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Our sales rep from Alden stopped in the store today and made me an offer I can't refuse (or discuss in detail). Suffice it to say it would afford me the opportunity to afford a new Alden shoe. Which begs the question: which to buy?

I would like to pick up several pairs, but the Mrs. informs me that we're expecting our first child in the spring, and so that will limit my available funds.

I've got dress shoes, but my only loafers - a much loved and often abused pair of old Florsheim Imperial strap loafers - have just about earned their way to the thrift store. So I've got my eye on the LHS in either burgundy calf or burgundy shell. Which to buy?

I've not worn shell, and am somewhat worried of the tales I've heard of them stretching with time. Our rep assures me that with proper care they should last a LONG time. I'd like to try the shell, but I'm confident that I know what I'm getting with calfskin. Your thoughts, gentlemen?
 

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Congratulations on the baby. So indescribably great.

As for shoes, I'm Aldenless myself, but would pick up the shells: 986. They're on my list.

Go the whole hog.

And if I were you, I'd read lots of threads on this forum about various Aldens, if you haven't, and look at the pix on the devoted LHS photo thread.

Personally I think the shells are more distinctive and better looking than the calfs. And they will last ages.
 

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Shell will last ages and ages. Plus it looks better with age than calf does.

I'd dispute your point about shell stretching. I don't have it at hand, but I've read a lot about the properties of shell and it actually stretches LESS than calf. It softens more than calf, but it stretches less.

tjs
 

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I hadn't heard that Cordovan had stretching issues. I had a pair of Alden Cordovan bluchers that I used heavily for about eight years (recrafted twice, I think, looking brand new each time). Ultimately I had to give them away because my feet had stretched out and the shoes (and all of my other pairs in that size) began to feel too small. They were still pretty much indistinguishable from nearly new when I gave them away, and I had done a lot of walking outdoors in them and had exposed them to some bad conditions at times. I had heard that Cordovan was more durable, if anything, than calfskin, although Alden calfskins will last a very long time as well. I'd say if you like the Cordovan shoes, then get them - you've already got calfskin. The Alden rep can better tell you about whether the LHS model itself is more prone to stretching than bluchers would be, but it definitely wasn't an issue for me.
 

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Congratulations on the expected addition to your family and...get the shell cord LHS's. They will last long enough for you to raise, educate, and marry-off your progeny. That is a good thing because, once you look into the new arrival's eyes, any sartorial priorities will fade to the back of your consciousness:)eek:)! Again, congratulations!
 

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Regarding stretching: This spring I did some wishful research at the Alden store on Mad Ave.

Normally I wear wides, but when I tried on the 986's, they tended to slip off my feet.

So the salesman steered me toward the (very snug) regular model, which he promised would eventually stretch to fit just so. Man, they were tight. But he held to his story.
 

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^ Funny, because I was told the exact opposite by someone at Alden of DC.

I'm under the impression that shell stretches less because it is denser, less porous. But I'm no expert in this area (or indeed any other area except consuming wine; which reminds me, the sun's over the yardarm...).

tjs
 

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Buy the LHS in #8 shell. They'll last forever, look great forever, go with just about every trad thing you want to wear, and stretch much less than calf. Classic.

I have Alden bluchers, LHS, wingtips and tassel loafers, all in shell. The wingtips are twenty years old and going strong; I expect the others, bought at judicious intervals when I thought I deserved a reward, to last as long or longer.
 

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Buy the LHS in #8 shell. They'll last forever, look great forever, go with just about every trad thing you want to wear, and stretch much less than calf. Classic.

I have Alden bluchers, LHS, wingtips and tassel loafers, all in shell. The wingtips are twenty years old and going strong; I expect the others, bought at judicious intervals when I thought I deserved a reward, to last as long or longer.
My first pair of shells was a pair of #8 LHS bought in the early 90's. I still wear them, and the fit is terrific. Even better, they have aged nicely with the characteristic ripples ever so nicely pronounced. I highly recommend them.
 

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Congratulations on your new addition
BB LHS in burgundy shell more than 25 years old
Recent alden restoration
Shell only slightly stretches
Recommend shell
Mac, your LHS shells look brand new, not 25 years old. Alden did a great job with the restoration, though I can't imagine that they were in bad shape. Your shoes are a perfect example of why I'm so dedicated to shell.
 

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I have been wearing Alden shells for 40 years and have 14 pairs, including two I have never worn, two penny loafers and one tassels. They last forever; I have never thrown a pair out. The first two I bought stretched some, but none since, as I am now careful to let them cool off for 2-3 hours after taking them off and before putting trees in them. I also have one J & M (new) and one Church's in cordovan.

New Alden (Brooks) Black plain cap toe double sole derby
New J & M plain toe double sole derby
New Alden (Brooks) cap toe wing double sole derby
1) Alden 994 Barrie last saddle
2) Alden 994 Barrie last saddle
3) Alden 997 Barrie last saddle ½ cordo/½ cordo grain
4) Alden 995 Barrie last saddle ½ cordo/English tan grain
5) Alden 995 Barrie last saddle ½ cordo/English tan grain
6) Alden 99? Arch Street last bal short wing
7) Alden 990 Barrie last shell plain toe
8) Alden (Brooks) 782 cap toe
9) Church (Brooks English) short wing
10) Alden Black cap toe wing
Loafers
1) Alden (Brooks) 986 Van last penny
2) Alden (Brooks) 986 Van last penny
3) Alden (Brooks) 563 Aberdeen last tassel
 

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Shell only slightly stretches
Recommend shell
I recommend shell too, but... I was speaking to Ed at Shoemart recently. He told me his shell LHS stretched so significantly that he had to toss them out after their second resoling. "After a while you can't wear them anymore" is a near quote.

My own experience with shell slip-ons is similar. However, I do wear my shoes hard in all sorts of circumstances, not spending the day in a carpeted office, then into a car, then home. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I put many thousand of miles of walking on my shells over a decade or so. In spite of taking very good care of them when off the foot - proper rest, non-spring trees, after a few years they're very loose.
 

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Isn't that one of the perks of the recrafting services--that they rebuild the shoe and tighten it up?
Some say that recrafting can tighten the width slightly. I don't know this for a fact as I try to ensure that my shoes never need recrafting. I place Vibram sole protectors on them after the soles have worn a bit. These can be easily replaced without compromising the integrity of the shoe, which is what happens when it is recrafted - the shoe is taken to pieces and is never quite the same again. I doubt, however, that an Alden or AE shell could be restored to its original shape after ten or twelve thousand miles of walking. Think about how many steps a single mile entails. With each step the leather flexes and stretches. Then do the math.
 
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