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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I rarely wear suits (I'm still in college), but when I do I wear them with burgundy Bass tassel loafers for lack of anything else more appropriate. Can someone recommend a good pair of lace-ups that are classic in style, fairly unadorned (no stitched patterns - is there a word for that?), and can be had for less than $200? I saw a pair of Cole Haans on Sierra Trading Post that were in the ballpark not too long ago, but they didn't have my size. I'm not averse to trolling eBay for the right pair, if I know what models to look for (no hurry - I don't expect to wear a suit again until next fall). I'd like something that can grow with me through law school and maybe the first couple years at a law firm, so durability and comfort are key. Oh yeah, one more thing... the suits I own are blue and gray, so I'd prefer the shoes be available in black to go with both colors (I imagine it goes without saying that most lace-ups can be had in black... I do like the look of brown shoes with a gray suit but not with blue for some reason, and I'm looking for maximum versatility here)

Thanks guys
 

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Hard to beat the Allen Edmonds Park Avenue. They are ~$325 at full retailer. They can be had for close to $200 at the Nordtsrom Half Yearly sale. I understand "seconds" are also available for under $200 and of generally very good quality. Ebay is also a source for cheap AE, if you're not adverse to second hand.
 

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Hard to beat the Allen Edmonds Park Avenue. They are ~$325 at full retailer. They can be had for close to $200 at the Nordtsrom Half Yearly sale. I understand "seconds" are also available for under $200 and of generally very good quality. Ebay is also a source for cheap AE, if you're not adverse to second hand.
PA's are exactly what you're looking for here. I think I paid $85 for mine from ebay, virtually new.
 

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Educate me:
(1) why are bluchers not appropriate to wear with a suit?
(2) what makes the Cole Haan cap toes any different from the J&M shoes?

Cole Haan cap toe

Johnston and Murphy cap toe
 

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As a note, you can get the J&M Melton or the Caldwell at JAB for 20% off the list price with a corporate card, which they'll give to anyone with a pulse.
 

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Educate me:
(1) why are bluchers not appropriate to wear with a suit?
(2) what makes the Cole Haan cap toes any different from the J&M shoes?

Cole Haan cap toe

Johnston and Murphy cap toe
One is a blutcher and one is a balmoral. While I would be comfortable wearing either pair with a suit, the "rules" say otherwise. From where and whence did these (sartorial) "rules" come? No one seems to be really sure but, rumor has it, Moses brought them down off the mountain with the Ten Commandments! Since like most of us, you probably (inadvertently) violate the Ten Commandments some regularity, wear which ever pair you prefer with your suits but, do so...at your own peril! ;)
 

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One is a blutcher and one is a balmoral. While I would be comfortable wearing either pair with a suit, the "rules" say otherwise. From where and whence did these (sartorial) "rules" come? No one seems to be really sure but, rumor has it, Moses brought them down off the mountain with the Ten Commandments! Since like most of us, you probably (inadvertently) violate the Ten Commandments some regularity, wear which ever pair you prefer with your suits but, do so...at your own peril! ;)
There is only one sartorial rule as I see it: if a woman turns her head as you walk past, then you got it right.
:teacha:
 

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As stated above, I would call the Allen Edmonds Shoe Bank (their corporate outlet store) & order a pair - phone #262-284-7158. I would look at the Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Clifton.

By the way, I have never heard that you aren't supposed to wear bluchers with a suit before. That is a rule I would never, ever follow. See the link below:

https://www.evening-wear-guide.com/mens-evening-shoes.html
 

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As stated above, I would call the Allen Edmonds Shoe Bank (their corporate outlet store) & order a pair - phone #262-284-7158. I would look at the Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Clifton.

By the way, I have never heard that you aren't supposed to wear bluchers with a suit before. That is a rule I would never, ever follow. See the link below:

https://www.evening-wear-guide.com/mens-evening-shoes.html
from quoted link, anon-source: "Both loafers and tasseled loafers go well with formal evening outfits."

:cool:
 

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I would recommend you troll ebay for some new Park Avenues, in black or burgundy. Because you have time, you should be able to locate some that will last for years to come. They really are the perfect shoe for what you describe.

As for the folk here defending the rules against wearing a blucher with a suit, this is the trad forum. I suspect there are quite a few well dressed trads that break that rule (and worse) on a regular basis. Furthermore, if someone noticed, for example, that your black cap toe 'oxford' was a blucher and not a balmoral, and thought less of you for it, well then, they need more help and perspective than you.
 

