Hey Gents,

A while back, I found this post on Bergdorf Goodman’s blog: Gentleman’s Guide to Definitive Shoes. While I do agree with their selections, I wanted to come up with some alternatives to the shoes they presented.

Why? Because while the individual shoe styles they present are great, they feature really, really expensive versions. Naturally, of course, since it’s Bergdorf. I don’t blame ’em.

Alternatives to Bergdorf’s suggestions

If you read through their article and like what you see, but can’t stomach the steep prices, here are some alternatives.

The Rugged Wingtip Brogue


Bergdorf Goodman house brand, left: ($525 originally, now $262, unavailable)
Dr. Martens brogue, right: ($135 on sale)

Aesthetically, the major difference is the brogue styling, and the soles. The Bergdorf version has that really obvious lugged rubber sole. Quite similar though.

The Suede Chukka


Brunello Cucinelli Aged Leather Chukka, left: ($890 originally, now $445, unavailable)
Clarks Desert Boot, right: ($120)

Brunello is like the Lamborghini of casual luxury clothing. The materials are top notch, and it’s reflected in the price.

I’m happy with my Clarks. I have a few pairs, and they’ve never let me down. These have a crepe sole, vs. the lugged sole on the Cucinelli shoes, in case you didn’t notice that.

The Black Leather Cap-Toe


Church’s Consul Cap-Toe Oxford, left: ($650)
Bostonian Dennison Black Cap-Toe, right: ($100)

The Church’s brand has to be one of the oldest shoemakers in the world. They’re known for using top quality materials and the best craftsmanship. Again, it’s reflected in the price.

You’d be just fine wearing the Bostonian version, for a fraction of the price. They can’t compare in quality, but aesthetically, they’re very similar.

Notice that the Bostonians on the right are bluchers, while the Church’s are oxfords. More about the difference here.

The Double Monk-Strap


John Lobb Chapel, left: ($1685)
To Boot New York Langley, right: ($279)

You may not have even heard of John Lobb. That’s because you can’t afford him. If you regularly wear and buy John Lobb shoes, you probably manage a couple hedge funds, sell human organs on the black market, or had a few successful exits as a venture capitalist.

If you like the double monk-strap style, check out To Boot New York’s slightly more affordable version. If you hunt regularly enough, especially on the flash sale sites I’ve told you about, you can find other dub monks for a really good price.

The Zip Boot


Tom Ford Edward, left: ($1790)
Johnston & Murphy Larsey, right: ($150)

I think Tom Ford is a bad ass. I’ve always been a big fan, and maybe one day, I’ll be able to afford his $5000 suits, or in this case, his $1800 zip boots.

Until then, however, check out the version Johnston & Murphy has for $150.

They’re probably not hand-polished in Italy with unicorn tears like Tom Ford’s are (maybe), but they also have one less zero at the end of their price tag.

The Work Boot


Red Wing Beckman, left: ($320 originally, now $160, unavailable)
Wolverine 1883 Shindell, right: ($104 on sale)

The Red Wings actually aren’t that much, relatively speaking. They’re a great shoe, made in the USA, and super quality for the price. The Wolverine is a decent alternative, however.

Another boot I really like is the Alden Indy, which happen to be more expensive than the Red Wings.

On a budget? Looks > Quality

In Dressing Like a Grownup, I explain the importance of the Fit > Quality > Brand hierarchy, especially when shopping on a budget.

When it comes to shoes—again, if you’re on a budget—focus on how a shoe looks before you worry about its quality.

To be honest, it’s hard to find top notch quality in a sub-$200 retail shoe. The best value (sub-$200) is probably the Florsheim Veblen. After that, you’ll be venturing into Allen Edmonds territory ($300+).

So basically, for now, find shoes that look good. Don’t fret too much about quality or brand.

And if it’s not already clear, you don’t even have to choose the alternatives I found for you. I’m just showing you what’s possible.

Oh, and are you not sure what looks good? Check out these articles:


Consider yourself even more knowledge-equipped.

Of the above, which pair is your favorite? Let’s hear it in the comments below.

Want to get to the nitty gritty of personal style? Check out Graduating Your Style and Dressing Like a Grownup.


[photos via Zappos and Bergdorf Goodman]

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PUBLISHED July 3, 2013

Barron is a Lean Wardrobe Advocate and Founding Editor of Effortless Gent. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Tumblr.

  • Bo

    Of the above, I’m very partial to the Church’s cap-toe and the suede chukkas-I happen to own a pair of Clark’s in a similar shade to that one, and they get a ton of mileage. And while we’re on the topic of affordable shoes, have you seen this crazy Allen Edmonds sale going on through JAB?!


