I’ve always been drawn towards a well made pair of shoes. When I was younger, I remember my dad using a shoe horn to put on his Allen Edmonds before walking out the door to the courtroom. He was the epitome of confidence and style to me so I always equated a nice pair of shoes to dressing well. In fact, my first pair of dress shoes were a pair of my father’s Black Allen Edmond wingtips that I promptly wore into the ground after 2 years of daily wear. Ever since then I’ve bought many pairs of Allen Edmonds and still consider them a great option for anyone looking to start a shoe collection.
Due in part to my satisfaction with Allen Edmonds, I recently decided to up my shoe game and give one of the higher tiered brands a shot. For most people this would mean an automatic trip to Northampton by way of Church’s, Alfred Sargent, Crockett and Jones, or if you have the bank, Edward Green. For me it meant trusting that the guys over at The Armoury would fulfill my needs with a pair of Carmina’s.
After doing a considerable amount of research and talking with Ethan and a few others I decided to pull the trigger on a pair of Simpson Last Double Monk Straps.
Chicago and Hong Kong operate on a nearly opposite schedule, with Hong Kong being 13 hours ahead of Chicago. I won’t lie - this made it considerably more lengthy to consult on options, ask questions, and ultimately make the purchase. That being said, Ethan stuck with me the whole time and answered all the questions that I had within hours of me asking them. Once again, it all goes back to helping people make better decisions. If I would have placed my order online without his help I would have received the incorrect sizes in both my shoes and belt. I can’t even imagine how frustrating that would have been, especially after the customs fiasco I had to deal with.
I’ll be honest, I had a few reservations on the pair I ordered.
First off, I wasn’t sure how the Simpson last would fit my feet. Would it be too wide, too narrow, or too elongated? Secondly, they were in Carmina’s rusticalf leather - a much softer, more wrinkly leather with a slimmer sole. I was worried they wouldn’t last very long. Lastly, they were darker than the mid brown Inca Double Monks. All these things added to my anxiety after I had ordered them. So what’s the consensus?
They are awesome.
The Simpson last ended up fitting my narrow feet very well and the sizing was perfect. It’s a relatively narrow last that’s harder to find in other ready to wear brands I’ve worn. It has a great soft chiseled toe that doesn’t look too elongated but still remains elegant.
The Rusticalf leather was what I was most worried about and it’s now what I’m most impressed by. The shoes are soft to the point of seeming padded. As a result, I was worried that they would wrinkle significantly instead of getting a nice crease along the vamp where my foot bends. I was wrong - even though the leather itself has visible grain (and therefore looks more wrinkly) the shoe continues to crease just as standard calf leather would and is much more resilient than I expected. I have to say this was a big “whew” moment for me.
Also, although the dark color will not gain as much patina as a mid brown shoe would, I’ve noticed that they go with a wider variety of my pants. More importantly they are going to look great with my new mid-grey, dark-grey, and blue-flecked fall flannels. Versatility, everyone!
Lastly, in terms of craftsmanship, they are well above what I’m used to. Channeled soles, extremely precise stitching, excellent heel padding, very high quality leather, & a sleek last and welt.
In the short amount of time that I’ve worn them they’ve surpassed what I expected. Although I admit that the true test will be a year or so down the road when I will have significant wear in them. I’m also interested to see how they will stack up against an benchmade English shoe. Nevertheless, pops would have been proud to don a pair of these things before stepping into the courtroom.
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