ASK DAN: Budget Shopping, Indian Wedding, Career Decision

May 21st, 2015


Budget Shopping

Q: Hey Dan. Really love the site! I notice that a lot of your articles are focused on what some may consider high-end (expensive) clothes. If your intended audience is meant to be more on the wealthy side, then so be it, but I was wondering if there was any chance of displaying stylish clothing that is more reasonably priced.  A lot of people with families and tight budgets do care about looking good, but simply can’t afford $200 shirts or $350 shoes…

A: Great question. The outfits and advice on Articles of Style is not meant to be copied exactly, but rather replicated to fit your own personal style and lifestyle (including your budget). With today’s landscape of accessible “fast fashion” at incredibly low prices, you should be able to re-create our general looks on just about any budget. Look at places like Zara, Asos, Topman, H&M, Joe Fresh, and of course, the thrift shop + tailor shop combo. If you look through the archives, we’ve also featured some very stylish gentlemen who work tight budgets, like this guy who tweaks his own vintage finds. As far as the team; remember that, as editors, we fancy ourselves menswear experts and connoisseurs, which is why we often invest in items of the highest possible quality. You wouldn’t trust the editor of a sportscar magazine if he drove an old Honda civic, would you? Lastly, the other thing about investing in quality menswear is that some items will actually outlast their cheaper counterparts and save you money in the long run. For example, there’s a good chance that a $300 pair of shoes from Allen Edmonds (with the proper care) will outlast three new pairs of $100 shoes from a place like Aldo who uses cheap leather and glues their shoes together in China. Good luck out there my man. 

Indian Wedding

Q: Hey Dan. I am in a bit of a conundrum. I have an Indan friend that is getting married in two months and on the wedding invitation it says “Indian Black Tie Formal”. I don’t know what that means, when I asked my friend he told me a dinner jacket would be okay, when I tried to do my own research all I came up with were bedazzled bagdala and Nehru suits. I want to wear something that honors his Indian tradition and heritage but still be understated and clean, do you have any ideas? Thank you!

A: Hmmm. This is a tricky one. I think the dress code implied for non-Indians is traditional black tie, but if you are Indian, going with the traditional formal dress is encouraged. I don’t think it means that non-Indians should try to incorporate or interpret the cultural outfits. However, I do like the idea of showing a little love to the cultural norms. I would suggest a dark tailored suit with a white mandarin (band) collar shirt. This will look sharp and appropriate, with only a subtle nod to the Indian culture. Admittedly, though, I’m probably not the best guy to answer this question. Therefore I’m going to tap into the AoS network of stylish dudes, and reach out to the best-dressed Indian man I know; Ishandev Hiremath. Ishan are you listening? Can you provide this gentleman with some advice? (I’ll email Ishan to try to get him to respond…). Cheers mate, enjoy the wedding!

Career Decision

Q: My name is David, and I’m graduating from USC tomorrow. I have a pretty significant decision to make. I’ve got an offer on the table to go to NYC for investment banking with a big bank, and I can also stay in LA and work in finance. But my passions have always been business and fashion (the latter largely inspired by you, since 2012), and I wanted to pick your brain about both before I commit to anything… I’m at a crossroads, do you have any advice? 

A: Ahh, the classic banking career versus fashion career decision. I faced a very similar dilemna when I was graduating from Columbia and interning on the trading floor of a large Wall Street bank. This is a really personal decision, and I’m not sure I feel totally comfortable swaying you in one direction or the other without knowing you better, but I’ll share my perspective for your reference. In the banking world, you know what your getting. Lots of long hours, lots of number crunching, lots of ladder climbing, and lots of money. It’s a reliable career path that leads toward a wealthy, stable future with a virtually unbreakable routine. On the other hand, your interests in “business and fashion” makes me think you’re considering exploring a more creative, entrepreneurial side driven by passion and mystery. This can be fun and exciting, but it can also be very stressful and uncertain. I’ll put it like this: my college roommate is now an investment banker. He has a lot more money than I do and knows exactly what he’ll be doing for the next few years. I have significantly less money than him but a lot more time and flexibility, and I get adrenaline just thinking about the future potential of my business. Ultimately I think it depends on what kind of guy you are, and what kind of opportunities you were given. What brings you joy and excitement, versus anxiety and stress? Do you operate better with a routine and linear lifestyle? Do you have a back-up plan if things don’t work out? Lastly, I would take a longer look at this “passion for fashion”… What do you envision yourself doing in the industry (better than others)? What are the positions you’re considering, and the career paths associated? If it’s just about buying cool clothes and looking fly, you can do that in any profession (especially if you got the $$$).

