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Need help picking first decent pair of shoes

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by dasher, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. dasher

    dasher Member

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    I'm 45 and have never owned a quality pair of shoes. Due to the nature of my job I spend most of my time around first responders in uniform. I have to walk a fine line because I want to look professional and wear quality clothes, but at the same time if I show up wearing cufflinks and a three-piece suit to a volunteer fire station or Sheriff's dept. substation it would be distracting to say the least. I want to look good, but not have my clothes be the center of attention. I normally dress in what I would consider business casual. Slacks or chinos and a starched button down dress shirt, nice sweater over top in the winter. My entire wardrobe needs to be upgraded, but I'm going to start from the bottom up with the pair of nice shoes. My budget is $200-$300. I'm drawn to cap toe oxfords and almost pulled the trigger on a pair of dark chili AE Park Avenues from the shoe bank. The problem is they are a little on the dressy side. I would love something in the middle between the Park Avenues and Overlords. I read somewhere that you need to dress for the style you want. If I could wave a magic wand my style would be 60% James Bond 40% Indiana Jones. I just have no idea how to get there. I'd really appreciate some suggestions. Thank you!
     


  2. ajc2162

    ajc2162 Senior Member

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    Hi dasher, I understand your dilemma and many others have asked the same question.

    I suggest that you use the SF search function and input "help with buying first shoes". A whole lot of threads on this topic will appear that will give you the answers you're looking for. You can modify your search enquiry for more specific questions as you gather more knowledge.

    Have a look at the different colours and see how you like them. Generally speaking, you can't go wrong and there's many shades to choose from. But perhaps in the beginning you might find it safer to avoid lighter browns (tan for example) until you gain more confidence in how to match everything.

    By the way, have you considered suede shoes? They fit well with business casual and might alleviate your concern about being the centre of attention since you're just starting out.
     


  3. dasher

    dasher Member

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    Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

    I've been using the search function quite a bit past week. After reading through numerous threads on the subject this is what I took away:

    The cheap glued shoes I've been buying are low-quality and costing me more in the long run than investing in a quality pair of shoes that can be resoled.

    Once you know what you're looking for people can spot the difference between quality shoes and cheap shoes that don't make a good impression.

    Dark brown is very versatile and matches most trousers other than black.

    What I've been calling oxford's are actually derbies. The differences is the open/close laces.

    Either oxford's or derbies are a good place to start. Tassels, monk straps, and lots of brogueing are great places to explore later.


    All that brought me to the AE shoe bank looking at the Park Avenues and the Overlords. One was a little more formal (I felt) than what I'm looking for, and the other… well there were some pictures were I thought yes that's exactly what I'm looking for and others where It didn't look like what I wanted at all. Too much going on with the distressed leather.

    Maybe because in many of the other posts the replies were asking for the original poster to provide much more detail I confused my post by throwing in a bunch of unnecessary information. In a nutshell I think this is a better way to ask what I want to know:

    Does anyone know of a similar quality/price shoe to the Allen Edmonds Overlord that is not distressed?
     


  4. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Distinguished Member

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  5. ajc2162

    ajc2162 Senior Member

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    I'd say you're pretty spot on with what you've researched. But I'll have to leave it to the others to guide you on the brands to consider. I've never come across a store in Sydney that stocks Aldens or Allen Edmonds; although they seem to get a lot of favour stateside. But I can recall a lot of posts give quality assessments and pictures of favoured models and colours; so if you're interested, you could have another go with the search engine.

    I think you're right about choosing between oxfords and derbies; and leaving the other styles alone for the time being. There is a lot of confusion about the two - is an oxford the same as a balmoral? Is a derby the same as a blucher? So far as I can tell, the terminology depends on where you live. So I find it easier to call them closed or open-laced shoes and then it's clear.

    One final thought - if I were you I would hasten slowly and try on a few shoes you like to make sure that they fit you comfortably. You'll find people saying that you can't wear leather shoes for long periods and that your only option is trainers. That's a lot of nonsense because well-fitted good quality leather shoes are just as comfortable and I find them to be more supportive than trainers. But, and it's an important but, it does depend on the individual's foot (do you have excessive pronation, high or low arches, high or low insteps and all those other things that make each person's foot unique).

    I seem to be fortunate to have a normal foot and to me they're comfortable. But don't take my word for it - check them out yourself and make up your mind from then (and don't get them just because they really look nice..... that can lead to tears before bedtime).

    I hope that helps you a little - good luck in your quest.
     


  6. Testudo_Aubreii

    Testudo_Aubreii Senior Member

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    I think it's a good move to start with footwear. I wish I'd done it that way. People notice that you look better without noticing in the wrong way. I'd also recommend getting into MTM shirts soon. It's not much more expensive than RTW, it doesn't draw unwanted attention like coats and ties can, and it makes you look much better.

    It'll be tricky to buy the kind of shoes you have in mind at retail at that price point in Baton Rouge. Loake sells decent sleek oxfords at that price, but it's hard to nail the sizing from Baton Rouge. If you want something that would look appropriate among uniformed first responders, I'd look at AE derbies/bluchers or chukka boots. They don't have to be as gunboaty as longwings like the MacNeil, but shoes like that will both look good and fit in well at work. Go to the closest AE shop, nail down the sizing, and then grab some seconds for $200 off one of the websites that sell them.

    Alden is a specialist in that kind of footwear (bigger boots and shoes for the city and suburbs), but they're over your price point. Red Wing make decent Goodyear welted chukka boots and shoes at around your price point.
     


  7. dasher

    dasher Member

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    Thank you, I'm not familiar with that brand.I'll give them a look.

    I just looked it up, there's an AE store in New Orleans. I'll drop in and try some on next time I'm in town. Great advice, thanks to you both! Also, I was just looking at the charles tyrwhitt site. I think that's going to be my next investment.
     


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