March 17, 2014
Loafers for Spring and Summer
After recently writing an article on my favorite spring items, I decided to delve in to a few specific pieces that are worthy of their own conversation. One of these items is the loafer, which can be an attractive and versatile addition to any shoe wardrobe. I generally wear loafers as a replacement for sneakers, when I have a casual outfit that I want to polish up a bit. Loafers can certainly be worn with more formal clothes, but I like them best with heavily worn chinos or denim and button-down collar shirts.
My preferred loafer is of American or English descent; I enjoy the comfortable and casual sensibility that they evoke, and I am not particularly fond of the more aggressively styled Italian loafers I see out there. Although there are many derivations of loafers on the market these days, I will focus on tassel and penny varieties (both of which have a rich history in the US). I feel that the penny loafer is easier to wear (and therefore a better first purchase), but tassels are certainly having a moment right now and have more than earned their reputation as a “classic” over the years. The list below highlights the best manufacturers and models for those looking to add to their footwear selection this Spring.
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Of course, buying high quality footwear is a worthwhile but expensive endeavour; if these prices are higher than your budget allows I highly suggest combing ebay for the models below. As long as you know your size well it can be a great place to stock up on well-made shoes for a reasonable price.
Alden: Nobody makes American loafers better than Alden (and the price reflects that, unfortunately). Noteworthy loafer models: cordovan tassel, calf tassel, suede tassel, cordovan penny, unlined suede and calf penny. If you’re in the Bay Area I’d highly recommend stopping by the Alden store in San Francisco, whether you’re in the market to buy or not.
Allen Edmonds: AE makes a wide range of loafers, but they are not all made to the same standard of quality (and some are much more attractive than…others). Here are their classic models: “Grayson” tassel in calf and cordovan, “Patriot” classic penny in calf, suede, and cordovan, and “Randolph” full-strap penny loafers in calf and cordovan. The price for AE calf shoes is significantly cheaper than Alden, whereas their shell is comparable in price. However, AE will hold regular sales when Alden does not.
Ralph Lauren: There are a few noteworthy shoes from RL, the most impressive of which are the “Marlow” penny and tassel cordovan loafers. These are part of a wider collection made exclusively for RL by Crockett & Jones. They are made out an exceptionally beautiful deep brown shade of Horween cordovan that can not be found on any other shoes (that I am aware of). They are incredibly expensive, but can usually be had for a (still incredibly expensive) price of $500-600 during seasonal sales. RL also carries loafers made by Allen Edmonds, but it’s usually worth going directly to AE unless these pairs are on deep discount (which happens occasionally).
Brooks Brothers: Like Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers has a few classic models made by high-end shoemakers that can sometimes be bought at good prices during sales. Their cordovan tassel and unlined penny are made by Alden, and are sometimes included in the 30% off corporate discount sales (see here; next one is on 3/20/14). They also carry these handsome calf penny loafers made by C&J; they’re the ones in the photo above. Brooks Brothers has many more models but a good portion of them are unattractive or not of good quality.
Carmina: This Spanish shoemaker has a wildcard option: the extremely popular string tie loafer. It may not have the historical significance of the penny and tassel, but has the same casual elegance. They also have more traditional models like this one.
Meermin: This blogger favorite is easier on the wallet and has many tassel and penny loafers in a variety of colors and materials. I prefer the styling of Meermin’s tassel loafers over the penny, but both are a good buy at about $225.
Jack Erwin: Another wallet-friendly option is Jack Erwin, a young company offering simple shoes for under $200 (free shipping and returns included). I have no experience with them, but their penny loafer could be a good option for the price. Some notes - the shoe is Blake welted and features a slightly sleeker last when compared to the sturdier and rounder goodyear-welted shoes featured above. This is not a bad thing, just a difference in construction and styling. The shoe does look a bit more “Continental” because of this, but is still simple enough to be a versatile choice.
There you have it - any of these options will keep your feet handsome and happy in the warm months ahead (whether you wear socks or not is completely up to you). If you know of another model that should be mentioned, please let me know in the comments below!