Perhaps our readers can chime in with their perspectives?! This is an interesting conversation that is very current as young men have never been more into the fashion industry, and “doing your own thing” has never been more accessible…

Thanks, as always, for reading. If you have a question, feel free to hit me on the Contact Page

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Shop Custom Menswear Made in America


Take me to the Shop

  • Mondo Moda

    Word bond…just waiting for Aldo to go out of business. Zara actually sells better designed cheap shoes at better price point if you are going to go that route. Aldo is bugging for rizzeals.

  • Ishandev

    “Indian Wedding”

    Indian wedding black tie attire for men generally refers to an ackhan, a sherwani or a bandhgala over a pair of slim trousers, churidars or jodhpurs (the latter two are typically tighter and bunch up at the bottom). There is a difference between what you wear to the actual wedding and what you wear to the reception. Typically, the reception follows immediately after the ceremony and that is what you are dressing up for the most. The wedding portion is also different in certain communities. I come from Bombay and the typical wedding is in a large open space/hall and the wedding altar is constructed in the venue. I have never been to a Hindu ceremony in a temple??

    At my sister’s wedding in Mumbai, we had tons of Western friend visiting and I was in charge of telling them how to dress for the innumerable events. Below is what I advised my friend from London about what to wear. This is actually what most people wear to a wedding in big cities in India.

    Wedding ceremony: Simple solid Blue Kurta and White churidar for the actual wedding. The churidar is super tight around the calves and should bunch up a bit. You can pair it with a pair of sharp chocolate captoe or a pair of drivers/loafers. I usually wear a pair of red Toms. Additionally, borrow a shawl or scarf from somebody (silk is ideal: and if you wrangle a Sabyasachi one-you’re money). Try this out with any kurta color and it works great. The idea is simply, dressing up a kurta/churidar look.

    Reception: You have a couple of choices here. The easiest would be to purchase a Nehru Jacket and pair it with a shirt with a spread collar and French cuffs, slim dark trousers and simple shoes as the wedding ceremony. Almost every Indian guy at a wedding will throw this on without a second thought. I wear this to cocktail events in NYC all the time. In this case, the Nehru jacket will be the star so doesn’t be afraid of getting something a little flamboyant. Finish it off with a silk pocket square (I normally wear a rose). Second choice, wear a pair of Jodhpurs and a Bandgala jacket paired with lace ups. The jacket is the equivalent of the Indian tux so it’s appropriate at any wedding event. I wore a navy bandhgala and slim canary yellow trousers for a wedding in Nantucket
    paired with some penny loafers.
    Finally, if all else fails, a great fitting suit with a crisp shirt, pocket square and laceups is perfectly ok. Just mind the details, the shirt should have collar buttons to stand up and the ‘no-socks loafer’ style only looks good if the pants are slim and tapered.
    Remember, as long as you look put-together and your clothes fit you well, there is absolutely no reason to feel out of place.

  • Learn to spell

    Stresses being a men’s wear editor, yet editorial pieces are often filled with basic grammatical errors. Learn to type of your articles and proofread them, lest you come off as a hypocritical ass.

  • Gazman

    Don’t get sucked into the ‘buy high-end as they last longer’ argument. Not always the case; biggest furphy around. Fact is, some do and some don’t. Inexpensive clothes can last a long time if you take care of them, wash them according to the label and make sure they fit and you’d get years of wear. Plus, the law of diminishing return kicks in at some point; for example, a $100 shirt would be of higher quality than a $50 one and the difference would be noticeable, but the diff between a $100 and $200 shirt is small and the diff would only be noticed by clothes hobbyists. Pocket the change and invest in a quality watch and save for a house.

    • AFH

      Lol at furphy. Agreed, it really is more complex than it appears.

    • Willie JS

      Amen to that.
      Watch – Yes, Carreras
      House – Yes, in L.I.
      Now, I’m barely making ends meet.
      I got my quality clothes and watches prior to getting married and having kids (investment shopping).

  • Brett

    As a self-employed, blue-collar, father of three, I can offer up some easy advice for people on a budget. While me week days are spent in paint spattered clothes, I like to make sure my partner and our kids know how much our free time means by always dressing well.
    Everyone always offers up the thrift shop/eBay options, and I wholeheartedly agree. With patience and a discerning eye, people would be shocked at what you can find. And while a skilled tailor is a must, the best think I ever learned was how to work a needle and thread. I will never be able to fully alter a blazer; however, it is amazing to me how often I can find incredible, quality pieces at a Goodwill store which have no other fault than a missing button or a seam which has come loose. A simple five minute repair can often salvage something someone else cast off.

