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Flat and happy
August 13, 2014 10:44 AM   Subscribe

"However you look at this style, truth is, it's the best cluster of masculine, feminine, chic, laid back, basic, put together & casual and does really work with everything: skirts, dresses, trousers, jeans for either work or not." Oxford shoes, "flat and happy".

Style Carrot (USA, geared towards women)
Style Carrot (USA, geared towards women) Aquila - FreesStyle (Australian clothing line geared towards men) From Ebay: Men's Oxfords Buying Guide

Oxfords on Tumblr

Also for babies.

Pininterest: The Much Neglected Derby

Why are quality men's dress shoes so expensive?

Bonus links

NEW IN: GRENSON AW14 by Disneyrollergirl
Why Is America Still So Far Behind at The Shoe Snob
The Great British Shoe from FashionBeans
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (111 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
For once in my entire life, I am stylish. Praise be to the Oxford.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:46 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Don't forget to learn the differences between balmoral (more formal) and blucher (less formal), as well as the nuances of broguing (more of it means the shoe is less formal).
posted by leotrotsky at 10:49 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


I used to wear fabulous heels all the time, and then my left toe decided to go into painful spasms any time I walked any considerable distance on anything over a 2-inch heels. So now it's flats for me. And I love Oxford shoes. I hope they stay in style for a while so I can continue to find them.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:52 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Oh, and balmoral = oxford, and blücher = derby (in the US, at least). Many of the shoes called 'oxfords' in the above pictures are not actually oxfords at all, but derbys. (You can tell by whether the lacing is open or closed)

Thus ends the metafilter out-pedanting session.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:56 AM on August 13 [12 favorites]


Is the Derby neglected? I feel like it's the most standard men's dress shoe there is, especially for people who don't care much about shoes. Honestly, if I feel like if I walked into a random DSW or whereever, I'd find far more Derbies than Oxfords, at least for men.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:56 AM on August 13


Is the Derby neglected? I feel like it's the most standard men's dress shoe there is, especially for people who don't care much about shoes. Honestly, if I feel like if I walked into a random DSW or whereever, I'd find far more Derbies than Oxfords, at least for men.

...and you would be correct, because, at the low end, it's probably cheaper to manufacture.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:01 AM on August 13


I've always rather liked the look of shoes like this, but I remain entirely baffled as to how some people manage to either actually wear them sockless or make those no-show socks work, since I've never been able to manage the latter with sneakers. Looks great and then I can't walk as far as my car before I've got to take my shoes off to fix them because they've come halfway off.
posted by Sequence at 11:02 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


But where do they stand on the Oxford Comma?
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:04 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


I love (good, traditional, structured) Oxfords on ladies so so so much. I would like to own and wear ten thousand pairs with boyfriend jeans and tights and skinnies and look all cool and tomboy-gamine-y. But between the high cut and the low heel they are deeply cankle-unfriendly, so I refrain. And covet.

(I am also really bitter about the high-heeled Oxford trend that's come and gone; I really wanted a pair of saddle-colored ones at the very beginning but could not find any that looked not-cheap, so I got a very nice pair in a dark chocolate but really they are too dark and I never wear them. Meanwhile now there are millions of the shoe I wanted then but I'm already tired of it and UGH I can never seem to get this whole stupid looking-current thing right.)
posted by peachfuzz at 11:06 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


is this where we post pictures of our shoes cause I am down with that
posted by The Whelk at 11:06 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


My goodness, some of those Grensons are loud. Admittedly, we're entering a louder/mod-er phase in men's clothes (I thought of this, actually, when considering the 2012 Xmen movie versus the 2014 one - the 2012 one came out at the start of a preppier cardigan-er moment, but the 2014 one clearly presages yet another visit to the seventies) and admittedly, Grenson is definitely the loudest of the large traddy British makers, but even so.

I surmise that people wearing sockless oxfords are either wearing very well-fitting ones in relatively soft leather (I have a couple of pairs that are just fine to wear without socks) or aren't walking much. If you're just going from car to office to car to home, your feet will probably be fine.
posted by Frowner at 11:08 AM on August 13


Sequence: google 'no show' socks.

Oh, and if any of you are inspired to buy shoes by this thread, may I recommend either Allen Edmonds or Alden? They're both made in America, unlike the vast majority of other shoes you'll see (Johnson & Murphy, Cole Haan, etc.) which are made (usually poorly) in China.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:09 AM on August 13 [8 favorites]


Those two-tone blue and white shoes at the top of the main link are pretty adorable.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:10 AM on August 13


But where do they stand on the Oxford Comma?