Loafers for Spring and Summer

After recently writing an article on my favorite spring items, I decided to delve in to a few specific pieces that are worthy of their own conversation. One of these items is the loafer, which can be an attractive and versatile addition to any shoe wardrobe. I generally wear loafers as a replacement for sneakers, when I have a casual outfit that I want to polish up a bit. Loafers can certainly be worn with more formal clothes, but I like them best with heavily worn chinos or denim and button-down collar shirts.

My preferred loafer is of American or English descent; I enjoy the comfortable and casual sensibility that they evoke, and I am not particularly fond of the more aggressively styled Italian loafers I see out there. Although there are many derivations of loafers on the market these days, I will focus on tassel and penny varieties (both of which have a rich history in the US). I feel that the penny loafer is easier to wear (and therefore a better first purchase), but tassels are certainly having a moment right now and have more than earned their reputation as a “classic” over the years. The list below highlights the best manufacturers and models for those looking to add to their footwear selection this Spring.

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February 19, 2014

It’s Back, and On Sale: Allen Edmonds “Amok” Unlined Chukka

Some of you may remember the unfortunate tale of the Allen Edmonds Amok; the shoe was hit hard on release due to some construction issues that created a squeak when worn. Allen Edmonds fixed the issue, but the damage was done and the shoes proved hard to sell. Eventually, the shoes moved to the clearance section, which was bittersweet because it meant their price had hit rock bottom but they would not be made again.

Why do we care about the melodrama of the Amok? Well, the shoe is a very close replica of the celebrated Alden unlined chukka, but for a much lower price. Both feature unlined suede uppers, two eyelet construction, and an oil-soaked leather sole. The Alden version is built better and is made from better materials, but $486 is a steep price for a casual suede shoe. You can read more about unlined shoes here.

So, here’s the catch: sizes are limited (especially in the snuff), and it seems that for some sizes delivery will take 8 weeks since the shoes still need to be built (This seems odd, since the style is supposedly discontinued, but there you go). Snuff suede and tan suede are available for $117.60 at checkout (20% off clearance price), a fantastic price for a workhorse shoe. In my experience, this shoe fits true-to-size.

If your size is not available, consider the Mojave (olive, dark brown, and snuff suede). After the discount it comes in at $141.60. It is also an unlined chukka, but with a crepe sole and a slightly rounder last. 

December 26, 2013
Trends That Need to Die in 2014
Every new year brings with it a slew of trends that slowly permeate the menswear scene; they are an unavoidable phenomenon and definitely affect the landscape of the menswear market. Many of these trends can be fun to experiment with, but in the end-of-the year spirit I’ll highlight some that I believe have overstayed their welcome.
Part II: Double Monks
There. I said it. I’m sorry, but I had to put it out there.
I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with double monks. I like them. Years ago I created a saved ebay search that picks out all the best double monks out there, and I am often tempted to buy a pair. 
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To me, this trend needs to pass not because double monks are unattractive or aesthetically off, but because they have permeated so deeply into the menswear id that they have somehow become regarded as a “staple.” I’m sorry to say it, but I don’t think that men’s shoes with little brass buckles are a staple of a classic wardrobe and it seems unlikely that they ever will be. I’m always a bit wary when I see bloggers suggesting double monks to impressionable anons asking for basic shoe choices, and I feel a bit bad when I see that a blogger’s wardrobe of high end footwear consists of only three double monks and two tassel loafers. What about oxfords? Derbys? Penny loafers? Double monks are like dessert - fun in small doses, but unhealthy when consumed as a main course. 
Moreover, the incredible force with which double monks burst into the menswear world almost guarantees their inevitable demise. They arrived with such strength and conviction that it seemed impossible for them to ever fade away, and that in itself almost assures that they will fall out of favor as rapidly as they rose into it.
Keep in mind that outside of the menswear circle(jerk), double monks are not a normal shoe. Only once have I seen a non-menswear gentleman comment on nice double monks, and all he had to say was “What are those…leprechaun shoes?”
Are double monks fun? Yes. iGent? Perhaps. Staple? No.
Remember, you heard it here first - next year is the year that double monks die.
(previously - Part I)
(photo via Unabashedly Prep)

Trends That Need to Die in 2014

Every new year brings with it a slew of trends that slowly permeate the menswear scene; they are an unavoidable phenomenon and definitely affect the landscape of the menswear market. Many of these trends can be fun to experiment with, but in the end-of-the year spirit I’ll highlight some that I believe have overstayed their welcome.

