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The Quintessential Dress Shoe: Black Cap Toe Oxford

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by wurger, Sep 15, 2013.

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  1. wurger

    wurger Senior member

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    No man should be without a pair of black dress shoes in his wardrobe; if there is room only for one pair, it would be the quintessential black cap toe oxford. It is one of the most versatile shoes a man can own, suitable for nearly all formal occasions from office to weddings. While dark brown offers deep patina and changing highlights, black brings out the best in mirror shine at the same time being a subtle conservative foundation to a good outfit.

    A cap toe oxford is a closed lacing shoe with a straight stitch cap, with the quarters sewn under the vamp and fastens together by laces over the tongue, which is sewn onto the vamp.

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    Please follow this thread for various shoemakers' black cap toes; there is a photo comparison of only the initial eight RTW pairs in three sections, high to low in term of RRP, please click on the shoemaker's name to go to each post.

    Beyond the initial eight pairs, there are more to follow in makers like Carmina, Meermin, Vass, Saint Crispin's and Bestetti.

    Top Tier

    Gaziano & Girling
    John Lobb
    Edward Green

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    Middle Tier

    Crockett & Jones
    Alfred Sargent
    Tricker’s

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    Entry tier

    Allen Edmonds
    Loake

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    Now to the question of why have eight pairs of the same style in the same colour? It’s quite simple, I am a shoe nut and my favourite style is the simple cap toe oxford, I really enjoy the subtle finer differences such as the swan neck seam, and the size of the quarters to completely different lasts.

    Another question that seems to be asked all the time: “Is it worth the price difference if I buy the same style from brand A compare to brand B?”

    • There has never been and never will be a linear relation between value and quality when comes to luxury goods, it’s a law of diminishing returns, and luckily, shoemakers are a lot better than fashion houses.

    • Brand, the quality of leather, the cost of labour and finishing all attribute to the higher cost of the shoe, leaving shoes look nicer over a longer period of time when cared for. We buy them because either we or other people have good experience with that brand, believe in the quality of craftsmanship and styles and thus decide to patronize certain brands.

    • Each brand has their own different lasts, even though the shape of the last shouldn’t affect the price of the shoe, one would find the lasts used by the middle to top tier shoemakers are more elegant and aggressive, compare to the tubular lasts of the entry tier brands. The more aggressive lasts leave less room for error when comes to fit, which could a lesser issue as when one spends a substantial amount on a pair of shoes, there is a higher chance that they spend the time and effort to get the right fit.

    • The quintessential black cap toe oxford isn't the best style to tell the difference in quality. While the entry tier shoes have visible imperfections on the welt leather strap finishing, it is not visible from middle tier shoes, and the stitching overall across all pairs are very neat and straight along the edges. Very unlikely for anyone to tell the difference between the black cap toe oxfordsonce they are on your feet. But it’s this subtlety I enjoy.

    • Even with entry tier shoes, their leather seems to be decent quality, provided that you care for them over time.I haven't had them long enough to tell over a couple of years.

    • Put it in simple terms, if Loake 1880 is at 80% in terms of RTW dress shoe quality, it costs around 200 pounds; Crockett & Jones Handgrade is at 90% in term of quality, and Gaziano & Girling Benchmade is close to 100%. So the correct question is to ask yourself is whether you care about the last 10 - 20% at double or triple the price.

    • My online purchasing experience has been great with online vendors I have dealt with, kudos to their great service!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 12, 2014
    32 people like this.
  2. wurger

    wurger Senior member

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    Gaziano & Girling

    Founded in 2006 by Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling, their shoes represent the most innovative and aggressive last designs with shaped waists in yet very classic styles. Tony Gaziano had worked at George Cleverley & Edward Green’s bespoke workshops while Dean Girling was a Master Shoemaker worked with John Lobb Bespoke. They have their own factory in Kettering, just outside Northampton, offering Bespoke, Deco and Bench Made lines.