There are a limited number of places to stand on the Oxford Comma: being incognizant of the issue, being insistent on its use and utility, and being wrong wrong so wrong like the very wrongest thing indeed.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:12 AM on August 13 [19 favorites]


The Whelk offers a fully brogued balmoral in brown (which needs to be shined). Perfect for wearing with your plus fours while playing a round of golf, or when shooting trap out on the back lawn. It's not technically city appropriate, but as he is an artist, we'll allow him greater leeway.

I need a gin.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:13 AM on August 13 [8 favorites]


Jesus, if there is a look that needs to go away it's the no socks with shoes look. Esp. for men.

So I like to be current, I bought some of those stupid assed invisible socks. Essentially the slip on socks you get when trying on shoes with out socks, except they charge you fifteen bucks for these instead of zero, like at the shoe store.

HOLY SHIT IS THERE IS ANYTHING NO MAN ON EARTH SHOULD BE SEEN WEARING IT'S INVISIBLE SOCKS WITHOUT SHOES.

My kids laughed at me. My wife laughed at me. The cat didn't really care.

The most emasculating garment on earth, and I'm including tutus and sparkly unicorn jumping over a rainbow tshirts here.

Men - Never let yourselves been seen wearing invisible socks.
posted by Keith Talent at 11:13 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


Men - Never let yourselves been seen wearing invisible socks.

I'd have thought the 'invisible' part would take care of that problem.
posted by yoink at 11:18 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


yet another visit to the seventies

but this trip to the well is all the artsy European crazy-pattern 70s! All the crazy thrift store sport jackets will be fashionable again!
posted by The Whelk at 11:18 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I just love fashion photos where the item they're trying to promote as the hot-newness sticks out like a festering sore thumb in a way that makes it in no way compatible with the rest of the clothing.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:18 AM on August 13


I have adored Oxfords for decades now. Nice to know I can finally be in style.
posted by matildaben at 11:20 AM on August 13


I am hereby inspired to wear my black-and-white Born oxfords to work tomorrow. Maybe even with a dress or skirt. Yay for flat shoes!
posted by suelac at 11:20 AM on August 13


Many of the shoes called 'oxfords' in the above pictures are not actually oxfords at all

I wonder if this is going to be one of those descriptivist/prescriptivist divides soon? If you go to, say, zappos.com and click on "oxfords" you'll see more non-oxfords than not. So far as I can tell shoe manufacturers have abandoned the traditional definition of the term.
posted by yoink at 11:21 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I would love to see photos of plus-sized women with size 12 feet wearing oxfords to prove to me that it can be done stylishly, because whenever I have tried I feel like it just accentuates how large my feet are. Like loaves of bread attached to my legs!

Also, those no-show socks that you pretty much need to wear with shoes like this? Am I the only one who can't get them to stay on? They always slip right off my heel which is... not comfortable when you're also wearing a shoe.
posted by joan_holloway at 11:25 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


> broguing (more of it means the shoe is less formal).

That continues to vex me. It breaks my rule of thumb that the most complicated clothing is the most formal. But it really annoys me because I hate ornamentation. (Why yes, I do prefer iOS 7 over its predecessor and my favorite chair is rather uncomfortable.) So I 'break the rules' and wear (right this minute, in fact) my cap-toe oxfords with my business casual uniform.
posted by Monochrome at 11:26 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Don't forget to learn the differences between balmoral (more formal) and blucher

Ne-e-e-e-e-e-eigh!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:28 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


but this trip to the well is all the artsy European crazy-pattern 70s! All the crazy thrift store sport jackets will be fashionable again!

I dunno, I experienced the nineties' long seventies firsthand, and I feel like we've pretty much worked through all of it. This time around there's a touch of nineties-version-of-the-seventies, but the seventies (like the fifties) seems to me the most-mined fashion decade. (Maybe because both were times of rapid fashion change and innovation?) I like the seventies, don't get me wrong, but the styles don't suit me in the slightest.

Also, if you know a thrift store that has any crazy jackets left in it, instead of having them all put on Etsy and Ebay by pickers...well, don't tell me about it, you should never blow up the spot. But the last time I was seeing anything older than the late eighties in local thrift stores was probably seven or eight years ago. I don't even thrift any more, because I have no real interest in the Kohls-wear of yesteryear.
posted by Frowner at 11:29 AM on August 13


Many of the shoes called 'oxfords' in the above pictures are not actually oxfords at all

I wonder if this is going to be one of those descriptivist/prescriptivist divides soon? If you go to, say, zappos.com and click on "oxfords" you'll see more non-oxfords than not. So far as I can tell shoe manufacturers have abandoned the traditional definition of the term.


Those same manufacturers who were bought up by private equity firms, and then immediately offshored their production to underpaid factory workers in China to save a few bucks? The manufacturers who put thick rubber soles where there should only be leather? The manufacturers (not cobblers, mind you) whose shoes are not welted but glued?