Part II: Double Monks

There. I said it. I’m sorry, but I had to put it out there.

I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with double monks. I like them. Years ago I created a saved ebay search that picks out all the best double monks out there, and I am often tempted to buy a pair. 

Read More

December 16, 2013
Styleforum Spotlight - Greg Lellouche and No Man Walks Alone
One of the most anticipated vendors in the Styleforum Trunk Show last month was No Man Walks Alone, the new online men’s store recently founded by Greg Lellouche. I had the pleasure of chatting with Greg that afternoon, and talked to him about his store, his products, and his own sense of style.
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Styleforum fans will know Greg as the esteemed GDL203; He has been a prominent figure there for many years, but also credits the styleforum crew with helping advance his own style. “I joined styleforum at a reasonably late stage compared to some of the young members here,” he explains.  ”I was already a working professional in my thirties, having worked in finance for years and therefore being quite accustomed to wearing suits and ties. My taste clearly evolved quite a bit while exposed to the style and choices of great dressers on styleforum and by getting acquainted with different makers and products. For instance - without styleforum, I wouldn’t have traveled the road to explore bespoke options. Now that I have, I can see clearly the benefits and drawbacks of each and wear both ready-to-wear and custom.”

One aspect of Greg’s style that is surprisingly unique is his interest in both traditional men’s clothing and edgier “streetwear” garments. Most men align themsleves with one camp or the other (as seen in the “Great Schizm” of styleforum), but Greg promotes a more holistic approach. ”I feel that we should embrace the opportunities to experiment a bit more, to discover interesting designers, fabrics, patterns, silhouettes,” he says. “I have for years felt that part of my ‘mission’ was to bridge the gap that exists between classic menswear and the more contemporary fashion - something that goes both ways, by the way.”
This approach to menswear can be seen in the items available in Greg’s e-store, where classic brands like Alfred Sargent and Drake’s sit next to streetwear favorites like Buttero sneakers and sweaters from EO TO TO. It’s an eclectic-seeming mixture of items, but with the common thread of high quality and good taste.

I also had the opportunity to chat with Greg about some his favorite items in the store, and how he came about finding them. Some brands are well-known in the menswear circle, but many are quite unfamiliar and can’t be found at any other retailer in the United States. For instance, I was enamored with the suits from Sartoria Formosa; they come from a bespoke tailoring house in Naples, and represent the company’s first and only foray into ready-to-wear clothing. They are made to the same standards as the bespoke commissions, expressly for No Man Walks Alone. They are incredibly attractive garments, and it should come as no surprise that they have been a big hit thus far. 

Greg has also been busy working to bring as many customization options as possible to his clients. Made-to-order options have been available for Vass shoes and Inis Meain sweaters, to name a few, and Sartoria Formaosa was just in New York City taking bespoke orders for No Man Walks Alone clients. 
All told, Greg and his team have done a wonderful job of tracking down unique and attractive items for the store. I’m glad that I was able to see them in person, since so many of their wares have intricate details and luxurious materials that can’t be easily portrayed in photographs.The items are not inexpensive, but they are definitely the type of pieces that would be a crowning item in any wardrobe. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Greg brings in to his store for “men of contrast & character,” and I encourage everyone to take a look through his items as well.
I’d like to thank Greg for taking the time to answer my incessant questions and congratulate him on the launch of his wonderful store. More photos from the Styleforum trunk show can be seen below.

Vass shoes

Talarico umbrella

Sartoria formosa flannel suit - some absolutely incredible fabric here.

Dents England gloves - perhaps the softest things I have ever felt. The rabbit fur ones were so incredible that “after feeling these, cashmere-lined gloves feel like sandpaper,” according to Greg. I’d be inclined to agree.