    Just picked up a pair in Walnut…for $58 shipped…regular price well north of $300-let’s see how long it lasts!

  • William

    I have always had a satisfactory experience with Cole Haan for my dress shoes. There is an outlet near me and I usually pay no more than $100 for a pair. I now have four pairs I have bought over the years, and all have held up beautifully. I know some people, particuarly those who regularly buy more expensive shoes do not like them, but for the money they are quite nice.

  • Dan J.

    I can’t get on board with the Bostonian Dennison’s. The description says “Polished and tumbled leather upper for a deep, rich finish that is sure to turn some heads.” That’s market speak for “We took cheap, crappy-looking leather, sanded all the blemishes off and put a thin layer of plastic on top so they look really clean and shiny.” I’ve lived on a budget and I certainly understand that sometimes you don’t have a choice but to buy cheap stuff. You do what you have to do. But that’s a “If you have no other choice, these’ll do,” not a “I recommend you go out and buy these.”

    • You don’t like your leather topped off with a little plastic now and again? 🙂

      Yeah, perhaps that wasn’t the optimal “alternative”. Hopefully readers can do a bit more searching and find something that is better quality and still at the same price point (or shop a sale somewhere).

  • GLR

    No matter how tight a budget is, I’m still partial to thinking quality first and looks later. It’s tough to do but it feels much better to hold out for a winner than to cheap out on shoes of all things!
    Your suggestions still aren’t super cheap so if you’re willing to pay 200$ for not perfect shoes, why not wait to buy the perfect ones for 300$? You’ll ultimately spend less and feel better each time you put them on!

    • In comparison to the ones from Bergdorf, they’re pretty “affordable”. The comparison is more Bergdorf –> alternatives, not AE –> alternatives to Bergdorf, which I’m assuming you’re alluding to? Or maybe I’m just reading into your comment, can’t tell.

      • GLR

        I don’t think I’ve explained myself well. The thing is if you want a certain look of shoe and don’t want to shell out 1000$+ for them, you don’t have to “settle” for low quality and better looks (200$-ish) when you can save a little and get shoes that are good looking and good quality for 300$-ish, which is what I keep seeing in men’s style blogs.

        Personally I spend ~150$ on shoes during sale season to find the quality I want at the budget I can manage but my only experience with men’s shoes is from my dad and his brand loyalty has stood the test of time. He buys one pair at a time, infrequently, fromt he same store, for the same price for years

        • Geno Erickson

          I agree with what GLR is saying. I’d rather save up and pay $300-500 for AEs or Aldens that will last for 20 years than throw out a $150 shoe every two because the quality isn’t there. If I’m on that tight a budget, I’d rather get the nicest shoe at Payless for $30 and save up for the quality.

        • I see what you’re saying. I definitely agree, it’s always worth it to wait a little bit longer and save a bit more money to get the good looking, good quality shoe.

          At the same time, I’ve been in a position (especially when I was in high school and college) when even $150 was an exorbitant amount to spend on one pair of shoes. I know there are EG readers who feel that way, and they may need an alternative right now. They may not have the extra 2-3 months to save more money.

          So I guess the moral of the story is, wait to save more (if you have time), get good at shopping end-of-season sales (exactly what I do), or simply settle for good looking, but slightly sub-par quality. If the cash-strapped young man goes for the last option, he can still get a lot of wear out of the sub-par quality shoe, so long as he takes good care of it.

  • Geno Erickson

    Go to the Allen Edmonds Shoe Bank- you can get quality seconds for way less than $300 and the imperfections are unnoticeable without a magnifying glass. You get style and quality for the same price as those crappy Florsheims, Bostonians and Cole Haans.

  • Bryant

    Pro tip: many, many times if you keep checking, Amazon has Clarks for around $70. I swear the price is down there 3 out of 4 times that I check back.

  • I know I’m way late to the party, but the best value -$200 would be the Mercanti Fiorentini cap toe brogues from DSW. Sure, they’re made in China from Italian leather, and are probably glued. But for under $140? Solid choice for those of us on a tight budget.

  • And I actually like the TBNY Langley double monk better than the more expensive John Lobb shoe.

  • Ari

    My foot size is 39 but I feel that size 39 boots are a bit longer than other casual shoes that I’m used to.. Should I search for a smaller pair or go for the same size? Are boots supposed to be long like that?

  • Chris K

    Frye is an old school maker with decent quality leather shoes/boots. Much cheaper than and in plenty of styles