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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently bought a pair of Alden wingtip bal's in shell.

My right foot is wider than my left and is very snug inside the shoe. The is no space between the ball of my foot and the shoe when it is on my foot.

The widest part of my foot is a little lower than the widest part of the shoe. There is one inch of space at the top of the shoe.

Should I go down a half size and up one size in width? From a 9.5C to a 9D?

For what these cost, I want to make sure they fit properly.

I'm hoping one of the resident shoe experts here will help me out.
 

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Well, I think it's safe to assume that your shell shoes will NOT stretch like a calfskin shoe might. Having said that, you seem to be describing a fit that is too tight in terms of width and some extra space in terms of length. Not sure what last you are dealing with, but it is quite common for some individuals to size down a 1/2 size on Alden lasts (such as Barrie, Leydon, etc.)

Given what you describe, I'd expect a 9D to fit better, but I would try one on and see if it's better. Again, my personal feeling is that a shell shoe may conform to your foot over time but is unlikely to stretch in meaningful ways that will compensate for the narrowness problem you are describing.

Just my 2 cents...
 

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The wingtip bal in shell is on the tremont last. Like most people, your feet are slightly different in size - and going up/down in size might upset the ball to heel distance. Also note that alden's stock shoes have a 2 letter drop in width from ball to heel ( like D/B, C/A, E/C and so on). Going up in width therefore will also change your heel fit, which is pretty important.

Do try out the same shoes in a higher width and 1/2 bigger size (or both if need be), but if you can, I strongly suggest that you try out shoes in other lasts. From personal experience, barrie is the most comfortable last (though sliughtly bulky) for me. Alden of Carmel gives great info on various alden lasts:
https://www.alden-of-carmel.com/index.cfm/fitting.htm

Also, from trying on aldens in various lasts, this is my opinion of what lasts fit what type of feet (please feel free to correct me):

1. barrie - best for people with wide forefeet and regular heel
2. plaza - same as above, but the toe box is slightly smaller (and shoe looks sleeker because of that)
3. leydon - fits most typical feet
4. aberdeen - the toe box is pretty narrow, so this is the "opposite" of barrie
5. van - this last is somewhat "boxy", so this is for people with slightly thicker heels. People with bony heels (like me) find it hard to fit into this last because what fits the forefeet is usually wide in the heel (and causes the dreaded heel slippage)

I have not tried the other alden lasts like trubalance, modified, tremont and grant. Maybe others can chime in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Both of those are very helpful replies. Thank you.

The shoes I have are on the Tremont last. Unfortunately, my local dealer doesn't stock cordovan models and thus all must be special ordered from Alden. I know he'll be hesitant to order 5 different pair for me to try because he'll have to return 4 of them, at his expense.

Considering the one inch of space in the toe box and where the widest part of the shoe is relative to my foot, I think a half size smaller would be best. I'm assuming this would move the widest part of the shoe down, to better match up with my foot.

Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to swap these for the Longwing, since the Barrie seems to be a bit wider.
 

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^ I understand ... I was in the same situation as you when I got my first aldens. Luckily, I had enough time to go through the many posts on this topic on the trad forum and I decided to go with the barrie for my first shoe and it fit really well. Except maybe leydon, all the other lasts I mentioned are not as comfortable on my feet.

Note that the longwing model is a blucher, so if you want a shell balmoral on a different last, you should probably look at retailers like Leathersoul (Tom, the owner, participates here and is much more knowledgeable on alden than I can ever be). Alden makes some specials for such retailers (Shoemart, alden-of-carmel, moulded shoe being other examples). For example, this was one of Tom's recent creations:


It is very important to get shell shoes to fit right from the start. You need to fit your shoe to the larger foot as well. Try out barrie (remember barrie runs 1/2 size longer) and try out tremont in a different size and let us know if either fit any better than your current shoe. Feel free to ask any questions you have, people know a lot about aldens here :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, Srivats. You put some time in crafting a thoughtful response.