Who cares what those heathens think?
posted by leotrotsky at 11:30 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I love oxfords. I love this post! I have a black patent leather pair that I wear with black tights and minidresses in the fall, and my friend calls them my little man shoes (they are very little; I wear size 5).
posted by millipede at 11:30 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


That continues to vex me. It breaks my rule of thumb that the most complicated clothing is the most formal.

The rule tends to actually be "more visual complexity is less formal." For men's clothing, at least. A suit is less visually complicated than a blazer and pants, and is more formal. Black tie is even less complicated than that, in that there's no color or patterns, and it's more formal than a suit.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:31 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


leotrotsky: Sequence: google 'no show' socks.

joan_holloway: Also, those no-show socks that you pretty much need to wear with shoes like this? Am I the only one who can't get them to stay on?

No, this was my point, I end up with a bit of sock wedged down around the toe of the shoe and that's basically it, and I don't think a no-show can possibly go high enough to prevent heel rub, so I'm kind of convinced that the shoe experience I would like to have is impossible just because my heels are somehow the wrong shape. I usually stick with ankle boots or a couple particularly compliant pairs of ballet flats.
posted by Sequence at 11:32 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos has it. That's why tuxes don't have pleats, cuffs, or belt loops. That's why a Rolex Daytona isn't a dress watch, but a Patek Calatrava is.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:34 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


yeah, that's an oxford comma.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:35 AM on August 13


Ah, my old standby... Dunham Burlingtons
posted by mikelieman at 11:35 AM on August 13


Who cares what those heathens think?

Alas, the heathens get just as much say in deciding "what words mean" as everyone else.
posted by yoink at 11:36 AM on August 13


The rule tends to actually be "more visual complexity is less formal." For men's clothing, at least.

Hard to make the cummerbund fit that rule. I don't think anyone ever kicked back in a cummerbund, did they?
posted by yoink at 11:37 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


That's why a Rolex Daytona isn't a dress watch, but a Patek Calatrava is.

The watch I wear most often is an inexpensive Movado with no numbers on its face. Is that too formal?
posted by Monochrome at 11:39 AM on August 13


My daily wear shoe: Alden's Cordovan Long Wing Blucher, in dark burgundy. Get you some.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:43 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Alas, not in my house so cannot link to pics of my vintage (70s) Nordstrom "English Tan" color Bal wingtips with both edge brogueing AND toe and heel counter punched ornaments of golf clubs (though they look like field hockey sticks, which is why I got them).

For affordable, mostly US-made fancy oxfords in men's and boy's sizes, try Stacy Adams. (I have the exact pair of black faux-ostrich and patent leather wingtips in the link). Also, Stacy Adams is THE traditional Afro-American church and, umm, street shoe. Check out the many colors available.
posted by Dreidl at 11:45 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Don't buy Cole Haan shoes. You'd be better off buying bananas with that money: those'll last longer anyway.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:46 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


oh god Haans are notoriously bad in that regard. GLUE.
posted by The Whelk at 11:53 AM on August 13


Ugh no no no, why must these be fashionable? The boy will not stop begging me to wear them and oh, I hates them. I hates them so. I am not a stylish 90lb hipster tomboy who cavorts around in skinny trousers and a button down and those shoes, on me, will just look like I actually literally don't understand how people put clothes on bodies.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:55 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Jesus, if there is a look that needs to go away it's the no socks with shoes look. Esp. for men.

Sorry, driving moccasins, espadrilles and ballet flats look terrible with socks, especially if one wears pants that stop anywhere above the ankle. It's about balance, proportion, and personal style. May not work for everyone, but that hardly matters.
posted by peripathetic at 11:56 AM on August 13


The rule tends to actually be "more visual complexity is less formal." For men's clothing, at least.

Hard to make the cummerbund fit that rule. I don't think anyone ever kicked back in a cummerbund, did they?


The cummerbund is from another important rule of men's clothing: the waist must be hidden, as it is evil.

Cummerbunds arose because it was too hot for the British to wear the normal waist-hider, the waistcoat, in India, so they tied a sash instead. They also provide a handy means of stashing your stuff (like symphony tickets), because your tuxedo pants don't have any pockets.

Why no pockets? Because simple = formal.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:57 AM on August 13


Docksiders look good without socks most of the time.
posted by The Whelk at 11:58 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Who cares what those heathens think?

Alas, the heathens get just as much say in deciding "what words mean" as everyone else.


You can call a horse a duck, but that don't mean he's gonna fly.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:59 AM on August 13


Docksiders look good without socks most of the time.

And with good reason. Socks on boat shoes means wet socks. Also, having your feet stick to the leather insole of the shoe isn't a bad thing when you're sailing; it means you don't slip.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:01 PM on August 13


Cole-Haan is no longer the original Chicago and New-England-based prep/business style shoe maker it once was. They're mostly made in China/Southeast Asia like any other athletic shoe. They were bought by/merged with Nike, which at least gave us dress shoes with comfortable and sometimes brightly-colored cushion soles, and then spun off to who-knows-who (Apex Capital?). The marketing ramped up even futher than with Nike, but the quality has dived.