Sweaters galore

Casentino wool by LBM 1911

Styleforum Spotlight - Greg Lellouche and No Man Walks Alone

One of the most anticipated vendors in the Styleforum Trunk Show last month was No Man Walks Alone, the new online men’s store recently founded by Greg Lellouche. I had the pleasure of chatting with Greg that afternoon, and talked to him about his store, his products, and his own sense of style.

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November 21, 2013
Coming to America - A Visit to the Meermin Trunk Show
One of my most anticipated stops during the recent trip to NYC was the Meermin trunk show last week. The brand has been getting lots of press in the past year or two and I have been increasingly curious about their wares. The problem, though, is that their shoes are only physically present at their storefronts in Spain and Japan. Their web store is well set up for international orders, but since the shoes cannot be tried on it makes determining the correct size a difficult and somewhat risky undertaking.
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(Linea Maestro Auesterity Brogue in Snuff Reverse Calf)
Fortunately, Luisa and Pepe are working to change that. During their first official visit to the United States, the Meermin duo was able to help hundreds of men and women find the size and style that fit them best. Many shoes were available for purchase, but they encouraged anyone and everyone to come in and get sized. I tried on at least a dozen pairs, and Luisa and Pepe were happy to accommodate my incessant questions and requests. They had a good representation of their products available to try on, and even had some new items that have not made their way to their website yet.

(Classic Line Oxford in Cognac)
All told, their shoes are attractive, well-made, and competitively priced. I think that any menswear enthusiast would be hard pressed to find a shoe at Meermin’s pricepoint of equal or greater value. I should state that I do not (yet) own any pairs so I can not comment on how they wear, but from what I was able to learn from my visit there is no reason to be pessimistic. Meermin is a young company and only time will tell how their shoes will age, but they seem to have the right ingredients in play – good materials, solid construction, and classic designs.
Most of Meermins’s classic line of shoes start at 160 euros, including VAT. Their higher-grade “Linea Maestro” models start at 260 euros, with additional costs for shell cordovan and made-to-order options. Meermin is able to offer their shoes at these prices in part because the shoes are partially assembled in China and finished in Spain.
Another benefit of seeing Meermin’s stock in person was that I was able to directly compare their “Classic Line” and “Linea Maestro” offerings. I definitely think that their classic line of shoes are priced very competitively and reflect one of the better options out there, but even with my limited exposure to their products I was able to see that there is a significant increase in quality between the two lines. In terms of style, the Linea Maestro options are often more refined and sleek, but there are also increases in material and construction quality. For example, while the Classic line uses traditional split suede (suede side is the outside of a split leather piece) for some shoes, the Linea Maestro uses full-on reverse calf from a very well-known manufacturer. For those that don’t know, reverse calf is a suede that uses the “flesh” side of a whole skin as the suede, which results in a much higher quality and more supple end product (read more here).

(Linea Maestro Copper Reverse Calf Oxford and Snuff Austerity Brogue)
An example of improved quality between the two lines is the use of a hand welted goodyear welt in the Linea Maestro shoes (as opposed to a machine goodyear welt on the Classic line).  Beyond the gut-reaction of “hand welted” sounding better than “machine welted,” the differences can be seen and felt. According to Pepe, hand welting results in a slimmer profile and will also create a more comfortable shoe. “The hand welting will feel much more like a Blake-welted shoe, but with the durability of a Goodyear welt,” he explains. For those that aren’t familiar, Blake-welted shoes are well-known for their comfort but usually does not have the durability or ease of repair that a goodyear welt offers.
Another aspect of the company that has been popular with style afficianados is their (comparably) affordable made-to-order program. Many high-end shoe companies have something of this nature, but prices can get very high very fast. Meermin is probably the most inexpensive way to start with a relatively blank canvas and create a shoe to any number of specifications – shape, material, design, and more. One needs to only look at the Styleforum thread or Meermin’s tumblr to see the numerous examples of shoe dreams turned to reality.

(MTO leather options)
Pepe and Luisa are very knowledgeable about the products they sell, and it is clear that they are passionate about what they do. I’d like to thank them for taking the time to bring so many shoes over to the good ol’ USA, and for hosting a wonderful trunk show. If you have any questions about their products you can send them an email or check out their affiliate thread on Styleforum.