    The Gaziano & Girling team combines over 100 years of shoemaking experience. Over half are bespoke craftsmen with a holistic knowledge of shoes, and even the craftsmen working on the ready-made line of shoes are better trained than most bespoke craftsmen.

    My Gaziano & Girling Bench Made Oxford Black in MH71 last, size UK 6.5E
    Purchased from Bespoke England, RRP £615 ext. VAT
    Topied at Coombs in the Strand Arcade Sydney

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    Back to Group Photos
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
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  3. Balfour

    Balfour Senior member

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    The beginning of a ...


    [​IMG]



    Thanks, wurger.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
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  4. JimmyHoffa

    JimmyHoffa Senior member

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    A wonderful collection, Wurger!

    They all look great, but you can can clearly see the beauty in the bottom right three pairs.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
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  5. gyasih

    gyasih Senior member

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    Great thread, Wurger
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Louis XIV

    Louis XIV Senior member

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    Subscribed!

    From the initial picture I would rate them, for their looks alone, as the following:
    EG > JLP > G&G = C&J > Loake > AS > Tricker's > AE

    The EG Chelsea could be the perfect black shoe for his lovely last and his swan neck, if only his heel would not be as ugly.
    JLP comes close second for the second nicest last but the best heel.
    G&G and C&J are a bit too chiseled for my liking but overall very good looking shoes.
    Loake to me is the best value for money in both looks and build.
    I am a bit underwhelmed by the look of the AS but it could be due to the shoe trees which seem to be too big for this pair? I have seen pictures of the Armfield which looked lovely.
    I would neither wear the Tricker's nor the AE, I think they look blobby and not elegant at all.

    Those are C&J Audley and AS Armfield, right?
    I think you should add the following:
    C&J Connaught, Carmina on Forst/Rain/Robert last, Meermin on Hiro/Olfe last, Vass F last
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
  7. wurger

    wurger Senior member

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    Thanks guys!

    Just to be clear, top left is Loake Aldwych, top right is C&J Audley.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
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  8. Torsion

    Torsion Senior member

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    An absolutely essential thread, thanks Wurger!Subscribed
     
  9. JimmyHoffa

    JimmyHoffa Senior member

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    The theme is English!
     
  10. wurger

    wurger Senior member

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    I think the whole world agrees that I went a bit nuts with black cap toes to last me a lifetime.....

    though I might add a pair of Saint Crispins when I receive my first MTO is less than 2 months.
     
  11. Louis XIV

    Louis XIV Senior member

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    What if the Spanish or Hungarian could produce an English style as nicely or even better than the Brits themselves?
     
  12. Beach Bum

    Beach Bum Senior member

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    I like this thread...where would you put Santoni in your pecking order?
     
  13. wurger

    wurger Senior member

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    Unfortunately, I have never seen a pair of Santonis, can't comment.
     
  14. Chowkin

    Chowkin Senior member

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    Then we're missing Church's!
     
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  15. wurger

    wurger Senior member

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    Church's doesn't seem to get much love on SF since Prada took over.
     
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  16. Fred G. Unn

    Fred G. Unn Senior member

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    Well, AE is in there.
     
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  17. wurger

    wurger Senior member

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    It's just what shoes I have, no specific country.
     
  18. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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    I find myself with more black shoes than I ever thought I would have, but I still find myself in the market for that staple black captoe Oxford.

    As I plan on getting the GG Sinatra at one point, I fear that I might be muddying up the waters. Might settle on the CJ Radstock and be done with it...
     
  19. wurger

    wurger Senior member

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    Since in the States, brown seems to be perfectly normal and common in the office, one pair of black cap toe would be enough. Hopefully this thread can help you in making a decision eventually.
     
  20. tim_horton

    tim_horton Senior member

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    Great thread. I also love black captoe oxfords. I have three myself - Edward Green, Carmina and C&J. 90% of the time, this is what I wear with a suit.
     

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