The Essential Three: Exotics
This is the second posting in my Essential Three Posts, a short series of posts on the three Aldens that you should get given your typical dress attire.
For this one, I decided to take an alternative spin on things. Vice focusing on the basics of your attire, I am going to look at what I consider to be the essential three of the Exotic Shell Cordovan makeups. Alden occasionally offers shoes in Cigar Shell Cordovan (Dark Brown), Ravello Shell Cordovan (Medium Brown with a Red Undertone), and Whiskey Shell Cordovan (Light Brown with a Tan Undertone) and these are known as the “exotics”. These need to be relatively available to be considered for this list, not the absolutely unobtainable.
This was not an easy post to write, I wanted to think good and hard about what I would own if I could only own three Alden exotics and I was starting today. Frankly, I thought that I would try for one of each Shell color and then it flowed pretty naturally from there. Again, I am going to offer an option for the third makeup. You will also see that this lineup has a nice diversity of hand-stitching and broguing, which is important if you want to have a balance.
Essential #1: Cigar Shell Cordovan Cap Toe Boot
Alden makes an absolutely stunning Cap Toe Boot. Their classic model is the 4060 or 4060HC depending upon where you get it from. The former has all eyelets and a Double Leather Sole, the latter has eyelets+hooks and a Commando Sole. It is just a magnificent makeup. The very popular Cigar Cap Toe Boot takes the basic design of the 4060HC and gives it the Cigar treatment. It has the lovely Cigar Shell Cordovan upper with the correspondingly beautiful Tan “Antique” edges. This makes for just an amazing makeup. With speedhooks and the Commando Sole, it makes a very good and solid boot that is easy to take on and off. This Boot can be worn comfortably with dress slacks in virtually any color other than black, or chinos, or denim. Between the beauty, simplicity, and versatility, this is just one hard boot to top.
Essential #2: Ravello Shell Cordovan Longwing Blucher
The Longwing Blucher is probably my favorite Alden design. It just has a magnificent line to it and has just the right amount of bulk to it to provide the perfect sensation of substance. Being made around the Barrie Last and featuring a Split-Reverse Welt, it is an extremely balanced design.
Alden offers this makeup in a few different options, the two main ones are the 9750 and 97504, but there is now also the 97506. The 9750 are the main ones offered by Alden SF and Alden DC, and feature a Double Leather Outsole and Dark Edges. The 97504 has the same Double Leather Outsole but has Tan “Antique” Edges, this model is available from a variety of vendors. Alden DC now also makes the 97506, which is like the 97504, with Tan “Antique” Edges, but has a Double Waterlock Outsole. For completeness, I will also state that Alden of Carmel has made the 97502, which had the Crepe Outsole, and that JCrew has made a special variant of the 97504, which has Brass Eyelets and still carried the same 97504 model number.
Ravello LWB with Antique Edges (97504) vs Ravello LWB with Dark Edges (9750)
I personally prefer the Antique Edging on this model, as it just gives it more “pop”, however, that does come at the sacrifice of some of the formality of the shoe. Even with the Antique Edging, I still will wear this shoe with a Navy Suit. However, if you are looking for a little bit more formality, I would recommend the Darker Edges. The beauty of the Ravello LWB is that it can go, with a suit (this is pushing it, but I live in San Diego, so who cares?), to slacks, to khakis, to chinos, to denim while still looking stellar. This is just
Alden Ravello Shell Cordovan LWB (97504).
Essential #3: Whiskey Shell Cordovan Leisure Handsewn Penny Loafer or Plain Toe Blucher
Again, in trying to keep this the essential three, I decided to offer an option here. I personally would have to say that I would go with the Whiskey Shell Cordovan Leisure Handsewn (LHS), but I realize that loafers are not for everyone and also the Van Last is a tougher one to fit, so I also offering the Whiskey Shell Cordovan Plain Toe Blucher (PTB) as an alternative. Whiskey Shell Cordovan is a beautiful shade of Shell Cordovan. Being the lightest shade, it is the hardest shade for Horween to make and to make consistently. It takes only the clearest of hides to be even considered for Whiskey, because any flaws in the hide will easily show through.
The Whiskey Shell Cordovan LHS is just a beautiful shoe. I think that it would be tough to find a nicer shoe to wear in the summer. It features Alden’s magnificent hand stitch work around the vamp and has a perfect vibe to it. Being a loafer, its a nice and comfy shoe that is extremely convenient.
The Whiskey Shell Cordovan PTB is another amazing shoe. Being a PTB, it just does a fantastic job of allowing the beauty of the Shell Cordovan show through. It is an amazing shoe to behold since its made out of a single piece of Shell and it is absolutely impressive that Alden can skillfully craft this shoe.
Both shoes can be worn similarly and can pair nicely with slacks, khakis, chinos, or denim. Either way, you really can not go wrong here.
Got your own thoughts or opinions? I would love to hear them and feel free to leave a comment below.