    Also, use sites like this to learn what you want and who makes it. Figure out the difference between wool and wool blends so that you can tell when you touch it. Articles here and elsewhere explain how to tell if a jacket is fused or canvassed. And if you’re not sure when you are meandering the aisles of your local thrift store, take thirty seconds and Google the names on the tags.

    I will never have the money to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on my wardrobe. In fact, there is not much in my closet that cost (before the tailor’s bill) much more than $20; however, I am routinely better dressed than 90% of the people at my son’s ball games or my daughter’s track meets. And if for no other reason than to make my girlfriend feel special that I took the time to look halfway as good as she does, its worth the pennies I spend on it.

  • James Wong

    Slight tangent, but is there any thoughts of having an AoS forum? I would love a place to post questions, outfit ideas etc and get feedback, as well as contributing to other peoples post. Then articles like this could pick out questions of interest, show people’s responses and also for Dan to post his answer like he does now. Just an idea :)

  • Esosa

    I’m with you Dan…I worked on wall street right out of college.. the money was awesome, the hours were long and in all honesty the work was un-inspiring..playing ball in college, the one thing I feared was that if I did not make it to the pros (had options to play overseas), I would end up working a desk job doing the same redundant thing day in day out until I was done..I worked as an analyst for two years and it was not bad.. had its crazy moments..However I realized that I wanted more out of life.. I wanted to make money but also live life, fall in love, travel, have a family, and truly enjoy my life. I knew I would not be able to have all that working on Wall I walked away from a real nice salary and awesome bonus situation and went into working for myself. I have not regretted it one day. Working Investment banking taught me a lot about what I wanted in life.. same way my years experimenting with different silhouettes and brands have helped me hone in on what I like and don’t like when it comes to tailored goods.. hope this helps..

  • Ethan W.

    I’m in the that “career” decision moment as well. I’m graduating college at 19, and I find that my major isn’t what I want to do in life. Unfortunately thanks to finishing college this quickly, I never was able to take other classes or see what else in the broad business field interests me. However, thanks to this site and learning more and more about fashion, I learned that I may have something of interest in Marketing, so I’m pursuing my MBA in marketing this fall after I gradate! I’m still on my journey to see what I want to do!

    • ThatManGilmore

      Funny coincidence I have my MBA in Marketing and so far as this “career” discussion goes I was once that same guy and eventually took the safe route and went into a corporate position straight out of school and hated it but then fell into fashion and been happy ever since. My advice to anybody on trying to jump into mens fashion is that you need to have an endgame, figure out what you’re passionate about in menswear, NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK…because if you know nobody….it’s not the easiest thing to just walk into these luxury companies or anywhere with no experience and be given a shot, and look out for yourself first before thinking someone is going to carry you through into the field. All in all I’d say still try out banking and see if you love it and keep that as a day job thing and grow into fashion on the side but if you really want to do it full time then get to it and grind. The industry is STARVING for young guys with REAL knowledge on clothing so it’s there for the taking. Good luck and don’t give up.

      • Ethan W.

        I think the asker is lucky to be in such a position. I’m about to graduate with no job opportunities (although I have an interview tomorrow). I really hate all aspects of being a CPA or accountant, but I realize I want something creative and has a defined end goal and that’s why I chose marketing!

        What exactly was your journey from corporate to fashion?

        • ThatManGilmore

          Literally a hard ass climb. I went from big deal digital marketing to interning for a local clothing brand and having the opportunity to pioneer a suiting label within that company, being tossed an awful full time offer (below poverty line salary) to be a production manager which I declined, left and went to J.Crew part time while shifting marketing roles between firms, ended up being an intern at the guys who were making my suits luxury store then from there I literally just applied and networked and networked and eventually landed a job as a mens stylist/MTM salesman at an independent luxury boutique in Dallas, TX. All my experience has come from literally grinding day in and day out amidst layoffs and very ugly days to get to where I am now. There is still time but don’t waste your days doing something that isn’t beneficial for your own personal goals/endgames in life.

          • Ethan W.

            I see. How is the Marketing game? Not sure if you’ve read my feature on here, but I’m about to graduate college early with a degree in Accounting in 3 years. Because I was pushed to finish early, I never had the chance to explore other classes or try out other things; All I had were accounting classes. I realized too late that I don’t like it, but I find that Marketing is something that I really want to explore (fashion or otherwise) at least on the surface.

