk/c...nt-exclusive-charlton-pinner-calf-suede-shoes
1545984


IMO, the OP needs to add several bluchers before he should even consider a bal like the Strand. I don't know what his work environment is like, so you might be right @velomatt, a rubber sole may be more practical. AE offers that as an option on the Delray. Even with rubber or Dainite, I would encourage him to stay away from glued shoes and up his shoe game a bit and wear welted shoes. There are several other quality makers around AEs price point too including Loake and Meermin. Better shoes are often the gateway to dressing better: http://putthison.com/post/44797274960/the-elevator-pitch-of-how-to-start-dressing
 

Josh Savage

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I'd start with some burgundy MacNeils. Shell if possible. They are extremely versatile shoes. I wear them with jeans and slacks alike. Could even cheat and wear with the right suit.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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