Many cobblers (I use Seattle's Broadway Shoe Stop, 815 E Republican St) can put cushioned or colored soles on leather-sole dress shoes. No need to buy poorly-made imitations of quality footwear when the real thing is as near as a thrift store. The rubber-type soles not only make an interesting contrast with the classic uppers, but they're much more comfortable and water-resistant. Says the one who has had multiple precious pairs of vintage leather shoes destroyed by Seattle rain.
posted by Dreidl at 12:02 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I've found the success of no-show socks varies from brand to brand. I have the best luck with ones that are a bit thicker and have a higher vamp -- not good for most heels, ballet flats or boat shoes, but perfect for oxfords/derbies and loafers. I'm a woman with average sized feet, though, so YMMV.

I've got a pair of Dr. Martens spectator heels from a couple years back, and brown oxford-style boots (or I guess semi-brogue derby-style, according to the links), but despite loving the flat oxford look on women for years I don't have a pair of my own. Unless the blue velvet platform lace-ups I just thrifted count, and wow, this comment is far more revelatory of my personal style than I expected.
posted by bettafish at 12:02 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


My daily wear shoe: Alden's Cordovan Long Wing Blucher

Your "daily wear" shoes cost $700 a pair. Wowza. Man, that's how you tell genuine wealth from middle-class "well-off." It's not the being able to drop $700 on a pair of shoes, it's the being able to not care about it. If I was wearing $700 shoes, I'd be watching every step I took like a hawk; I'd walk around like a man trying to find a wallet he just realized he dropped somewhere. It's like when I see super expensive umbrellas or what have you. I always think, no matter how beautiful that is, you have to know if you buy it that you're pretty likely to lose it or have it get smashed up or whatever. It's not the ability to purchase it that really marks it as a luxury item--it's the willingness to just get another one when you lose/destroy/wear out the first.
posted by yoink at 12:10 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Apparently those shoes last for like 80 years, though.
posted by kenko at 12:12 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


well-made Men's dress shoes in good condition are the HOLY GRAIL of second-hand clothes shopping. I have a more city-simpler pair of black oxfords that where somehow made for a person with my exact same strange wide foot size that I got for like ten bucks at a random used clothing store in Paris and it felt like finding a UNICORN.
posted by The Whelk at 12:17 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


I have never spent $700 on a pair of shoes and will never spend $700 on a pair of shoes, but if they lasted forever, went with pretty much everything, and were never going to go out of fashion, I could see spending $700 on shoes. I'm sure that I will spend more than $700 on shoes over the course of the next ten years, so it wouldn't be extravagant to spend $700 on shoes that I would wear most days for ten years.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:17 PM on August 13


My daily-wear shoes consist of several bushels of truffles wrapped with Monster cables and dipped in Macallan 40yr.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:18 PM on August 13 [12 favorites]


Your "daily wear" shoes cost $700 a pair. Wowza. Man, that's how you tell genuine wealth from middle-class "well-off."

Or how you tell the people who live in California from the people who live everywhere else on the entire planet, where we have weather. ;)
posted by like_a_friend at 12:18 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


Recs for lady Oxfords in black with silver metal toe caps that don't cost a fortune? I'm gonna wear them with socks.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:20 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I do want a nice pair of wingtips, despite my barbaric predilection for loafers.
posted by Mister_A at 12:23 PM on August 13


Serious question here: No one bats an eye at $800 electronics that break when you sneeze at 'em and need replaced every 2 years, so why do some people freak out over beautiful hand-made shoes that cost $500-$700 and will last, effectively, forever?
posted by Mister_A at 12:27 PM on August 13 [11 favorites]


Them Aldens ain't gonna fold up like a cheap umbrella (or an expensive one). I guess my point is, we have come to view footwear as a disposable commodity, and are much the worse for it, sartorially speaking.
posted by Mister_A at 12:29 PM on August 13


No one bats an eye at $800 electronics that break when you sneeze at 'em and need replaced every 2 years, so why do some people freak out over beautiful hand-made shoes that cost $500-$700 and will last, effectively, forever?

different classes and cultures have different values.

posted by The Whelk at 12:32 PM on August 13


I'm sure that I will spend more than $700 on shoes over the course of the next ten years, so it wouldn't be extravagant to spend $700 on shoes that I would wear most days for ten years.

Well, yes. But that's failing to take a few things into account; the $700 shoes may very well "last" for 10 years of daily wear--but that's a bit like my grandfather's axe. You'll have had to take them to a cobbler at least every second year for maintenance that could very well cost you as much as a cheap pair of shoes--as well as the money you're spending on shoe polish etc. to keep them looking good.