            • ThatManGilmore

              Marketing is great to me, in hindsight it’s the science of seeing how people from all walks of life get products, content, opinions, and etc for any and everything. Now with fashion it depends on what route and what kind of brand you’re dealing with and who does a certain brand’s marketing. You could go into a firm who deals with purely retail fashion brands or you can goto a brand specifically and do marketing work for them. Another thing is that marketing nowadays is really digital. Yes the Don draper advertising firms and etc still exists but a TON of stats marketing firms and workers get come from tedious analysis and narrowing down statistics to create a result to better market to people and portray a brand in the best light. My advice is to look up a solid firm or fashion entities and attempt to intern for them whenever they offer so you can get a hands on feel of what’s it like and how these different entities move. There’s so many fields and routes you can take within marketing and even newer forms being created daily i.e. Social Media Marketers and their positions.

              • Ethan W.

                Thank you sir, for this information! I wish I had majored in this all along! It’s much better to me than journal entries and learning GAAP!

  • ChrisD

    Career decision guy is asking a question with a deeper answer which Dan hints at. I’m facing the same dilemma, except I’m in a great career that I love (software).. but I also love other things?

    You need to do some self-discovery (we all do). There’s absolutely nothing wrong or abnormal about not knowing what you want/who are you. There’s an echo of this which I see in so many questions in the men’s style community (not this site, but others – in particular Reddit). Guys ask, “Help I’m unfashionable what should I wear?” I cringe at answers like, “Get some dark jeans, an oxford button-down and Clark’s Desert boots.”
    Don’t do that; Don’t take others’ advice because you lack a preference. Take their advice because you look at the result and it aligns with what you want. The last few years of reading this blog has been a personal journey for me in discovering what I want. That’s become my style-mantra: “Discover my preferences.” Everyone is different and the beauty of life (and style) is in the subtlety of how people are unique.

    Some practical advice: It doesn’t matter what you do right after you graduate as long as you don’t stop discovering yourself and developing your taste (in style, in friends and in work). Constantly engage in self-improvement of body and mind and you’ll naturally gain the conviction you currently lack, to know what you want.

    And congrats on achieving something. You’re about to make your first adult decision. It’s hard, but it’s how you grow.

  • Vape

    OMG, I’m the budget buyer. I can’t believe they used my question :). Honestly, I had forgotten about it, but I get notifications in Facebook when A List posts something new and there it was. Thanks a lot Dan, really appreciate taking the time to answer on the website!

    You’re advice was very helpful indeed. In the last few months I’ve decided to move out of the “dressing like a lazy college kid” (even though I’m well out of college) phase of my life, have lost about 40 pounds and really starting care about how I look. This site has given me some great pointers, but I’m still a newb when it comes to every day style fashion. The stores you mentioned were very helpful and looking forward to more great advice.

    And thanks everyone for your personal experience and insight. Can use all the help I can get.

  • Simon

    To the “career guy”, my own little advice.

    Go with the banking job. Try it and see for yourself. You could always quit after a year, a month or even after the first day. But if you first go the other way with your fashion business passion, you might never be able to try the other lifestyle. Some might argue that when you’ll get a well payed job in a bank, you’ll have a house, a car and so much more stuff to pay that will prevent you from quitting your job. If you really hate your job and want to go the fashion route, you’ll find a way to sell everything.

    I might say I’m in a similar situation right now : just graduated from law school, looking for a job in big corporate firms… but I’m also drawn to the tech start-up culture which is a whole different universe. But I settled for now for the more conservative path. In a couple years, if I hate my life, the start-ups will greet me, my experience and my phonebook full of contacts with arms wide open.

    Just my two cents.

    • Stuart

      Going to continue the discussion here and add my take on the question.

      As someone that’s also interested in working in fashion I’d strongly recommend choosing a job that’s going to either a). give you a skill set that will allow you to easily transition into the industry at a later point or b). is within (or at least peripherally within) the fashion industry. This looks different for each person. You’ve got to remember that ‘fashion’ is a huge catchall. It includes design, styling, buying, merchandising, retail management, marketing, finance, sourcing, manufacturing, journalism and the list keeps going.

      I’ve seen people take two approaches and, truthfully, it just depends on what you think would work best for you. The first is to jump headfirst into the industry and work for a platform or for a brand. You’ll be able to cultivate relevant experience, build a network within the fashion community, and get involved early. A good thing to keep in mind though is that the fashion industry is rather hierarchical. You’ll inevitably have to pay your dues, which translates to making a lot less money. But hell, you’re young and if there’s ever a time to take a risk and bootstrap it then it’s now.

