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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good afternoon, gentlemen. I tend to think there is a hierarchy of "formality" for men's dress shoes. Generally, the more design on a shoe, the less formal. For example, a plain cap-toe (i.e. AE Park Avenue) is more formal than, say, the AE Clifton, which is itself more formal than a perforated cap-toe (i.e. the new AE Strand or the former AE Lexington). If I understand the hierarchy correctly, these would tend to be more formal than a wing-tip (i.e. a new AE McAllister or my black AE MacNeils).

My question is where does a dress saddle oxford fit in to this mix? Of course, I'm thinking of an AE Shelton or a J&M Owen - a burgundy plain-toe oxford with a black saddle. The plain-toe would be more formal than the cap-toe, but the saddle is, to my mind, more casual than any of the other shoes I've mentioned.

While this is a general musing, I also plan to consider the responses in making my next dress shoe purchase.

Thanks for your constructive thoughts!

All the best,

Chad
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Also, by implication, please correct me if the hierarchy I've suggested is incorrect.

Thanks,

Chad
 

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I have a pair of black and burgandy saddle shoes that I bought from J&M about 10 or 12 years ago. I wear them with khakis and cords. They have leather soles, so I think they are more formal then most saddle shoes due to both the soles and the colors. Of course, that is still not very formal. I suppose I would wear them with anything that I would wear penny loafers with.

Cheers, Jim.
 

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^While I am in general agreement with Jim's assessment, there are a few (dress) saddle oxfords out there which feature saddles that are of the same color as the basic shoe (IE: Alden's #8 shell on #8 shell edition). AE at one point offered the Shelton in calf (black on black or burgundy on burgundy. I think the tone on tone versions are decidedly more formal than versions with contrasting saddles and would wear same with a suit.
 

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Also, by implication, please correct me if the hierarchy I've suggested is incorrect.
Chad,

Welcome from another Atlantan forum member. :icon_smile:

Your hierarchy sounds right, with the addition of a completely unadorned shoe as the most formal.

Personally, I think of my unadorned pebble-grained shoes as being very casual, while a pair of wing-tips is quite suitable with a suit in a business situation. But we all have our eccentricities.
 

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The notion that broguing is a sign of informality is an insider's idea and runs counter to the general perception, I think, (excluding for a moment the whole area of black tie). Most people, and women in particular, seem to regard brogued shoes as "fancy". Wear them in a casual setting, with jeans, and they'll see you as eccentric - which is fine with me. But plain toes fly under the radar and attract much less attention.

As to saddle shoes... not the foggiest.
 

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Also keep in mind that a blucher (open laced - like the Clifton) shoe is more casual than a balmoral (v or closed laced like a Byron) in the same design.

Clifton - blucher - open laced



Byron - balmoral - closed laced
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
paper clip,

You are exactly right. I neglected to include that in the hierarchy, and I appreciate the addition.

Thanks,

Chad
 

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There is no hierarchy, but several dimensions that define the shoe formality (or lack of):
- type of lacing
- quantity and location of brogueing
- color
- material - both for the uppers and the sole
etc.

These are primary attributes - and when one starts mixing attributes from different groups relative formality becomes blurred:

Plain shoe is more formal than a brogued one, other aspects being equal. Putting a rubber sole and pebble grain leather on a plain shoe will make it less formal. But, by how much? Is it more or less than the brogue? That is hard to tell.

It is important to pair those shoes well, with an outfit that has the same aspects of formality, although it is impossible to tell if one is more formal than the other.
 

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Ressurection!

I was going to start a new thread asking this same question (right down to the title) but as is so often the case the great minds of the AAAC forum had previously considered it.

I did want to add to the question a bit...

It looks like the previous consensus (filtered through my own understanding) would go like:

  • Black Patent Leather Form Slippers/Oxfords (Formal Wear only)
  • Unadorned black oxford balmoral captoe (what about "single last/no seam" shoes"?) \Semi-Formal, "modern" tuxedo
  • Burgundy/Brown Captoe (balmoral more blucher less)
  • Black/Burgundy/Brown with brogue (balmoral more blucher less)
  • B/B/B wingtip (balmoral more blucher less)
  • B/B/B wingtip w/ brogue (balmoral more blucher less)
  • (Previous 4 may be reversed for "public consumption" rather than strict interpretation/traditon - but lets not get sidetracked with a debate on this.)
Last 4 are all fine for suits/business suits/fashion suits, but can also drop down to being worn with Jacket + trousers through business casual.

So where do loafers fit in?

Which loafer styles are more formal that which others?

How informal do loafers go? How formal?

What makes you decide to wear a loafer on with a given outfit rather than
Lets assume trainers/tennis/boat shoes/sandals/etc are for the most casual business casual and less formal forms of dress (unless your making a "statement") for the sake of this discussion so as to avoid getting sidetracked.