But that's not really my point. It's a bit like the thing where you say "if poor people spent X-much more on healthy food they'd save X+N on reduced healthcare costs etc." And it's probably true on average. But having something be true on average doesn't help you when it's not true in your specific case. I couldn't wear the $700 shoes as daily wear shoes because I'd be in constant fear of the rare bad luck event that renders the shoes altogether unwearable (the paint or solvent spill, the bad gash in the leather etc.).

It's like the super-expensive, beautifully hand-crafted umbrella. You'll see the same logic applied there: "it's the last umbrella you'll ever buy; this doesn't fall to pieces like those cheap ones you're always buying; in the end it will save you money!" And, possibly, on average, it does. But that doesn't get you past the psychological problem of carrying around an umbrella that you're suddenly seriously afraid of losing.
posted by yoink at 12:35 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


There's also just the fact of the large one-time expense. I dunno. Getting them re-soled wouldn't cost that much, I expect, but it's a lot to drop all at once.
posted by kenko at 12:41 PM on August 13


Also you probably can't bike in them.
posted by kenko at 12:41 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Here's where I jump up and down with my petition to make all women flight attendants wear oxfords. How in the world can I trust them to be responsible for my safety in an aircraft emergency if they are wearing 4 inch heels? Didn't they read the 9/11 report and get haunted by all the references to the high heels in stairwells? Don't they read the aircraft safety manual in the back of the seat where there's a picture of high heels with a big red slash over them? Don't they know how terrible wearing high heels is on foot and leg and back health?

But oxfords! Great for all that terminal walking, great for the up and down of the aircraft, and you could wear those fuckers in an emergency all day long. And they'd look classy with those outfits - pants, skirts, you name it. Oxfords for flight attendants forever!
posted by barchan at 12:41 PM on August 13 [8 favorites]


No one bats an eye at $800 electronics that break when you sneeze at 'em and need replaced every 2 years

I've never spent $800 on any piece of electronics when I could get exactly the same functionality out of a $100 alternative; nor could I imagine spending that much on a piece of electronics that I would expect to have to replace in such a short time. And I think you're mistaking the drift of my comment; it's not a "OMG, how can you spend $700 on a pair of shoes when there are starving children in Africa" comment. If you want to spend $700 on shoes, be my guest. My point is simply that it's not a sum I, personally, could imagine putting at risk in "everyday" wear. You would need to be either enormously more invested in your personal appearance than I am or significantly wealthier than I am before that would seem at all feasible.
posted by yoink at 12:41 PM on August 13


Sometimes I wish I had a job where I was required to dress better, so that I could tell myself I had to spend $$ on clothes and shoes for professional reasons. (But such a job might conceivably frown on my current green pants/purple socks/blue shoes combo, possibly for good reason, so, eh.)
posted by kenko at 12:44 PM on August 13


Getting them re-soled wouldn't cost that much, I expect

I just did a quick Google around on that issue. I found a report from someone using Alden's in-house "recrafting" service to resole and restore a pair of their shoes back in 2007. The charge was $125. They mention that they've had it done before $50 to $85 to have independent cobblers do the same service in the past. Whether or not that seems like a lot to you will probably depend a lot on whether or not you're the kind of person who can drop $700 on a pair of daily-wear shoes in the first place.
posted by yoink at 12:49 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I admit that $125 is a lot more than I expected.
posted by kenko at 12:50 PM on August 13


It only costs $50-75 to get shoes resoled most places.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:54 PM on August 13


Is this the part where we all talk about how we would never pay $XX for something like shoes because it's shallow/frivolous/stupid? Like we did with the purse thread?
posted by sfkiddo at 12:56 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


If the man recommends $700 shoes for men who care about footwear then I'm not going to blame him. Maybe it will displace the "silly women just spend all their money on shoes" notion.
posted by Monochrome at 12:57 PM on August 13


shoes and store stores are depressing for me
mens 14 narrow
posted by robbyrobs at 12:59 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


If that thread can spawn an awesome BAG LOVE IN can we do the same with Oxfords?
posted by The Whelk at 1:00 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I get that not everyone will look at footwear as an investment; rather, it's the implied or overt judgment that such purchases are for the wealthy, that they are a luxury, vain, wasteful—that's the stuff I object to. A smart full-welt shoe will outlast a Macbook Pro, and is substantially less expensive. If you want to buy a Mac, or quality cutlery, or some crap from SkyMall, I really don't mind; I just ask that you please treat other people's decisions and priorities respectfully. Shoes are the ONLY things in my wardrobe I don't rummage for on discount; I'm very active, I have weird feet, I walk several miles a day between offices, train stations and errands, and dammit, I want good shoes. That said, I don't have a pair of Aldens, or even Allen Edmonds. But that's all I want for Christmas.
posted by Mister_A at 1:02 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


PS Size 9 US.
posted by Mister_A at 1:02 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Is this the part where we all talk about how we would never pay $XX for something like shoes because it's shallow/frivolous/stupid?