      The second is to work a job that pays well and gives you a solid business foundation regardless of the industry, using your free time to cultivate a fashion oriented portfolio. Again, depending on the area of the industry in which you’re interested, this portfolio could range from doing freelance writing to doing street photography to designing your own clothes. This will allow you, at a later point, to prove that you’ve not only have cultivated the necessary business skills but you’re also capable of working within the creative environment of the fashion industry.

      The main things to keep in mind here is that you’ll have to find or make your own creative outlet and be smart about your evenings and weekends. This is the route that I’ve chosen and I’d caution that it’s a lot harder to do than it initially seems. After working all day during the week – something that drains you both physically and creatively – you’ve got to try to build something that’s worthwhile. Often times it’s difficult and the process can be painstakingly slow. The upside, however, is that when you do break into the fashion industry, you’re able to parlay this work into a well paying and meaningful position.

      I will say that if you opt for this route, it helps if you’re in a creative environment that allows you to surround yourself with like minded individuals.

      Anyways, just a few things that I’ve experienced. Hope it helps.

  • SinghNYC

    Re: Indian Wedding question: having been to a bazillion Indian weddings, and being Indian myself, this most likely means standard western formal wear (suit/tie) or Indian formal. I wouldn’t take the “black tie” portion too literally – if you wear a tuxedo you will likely be the only one aside from the groom/groomsmen/groom’s father (unless your friend specifically said to wear a tux). Indian formal generally means an achkin, sherwani, Nehru suit or Pathani suit. Most people will be wearing an achkin or sherwani (those are the typical glittery/sparkly Indian outfits you see at weddings). Unless you live close to NYC, SF, Vancouver, Toronto or Edison, NJ, you’ll have to rely on the internet to find one of those. If you’re non-brown, don’t worry about offending anyone by wearing traditional Indian garb – it’s a common sight these days and you’ll get a lot of compliments, from Indians and non-Indians alike. If you take Dan’s advice and wear Western with some Indian flair (or Indian with some Western flair), you’ll definitely stand out (in a good way!) – it’s a fashion-forward move you rarely see. At the actual marriage ceremony, avoid red as that color is usually reserved for the bride and groom (assuming it’s not a Christian ceremony). Lastly, be sure to wear something comfortable, because you will have to dance your a$$ off. Have fun!

    • AdamE

      Agreed, I was at a friend’s Sikh wedding years ago, and through some googling, I noticed that it was frowned upon to wear black or white to the ceremony, so for the ceremony at the temple, I wore brown pants and shoes (No jacket, thankfully because it was 42celsius that day), with a light green shirt and darker green tie, for the reception, I changed into a grey suit/white shirt combo. But most of all, have fun. it was a shock, being one of less than a dozen non Indian people at a wedding of 750 guests (all you can eat and open bar… and I love Indian food). The other thing worth googling if they are doing a traditional ceremony is what the process is and what it means, otherwise chances are you’ll be lost the whole time, since none of it was in english. Also, I highly suggest money as a gift… lest you want to be the one white guy who brings the toaster type item in the big box, that gets shoved off to the side (I actually watched the groom’s father attempt twice to stick a ginormous box in the card box after being handed it, mutter under his breath, and then shove it in a corner), as everyone slides their card into the card box.

    • Dan Trepanier

      What a fantastic community we’ve developed here! Thanks for the insight – this is much better advice than one man can offer :)

    • Sergio Arteaga

      I would like to add my 2 cents to this conversation. I married a beautiful Guyanese woman who happens to be Hindu so we had a very beautiful traditional Indian wedding. As stated if you don’t live near some of the large metro areas or Edison, NJ or Queens you will have a hard time finding a traditional Indian shirt for the ceremony. However, I actually may have a couple extra that my sis-in-law brought back from India, so if you have a week or two I can send you one. My family (dad, brothers, brother in law and nephews, along with my mom and sister) wore traditional Indian outfits on the day of my wedding. For the men it was a pretty simple get up; khaki chinos and a traditional shirt.

      I’ve attended a couple of Indian wedddings and even though I wore a full sherwani for my wedding I usually keep it simple for the ceremony whether it’d be at a temple or home. Khaki chinos, a light colored shirt and a navy blazer would be perfect. Or simply a navy suit, light colored shirt and no tie. Also I highly recommend you wear loafers; regardless of it being in a temple or home, you are required to take your shoes off. This is a Hindu tradition.