When I ordered the bals, I knew they ran big. I normally wear a 10, so I ordered a 9.5. They still seem big to me, given the issues I previously mentioned.

I just ordered the Barrie in a 9C. Lucky for me, because today is the last day before the price increase.

I won't have them for a few weeks, so I'll post here again when I get them.
 

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I am not an expert on shoes, however I don't think the amount of 'measured' space at the top of the shoe is very important. Personally, I have found it useful to press my foot forward in the shoe, and then make sure I can fit a finger between my heel and the back of the shoe (my fingers are pretty thin, so this isn't an exact science). This ensures that my feet aren't too constricted.

I think this is a valid test because some shoes seem to have longer toe sections than others, so some of this area may be unuseable for your foot anyway. I think this test helps determine the useful space in the shoe.

Just something else to consider.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If one puts an Alden shoe made on the Barrie last side by side with another Alden shoe made on another Alden last such as the Copley, or Plaza, one would see that the arch length of both shoes (distance from the heel to the widest part of the shoe where the ball of one's foot should sit) is about the same. From the ball foward through the toe box is where the extra length of the Barrie lies. The Barrie has a very large volume, long and wide toe box. This last is ideal for someone with a larger volume foot. However, someone with a low volume foot, may find excess room above the toe area, and just behind the toes. Sizing dowm 1/2 size will take away some of this extra room. However, it will also place the ball of one's foot further forward in the shoe, and it might end up further forward than the widest part of the shoe, which is it's ideal place to be.

Jess
I understand.

The above quote is from a different thread on the Barrie last. His point about sizing down placing one's foot further forward in the shoe is what I'm trying to achieve. The amount of space I have in the toe box is less of a concern to me.
 

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I proudly wear nothing but Alden.

My fit experience, however, says that in order to get the best fit your time and money will best be served by taking the train either to NY or DC and spending an hour trying lots of sizes.

I too have/had the same type foot issues as the OP. It was only by going up one size and complementing that w/ a more narrow width that I was able to get the perfect fit.

It'll cost more up front w/ the trip and all but may save you lots of pennies and heartache in the long run.

Good luck.
 

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^ ChiliParmer, that is a good quote - but I am not sure if you got the last sentence of the statement right. He actually echoes what I said earlier - about how sizing down (or up) might not always work since it changes the heel to ball distance.

Regarding fits on various alden lasts, sometimes, you find that going 1/2 up (or down) in size (and/or reducing the width) will get you a shoe that is comfortable to wear. However, I stress this once again, this might not be the case ALL the time for everyone simple because of what I stated above. I state this from personal experience. On a given last, you need to try different sizes (typically your actual size, 1/2 down, one 1/2 up) in different widths to see what fits the best. For example, for me, on the van last (986 penny loafer) - I could not get a good fit with any size/width. What was good in the toe area was not good for heel, and what was good for heel was not a good fit in the heel-ball distance (which you can get a feel for seeing where the uppers bend when you walk). If the heel-ball distance on the shoe is larger than what your feets' are, you will see exactly what you are having with the tremont lasted balmoras. Sometimes if you are wearing shoes are too small in length, you will see the opposite. This happened to me on the van last. As much as I love the alden penny loafer, I just gave up on that last since they do not fit me feet. Comfort comes first and style next, especially when you are paying $500+ for these shoes. The barrie last, on the other hands, works the best because it goes with how my feet are shaped.

Whenever I try a new shoe on, I first make sure that I do not have any discomfort in the ball area (widest part of the feet). This area of your feet should lie ideally at (or very close) to the widest part of the shoe. After this, I make sure that the heel fits comfortably, and make sure that it does not slip (however, with double soled aldens, heels do slip for a week or so till the soles conform to your foot, don't worry!). Your toes should not touch/rub against the uppers, and ideally the sides too. However, I typically I find that most shoes my little toe actually slightly rubs against the sides on my right foot, but this goes away after a single wear.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
For what it's worth, I have high arches, a wide forefoot, and a normal heel, as you mentioned previously.

