Ultimate Shoe Guide.

Since there are so many questions about shoes on this forum, I figured I'd write a quick guide on how to maximize the shoe you're getting for the dollar and which brands to avoid/buy. This is meant as a very fast shoe guide for anyone in finance. If you want to learn more about shoe making then there are tons of better guides floating around online.

Buying cheap dress shoes and expensive shoes you see from most trendy fashion designers are generally not worth it. You're basically burning money. I'd really recommend saving up and buying a nicer pair that will actually last. The nice thing about business wear is that trend won't change much so you can literally buy shoes for life without them going out of fashion.

The most important factor that will determine how long your shoe will last is the type of welt used. The welt is what attaches the shoe's upper to the outsole. You basically have three types which I'll describe below but if you want the TL;DR - you want shoes with a goodyear welt if paying $$$ and for anything else blake is fine. Avoid cemented shoes.

  1. Cementing. Complete trash. Cementing means you'll never be able to get the shoe repaired properly so you get to buy another pair of shoes instead of an easy/quick repair.

  2. Blake welting. Allows for a shoe to be resoled easily. I don't have a problem with blake stitching but would not expect to see it on top tier shoes. Always done with a machine.

  3. Goodyear. This is the gold standard. Super easy to repair and any competent cobbler can assist. This is what you will see on shoes across a variety of price points (other than super cheap), not all shoes with a goodyear welt are created equal.

Easiest way at the lowest price is to set up alerts on Lyst.com (searches stores for sales) and eBay new without tags or new without box. The Lyst method is pretty awesome because you can catch some retailers with their pants down.

Brands/Price Points. Only going to bother with two price points here. One for the hardcore enthusiast who has a strange love of shoes and the other for everyone else working in finance with a good size budget.

Enthusiast/More Money Than Sense
John Lobb, Edward Green, Gaziano & Girling, St. Crispins. All great brands and probably the most well respected in shoe making. You get more shoe for the dollar with Gaziano or Edward Green. Unless you're a hardcore shoe nerd that will appreciate perfect stitching, expertly shaped fiddleback waists, and know too much about the difference between german and british tanning pits, then you can probably avoid this category pretty safely. At the end of the day, you're paying a lot for a very incremental gain in quality. With that said, if you're a nerd and have the wallet, go for it. I'm guilty of it but hey... Also if you're sitting on a good size cash pile and just want to see what makes for an amazing quality shoe, then buy buy buy. You won't regret it.

This is the sweet spot. Carmina. Vass. Sutor. Santoni, Crockett & Jones etc... all make great shoes on the higher end of the spectrum. At the lower end in the US I'd recommend going Allen Edmonds (sort of); their quality is good for what you pay generally...although much like American suiting, I think they look a little old man-ish and boxy. If you go Allen Edmonds, check our their factory seconds website, which sells shoes that didn't quite meet QC. Often these are very mild flaws that don't compromise the structural integrity of the shoe + nobody will notice.

If you're hunting shoes via the methods I outlined earlier, you can add brands like Kiton, Isaia, Brunello Cuccinelli, Brioni, and a few of the other high end suit guys to your list. They aren't shoe makers, but they outsource/white label from good manufacturers. If you can get them cheap enough, then they are an amazing deal. I recently picked up a brand new pair of Isaia boots for $120 from YOOX this way and they would usually run ~$1000.

Loafers. I like loafers in the summer and for more casual work related events. Not appropriate for formal events or formal suits. These come in three flavors. Penny, bit, and tassel. Would definitely recommend going with a penny loafer for your first as the other two are pretty over the top/kind of tacky. If you buy gucci bit loafers I will show up at your house and burn them.

Oxford. If I was on a tight budget, this is the first and maybe only place I'd bother spending money. Specifically on a pair of whole cut Oxfords. Cap toes look great too and wingtips are acceptable but a little busy IMO. Wholecut means the shoe is made with a single piece of leather. They look incredibly sleek. I mean... cmon:

Chelsea/Chukka/Dress Boots
You can get away with wearing some kinds of Chelsea boots with suits. I don't recommend it, but if you want one type of boot and want maximum versatility, go with a Chelsea. They can easily be worn casually on weekends with jeans too.

Can be worn with a suit but I'd probably flesh out a collection of Oxfords before grabbing a solid Derby.

Monk Strap (double & single)
Do not wear these in a formal/work environment. I would stay way from them entirely.

Hope that helps.

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Comments (59)

  • Intern in 
Apr 5, 2020 - 8:11pm

Awesome guide thank you bookmarked. Any thoughts on Johnston and Murphy? Am an intern on a tight budget and heard if you can't afford AE, it's the next best thing to get?

