My first problem is that I don't know where to look. I would imagine, had I the time and money, that the thing to do would be to travel to Italy and look throughout the major cities for interesting shoes. Failing that, a trip to the best shoe stores in NYC may not be a bad option.
In the meantime I've decided that there are no places that I can buy shoes of any quality anywhere nearby. Although Allen Edmonds are made not too far away from where I live. And while some of them seem good enough I wonder if by getting them I'll be doing the same as everyone else in the area who wants better shoes. Surely the point of fashion is to be both better dressed and different from everyone nearby.
On the other hand, Masculine Style has pointed out that Allen Edmonds is one of the two brands to specifically look for.
Alright, so now you know how little I know of shoes. And I'm also off to Brookfield, WI to look at Allen Edmonds shoes and a sport coat.
In any case, (I sure like run-on sentences) I haven't seen anyone go through shoes at various price points in order to tell you what you can get for your money. So I will.
As I was unaware that Allen Edmonds was a place to get shoes from (despite living a half hour away from where they are made in Port Washington, WI) I have bought three pairs of shoes from Zappos.com. My results are as follows.
$50, now $85 Stacey Adams Pietro (or similar from Stacey Adams, I've forgotten specifically which ones they are)
These are black and I've worn them to two funerals. I also wear them to work on occasion. They fit fine and I have had no issues with them. The only real faults that I can see are that I can tell where they bend and where the faux-leather will wear out, and becasue of the poor quality materials they are not very easy to clean.
I've certainly gotten my money out of them. Other than my hunting boots, I've probably worn them more than any other shoe these last two years that I've had them. Even when I've been on my feet and in them for consecutive 8-9 hour days, I've only had mildly sore feet. (And my feet are my "Achilles heel".)
$120-180 Original Penguin Brogue
For around $150 I got a pair of yellow suede shoes. I think that these are fantastic. Even including tennis shoes, I'm not sure that these aren't the most comfortable shoes that I have ever worn. Amazingly comfortable.
The suede uppers and padded bottoms are awesome, but the soles are fantastically cheap (plastic maybe?). With a quality leather sole these would just about be my favorite shoes ever. I may be kind of annoyed that I did not buy the red and purple ones when they were still available.
The problems with these are that the soles are cheap, I'm concerned about how hard it is to keep them clean (and I don't wear them in the winter or when its wet out), and I don't often have an appropriate time to wear them.
I will also admit that I'm not sure if it was their color or the company's name, Original Penguin, which first drew me to them. Original Penguin is just my sort of brand name; as stupid as that is.
$200-250 Frye Harvey Wingtip
To start with, in person these are about half as good looking as they are in the picture (maybe they'll age well?).
For whatever reason these were much more uncomfortable to wear the first time that I wore them. Mine still have the blood stains were they took all the skin off my heels that first day. Luckily I was well pissed and walked around a lot and broke them in while drunk. (I was heckling the anti-Scott Walker protesters in Madison, WI on the day of his failed recall.)
Before they wore my heels off, I did get a number from easily the most attractive girl that I have ever gotten anything from, 9, while wearing them, not that they helped. (But what the hell is "courting"?)
My heels were raw for a week or two after the first time I wore them. (They were almost as bad as wearing Muck boots.) But since then they have been very good; quite comfortable and you can certainly tell that they are made of quality materiels.
I do tend to favor my aforementioned black shoes becasue they fit a bit better, becasue these are slightly too loose. But I have no doubt that if they were maybe 1/4 size smaller then their breaking in would be very good.
A summary of what I'm trying to convey with this post:
- A good fit can trump some measure of quality
- $50-100 can get you shoes that are of reasonable, maybe, shoes which will wear out sooner, not later
- $150 can get you shoes of mostly good quality, but probably are falling short somewhere
- Quality materials break in more and better
- $200-250 shoes are probably the starting point for dress shoes, but I'd recommend at least $300
- Zappos return policy is excellent, but getting exactly the right fit is important so buy in person
Why to dress better
Masculine Style: Staple #2 The Dress Shoes
Masculine Style: Staple #13 The Navy Jacket
Stacy Adams Pietro
Original Penguin Brogue (This was the only place I could find them still for sale.)
Frye Harvey Wingtip