Luisa (left), Pepe (right)

Black Cordovan Balmoral Boot

Snuff Suede Boots

Classic Line oxfords - burgundy, cognac, black

Classic Line oxford and Linea Maestro cordovan longwing

Channeled soles on Linea Maestro shoes

Last comparison - Olfe (left), Hiro (right), size 8UK

Pepe’s lovely copper reverse calf double monks

Green shell double monk MTO - an example of Meermin’s versatility

Coming to America - A Visit to the Meermin Trunk Show

One of my most anticipated stops during the recent trip to NYC was the Meermin trunk show last week. The brand has been getting lots of press in the past year or two and I have been increasingly curious about their wares. The problem, though, is that their shoes are only physically present at their storefronts in Spain and Japan. Their web store is well set up for international orders, but since the shoes cannot be tried on it makes determining the correct size a difficult and somewhat risky undertaking.

Read More

November 20, 2013

Over the weekend I spent an exorbitant amount of time trying on shoes at the Meermin trunk show. Here are just a couple of pairs from their classic line. Full story coming tomorrow.

November 5, 2013
It’s (kind of) on Sale: Carmina Shoes
Carmina, the small Spanish shoe company that has been making big waves in the menswear world, has risen to prominence in an impressive fashion over the past few years. In a landscape dominated by England and Italy, Carmina has shown that Spain is a major contender in the world of fine footwear, and did so by creating beautiful lasts and using extremely handsome leathers. There was a time that Carmina shoes were described as “undervalued” and “the next big thing,” but that honeymoon period has inevitably passed, as we have seen Carmina prices slowly rise in parallel with their popularity.
The Armoury is quite possibly the most celebrated vendor of Carmina shoes, and their stock is exceptional. Their selection starts at around $550, excluding shipping.  Epaulet is the biggest stateside vendor; they have a unique collection of shoes and are known for their made-to-order programs. Their stock starts at around $550 as well, and includes shipping in the US.
There are several other vendors available, but one that is often overlooked is the actual Carmina website. Prices there are generally a bit lower, but the stock is somewhat miscellaneous and the product photos are not nearly as majestic as the other options, and fail to do the shoes justice. Compare the photo above with this one (or this with this) and you’ll see what I mean.
However, it is worth noting that the Carmina e-store is offering free worldwide shipping until December 31st (on orders over 250 euros, which shouldn’t be difficult to meet). This is a savings of about $70 for US customers. Not huge, but definitely noteworthy. Also note that non-EU countries can deduct VAT, which divides the list price by 1.21.
There are a few things to note about this sale. First, the dollar is currently getting dominated by the euro, which takes a bit of the sting out of the discount. Nonetheless, there is still a comfortable net savings. Second, shoe returns are challenging and expensive, so if you don’t know your size then it is important to do your homework and understand that there will be some risk involved. Lastly, it is my understanding that not all available models are shown on the website, and that the free shipping discount will be applied to other available stock as well. All inquiries can be made to Betty (betty@carminashoemaker.com), the lovely lady that deals with more menswear nerds than most people face in a lifetime.
Some personal favorites of mine: the celebrated Inca last double monks (~$445), the popular string tassel suede loafers (~$360), and the suede balmoral boot shown above (~$500). There are also lots of great cordovan options as well. None of these are cheap by any means, but the prices are about as low a price as I’ve seen, at least for those of us who don’t live near one of their stores.
(photo via)

It’s (kind of) on Sale: Carmina Shoes

Carmina, the small Spanish shoe company that has been making big waves in the menswear world, has risen to prominence in an impressive fashion over the past few years. In a landscape dominated by England and Italy, Carmina has shown that Spain is a major contender in the world of fine footwear, and did so by creating beautiful lasts and using extremely handsome leathers. There was a time that Carmina shoes were described as “undervalued” and “the next big thing,” but that honeymoon period has inevitably passed, as we have seen Carmina prices slowly rise in parallel with their popularity.