Thanks!!
 

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How I would have a Top 10:
1. patent for black/white tie
2. plain black Oxford with or w/o toecap(Oxford in the proper British sense)
3. plain black Gibson or Derby
4. plain black lace-up boot
5. black half-brogue (Oxford or Derby)
6. black full brogue (ditto)
7. various wingtip designs - brogued and unbrogued
8. monks
9. plain black chelsea boot
10. anything not black of 1-3 above.
 

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While we're at it, let's throw another one into the mix. I just got back from a business trip, and almost every man I saw wearing a suit (not a large number, BTW) had paired the suit with black split-toe bluchers. I have always thought the split-toe, in any form, is too casual for a suit, but it was so ubiquitous that I began to wonder if I'm wrong and the split-toe is more formal than I had believed.

Thoughts?
 

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Were they wearing black suits too?

JUST KIDDING - NO DISCUSSION OF BLACK SUITS PLEASE. I just couldn't resist.

I have wondered about the split toe... I don't like them personally but I don't have any grounds for it besides personal ambivalence to the look. They seem to be popular and I think even AE makes them.

Though they do describe them as a "dress casual"shoe:
"A split-toe reverse blucher with a rubber sole, this dress casual style can be worn in a casual office environment or on the weekend with khakis or jeans"

And the delray:

This one they seem to feel is more business appropriate:
"An elongated forepart with a tapered split-toe and plug overlay distinguish this blucher dress style. Corresponds well with professional attire or dress slacks"
 

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While we're at it, let's throw another one into the mix. I just got back from a business trip, and almost every man I saw wearing a suit (not a large number, BTW) had paired the suit with black split-toe bluchers. I have always thought the split-toe, in any form, is too casual for a suit, but it was so ubiquitous that I began to wonder if I'm wrong and the split-toe is more formal than I had believed.

Thoughts?
Actually thinking about this is tough. The Delray pictured below seems like it'd be fine with a suit to me. But I'm curious what other shoes would people consider definitely off-limits when wearing a suit (other than the obvious such as sneakers, sandals, etc.) ?
 

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Were they wearing black suits too?
One of them was - but he was obviously from Chicago ;)

I have wondered about the split toe... I don't like them personally but I don't have any grounds for it besides personal ambivalence to the look. They seem to be popular and I think even AE makes them.
I'm not a fan either. They do seem to be popular. To me they just seem to be a bit too casual-looking for a suit, even the bottom example you show. Would seem to go well with blazer/slacks if you like the shoe, but not with a suit. My "grounds" would be that I've never seen them listed on anyone's collection of what constitutes a suitable shoe for a suit. I do recognize that such lists are arbitrary and capricious, but you'd think one of the men's fashion mavens would have explicitly mentioned them if they were suitable, as it were.
 

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I, too, have noted the large number of split-toed shoes worn with suits. I would be comfortable wearing them with a slightly more casual suit, or a suit worn in a more casual way (with, say, a sweater underneath or a knit tie). I think they look incongruous with pinstripes or dark solid worsteds, but are fine with a glen plaid, for instance. JMHO.

I, personally, do not ever wear loafers with a suit, but I recognize that this position is somewhat archaic.
 

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Tone on Tone saddles

^While I am in general agreement with Jim's assessment, there are a few (dress) saddle oxfords out there which feature saddles that are of the same color as the basic shoe (IE: Alden's #8 shell on #8 shell edition). AE at one point offered the Shelton in calf (black on black or burgundy on burgundy. I think the tone on tone versions are decidedly more formal than versions with contrasting saddles and would wear same with a suit.
I agree with eagle-- The most formal shoe I own, and wear almost exclusively with suits, is the Alden 8 on 8 shell. Of course, being in academia, I probably subscribe to a different standard than most "bankers/lawyers/soldiers/spys" to misquote another set of professions.
Tom
 

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I think they look incongruous with pinstripes or dark solid worsteds, but are fine with a glen plaid, for instance. JMHO.
That was what caused me to notice the other suit wearers - the incongruity. All the suit-wearers I saw had on dark suits, either solid or pinstriped. No casual suits or GPs. The split-toe shoes just didn't seem to match.

I, personally, do not ever wear loafers with a suit, but I recognize that this position is somewhat archaic.
It's not necessarily archaic, but it is un-American ;) I don't wear loafers with a suit either, despite the fact that I have two very beautiful pairs of loafers - one in black shell, the other in a brown deerskin. Both would go well with suits, but I spend a lot of time in Central/Northern Europe, and I don't think I've ever seen anyone wear loafers with a suit there. That aesthetic has imprinted on me.
 
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