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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Filtering by Tag: crockett and jones

Dress Shoe Makers

Mark Kwak

First off, Merry Christmas Eve my friends. Hope you're enjoying a nice day off.

Beautiful John Lobb captoes. (Photo credit: dieworkwear)

A couple people have been asking me about what dress shoe brands I like. Well, here's a quick list I put together for you all. It's certainly not exhaustive, but hopefully it helps you guys familiarize yourself with some premier shoe brands. Just FYI, most of these shoes are quite high-quality, so they'll probably be much more expensive than shoes at your average Kenneth Cole / Calvin Klein level.

Dress Shoes

Edward Green $$$$ : Stunningly amazing shoes, but will easily cross the $1k mark. Not for the light-hearted... or light-walleted.

John Lobb $$$$: Also extremely amazing shoes, and a direct competitor to Edward Green. Will cross the $1k mark easily just as well. The finish on these bad boys is second to none.

Gaziano & Girling $$$$: Okay okay, I'll stop with the $1k+ shoes here. G&G is also one of the premier makers of ready-to-wear dress shoes, just like John Lobb and Edward Green.

Crockett & Jones $$$: A solid shoemaker from England that makes some of my favorite shoes in the world. Great design, high quality construction.

Santoni $$$: Pure Italian designs using extremely supple, high quality leather. Comfort and design in one.

Tricker's $$$: Pretty innovative company getting press for doing some cool collaborations recently, but ultimately they are pros at their craft in their own right.

Alfred Sargent $$$: Quality English shoemaker that gets a lot less attention than they deserve.

Peal & Co. $$$: High-end Brooks Brothers brand name, but they're actually Crockett & Jones or Alfred Sargent shoes, depending on which one you get.

Ralph Lauren $$$: I'm talking about their "Made in England" shoes, as they'll be constructed by Crockett & Jones. This applies to POLO Ralph Lauren shoes as well.

Church $$$: Solid company, with a solid reputation. Amazing quality and attention to detail, highly recommended.

Alden $$$: One of the last standing classic American shoemakers. Quality of their stuff is absolutely rock solid, but a bit more bulky in design than, say, an Italian shoe.

Tod's $$: Never really tried these on, but have heard rave reviews about them consistently. Might want to find them on sale though, as value isn't the best.

Allen Edmonds $$: Best bang for the buck high quality shoes. Made in the U.S. and is probably the standard in American-made shoes.

Loake $$: Another nice shoe maker that I respect quite a bit. A very good alternative to Allen Edmonds.

Meermin $$: Simple shoes, made with very nice attention to detail. Harder to get, since I believe they're in Europe, but worth a try.

Florsheim by Duckie Brown $$: Duckie Brown makes some interesting designs, but I've been a fan of his partnership with Florsheim. Pretty good quality stuff and you can find it on sale often.

Charles Tyrwhitt $: Follows very classic designs, and provides pretty high quality shoes. Good news is they often go on sale as well, thus giving them one $ sign (still will cost you over $100 though).

Johnston & Murphy $: Solid entry level brand for shoes just as well. Don't expect these to compete with most of the above brands though.

There you go! Get yourself a pair of dress shoes. They are investment pieces, so I'll say this again... they're worth the extra buck or two.

Couple Sales

Mark Kwak

So it looks like there's sales everywhere right now, but I wanted to point out a couple for you in case you have some last minute Christmas shopping to do:

1. Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren is having a sale of up to 65% off right now. This includes Purple Label, Black Label, and RRL too! I'm fairly excited about this sale. Some items I thought I would point out include this RRL Morgan Plaid Wool Jacket, Merino Wool V Neck Sweater and this Lindrick Calf Boot by Crockett & Jones.

2. Barneys

Barneys-New-York

Barneys is having up to 60% off on sale items. The problem is that most of their items are so expensive that even with 60% off, you'll end up paying quite a bit... but in case you have the extra cash to spend, I say the time to shop is now!

3. Billy Reid

billy

Love Billy Reid. Great clothing, decent pricing, and overall a solid company. They're currently running a private sale (whatever that means) and I thought I would let you guys know. Some stand-out clothes for me include: Madison JacketAstor Coat, and Tuscumbia BD.

4. Boylston Trading Co

sale-eow

30% off of any order with "LASTDAYS", and there are already some sale items! There is something for everybody: Jack Purcells for Converse, Common Projects, Ovadia & Sons, Gitman Vintage, Gant Rugger, Woolrich Woolen Mills, and many other great brands.

Happy shopping folks!

Wish List #3

Mark Kwak

So Christmas is coming soon and people are shopping off the hook. As a result, new and shiny things are starting to catch my eye, and it's no good for my crying wallet. Here's my wish list for December.

Filson Harris Tweed Bag

Twill and Tweed Original Briefcase

Filson is my favorite company for durable men's bags/luggage. They make bullet-proof products that are meant to last, and I mean it. Each of their products employs a lifetime warranty, so once you get one, you're set. Also, remember how I told you all that I have a weakness for tweed in an old blog post? Well, Filson has taken advantage of my weakness and released this sexy Harris Tweed version of their uber popular 257 style bag.

This thing is perfect as a daily commuter bag for those who carry a laptop, books, and other large items on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I already own the original 257 myself, so it would be quite a waste to get the above, although I can't say I wasn't tempted.