The Armoury is quite possibly the most celebrated vendor of Carmina shoes, and their stock is exceptional. Their selection starts at around $550, excluding shipping.  Epaulet is the biggest stateside vendor; they have a unique collection of shoes and are known for their made-to-order programs. Their stock starts at around $550 as well, and includes shipping in the US.

There are several other vendors available, but one that is often overlooked is the actual Carmina website. Prices there are generally a bit lower, but the stock is somewhat miscellaneous and the product photos are not nearly as majestic as the other options, and fail to do the shoes justice. Compare the photo above with this one (or this with this) and you’ll see what I mean.

However, it is worth noting that the Carmina e-store is offering free worldwide shipping until December 31st (on orders over 250 euros, which shouldn’t be difficult to meet). This is a savings of about $70 for US customers. Not huge, but definitely noteworthy. Also note that non-EU countries can deduct VAT, which divides the list price by 1.21.

There are a few things to note about this sale. First, the dollar is currently getting dominated by the euro, which takes a bit of the sting out of the discount. Nonetheless, there is still a comfortable net savings. Second, shoe returns are challenging and expensive, so if you don’t know your size then it is important to do your homework and understand that there will be some risk involved. Lastly, it is my understanding that not all available models are shown on the website, and that the free shipping discount will be applied to other available stock as well. All inquiries can be made to Betty (betty@carminashoemaker.com), the lovely lady that deals with more menswear nerds than most people face in a lifetime.

Some personal favorites of mine: the celebrated Inca last double monks (~$445), the popular string tassel suede loafers (~$360), and the suede balmoral boot shown above (~$500). There are also lots of great cordovan options as well. None of these are cheap by any means, but the prices are about as low a price as I’ve seen, at least for those of us who don’t live near one of their stores.

(photo via)

October 16, 2013
It’s On Sale (tomorrow): 30% Off full-priced items at Brooks Brothers
Tomorrow marks the beginning (and end) of Brooks Brothers’ Cooperate Membership Sale, which takes 30% off all full priced items (double the usual discount). If you don’t have a corporate discount, never fear; you can sign up for a membership here - it worked for me last year. I post this now because when I signed up it took a little while for Brooks Brothers to process it, so this way yours should be up and running by the time the sale starts. The sale is one day only and some items will sell out so it pays to be prepared (yeah, I’m an Eagle Scout. It’s kind of our motto).
As mentioned, the discount only works on full-priced items, so I recommend using it in one of two ways:
1) For items that never or rarely go on sale. Some examples of this are the ever-popular shell cordovan shoes, Peal & Co. shoes, and more. The Peal & Co. loafers that I often wear will be  on “sale” for $455 - thank goodness I got them on ebay. Shetland sweaters will be available for $90, and some great outerwear like these waxed coats are also worth pointing out.
2) For items that have a “mutli-buy” discount already. For example, now is a great time for buying three of their oxford cloth button downs (one of my fall favorites). All fits have the same discount, and come to about $52/shirt when combining the 30% discount with the “3 for $225” price. Many other shirts have this discount as well. Some suits also have a bulk price, bringing their “2 for $1699” down to about $595 each - a great deal, especially if you’re the kind of guy that wears suits to work.      
Some sweaters have multi-buy discounts as well, so if you were to buy two cashmere sweaters (like this cable knit, another fall favorite) they would come out to $210 each. Expensive, but a pretty solid discount nonetheless.
Of course, it is possible that these discounts won’t stack but in the past it has worked well, and the rumor on the streets is that this sale will be no different.
All in all, this is a good time to stock up on some high-quality basics. If you have any trouble getting your corporate discount to be applied to your order or have any other questions, I highly suggest calling the BB service desk. In my experience, they have been very helpful (and very accommodating); they seem to understand that sales like this are a big deal to some of us menswear enthusiasts and are there to help us make the most of it.