    • TO

      SinghNYC- can I ask you for a recommendation for a store in Toronto that sells Indian clothes as you mentioned? I’ve been wanting to add a kurta to my summer wardrobe, here in Toronto, ever since I saw it championed in a couple articles on this site, but am weary of sizing and proportions from ordering online. Thanks in advance if you have any advice!

  • Tomas

    I get the “career decision” guy. I was in a similar place but instead of an investment bank it was a consultancy a different country. I took the job and its long hours (i leave home at 8 and get back at 10). so basically its up to you and what you like doing in your free time (if any). I happen to play rugby and enjoy training (a LOT) and with this job I wasnt able to go to trainings or to the gym, etc, etc. I didnt know how much that would bother me (not having free time for myself) until I was missing it so it helped me to know myself a bit better. I realized I need time to do those little things I like doing and if i dont..i actually get angry. Money…you wont have time to spend it anyway so you´ll be saving a lot.
    It´s up to you and your lifestyle. Whatever you do, you can always change and go back :) you are young I guess…so all experience is good experience (if you hate it, you know now what you dont like, like me!´wich is equally important)
    This was just my case, my opinion with 23 years if age.

  • Miguel

    To the budget buyer:

    I’m also in your shoes but I’ve learned since I started coming to the site is to shop smart, invest in quality pieces.

    Also you can find great deals if you do some research, there some sites that offer quality clothing for less, you can always go to Century21, if you have one in your area, you’ll find a lot of shirts and shoes from name brands at a respectable price.
    There’s also some online stores like myhabit, Hautelook, etc.

    To the last gent, like Dan said, if you just want to look good, you’ll going to need that money, think well why and how you want to go into the fashion industry, good luck.

  • JoeFromTexas

    But you can afford $350 shoes, so long as you have the patience to buy them used off of Ebay or at the thrift store. Every now and then someone will ask something related to how much my shoes were (but never about the rest of my clothes, hmmm), and I always respond that they were expensive to someone, just not to me.

    • Juan Zara

      Haha brilliant answer!

  • tommyjohn_45

    Great questions today…

    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve blown through sh*tty pairs of Aldo shoes… ugh. I too try and keep to a tight budget and struggle with the advice of investing in $300+ pair of shoes. I totally get the reasoning, but what if I fall out of love with the style I choose? Even if it is a classic… I’ve had great luck at places like DSW finding clearance Cole Haan, Gordon Rush, Ted Baker, etc. that have lasted years all for under $100.

    • Juan Zara

      Jack Erwin and Meermin are great places to look at for affordable, Goodyear-welted shoes that will last at least 5 to 10 years. Otherwise, for you lucky North Americans, Allen Edmonds runs sales pretty regularly and, if you’re not that picky, you can even snatch a pair of seconds at 50% (sometimes more) off.

      Generally, I would stay away from anything that isn’t Goodyear-welted. Unless you use the shoes once a month, they’re not going to last more than a couple years.

      • Shawn

        What about Blake/Blake Rapid?

        • Juan Zara

          Honestly, in my opinion the little money you’d save isn’t worth it. Blake stitching is a very superficial way to attach a sole to a shoe.

          What’s so great about Goodyear-welting is the possibility to completely restore your shoes by changing the soles as many times as you want, so long as the uppers are in good condition. This can’t be done with Blake-stitched shoes, as there’s no welt in the shoe, and the outsole is stitched (and most of the times glued, as well) directly to the insole. So when you wear out the sole (and we’re talking a year and a half tops for a leather one,) you have to throw out the shoes.

          My 2 cents: try Meermin or wait for the seasonal Allen Edmonds sale, you won’t regret it.

          • cuponoodles

            Calling Blake stitching a superficial way to attach a shoe is an unfortunate way to characterize their construction, and it is one of the more odd mantras of the new menswear community.

            Many great cobblers prefer Blake for its lighter, trimmer, and more flexible aesthetic, and I’d put a great Blake-constructed shoe up against any other in the market. Many excellent generational shoe makers make exceptional Blake shoes, and there have even been some traditional welters who have come out with Blake lines recently.

            Additionally, the facet of replacing the soles “as many times as you want” is patently false, as, depending on the welter’s skill and equipment, most shoes (especially lower quality ones like Jack Erwins) with thin midsoles will fail after a resole or two. Also, any half-decent cobbler worth their salt (and one capable of re-welting anyway) should be able to re-sole a Blake without too much trouble at all. My local cobbler here can do it without a problem, as could my former one in a different city.

