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Shoe Geeks - What is a "Combination Last"?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Insight, Jul 31, 2010.

  1. Insight

    Insight Senior member

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    I have seen this particularly used in reference to some of Alden's lasts. Anyone know?
     
  2. BBC

    BBC Senior member

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    It means the ball of the last and the heel are different widths (aha!). In other words, instead of a "D" width ball having a typical "D" width heel, the combination last shoe has a "B" width heel, which makes for a finer fitting shoe. Combination lasts are always two sizes different between ball/heel, e.g. E/C, D/B, C/A, A/AAA. Combination lasts used to be much more common and were used by most American shoe manufacturers (Nettleton, Hanover, Bostonian, etc.). Usually the ball width is listed first, but some companies like Nettleton listed the heel width first.
     
  3. Blackhood

    Blackhood Senior member

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    Someone give that man a prize.

    Thread over.
     
  4. Tarmac

    Tarmac Senior member

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    Makes sense. But I have standard Aldens which are supposedly B heels which are pretty roomy. You mean a normal shoe used to be even looser?
     
  5. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    It means the ball of the last and the heel are different widths (aha!). In other words, instead of a "D" width ball having a typical "D" width heel, the combination last shoe has a "B" width heel, which makes for a finer fitting shoe.

    “Combination last” is a bit of a red herring, as there is only one possible combination: the heel width is always two measures down from the ball width.

    Alden’s markings look like this (heel width first, ball width second): D/EE - B/D - AA/A

    The size is always written as the length of the shoe, and under that, the width of the shoe, such as:
    9 10 1/2
    or
    C/E B/D
    In these examples, 9 and 10 1/2 are the length, and C/E and B/D are the width.
    In U.S. shoe sizing, the widths are: A & B = Narrow, C & D = Medium, E, EE & EEE =Wide.
    Inside each Alden shoe, the width of the shoes are written as:
    A/C, B/D, C/E, etc.....
    The width is written as a 'fraction', and the bottom of that 'fraction', (the denominator) is the width of the shoe.
    Example: C/E = E width, or B/D = D width


    http://www.alden-of-carmel.com/index.cfm/shoes.htm


    Unfortunately other combinations are not possible, someone who has a wide ball but a narrow heel cannot be accommodated.
    (No AA/D lasts for example, D comes always with a B heel).

    The relationship between front and heel stays always the same. It is possible, that many years ago, ball and heel width could have been chosen individually and truly combined. But that is not the case today.

    (It like a suit which gets only produced with on 'drop', let's say '6'. The relationship between chest and waist, stays always the same: 6 inches.
    So a size 38 (chest measurement) suit, comes with 32" (waist) trousers; a suit size 44 comes with 38" trousers.)
     
  6. Wes Bourne

    Wes Bourne Senior member

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    "Combination last" is a bit of a red herring, as there is only one possible combination: the heel width is always two measures down from the ball width.

    That was my understanding, e.g. that most/all makers do in fact use combination lasts even if they aren't advertised or labelled as such.
     
  7. alliswell

    alliswell Senior member

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    I have seen this particularly used in reference to some of Alden's lasts. Anyone know?

    Fat lady:

    ..
     
  8. Insight

    Insight Senior member

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    Thank you, all. Very informative.
     
  9. luneyriley

    luneyriley New Member

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    Hmmm...doesn't quite explain the 9 1/2 A's with a triple-A heel that's on my foot as I write.
     
  10. aintabgirl

    aintabgirl New Member

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    Combination last refers to shoes which combine wider and narrower widths. For instance, the toe box may be a "B" width, but the heel may be "AA" width. My heels are narrow, but I'm more comfortable with an average toe box, so a combination last works well for me. If I get a typical medium width shoe, unless it's an athletic shoe with which I intend to wear a heavy sock, the heel is too wide and "slips."
     
  11. Shrink1

    Shrink1 New Member

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    Have found Hanover 10d fit me.Bought a pair of Hanover Cordovans ,thought were D but heel loose,closer inspection inside marked 10 D B, so the B denotes a larger heel fitting ?
     
  12. JimInSeattle

    JimInSeattle New Member

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    So, I have 11 B/AAAA feet, which, of course, is impossible to fit. I settle on shoes that are sloppy in the heel, generally New Balance.
    I also need a wide and tall toe box. Happy with walking shoes. Need to have room for custom orthotics.

    Where can I find something more-or-less comfortable?
     

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