Whaddya think of the new(ish) JCrew Ludlow dress shoes that look like Alden knock-offs? Have you seen any in person? How's the quality of the leather?
I’ve seen them in person and they look and feel pretty solid. In fact, J. Crew has seemingly done something quite clever here. After years of working directly with Alden, promoting their styles and reselling their shoes, it appears that they have now gone and basically reproduced the Alden look and feel, while undercutting the price.
If you look closely at the descriptions of the shoes and see them in person, you’ll notice that they advertise all the components you’d want in a quality dress shoe: full-grain Italian uppers, gy welts from Massachusetts, leather soles, etc. However, at the very bottom of each description, you’ll note the word ‘import’ written in italics. Now, J. Crew very smartly likes to advertise the country of origin for many of their ‘artisan’ fabrics and components, and would likely do the same if these shoes were made in England, Italy, or the US. This leads one to the conclusion that these shoes are made in a slightly “less desirable” location, most likely China or India. Not a huge deal obviously (Meermin shoes start in China), but a bit of advertising slight of hand nonetheless (the copy reads: Each pair is Goodyear welted, meaning you can resole them again and again for a lifetime of wear. We get ours from the Barbour Welting Co. in Brockton Massachusetts, a town famous for its shoemaking history). Theses shoes are clearly not constructed in Massachusetts, a la Alden, but J. Crew is taking advantage of this history and association.
All in all, if you like the way the shoes look and they fit well, they’re probably a pretty good value, especially on sale. After all, there’s no way to tell if the construction abroad is any worse or better than what you’d find anywhere else. The $300 pricepoint sits comfortably in the category of ‘quality shoes,’ yet below the market for full price Aldens and around the price of AE, their two direct competitors. J. Crew has basically created a market for mens dress shoes by promoting Alden and has now moved to go in and take back said market on a mass level. It’s pretty smart, kind of underhanded depending on their relationship with Alden, and will likely lead to many sales. The decision to buy them is up to you. Don’t expect Aldens though.
Dear Jake, do you like suspenders with clips? I would hate the wear and tear on my pants so I had buttons sewn in.
It’s a personal preference, and I’m not a huge fan in particular, but I’m not overly apoplectic about folks’ suspender choice. Would go with what you prefer and it seems like you’ve got pretty solid reasoning for braces.
Ideas for Chelsea boots that you can beat up and aren't too expensive? Like the look of Sid's, but feel they are more dressy. Or would you just stick to desert boots and wear Chelsea's formally
I like to beat up chelsea boots, but they’re inherently a bit more formal than deserts or chukkas. I would check out Meermin or Herring for something a bit more informal or septieme/markowski for a bit more chisel.
What are your thoughts on Cole Haan which uses technology from sporty footwear to modernize formal shoes. The ZeroGrand is a lightweight and comfortable brogue with a flexible and cushioned outsole. Gimmicky? Keep posting because I need my daily morning fix.
Ever since I picked up a pair of Nikes with lunarlon soles, I’ve been thinking about the intersection of comfortable sneakers and flat bottoms, because they were so damn comfortable. To me it’s clear that one of the primary hindrances to the mass proliferation of welted, quality dress shoes is the initial discomfort felt when breaking in the shoes, coupled with lasting discomfort from cheaply made models and poor sizing/too many lasts. For instance, I have a friend who owns dress shoes from brands ranging from Loake to C&J, and I think he truly understands what makes a nice shoe. However, he consistently complains to me that no matter how much he wears these shoes, he seemingly cannot break them in. And to that end, he just purchased a pair of suede Cole Haans, which I think are unattractive, yet are much much more comfortable out of the box.
So where is the equilibrium? I think it lies in the concealment of the tech and/or the adaptation of the shoes to something of higher quality and better aesthetics. I don’t really understand why you need to pair technology that comes with the perception of being “gimmicky” with ridiculous colors and soles, drawing yet more attention to said ‘controversial’ technology. They could also do without the explicit branding. Perhaps this is what the market is demanding these days, but I personally don’t like it.
In short, I’d love to see more brands experiment with comfort in dress shoes and find ways to discretely incorporate technology like lunarlon. Those Lunargrands look terrible to me, but if they were to reshape and smooth out the tech, they could easily turn those soles into lightweight, flexible alternatives to Vibram and the like. Add full grain leather and better design, and you may have something. Not sure if it can be done, but I’d like to see someone take a run at it.
My brother is getting married and it looks like we will be wearing morning suits. Any ideas where to buy an affordable morning suit? Also will any black dress show work or is there a style more appropriate?
Congrats to your brother. That’s a pretty natty choice - the Brits seem to favor this style more than anyone, so I would look up this model at Charles Tyrwhitt. You can go up market from there (BB Golden Fleece has a much more expensive model) or down market by visiting any of the cheaper formalwear retailers on the web.
I would go with black oxfords or formal boots, based on tradition.
thoughts on wearing hats? specially fedoras, panama hats or trilby. Would you suggest them for a decent look or is it better to forget about it?
It’s pretty personal - they can look fantastic on the right folks, when worn with a certain sense of nonchalance. I think you run the risk of becoming too costume-y, depending on the context though. Wear with confidence and you should be fine, if you like the look.