Crockett & Jones Highbury

Crockett & Jones Highbury, Black Calf

This shoe is amazing. To me, it embodies exquisite craftsmanship and timeless design, two characteristics that are always welcome in my book.

Also, there's more. Not only is this shoe made by one of my favorite shoemakers, Crockett & Jones, but it was also worn by one of my favorite film icons, James Bond, in the movie Skyfall. I'm not going to say anything more about this shoe because it's out of my price range, and the pain of that reality is lame.

Davek Solo Umbrella

I am currently living in gloomy San Francisco without an umbrella. Crazy? Yes. Stupid? Yes.

After being hit by one too many rain storms this past week, I have made a rather obvious decision to buy myself an umbrella, and no one is better in this business than Davek. Like Filson above, Davek also offers a lifetime warranty on all of their umbrellas. That, to me, is ridiculous since I've personally broken too many umbrellas to keep track. Clearly this indicates that Davek knows what they are doing, so I'm sold. I have quite an itch to get their all-black Davek Solo... too bad it's pretty expensive ($99) for just an umbrella.

Rag & Bone Shawl Collared Cardigan

Okay, so I'm cheating a bit here. I already ordered this one (and it's on its way), so it should technically be out of my wishlist, but I thought I would still put it up here. Recently, Target and Neiman Marcus did a collaboration event where they brought together 24 high-fashion designers (think Thom Browne, Marc Jacobs, and Oscar de la Renta) to create 50 unique holiday items at relatively inexpensive prices. Genius idea. Among all the items, there were only a few targeted towards men, but thankfully, this beautiful cardigan was one of them.

Rag & Bone is actually a company I'm quite a fan of, and I love shawl collared cardigans, so this one was a no-brainer for me. I'll let you know all about it another time, but go and get yourself one if you're in need of a nice sweater for winter.

So there you have it! To all of you who also have Christmas wishlists, let me know what items are on your mind; I'm curious to know!

The Black Oxford

Mark Kwak

Why is proper footwear ignored so often today? Guys think they can look good while wearing their Asics running shoes alongside their chinos and sports coat. Or better yet, wearing Jordans with their slacks and dress shirts. God bless these people, but let's get our act together gentlemen!

The reality is, shoes can literally make or break an entire outfit. Nothing saddens me more than a man who wears a flawless outfit on top, then completely ruins it with an odd, beat up pair of shoes.  Let's talk about upgrading your look from the bottom up. Let's talk dress shoes.

To keep it nice and simple, let me tell you that you need to own at least one pair of black, and one pair of brown dress shoes. I'll be focusing on black shoes in this post, as I believe it is the more important of the two.

Yes, black dress shoes are everywhere. You can go to Kmart and get a pair right now for under $20, or you can spend $1000 on a pair of Santonis. The range of choices makes shopping for black dress shoes a bit more difficult. So let me see if I can guide you a bit.

What's a good style? I'd say the first pair of dress shoes you need to get are a pair of oxfords. Forget derbys or loafers, you need to go with an outright classic. Make sure the shoe looks nice and streamlined, without a boxy toe. Square or boxed toes used to be popular at one point in history, but today, people will dismiss any sense you have in style if you're caught wearing them.

You want a rounded toe that helps elongate your foot a bit, and stick to a classic leather texture (no grains or patent leather). Also, if you like the Captoe look, go for it, since it's accepted in all formal situations as well.

If you can, I'd say go for a leather sole. Not all rubber soles are bad, but leather soles will usually last longer, as they are generally stitched onto the shoe and not glued like rubber.

How much should I pay? Personally, I think you shouldn't spend any less than $100 on a pair of nice dress shoes. Good news is that you can find sales on black dress shoes quite regularly. Whether it be Nordstrom's anniversary or half yearly sale, Macy's sales and coupons, or seasonal fall and spring sales just about anywhere, you can find a nice pair of black oxfords for much less than retail price. I personally spend about $200-$300, since I can find amazing quality shoes at those prices.

What can I wear them with? In terms of pairing, the part that matters is really the pants. Dark denim and grey, navy, or black slacks should do the trick just fine.

What is a good brand? This will largely depend on your budget. For me, the best bang for the buck shoe company is Allen Edmonds, hands down. Their shoes range from $200-$400, so they're not cheap, but they are excellent quality. In my opinion, no other brand matches them at their price point. By the way, right now they're having a huge sale! Check out their website and get a pair while you can, the promotion ends Oct 9.

Below that price-range, I would probably recommend a shoe maker called Meermin or possibly Johnston & Murphy.

Going above Allen Edmonds, my favorite brands are Crockett & Jones, Alden, and Santoni. Just a warning that the prices can get very high with these brands.

Here are some of my favorite black dress shoes: $100 - $250: Allen Edmonds Fifth Avenue, Magnanni Frederico, Allen Edmonds Kenilworth

$250 - $350: Allen Edmonds Park Avenue, Loake Dorchester

$350  and above: Alden Straight Tip, Crockett & Jones Connaught

The right pair of black dress shoes can last you a decade, and with the proper care, even longer. Many high end shoe manufacturers will also resole your shoe for you at a pretty reasonable cost, shipping the shoe back to you in almost new condition. Know that spending the extra money for a good one will be worth it in the long run.

So, feel the need to start looking classier? Get yourself a pair of nice black dress shoes! It'll make you look exquisite... I guarantee it.