You can always do that if you want, but nobody has in this thread yet--as I explained rather explicitly.
posted by yoink at 1:02 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Alden's arent handmade really. Still in a factory. They're not benchgrade for sure.

And shell lasts forever. Those shoes will literally last a lifetime if cared for.

Alden's recrafting is extensive and much more than just resoling.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:03 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


shoes and store stores are depressing for me
mens 14 narrow


Browsing for nice used men's shoes definitely gives you the impression that the wealthy are actually a race of tiny elves.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:03 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


tiny elves who do not share your thick waist and linebacker shoulders and oddly long legs.
posted by The Whelk at 1:05 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


goddammit i'm going to end up buying shoes today aren't i
posted by shakespeherian at 1:07 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


And its not like those Alden's are fragile, easily damaged, or whatever. Its shell. Its made from horse ass. It is extremely resistant to scratches. It doesn't even crease.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:07 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Alden's in-house recrafting service is different from what your usual cobbler will do. Your usual cobbler will replace a layer of the sole by stripping off the worn part and gluing on a new layer of leather or rubber or just gluing on a new layer, depending on the composition of the shoe. This will run you anywhere from $20 - $60, depending on location, cobbler, etc. Soles have layers - there's the part that is actually sewn onto the shoe and then additional parts glued or sewn on to that. When people talk about "glued shoes", they are referring to gluing the whole sole onto the upper rather than stitching it on.

Alden actually disassembles the shoe, more or less. They stretch the upper back out over the original last, attach a new sole and heel, add a new leather sock to the interior and put everything back together. It's a fascinating process, and one I hope to use on my (secondhand) Aldens some day.

Shell cordovan is more expensive, heavier and more durable than calf. A regular pair of Alden bluchers runs you, I believe, in the high $400s. If you get a sole cover, you're probably good for some years before you even need the basic sole-replacement described above.

Also you probably can't bike in them.

I biked to work in my Aldens just this morning, actually. Admittedly, I am a weirdo and do most of my bicycling in street clothes. It is a bit hard on loafers because I'm not wearing socks, but it doesn't seem to do much damage to oxfords or boots. And of course, if you're one of those people in the stretchy cycling gear, you probably have special bike shoes anyway.

The thing is, there are only a few good reasons for fancy shoes: to buy something made by a worker who gets a living wage, because you like the shoes or because you need the fit. (Alden does a well-regarded orthopedic line.)

I have some very expensive shoes (I mean, not expensive when I bought them; they were all used). They do last a lot better than bottom-of-the-market shoes, or trendy expensive shoes, but I don't think they last significantly better than, say, the better shoes from Johnston & Murphy. They're just a lot prettier.
posted by Frowner at 1:08 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


This is the thread where I find out that there are other shoe nerds on metafilter.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:10 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


You can call a horse a duck, but that don't mean he's gonna fly.

On another thread in this conversation: looking around the Alden website I see that they, too, use the term "oxford" 'incorrectly.' Specifically, they use the term "oxford" to apply indiscriminately to bluchers and to balmorals (they sell "blucher oxfords" and "balmoral oxfords"). I think the horses are achieving lift-off.
posted by yoink at 1:11 PM on August 13


In all seriousness, there's nothing worse than wearing cheaply made shoes. You have to be on your feet and getting places most of the day, even with a desk job. I think I was channeling my mother with my snark above: she would always buy cheap shoes on sale and have 10 pairs that hurt her feet. I'd much rather pay for one good pair.
posted by sfkiddo at 1:14 PM on August 13


I biked to work in my Aldens just this morning, actually. Admittedly, I am a weirdo and do most of my bicycling in street clothes. It is a bit hard on loafers because I'm not wearing socks

Oh, I do most of my biking in street clothes too, it's just that IME leather soles slip around on the pedals.
posted by kenko at 1:21 PM on August 13


goddammit i'm going to end up buying shoes today aren't i

You say that like it's a bad thing!
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:21 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


You can call a horse a duck, but that don't mean he's gonna fly.

On another thread in this conversation: looking around the Alden website I see that they, too, use the term "oxford" 'incorrectly.' Specifically, they use the term "oxford" to apply indiscriminately to bluchers and to balmorals (they sell "blucher oxfords" and "balmoral oxfords"). I think the horses are achieving lift-off.