Apr 5, 2020 - 9:33pm

I'm not familiar with the brand but it looks like they have a few different quality tiers? I would buy something more disposable on purpose and go ultra cheap so you can replace them later and not feel back if you throw them out.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Apr 7, 2020 - 4:20am

and for the younger guys make sure you go in store to get fitted and figure out the lasts that will fit your feet...

Any love for Alden? Always been my goto for better shoes, not that I get the chance to get better shoes often.

  • Prospect in Other
Apr 7, 2020 - 1:51pm

I think you really need a good pair of shoes on whatever job you have. If your shoes are just some cheap crap, you will easily feel tired and will significantly lower your work-efficiency. So throw some money on shoes at least. Not to shirts, Armani undies you will never show anyone for 2 yrs.

I would definitely look some English shoe maker like Crockett&Jones, Edward Green, John Lobb. With good care, those will easily last a decade.

I'd highly recommend starting with CJ's Hallam, Caunnaught depending on which one fits better, and move way to EG's Chelsea or JL's City, which I think as the masterpieces of oxford.

Apr 8, 2020 - 4:00pm

This is quality content. Those Crockett and Jones are melting a hole in my wallet right now.

I'd add that with the number of choices available now - AE is becoming more and more challenging to justify if you take the time to order online and find the sizing. Options like Beckett Simonon and Meermin are both high quality that generally have a bit more of a fashion forward aesthetic at half the price. Especially if you are looking for workhorse, dress shoes to wear they fit the bill and I've been slowly rotating my closet in favor of those.

Not to turn this into a color war as well - but generally I'd recommend sticking to darker shades across all colors of shoes - the worst thing are super light brown shoes with a grey suit or similar. That is just.... not good.

Apr 9, 2020 - 9:46am

Yeah definitely re: color!

Jun 18, 2020 - 1:06pm

I'm in the US - was over the UK off and on for some work... so that probably shaded my view a bit. It's not anti brown, necessarily, just don't wear really light brown shoes with suits.

Apr 14, 2020 - 12:24am

Will interviewers judge me for wearing a whole-cut with a slight pointier knob than an Allen Edmonds style cap toe?

Go, Go, Excel

Apr 14, 2020 - 12:28am

Nobody will really care. The point is just to buy something that will last and be flexible to save the kids here some money!

  • 1
Apr 18, 2020 - 5:40pm

m_1 Any advice on how to make your shoes last? Not sure if it's just because I wear mine in the rain quite frequently when I'm on my way to the office but I wear down most of my pairs fairly quickly.
How often do you polish/re-sole your shoes? Curious as I have never really been taught how to care for my shoes.

May 30, 2020 - 5:51am

To validate this point, I owned Gucci loafers for a year and the soles wore down to the point there were gaping holes which had my socks touching the sidewalk. Don't buy them.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jun 6, 2020 - 11:12am

Hi guys, I need some suggestions on the "color" of the brown shoes on Allen Edmonds. I have a navy suit and just saw Allen Edmond is on sale. What color would you recommend? Should I go we dark chilli, coffee, or oxblood? This is for summer analyst interviews. Thanks

Sorry I cannot paste a link (user too new)

Jun 6, 2020 - 1:44pm

how are black bit loafers (either suede or leather) perceived in finance? Is it like suspenders where it's super outdated and only MDs can wear them or are they fine at the associate level?

Jun 6, 2020 - 8:51pm

Care to do a casual wear/sneaker write-up? It'd be interesting to see something past Allbirds.

Jun 10, 2020 - 8:31am

I have the John Lobb levah and Lori Piana Walks which are both really nice but I'm not a huge sneaker guy.

Jun 10, 2020 - 9:54am

FWIW, AE having actual stores to ensure the shoe fits makes me more comfortable than purchasing from a brand without a b&m store...definitely a great start to get both a pair of black and pair of brown 5th Aves / Park Aves

My soul is highly leveraged
  • 1
Jun 29, 2020 - 4:10am

I really like Shoepassion, a bit new, but the shoes are very solidly crafted.

Nov 3, 2020 - 2:47pm

No mention of Church's and Berluti! More important than the shoes, is the polish you use, and how often you use the polish.  And shoe trees and shoe horns and rotating the shoes are equally important. I like occasionally using black polish on dark tan shoes to get a unique colour. 

Nov 13, 2020 - 10:35am

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Go, Go, Excel

Nov 28, 2020 - 7:56pm

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