Art of Manliness Suit School - Quality Men's Shoes

You CANNOT skimp on shoes. A lot of guys will blow hundreds on a suit and skimp on shoes. This is very silly, as you spend all day on your feet.

Shoes are an investment. A good pair will last you your whole life. Bad shoes will ruin it.

Bad shoes are glued, made with inferior leather, and are generally not durable. Stay away from fashion brands, especially Kenneth Cole. The shoes, while some might think stylish, are bottom barrel when it comes to quality.

You will probably have to spend ~$300 on a GOOD pair of shoes. They will likely be made in the US or in Italy. That might sound exorbitant, but think about it. If you spend $300, and the shoes last you 20 years, that's $15/year.

For starters, you want a plain, black, captoe balmoral shoe.

I took this post from a blog article I wrote last summer:

There are two main different styles of lace-up shoes: Balmorals and Bluchers. They have a huge amount of history behind them which you can read about on Wikipedia. I am just going to give you the very basics.


Balmorals

Balmorals are also known as closed throat shoes. Because of the way that they are constructed, the lacing area of the shoe (the vamp), forms a V shape. It looks like this:


The Balmoral is a more formal shoe and is appropriate for suit wear.


Blucher
The Blucher, or derby, is a more informal shoe. The lacing is "open throat," meaning that the leather that holds the laces is a separate piece that is sewn to the shoe. It looks like this:


Derbys are normally more appropriate for casual wear with a jacket or odd trousers.

The ideal basic shoe is a black balmoral captoe. A perfect example of such a shoe is the Park Avenue by Allen Edmonds.


It's a traditional, conservative shoe that will offend no one, is made in the USA, and is constructed in a way that will last you 20 years or longer if you take care of it. Additionally, Allen Edmonds offers shoe recrafting, so if after those 20 years your soles are looking a little ratty, they will resole and recondition the shoe for a nominal sum. If the Park Avenue's a little too stodgy for you, try the Soho. It's a little more elongated and younger looking.

Allen Edmonds come with a bit of sticker shock initially (~$200-350), but they are absolutely worth it compared to cheaper shoes that will either fall apart quickly or be less comfortable. You can also always check out eBay for secondhand shoes (I've nabbed my AEs from Ebay or Styleforum.net's buy and sell forum for really inexpensive) or Nordstrom rack for shoes at a large discount. You can almost always find discounted Allen Edmonds somewhere. But make sure you buy the right size.


What Should I Avoid When Shoe Buying?


These are just my opinions.

Avoid Kenneth Cole-ish designs or anything with square toes. Like this:



These shoes are bad for a number of reasons:
Companies make square-toed shoes because it's cheaper and easier than making a good rounded toe shoe. They pass it off as fashion, but it just makes your feet look like Frankenshoes, and they laugh at the increased profit margins. Moreover, they are normally made of inferior leather and have rubber soles. Besides, a slender shoe with a rounded toe actually elongates your leg and creates the illusion of height.

Look for leather soles on shoes.


While it's not a perfect indicator of quality shoes, normally leather soles mean that a shoe is constructed a little better.

Don't Buy Shoes Made in China, India, Or Brazil.

Moral qualms aside, shoes made in these countries are generally thrown together very poorly with inferior leather, shoddy finishes, glue, and poor craftsmanship. Fashion brands, for example Steve Madden or Banana Republic, make their shoes here to save money, not because they make good shoes. It really is good to buy American shoes. Allen Edmonds are relatively affordable and are a deal on sale. Aldens are the top of the line ready to wear American shoe, but unfortunately are out of most budgets of law students by a few hundred dollars. Check out eBay or the Buy and Sell forums on Styleforum to get some good shoe deals. Ferragamos are nice, but they're much more expensive and not as solid as their American counterparts.

Gentlemen, until next time, happy trails!

Views: 11203

Comment

You need to be a member of Art of Manliness to add comments!

Join Art of Manliness

Comment by Wayne W. on December 27, 2010 at 12:02am
Wow! Another great blog Leo.  Good sense! 
Comment by Cameron Pearson on April 27, 2010 at 4:02am
Great article Leo
Comment by Vir Beatum on March 7, 2010 at 10:27pm
Very well said Mr. Occulta. An additional thought or two.
Comment by Vincent DiMarco on November 1, 2009 at 12:04pm
Very good article! I tend to prefer bluchers to balmorals and don't really consider them less formal, but I agree with the rest of the article 100%. Square toe shoes are hideous and I am glad to see them falling out of favor, although I still see a few holdouts shod in these abominations.

I purchased a pair of Alden shell cordovan plain toe bluchers recently-over $500 but worth every penny. While some would consider that excessive, I will have them at least 5 years (20 would be a stretch for me!) so that works out to about a quarter a day! Woo hoo!

Really , I don't believe you can get decent dress shoes for under $300. Cheap shoes look cheap from day one, whereas expensive shoes still look great years later. No contest!

Latest Activity

Penelope replied to O'Neal's discussion Addressing Bad Hygiene?
"It's unclear to me whether OP thinks the problem is around the anus or vulva/labia.  The hygiene recommendations for these areas are different - and not straight-forward.  The recommendations have changed over time, and not every…"
46 minutes ago
Native Son commented on Herb Munson's group The Great Debate
"Well, RT probably got the video from CNN...considering the video or excerpts from it have been all over US domestic newsoutlets."
2 hours ago
Tim Covone joined Steven C.'s group
Thumbnail

Exercise

Exercise is a crucial part of maintaining a manly physique. Join up to share ideas, get support and discuss plans with other men.See More
3 hours ago
Tim Covone joined Dennis Heins's group
Thumbnail

The Smoking Lounge

Come on in, light up your favorite pipe or cigar, and relax with the rest of us.
3 hours ago
Tim Covone joined Shaun Daws's group
Thumbnail

Philosophers

An open forum for discussion of the big questions.
3 hours ago
Liam Strain commented on Herb Munson's group The Great Debate
"1. Yeah, how did they get that footage? 2. That ship was leaving from Gdansk in the Baltic, less than 20 miles from the Russian city of Kaliningrad. You don't think that we'd be doing the same thing to a Russian ship 20 miles from…"
4 hours ago
Kenneth Cole replied to Sir's discussion US Presidential primaries in the group The Great Debate
"Hooray is right!"
5 hours ago
Kenneth Cole joined Herb Munson's group
Thumbnail

The Great Debate

"Iron sharpens iron." A place for men to impact each other by debate and exchange of ideas. This is a group where no ideas are off limits. If your motto is, "I never talk about politics or religion," this group is probably not for you. A "gym" for thinkers.See More
5 hours ago

© 2016   Created by Brett McKay.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service