It’s On Sale (tomorrow): 30% Off full-priced items at Brooks Brothers

Tomorrow marks the beginning (and end) of Brooks Brothers’ Cooperate Membership Sale, which takes 30% off all full priced items (double the usual discount). If you don’t have a corporate discount, never fear; you can sign up for a membership here - it worked for me last year. I post this now because when I signed up it took a little while for Brooks Brothers to process it, so this way yours should be up and running by the time the sale starts. The sale is one day only and some items will sell out so it pays to be prepared (yeah, I’m an Eagle Scout. It’s kind of our motto).

As mentioned, the discount only works on full-priced items, so I recommend using it in one of two ways:

1) For items that never or rarely go on sale. Some examples of this are the ever-popular shell cordovan shoesPeal & Co. shoes, and more. The Peal & Co. loafers that I often wear will be  on “sale” for $455 - thank goodness I got them on ebay. Shetland sweaters will be available for $90, and some great outerwear like these waxed coats are also worth pointing out.

2) For items that have a “mutli-buy” discount already. For example, now is a great time for buying three of their oxford cloth button downs (one of my fall favorites). All fits have the same discount, and come to about $52/shirt when combining the 30% discount with the “3 for $225” price. Many other shirts have this discount as well. Some suits also have a bulk price, bringing their “2 for $1699” down to about $595 each - a great deal, especially if you’re the kind of guy that wears suits to work.      

Some sweaters have multi-buy discounts as well, so if you were to buy two cashmere sweaters (like this cable knit, another fall favorite) they would come out to $210 each. Expensive, but a pretty solid discount nonetheless.

Of course, it is possible that these discounts won’t stack but in the past it has worked well, and the rumor on the streets is that this sale will be no different.

All in all, this is a good time to stock up on some high-quality basics. If you have any trouble getting your corporate discount to be applied to your order or have any other questions, I highly suggest calling the BB service desk. In my experience, they have been very helpful (and very accommodating); they seem to understand that sales like this are a big deal to some of us menswear enthusiasts and are there to help us make the most of it.

September 9, 2013
After a few hours of dancing on the forest floor at a recent wedding my trusty Allen Edmonds McAllisters were looking quite rough around the edges. They were covered in dirt and scuffs and needed some serious attention before they were going to be work-appropriate again. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to breathe life back into a nice shoe.
I discuss my polishing routine for cleaning heavily-worn shoes here, but this was my method for the above pair:
Remove all dust and dirt with a brush and cloth
Apply leather conditioner (I used Saphir Renovateur)
Brush off remaining conditioner, apply creme polish
Buff out creme polish, apply thin layer of colored wax polish
Polish with a horsehair brush and then a cotton cloth
Touch up edges with edge and sole dressing
Don’t forget to wait at least 10 minutes between each step and you should be golden. 

After a few hours of dancing on the forest floor at a recent wedding my trusty Allen Edmonds McAllisters were looking quite rough around the edges. They were covered in dirt and scuffs and needed some serious attention before they were going to be work-appropriate again. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to breathe life back into a nice shoe.

I discuss my polishing routine for cleaning heavily-worn shoes here, but this was my method for the above pair:

  1. Remove all dust and dirt with a brush and cloth
  2. Apply leather conditioner (I used Saphir Renovateur)
  3. Brush off remaining conditioner, apply creme polish
  4. Buff out creme polish, apply thin layer of colored wax polish
  5. Polish with a horsehair brush and then a cotton cloth
  6. Touch up edges with edge and sole dressing

Don’t forget to wait at least 10 minutes between each step and you should be golden. 