According to the Brannock device, I'm a C width in a 9.5/10.

People refer to the last guide on the Alden of Carmel site, but they've left out many of the lasts I'm considering. I guess they list only those that they sell.
 

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For what it's worth, I have high arches, a wide forefoot, and a normal heel, as you mentioned previously.

According to the Brannock device, I'm a C width in a 9.5/10.

People refer to the last guide on the Alden of Carmel site, but they've left out many of the lasts I'm considering. I guess they list only those that they sell.
I am a 9.5D (Brannock), slightly bony heels and slightly high arches. I wear a 9D in the barrie very comfortably. I have tried out a 9E barrie (with a C width heel) and it was way too big for me, esp the heels. I have not tried the tremont last simply because I don't like balmorals as much as I like bluchers and loafers.

From what you say, a 9.5C barrie will fit you well. I understand that balmorals are hard to fit (compared to bluchers) if you have high arches, so the longwing barrie might work out well for you :) And since you are a C width, see if your retailer has anything on the aberdeen last.
 

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According to the Brannock device, I'm a C width in a 9.5/10.
I would not go by Brannock for your width measurement. I have heard that the Brannock device is notorious for measuring feet too narrow. The average man measures out to a B width on the Brannock scale, yet this same man normally needs a D, and could not fit into today's B width shoes.

I use the Brannock scale only for the arch measurement (heel to ball). This gives me a good jumping off point for what size shoes to start trying on.

Jess
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I would not go by Brannock for your width measurement. I have heard that the Brannock device is notorious for measuring feet too narrow. The average man measures out to a B width on the Brannock scale, yet this same man normally needs a D, and could not fit into today's B width shoes.

I use the Brannock scale only for the arch measurement (heel to ball). This gives me a good jumping off point for what size shoes to start trying on.

Jess
Thanks. I'll keep that in mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I am a 9.5D (Brannock), slightly bony heels and slightly high arches. I wear a 9D in the barrie very comfortably. I have tried out a 9E barrie (with a C width heel) and it was way too big for me, esp the heels. I have not tried the tremont last simply because I don't like balmorals as much as I like bluchers and loafers.

From what you say, a 9.5C barrie will fit you well. I understand that balmorals are hard to fit (compared to bluchers) if you have high arches, so the longwing barrie might work out well for you :) And since you are a C width, see if your retailer has anything on the aberdeen last.
Not sure I understand...why should I ask for the Aberdeen last?
 

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more size questions

I have read in several places in the AAAC forum and elsewhere that Alden shoes typically run large. My AEs are 11.5 A and 11.5 AA. When one drops a size according to length, how does that affect the width. For example, would it be reasonable to expect an Alden blucher size 11 A/C to fit similarly to an AllenE 11.5 A?

Thanks for your input!
 

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Each Alden last fits a little different. However, most Alden shoes do run a little longer than the average American sized shoe. However, this is not true of all Alden shoes. The ones I wear are about 1/4 size longer than a comparable sized AE shoe. I can wear a size 11.5 Alden shoe. However, an 11.5 AE is too short.

AE lasts are generally fuller fitting than Alden lasts. It may be that if you drop 1/2 size in an Alden shoe it may be too narrow, and you may have to go to a wider width.

Jess
 

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I have had same problem - solution has been to work with ShoeMart. Outstanding customer service and had discussion with Ed about this very problem with my most recent purchase of Medallion Tip Bal, which with my usual 10.5D fit loose/long in the heel. Ed suggested adding an insole rather than changing size and this did the trick for a good fit. In buying other models, I also have ordered two pair in different size to compare and then returned the one that didn't work. You have to pay for both up front and return shipping, but the refund is always handled promptly. Their customer service - and complete stock of Aldens, including a few custom made for ShoeMart - is excellent. Ideally, one would travel to an Alden store, but this just isn't always feasible. Enjoy your shoes!
 
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