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They're VERY different shoes. Look where the laces are attached to the shoe. On the Cole Haans, there are two "flaps" attached to the side of the shoe where the laces run through. The ends of these flaps just end at a square.The J&M's have the laces attached to the body of the shoe. The bottom of the lacing area comes together at a point. See how it doesn't have the sewn-on "flaps" that the Cole Haan has? Traditionally, balmorals are much more elegant, and are better suited to shoes that one would wear in the city, i.e. with a suit, to work. Bluchers are for big, clunky shoes, ones that you would wear in the country, with tweed or trousers without a suit.

If you're looking for something to last for a long time, get the Park Avenues. Cole Haans really aren't that durable, especially their non made-in-Italy styles. I get about a year, maybe 2 out of them before the corrected-grain leather starts to look nasty. Stick with something with some quality, Park Avenues are the best entry-level option if you want something that will last.

And for black shoes, balmorals are DEFINITELY best. Black bluchers look like orthopedic shoes.
 

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As for the folk here defending the rules against wearing a blucher with a suit, this is the trad forum. I suspect there are quite a few well dressed trads that break that rule (and worse) on a regular basis.
Depends on the suit. Tweed, flannels, etc. look great with some long wing bluchers. Seersucker is great with bucks or saddles. I wear penny loafers with poplin all the time. In fact, I screw around with shoe options quite a bit. But if I'm buying 1 pair of shoes that I want to work well all the time with a bunch of different suits in a bunch of different settings, I buy the most conservative option possible. Black balmorals.
 

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from quoted link, anon-source: "Both loafers and tasseled loafers go well with formal evening outfits."

:cool:
I'm not inclined to believe any site that claims "A bow tie is the only real alternative for men who don`t want to wear a neck tie but still want to be dresses appropriately."

When it comes to evening wear, a bow tie is never "an alternative." Neckties are "an alternative" albeit a poor one.
 

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shoe recommendations

I rarely wear suits (I'm still in college), but when I do I wear them with burgundy Bass tassel loafers for lack of anything else more appropriate. Can someone recommend a good pair of lace-ups that are classic in style, fairly unadorned (no stitched patterns - is there a word for that?), and can be had for less than $200? I saw a pair of Cole Haans on Sierra Trading Post that were in the ballpark not too long ago, but they didn't have my size. I'm not averse to trolling eBay for the right pair, if I know what models to look for (no hurry - I don't expect to wear a suit again until next fall). I'd like something that can grow with me through law school and maybe the first couple years at a law firm, so durability and comfort are key. Oh yeah, one more thing... the suits I own are blue and gray, so I'd prefer the shoes be available in black to go with both colors (I imagine it goes without saying that most lace-ups can be had in black... I do like the look of brown shoes with a gray suit but not with blue for some reason, and I'm looking for maximum versatility here)

Thanks guys
I own both Johnston Murphy and Allen Edmonds. I like them both and go along with what others have mentioned. For your first shoe, go with an oxford, either plain or cap toe. I am actually looking for the same thing. I am just shy of 5-9, and feel that the cap toe tends to make my feet look small, by cutting the shoe with the line across the front. I am looking to purchase a plain toe. I don't think Allen Edmonds offers that. Does anyone know where I might find a good quality plain oxford?
 

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To throw in my 2 cents, I own both the $165 melton and the more expensive Dawson, both from J&M.

The Melton is remarkable comfortable for a shoe that only costs $165. But there are some things lacking in the detail that would stop me from buying them again.

As for the Dawson, this is essentially JM's attempt at competing with the AE PA for $100 less. Invariably it will not be as nice, but it is still a quality shoe. As an added bonus, the Dawson is on sale for $189 right now, which makes it an great value.

For what it's worth, I think that you really can't go wrong with either of those JM shoes for a solid beginning dress shoe. On the other hand, I have owned a few pairs of Cole Haan shoes and have never been happy with them. Moreover, the JMs have the advantage of being a balmoral/orxford, while the Cole Haans are a blucher.

You can more easily dress down an oxford than dress up a blucher, in my opinion. You might think that the blucher is perfectly dress, until you stand in a room of men dressed in Oxfords. The key really lies in the flaps arond the tongue. In my somewhat paranoid mind, as they silently sit on your shoes, flapping away without constraint they suggest to everyone with enough sense to have a properly stitched down shoe with a suit that while you made an effort, you just didn't quite get it right.

Also, I think that burgundy will be the most versatile color for you, as it works well enough with navy, grey, khaki, charcoal, etc. etc. etc.

In this post: many opinions, most unground in anything but my admittedly confusing logic
 
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