May 1, 2013
One Year Later: Allen Edmonds McAllister Wingtip
As I’ve mentioned before, men’s clothing enthusiasts often tout the importance of buying high-quality products, an ideal that I generally agree with. Of course, few of us have the funds to buy the best of the best of everything, so the process of finding and purchasing clothing and accessories becomes more of a decision of when to save and when to splurge. Even then, cost does not inherently imply quality, so determining where money is well spent can be difficult. This is a series of posts that show some of my purchases (both expensive and affordable) after a year or more of hard wear in order to display how they have held up over time. Only you can decide what is worth spending on and what isn’t, but the more information you have the better-informed your decision will be.
Although I always liked the idea of dressing well, I didn’t get into it seriously until graduate school. Being at that place in my life made me see that my days as a college student were numbered and that my future career was closing in (if I was lucky enough to get a job). For that reason I wanted to prepare ahead of time in order to get the most out of the small amount of money I had. As engineers - and Jesse Thorn  - often say, “Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick Two.” I started hunting for deals on basic and versatile items like khakis and shirts so that I wouldn’t be blindsided at my first job. I made some foolish purchases, but overall it was a lifesaver when I began working and already had a small amount of solid items to turn to.
I digress. These shoes were one of my first purchases in preparation for my career. I bought them in like-new condition off of ebay before secondhand shoes started to get more expensive. I was the only bidder - they were about sixty bucks. 
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Now that my shoe collection has slowly expanded I don’t need to rely on them as heavily as I did a year or two ago, but they still get used around once per week. I worked them hard and cared for them gently, and they have stood up to everything well. Their color has become richer and more variegated over time and they have remained some of my most comfortable and best-fitting shoes. I could go on about the respectable quality and durability of Allen Edmonds shoes, but I wouldn’t be saying anything that hasn’t been said many times before. Instead, I’ll tell you an interesting story. 
After a few months of wearing these shoes I noticed that the rubber on one of the heels started to detach and flap around. This surprised me a bit since I had received the shoes in new condition and had been caring for them properly. Not sure if the issue was inconsequential or a harbinger of bad things, I stopped by the San Francisco Allen Edmonds store for an expert opinion. The store associate assured me that the issue was minor and that any competent cobbler could fix it. He then told me that they’d be happy to take care of it for me. This made me somewhat uncomfortable; I sheepishly explained that I had bought the shoes off of ebay and it felt dishonest to use any sort of store warranty. The man remained unphased and assured me that it was really no problem at all. A few days later they arrived in a box from Wisconsin, nicely repaired and polished. I was stunned. Good companies earn my business not only because of quality products but because of quality customer service. Allen Edmonds is one of those companies.
Would I pay full price ($345) for these shoes? I don’t think so. The “entry level shoe” market has gotten more crowded in the past couple of years and the choices are far more vast compared to what they once were. However, Allen Edmonds shoes are often on sale and when that is the case I think that they are still among the best options for quality shoes at a reasonable price. Not only that but the shoes are much more accessible than the many online-only storefronts so many people can find a place to try them in person, which makes all the difference. Combine that with the recrafting service, large variety of sizes, and the great customer service and it starts to look like a pretty good deal.
 Granted, those that are looking for a sleek English oxford will not find it at Allen Edmonds. Nonetheless, the American sensibility and “not too formal, not too casual” look that their classic models provide work well for most lifestyles and provide a great starting point for the man looking to understand what a quality shoe really looks like.
The rest of the “One Year Later” series can be found here.

One Year Later: Allen Edmonds McAllister Wingtip

As I’ve mentioned before, men’s clothing enthusiasts often tout the importance of buying high-quality products, an ideal that I generally agree with. Of course, few of us have the funds to buy the best of the best of everything, so the process of finding and purchasing clothing and accessories becomes more of a decision of when to save and when to splurge. Even then, cost does not inherently imply quality, so determining where money is well spent can be difficult. This is a series of posts that show some of my purchases (both expensive and affordable) after a year or more of hard wear in order to display how they have held up over time. Only you can decide what is worth spending on and what isn’t, but the more information you have the better-informed your decision will be.

Although I always liked the idea of dressing well, I didn’t get into it seriously until graduate school. Being at that place in my life made me see that my days as a college student were numbered and that my future career was closing in (if I was lucky enough to get a job). For that reason I wanted to prepare ahead of time in order to get the most out of the small amount of money I had. As engineers - and Jesse Thorn  - often say, “Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick Two.” I started hunting for deals on basic and versatile items like khakis and shirts so that I wouldn’t be blindsided at my first job. I made some foolish purchases, but overall it was a lifesaver when I began working and already had a small amount of solid items to turn to.

I digress. These shoes were one of my first purchases in preparation for my career. I bought them in like-new condition off of ebay before secondhand shoes started to get more expensive. I was the only bidder - they were about sixty bucks. 

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