What To Expect From $500 Dress Shoes
When pulling the trigger on $500, you’re making a significant investment. Therefore, it’s of no surprise that you have certain expectations when parting with a fair amount of hard-earned cash.
Whilst $100 offer some decent performance on a budget, $500 should be in an entirely different league. Here, you should expect high-quality materials as well as shoes that last decades rather than years .
In the following section, we’ll be exploring the features that you should expect from the best $500 dress shoes.
First and foremost, you should accept nothing less than a Goodyear welt. If you don’t know what this means, welting is the technique used for attaching the sole to the bottom of the shoe.
Cheaper shoes tend to resort to a quick and easy technique called “cementing” where the sole is fused using a special adhesive. However, these tend to last one or two years at best.
Meanwhile, the mid-range welting technique is known as the “Blake Stitch”. This process involves actually stitching the sole to the shoe, which makes it somewhat more durable. However, it’s not as labour-intensive as the Goodyear welt, which means that although it’s less expensive, it’s not as robust.
Finally, the Goodyear welt is the oldest technique where the shoe is stitched to the sole in multiple steps. It earned its name when Charles Goodyear invented a machine in 1869 that made this somewhat quicker to do.
Overall, a Goodyear welt is more robust than any other technique so your shoes are unlikely to fall apart. Furthermore, they’re designed in such a way that virtually any cobbler can resole the shoe an almost unlimited number of times.
They’re also more waterproof as the greater number of stitches creates a better seal that still breathes naturally.
Of course there are other types of welting that exist that are less common. However, the Goodyear welt is the most famous and for good reason. If you want to learn more about welting, you can refer to our dedicated shoe construction guide.
Prime Leather Upper Grades
Your shoes’ leather quality is always important but it becomes fundamental when purchasing high-quality shoes. When forking out such a large sum, you should expect that your shoes are made of the best possible materials.
As much as the term “genuine leather” may sound reassuring, there are many different types of leather, which each have their own individual grades. You’ll hear a lot about full-grain leather, which is a type of top-grain leather.
Overall, top-grain leather comes from the hide’s outer layer. Here, the fibres are densely packed, which means that the leather is stronger and more durable. The best areas are closer to the spine where the animal’s skin was the tightest. As you move further out, the leather features more veins and blemishes.
However, even top-grain leather consists of three grades, which each have five subgrades of their own too. From this moment on, it can get quite confusing.
Nevertheless, remember that a hide will typically provide the leather for around seven pairs of shoes. To save money, factories will use a combination of different parts and their corresponding grades to maximise their costs.
Yet when buying premium leather shoes, you want them to be made from only the very best sections. Furthermore, you don’t want it to be a mix where lower-grades are used in unseen areas like the vamp.
Whilst this is hard to check when buying online, you can visually inspect the leather when you have it. Good-quality leather should be tight and free of any blemishes or wrinkles. Similarly, both shoes should be identical. If they’re not, the factory may have used different grades for each shoe.
Rubber is a popular material for shoe soles and whilst there are some of excellent quality, it can vary greatly. For instance, we love Dainite soles, which appear on most of Allen Edmonds’ shoes.
Their studded rubber soles have been made in the United Kingdom since 1894. They offer superior cushioning, hard-wearing durability as well as stylish designs.
However, leather soles are equally common for dress shoes. For some people, this is a desirable trait but rubber has been gaining traction over the years. The advantage of leather soles is that the natural materials breathes better for the feet.
Nevertheless, it tends to require more maintenance and it’s recommended to add rubber reinforcements as they can wear down quite quickly. Some brands offer leather soles with reinforced leather sections to make them last longer.
Finally, stacked leather heels are another desirabl