Insights: Buying my first quality dress shoes

Insights: Buying my first quality dress shoes

If I’m honest, shoes were the last part of my wardrobe I focused on. I guess I never really saw (felt) the value of a quality pair of shoes; I mean sure I looked at pairs from John Lobb, Crocket & Jones, Carmina and Edward Green… but they exist at a price that had to be aspirational only. So I would wait for sales and pick up department store brands that featured things like “genuine leather” (heavily corrected grain, more plastic than leather) and glued soles. For $50 they’d last me a year or two. I didn’t rotate or use shoe trees. I know, I know. Shoe-lovers – keep reading, I’ve learned the error of my ways.

Anyways, last year I grew tired of throwing my money away. I had been spending enough time on menswear forums that I’d absorbed some knowledge about better quality shoes. I’d also learned that it would be a terrible mistake to jump up to the likes of the brands I mentioned above, so I started to look for something more entry-level. I came across a few brands that warranted further investigation – Meermin and Velasca. As I began to research the style of shoes I needed, a fantastic deal came up on a beautiful pair of NIB Carmina black captoes on eBay through the Styleforum affiliate vendor, master consigner and generally awesome dude at Luxeswap so I pulled the trigger. The shoes arrived, and my time spent scouring the internet for information on Carmina last shape and sizing had paid off – they fit perfectly!

A couple of months later, Velasca had offered up a discount in return for sharing some honest feedback. This helped me make the decision to try them, so I picked a pair of dark brown full brogue captoes and a pair of brown suede penny loafers and placed the order. Once they showed up, I had a reasonable base for a shoe rotation.

At this time, I also decided to invest in some decent shoe care products from Saphir – Amazon and the Hanger Project were my friends here. There are a number of great resources out there, and I watched many, many YouTube videos about how to properly care for and polish leather. It took about six months, but I can proudly say that I can produce a mirror shine! Exhibit A:

Currently, my shoe rotation consists of:

  • Carmina Simpson last semi-brogue black captoes
  • Velasca Polliroeu dark brown suede penny loafters
  • Velasca Brumista full-brogue dark brown captoes
  • Velasca Saccent full-brogue dark brown suede wingtips
  • Allen Edmonds Lombardo tan wingtips
  • Department store beater tan captoes

I’m glad I’ve taken it reasonably slowly acquiring shoes. The more I wear the ones I own, the better I’m able to define what I like and don’t like about them, and include that in planning my future purchases. I hope you’ll do the same.


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