This is arguably a geographic issue. balmorals:US::oxfords:UK. Oxford is less clearly defined in the US, as we use the term balmoral instead. It is therefore more prone to drift.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:31 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


So, yeah, they're pricey. However, I am extremely tough on shoes. If I wore regular $100 shoes from Nordstrom, I'd go through two pairs a year. It's amazing how quickly I can wear through a sole and stretch out the sides of a shoe. My calculations were as others pointed out: spend the cash and get a pair that will last forever, never go out of style, and go with pretty much everything. The guy who sold them to me said the only thing I couldn't wear them with was a black suit, but you know what? I've done it twice now and it seems to work out. But that's west coast formal. If I was wearing a tux I'd wear tuxedo shoes.

Anyway, yeah. I had a signing bonus burning a hole in my pocket, and yeah, I lived in California. I wore them every day on Muni or Bike commutes in SF for two years and I did the factory refinish because I wore holes in the soles. They came back basically looking new, but with my personal wear marks. They also include a pair of shoe trees, which is generally $10 to $25, depending on where you buy them (Costco FTW on that one, btw), and they include shipping. So really, not that much more than a local cobbler. The worst part was being with out them for around six weeks and having to wear the busted old nikes I dug out of my closet.

Anyway, I'm on year four and I still haven't bought another pair of shoes since then. It's been shockingly easy to avoid losing them or spilling paint thinner on them. Walking them all over SF is certainly fraught with peril, but even though I went out in the TL from time to time, I managed to avoid bullet holes. I was worried about the catastrophic event, but it just hasn't happened. I have a pair of work boots for when I'm out in the yard and I might run my foot over with a lawn mower. I hate having to buy shoes, so this has really worked out for me. I find it amusing that now these sorts of wingtips have become very fashionable, and when I compare the crap the department stores are selling with these shoes—not even the same ball park in terms of construction and durability.
posted by jeffamaphone at 2:09 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


If you want real hand-made, you have to look to the Italians, I think. Check out the Bontoni Casanova Blazer. Now that's an expensive shoe. That's where you start talking wealthy. If I ever have a successful startup exit and decide to get another pair of shoes, I might start looking there.
posted by jeffamaphone at 2:15 PM on August 13


get an another pair, give those ones a rest between days with shoe trees, and you'll have them more than twice as long
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:37 PM on August 13


As a lady with U.S. size 11 feet, I've been wearing actual men's oxfords for years. I love it when style catches up with me.

Men's shoes tend to cost more than women's, but they're generally made better. And they're easier to fix or get fixed when something goes wrong. I've lost one heel on my favorite two-tone brown wingtips a few times, and a coat of Shoe Goo overnight with a C-clamp does the trick for months.

They make me feel powerful, and my stride purposeful.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:40 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


My daily wear shoe: Alden's Cordovan Long Wing Blucher

*hears horse whinny in the distance*
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:43 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


So I like to be current, I bought some of those stupid assed invisible socks. Essentially the slip on socks you get when trying on shoes with out socks, except they charge you fifteen bucks for these instead of zero, like at the shoe store.

I can never keep those suckers on. They end up balled up inside the shoe by the time I get to work. I've been tempted to try sock glue, but it just seems weird.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:47 PM on August 13


anyone interested in super quality shoes could do worse than check out /r/goodyearwelt
posted by rebent at 2:56 PM on August 13


I loved my Bass bucks to death. Got them resoled five times.
posted by jfwlucy at 3:00 PM on August 13


I came to say the same thing as others socks! Doesn't it get cold in your office and get your toes all clammy?

Also what kind of socks and what style of jean should one wear with oxfords if a lady and prone to wearing socks and jeans with shoes to the office?
posted by captaincrouton at 3:25 PM on August 13


So who's making the Allen Edmonds for women? Serious question

The Stylecarrot link above has a bunch of trendy women's options in the $100-$500 range but the most expensive ones on there (Marc Jacobs, etc.) are going to be a shadow of the build quality and comfort of what you could buy from Allen Edmonds for that price, only I'm a size 5 and it's hard enough even finding my size among cheap women's lines. Blahniks, Louboutins, et al are fetish objects that are to be looked at, not worn in the real world. Fergamos are cute but run incredibly narrow and I'm not sure they are that much better constructed than Cole Haans.
posted by slow graffiti at 3:32 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Wolverine 1000 mile boots are made in the US (I believe by Allen Edmonds, actually) and come in women's sizes. Wolverine is doing this very fucking dodgy thing where only some of the 1000-mile boots and shoes are US-made, so unless they specify that the particular model is US-made, it's not. So the boots are, the shoes aren't.

Ped Shoes stocks some wonderful women's shoes from Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal and the US - they're very reliable in terms of shipping and returns. They're not cheap, but at least as far as Cydwoq, Trippen and Fiorentini Baker go, I can testify that they are welted or blake-stitched, not glued.

Wesco has a simply gorgeous line in women's stompy boots now - I don't even wear women's boots and I want them. Dehner has some cute oxfords. Rancourt does all its shoes in all sizes, as far as I know, so you can get their brogue in women's sizes, plus all their chukkas and lace-ups.

