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Should I give up on leather-soled shoes?

yo!

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I once again made the mistake of wearing my leather-soled shoes out for a walk. A year ago I purchased two pairs of leather-soled shoes. One pair I was able to return defectively a few months after purchasing. After today, I have made up my mind that the other pair must go.

The problem with both pairs is that every time I wear them they destroy my feet, specifically the backs of my heels. The returned pair had over 20 hours of wear time and my other pair has over 40 hours; I am certain that it is not a question of breaking them in.

I have had a cobbler look at them and he used a machine to work the heel section (he described it as a machine with rollers that would soften the heel and also change the shape of the back a little).

No matter what I do to them the same thing always happens. I decide that I should wear them, I put them on and they feel fantastic for the first half-mile of walking, then I instantly regret it as they begin rubbing my heel raw at which point I am at least 15 minutes of walking from a shoe change.

In both pairs of shoes when I initially try them on and took a few steps they felt fine, actually comfortable. It was only once I began some serious walking that they began to hurt. My back-up pair of shoes is a rubber-soled pair which has been a dream since day one. Is there any hope for my to be happy with a pair of leather-soled shoes in the future?
 

DocHolliday

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So they fit appropriately? Are they slipping at your heel?

If it were a matter of shock absorption, I could see the benefit of the rubber soles, and might suggest topys. But here it sounds like there's another issue. Were the soles particularly hard out of the box? What brand?
 

grimslade

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I don't see what this has to do with the sole. They don't fit. Try different shoes. Ones that fit.
 

_AMD

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Originally Posted by grimslade
I don't see what this has to do with the sole. They don't fit. Try different shoes. Ones that fit.

Thank you for posting this. It is the exact same thought process that I went through. I was about to post a similar response, but then decided not to as I am new here, and I figured that I must be missing something. I'm glad to see that I was not entirely off base.

Aaron
 

yo!

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The brands were Bostonian (already returned) and Florsheim.

Yes, they were pretty stiff out of the box, and now they are still quite stiff.

They are the correct size and when you put them on they feel great. They fit really well to my foot: the heel does not slip, length is good, and the width is fine. I used to sell shoes so I do know about the correct fit and these shoes do fit well. Once I begin walking for more than 15 minutes, that is when I begin having issues.

Do you propose that it has more to do with the shoe than the sole? I had thought that possibly because they are both made of hard leather (not a soft calf skin, for example) that the rest of the shoe may be the issue.
 

Anthony Jordan

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I occasionally find the same with new shoes; you might find that rubbing dubbin into the affected portion of the shoe will help to some extent, but it might simply be, as has been said, that the fit is off.
 

DocHolliday

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Originally Posted by yo!
Do you propose that it has more to do with the shoe than the sole? I had thought that possibly because they are both made of hard leather (not a soft calf skin, for example) that the rest of the shoe may be the issue.

Could be a possibility. Some of the corrected-grain offerings are so stiff they can slice into your feet. Hard sole + hard leather makes for uncomfortable wear.

For really soft uppers, you might try Gravati. Some of their offerings are almost glove soft.
 

ama

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You may also want to put band-aids on your heels when you are breaking shoes in.
 

yo!

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Does anyone in the $250-$300 dollar range make a shoe that you could suggest?

Should I look for shoes that are soft, like the AE Jackson (I picked this model based on the soft appearance from the picture) ? Is that the kind of leather I should look for in a shoe?
 

otc

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Originally Posted by yo!
The brands were bostonian (already returned) and Florsheim.

I thrifted a pair of bostonians that looked almost brand new (well, the uppers lookd great and the insoles looked completely untouched but the soles had reasonable scuffing...maybe the owner dragged their feet). In terms of fit, they felt great so I picked them up for $10 (trying to grow my brown shoe collection...otherwise probably would avoid bostonian after reading here).

I wore them on monday and despite fitting well, they GROUND up my heels. This was walking 2 blocks to the bus stop and then a couple of blocks from state street to lasalle (what is that..3-4 short blocks?). I had hoped that it just meant they were really that new and needed some breaking in but...maybe they just suck. The AE Sanfords I work tuesday and Sandro Moscoloni's I am wearing today both felt quite alright in the heel even after monday's beating.

The leather on the bostonians does seem rather hard...maybe you can soak it with conditioner to soften it? otherwise try some other brand...
 

Girardian

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Almost without exception I've worn leather souled shoes for as long as I can recall, daily and with great comfort. I suspect the issue you're having is shoe fit and leather quality. I recommend a goodyear welted soul and a classic style (such as a wingtip or captoe) and a consultation with a good shoe store to determine your actual size (rather than your perceived size).

As many here will attest, it's not uncommon to believe you're one size in a dress shoe and simply go on buying that size when, in fact, you may be another. This may be particularly true if you're not a standard ("D") width.
 

MaxJones

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Originally Posted by yo!
Do you propose that it has more to do with the shoe than the sole? I had thought that possibly because they are both made of hard leather (not a soft calf skin, for example) that the rest of the shoe may be the issue.

It's not the soles, you should take that out of the equation when trying to solve this.

My guess is that the shoes are too small. I say this because 1)you said that the heel is not slipping and yet 2)your heel is getting sore. I personally don't buy into the "breaking in" theory with shoes. Either they fir or they don't, your feet should NOT be used to stretch a shoe out enough to make it comfortable.

Why not try a size up in the most comfortable material you can find, like calfskin?

Giving up on leather soles is like giving up on cotton dress shirts; where do you go from there? I mean, look at Steve Jobs. Need I say more?
 

Tarmac

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How much do you weigh?

If you dont like the leather soles, by all means get rubber. No shame in that.
 

Girardian

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I think AEs are a sound investment as a first "adult" pair of dress shoes. The leathers are of good quality and the shoes are quite comfortable.

If you're really concerned about the insole, consider buying a pair of "Dr. S's" or other quality insole and bringing them with you when you try on the shoes (also be certain to wear dress socks of the standard thickness you'll most likely wear with the shoe). That way you can ID the perfect size taking things like the insole into account. This may lead to you sizing up slightly. "Gelling" it is a good way of adding extra comfort for long distance treks in dress shoes.
 

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