            • Juan Zara

              I have no experience with Jack Erwin, but my cobbler has successfully resoled a pair of €150 Meermins and has told me the uppers could virtually last forever, as they’re made from full-grain French calfskin from Du Puy (same guys who supply John Lobb.)

              I’ve also been able to replace the soles on my vintage USA-made Johnston & Murphy loafers three times, and they’re still going strong.

              In the meantime, I’ve had to throw away a pair of two-year-old Blake-stitched Ferragamos because the sole was so thin, there was virtually no material to attach the new sole to.

              Blake-stitched shoes are nice to look at, they’re slim and sleek, and very nice if you can get a good deal on them, but I would never spend as much on them as on a pair of Goodyear-welted shoes.

              No matter what your cobbler tells you, you can’t actually REPLACE the soles on a Blake-stitched pair of shoes, as you’d have to take the whole shoe apart, since the outsole is stitched directly to the insole. All you can do is sand the existing outsole down to a minimum and stitch a new sole on top of it with a McKay machine. This is typically done just once, then you have to throw out the shoes.

              If I can resole a welted shoe at least twice (and this is possible with 99.9% of welted shoes,) they’re already a better investment than a Blake-stitched one, which I can typically resole just once and costs roughly the same (or more if you’re getting Ferragamos, Guccis, and all the other crappy fashion brands.)

              • cuponoodles

                Not that I’m trying to engage you in an argument over welting methods, because it’s clear that you’re set in your ways, but the quality of the calfskin isn’t really the determining factor on the ability to re-welt a shoe. It has much more to do with the way and manner in which the cordwainer re-stitches the welt on. The only goodyear welted shoes that can be resoled indefinitely are ones that are hand-welted (which would involve re-threading the through the old welt so as to not repuncture the leather over and over when the new welt is created, which is the manner in which most GYW shoes fail after a number of re-sole attempts), and I don’t know any cobblers that readily hand welt shoes, or ones who would, without some exorbitant price tag. In effect, the argument doesn’t hold, as ones who can and would take the time to hand-welt are much, much rarer (or more cost prohibitive) than those that can resole Blakes.

                As to your argument about re-soling Blakes more than once, I completely disagree. Not only has it been done to my longest tenured pair of “nice” shoes I own, but it doesn’t involve “taking the entire shoe apart at all. You remove the heels, sand down the sole a bit, and then stitch a new one on. You’re slapping a new one on top of an old one, and that’s not even considering Blake/Rapid, which is an even easier repair job than either GYW or Blake shoes.

                My bigger question right now is – why the hell are you replacing your soles all the time? Do you have a too heavy stride? Do you walk 5+ miles a day in them? I tend to wear exceptionally fast on my shoes (I have an extremely heavy gate, and walk a bunch living in NYC), but have literally never had to resole a shoe since I started TOPY-ing all of them. Costs about $35, prevents water damage, and it’s better on your feet. It also makes the entire Blake/GYW argument moot, as the cobbler can just glue a new piece of rubber on every 6-12 months.

                • Willie JS

                  I do the same, I get my friend at the shoe shop to install vibrant thin rubbers on the front and back, then I just replace them every year or two. This way the original base of the shoes are kept intact and my Ferragamos, Edmonds, Tods, etc will last more than a decade!!!

                  And like Mr. Dan Trepanier once said make your tailor a best friend that implies for the cobbler as well.
                  8 )

                • Juan Zara

                  I wholeheartedly disagree about what your wrote on your first paragraph. It’s obvious you haven’t encountered very competent cordwainers, or haven’t sent your GY-welted shoes back to the shoemaker’s factory to replace the soles on your welted shoes, as either one would have told you what you think is the biggest issue with welted shoes is indeed false.

                  Welts CAN BE replaced, and indeed, when you send your shoes to the shoemaker’s factory for the soles to be replaced, they will remove and replace the welt 99% of the time as well. Competent cobblers also have the machinery to do this and will do it when they consider it necessary.

                  As for Blake-stitched shoes, yes, if you want to actually REPLACE the outsole, you have to take the whole shoe apart. The method you described (which I also described in my post above,) doesn’t involve actually replacing the outsole, instead you just sand down the leather and stitch a new sole on top of it with a McKay/Blake machine, which on top of it all is much more expensive than a Goodyear machine and therefore not every cobbler has it. This is, again, a very superficial way to change an outsole.