English and French companies like Tricker's and Crockett-Jones and Heschung do women's lines, but they're very hard to source in the US.
posted by Frowner at 3:56 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Only the Krause and the wolverine in shell is made by AE
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:58 PM on August 13


Seconding slow graffiti. The time that I have I spent searching in vain for women's oxfords that were just regular oxfords (no heel, no frilly stylings or pink), but for a smaller and narrower foot! (Which means trying on the shoe in person, because of non-standard width.) There was a shoe maker at the Halifax farmer's market who made me a pair (for a quite reasonable price even), but despite measuring my feet extensively, got the size wrong, and I can only wear those shoes with very thin dress socks on dressy occasions, not as everyday shoes. I have some that have low heels. But still heels, and it doesn't look quite right with most of my wardrobe, and I don't want to wear even a low heal every day, you know? Or if I find something decent, it's too wide and doesn't come in different widths. And then there are the quality differences in men's versus women's shoes at the same price point. It all frustrates me to no end. It's like there's some law against making a basic, plain, but good quality shoe for women. *grumble grumble*
posted by eviemath at 4:02 PM on August 13


I <3 Cydwoq shoes.
posted by kenko at 4:03 PM on August 13


Had two pair of identical Bass and Docker Oxfords. Must've come off the same factory line. Wore the Dockers till one of the soles cracked in half, then threw that pair out. Wore the Bass pair for at least a year before I realized I was actually wearing one Bass, one Docker. Still wear the mismatched pair to work every day, they are beat to shit, but "appropriately dressed, worse for the wear" is kind of my style mantra.

Just ordered a pair of Rockports that looked identical, hope they're the same shoes.
posted by turntraitor at 4:42 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Jeff, I hope you're not literally wearing that pair of Aldens every day, or that your feet sweat a whole hell of a lot less than mine do.

They'll last you a lifetime if you let them rest a full day with shoe trees in after every day you wear them, but if you wear them every day eventually you'll water-damage the lining, and that is one thing (I can say from sad experience with a pair of shell Allen Edmonds) that a cobbler or a manufacturer recrafting usually can't fix.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:23 PM on August 13


Arrrgh, the irony of looking at the Style Carrot link...!

When I was sixteen, I had a pair of oxfords that most resembled these. Saved up 3 months for them. They were my favorite shoes and I wore them with almost everything.

And my guardian threw them away a month after I bought them because, she said, "I can't stand you in those! They look like something a dyke would wear!" Why she had that particular objection is probably best discussed between her and a therapist. At the time I had to swallow my anger so that I wouldn't yell back and subsequently get my 4'11' block knocked out to the Chonos Archipelago.

I haven't thought about those shoes for years. Time to look for another pair! Maybe in cordovan!
posted by droplet at 8:52 PM on August 13


If you want real hand-made, you have to look to the Italians, I think.

No, actually you generally go to the English.

Crockett and Jones
John Lobb
Edward Green

My personal favorite, Gaziano and Girling

If you're looking for something a little bit flashier, then there's always bespoke. Many of the brands up above have bespoke services, but if I had that kind of money to throw around I think I'd go with one of the Italian-trained Japanese cordwainers. I stare at Il Quadrifoglio's work and sign wistfully far too often for my own good.

And my own personal contribution, my favorite pair of oxfords given a fresh spit shine.
posted by C^3 at 9:05 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


For those looking for quality oxfords for women. This blog post describe some of the good european brands. Unfortunately it is in swedish but there are links to all the manufacturers.

There is also a warning specifically for church shoes. They are apparently faking what manufacturing techniques they use for some of their women's shoes.
posted by furisto at 5:28 AM on August 14


Wait a minute... fashion has rules?
Is there a Hoyle or something that explains this?
posted by MtDewd at 5:45 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Are all Crockett and Jones handmade? I snagged a pair of wingtip bals that C&J made for brooks brothers on ebay. Gently used for $125! They were under the peal & co label, and weren't listed as C&J. Anyway, like most shoes they were too narrow for me so I had to sell them. IMO it was a step up from AE shoes but clearly at that price point you're getting diminishing marginal returns to your dollar.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:21 AM on August 14


I just look at those pointy toes and my feet hurt.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:43 AM on August 14


FYI: Wesco (and Dayton in Vancouver, much dressier) make custom shoes as well as boots. Any heel height 1"- 3" (ie, western boot heel height). Any width, different sizes for each foot if needed. Wesco down to size 2, Dayton canadian size 4, I think. Both will do multi-color or custom color (other than black, brown/tan and red) for an additional fee.
posted by Dreidl at 9:11 AM on August 14


Are all Crockett and Jones handmade?

No, they have other collections apart from their hand-grade line. Look at them. England is fantastic for shoes.
posted by ersatz at 9:28 AM on August 14


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