                  As for Blake-rapid shoes, I agree with you, but they tend to be pretty expensive and rare, not to mention they have a dented leather edge that’s very reminiscent of a welt. This leather edge is attached to the both the insole and the outsole, but the outsole isn’t stitched to the insole, so this stitching method is pretty much the same as Goodyear-welting, but done with a different machine and no cork filling in between the layers.

                  As for replacing soles: I do walk a lot and I wear leather soles almost exclusively, as Dainite tends to be quite impossible to break in (although I do have a few a pairs for work) and there’s no point in getting good quality stitched or welted shoes if I’m just going to TOPY them (which doesn’t prevent water damage by the way; only a welt or a triple-sole with a cork filling does.) To top it off, rubber isn’t good for either your shoes, your feet or your posture, but I understand why it’s convenient. To each their own, I guess.

                  • cuponoodles

                    Seems we’ll have to agree to disagree on some of these points, although I do have to reply to some of your more brazen (or incorrect) statements.

                    For one, you’re absolutely correct in that I’ve never sent back shoes for re-crafting. I’ve never really needed to (note: point on TOPYs above), but I’ve always found the cost prohibitive and have not necessarily wanted to deal with the hassle of boxing up, shipping out shoes, and waiting 6-8 weeks for their return, especially when I have so many excellent cobblers at my disposal in NYC. To note, and I apologize if my writing this term was unclear, my comment in relation to GYW sole replacement wasn’t in fact at all related to the application of a new welt. That (again) has nothing to do with it, and I completely agree with what you stated above. When they welt out new shoes on the leather by replacing the welt, the machine that is traditionally used for welting (again, unless done by hand, which no one does anymore, especially when replacing soles) makes a new hole in the outsole when the new welt goes in, and unless this is done carefully (usually by hand, which is a painstaking process, and thus voraciously expensive), the machine can only “run through” a new welt a few times before the leather will begin to lose its integrity, thus destroying the outsole and rendering the shoe unwearable.

                    In relation to cobblers not having Blake machines, I can only re-state what a competent bespoke bookmaker once told me a few years ago when I had the same question for him (and to note, he is a fan of Blake stitching as well, although he has been known to use both methods). He said, quite directly, that “if they don’t have one [a McKay machine] (and they should), that’s not a cobbler you should entrust your shoes with.” Again, I’m not sure where you live, but every neighborhood guy I’ve ever been to on the east coast has one here.

                    Finally, your point about rubber being bad for your feet is patently false, and borderline dangerous to say, as anyone who has ever had serious foot problems can attest to. Please note that this advice is not mine, but comes from a close friend and family member, who is a practicing podiatric surgeon for a leading research hospital in NYC. If you think you know more than her, than I pity your ego.

                    In effect, I don’t think we disagree about much. GYW shoes, on the whole, are great and well constructed. They are a hallmark of quality. However, they are the lazy man’s hallmark of quality, as there are so many processes and materials that go into the construction of a shoe – to simplify it down to the notion that anything with a GYW is a great shoe (and anything with a Blake welt isn’t) is an inappropriate way to categorize the hundreds of steps and artistry that goes into the creation of a well-made shoe.

                    In that sense, much of my information and education (I am by no means a professional) comes from a professional (and successful) bookmaker of a certain high-end clientele. While I hesitate to publish his contact information publicly, if you know of any way to communicate privately, I’d be happy to share his information with you. However, he might take offense at the pretense of you questioning his skill, especially (and I don’t imagine you are) if you’re not yourself someone who crafts shoes in what happens to be a very competitive industry.

    • AdamE

      Even on a budget, I still agree with the buy less but buy better advice… When you’re starting out, you may want to build a sensible fast fashion wardrobe, and then gradually replace pieces with the better quality ones bit by bit. It also gives you time to get a better sense of your own personal style before you really start investing, so that you’re less likely to fall out of love with a big ticket item. As for shoes, as some of the others have said, it’s a good place if you’re going to splurge on one thing, because good quality shoes, with a decent shine kit and a little elbow grease, will save you a ton in the long run, versus disposables… And for sure, look at Vintage options and sales, to score good deals on shoes.
      I still do the odd fast fashion type purchases, I tend to buy trendier pieces at the value merchants, and then invest in the more timeless items and wardrobe staples….

    • Dryfus

      I’m with you Tommy John, I have three pairs of Allen Edmonds, and one Bruno Magli all of which I haven’t spent more than $50 on. Secret: thrift shops in expensive neighborhoods. The guy that makes 300k a year might toss out a pair of brand new AE wholecuts because he didn’t wear them after a month.