About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the heating and manufacturing industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, raw denim, and working on on his
dad bod father figure.
Dearly beloved Dappered readers, we are gathered here today to mourn the loss of business formal clothing. As a close friend of these dress shoes, I have the honor to speak to you today today on behalf of all of us who have been working from home since mid-March. They were great shoes, tremendous style … wait, what’s that? Business clothing isn’t dead? You’re telling me that I can still wear my suits, sport coats, and fancy dress shoes for other things? Well, why didn’t you tell me that earlier?!
A little bit classic, a little bit Euro.
Spier & Mackay is a Dappered favorite because they offer up some incredible deals on well-made clothing and shoes, including these new Goodyear welted cap toe Balmoral (Oxford) shoes. This Canadian brand has been around the block a few times and are regulars on our Most Wanted and Best Of lists year after year. And these? These are from their recently released 2020 line of Goodyear welted dress shoes. Read on to find out how these oxfords stack up against other brands.
The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)
- 5 – Excellent! No issues and highly recommended.
- 4 – Good. Above average, but not perfect.
- 3 – Average. Minor issues, might be good at the right price.
- 2 – Fair. Below average due to defects, flaws, or imperfections.
- 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price.
Plain box. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
- Brand: Spier & Mackay
- Style: Cap Toe Balmoral (Oxford)
- Size: 10.5 US (43.5 EU)
- Last: N/A
- Construction: 270° Goodyear Welt
- Upper: Full grain box calf leather from Weinheimer (Germany)
- Sole: Open channel leather sole with a nailed leather and rubber combo heel
- Details: Blind eyelets, vegetable tanned leather insole, and cork filled midsole
- Extras: One shoe bag and a plastic shoehorn
- Country of Origin: Portugal
- Price: $248 USD
A deeply hued vegetable tanned German calf leather.
My S&M Balmorals were ordered on a Wednesday and arrived almost two weeks later. UPDATE: Whoops… Missed something here. These were a pre-order. So, normal orders won’t take two weeks. According to the timetable checked with Spier, when they arrived at the warehouse, they shipped out a few days later, and arrived a few days after that. Not bad! Spier states on their website to allow for an additional 7-10 business days for processing, due to a reduced workforce, so our delivery time is in line with their estimate.
FYI: Spier & Mackay offers a simple 30-day return policy for all regular priced items in good condition. If it’s your first pair of shoes or sport coat/suit, the return or exchange is totally free. Note that only USA and Canada orders are eligible for the free returns and exchanges.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Easy ordering and a decent return policy.
5 (pairs of) eyelets makes for a higher vamp.
My pair arrived in a clean, simply branded recycled cardboard box. It’s not the most magnificent unboxing experience or anything, but it’s serviceable. There was a lonely cotton flax-looking shoe bag slightly large enough for both shoes, but there were no spare laces to discover. I do like the plastic tortoise shell-looking shoehorn that they include, though.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Throw in some spare laces and another shoe bag, guys!
No packaging bells and whistles with this pair.
At first glance, and every subsequent one, these Oxfords are just simply gorgeous. Spier’s designers really nailed the simple elegance of a sleek cap toe Balmoral shoe. One interesting note is that these are a five-eyelet design whereas our American counterparts typically have six. The “shortage” of eyes on this model brings the vamp up a little higher, which I think gives the shoe a bit more style. The German calf leather is crisp with no noticeable marks, poor graining, or discoloration. Speaking of color, this shade of dark brown is perfect for that business suit, formal leaning sport coat and trousers, or upscale outfit for a night on the town. Up close you can see that it’s a warm reddish brown, but from far away, the color is so deeply saturated that it can almost look black or dark burgundy. There’s even a subtle bit of burnishing on the toe cap. All in all, the shoes look great and I see no issues with materials or construction.
A simple and sleek design with European influence.
On the inside, you’ll find a full calf leather lining, a thick vegetable tanned insole, and a lovely little leather heel pad that has some cushioning foam underneath. Both of my leather insoles have some neat graining patterns on them, but it’s all visual and you shouldn’t feel a thing under foot. You should notice the cork filled cavity underneath the footbed as it breaks in and molds to your foot. One thing you will also notice (and appreciate) is that the tongue is tacked to one side of the upper with a small tab of leather. This helps keep the tongue from slipping around or sliding down to one side. I think this shows a nice attention to detail.
Full leather soles and a combo heel.
The bottom side looks great, too, with full leather soles and a combination leather and rubber heel topper. The soles have been ever-so-slightly shaped to give them the hint of a beveled waist, although it’s not really that noticeable. The Goodyear welt stitching is neatly done by machine and sits cleanly in an open channel running 270° along the perimeter. The heel stack is nailed into the shoe with ten copper nails. Edge and welt finishing are done in black to give these Oxfords a formal aesthetic.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Great! Well made from above average materials and construction at this price point.
Neat stitching for a clean look.
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
Like I always say, comfort is very subjective. Out of the box, these Oxfords are pretty stiff, and I’d need a few days of carpet wear before feeling comfortable enough to start wearing them into the office. Once the upper leather starts to soften up and your foot starts to mold to the thick leather insole, these should start to feel great.
Spier & Mackay recommends taking your normal Brannock size in their Oxfords and I agree. My pair in a 10.5D (43.5 EU) feel about right in terms of length and width. After lacing them up, the facings put some noticeable pressure on my instep, but that should go away as the shoes break in with time. The top of the “V” created by the lacing is barely wider than a finger’s width, which is how it should look (at least that’s what I’ve always been told). The toe box is fairly roomy, and the heel is snug enough so that there’s no heel slip.
For reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in most dress shoes, including Alden’s Barrie last and Grant Stone’s Leo last. I take a 10.5 E in Allen Edmonds 65 last, as that last runs too narrow for me. I also take a 10.5 in Vans and an 11 in most Adidas or Nike sneakers.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Stiff at first, will need some break in time.
Your Brannock size is best for these shoes.
If you’re in the market for a pair of stylish Oxfords to pair with your suits and formal-leaning sport coats, then you should definitely check out Spier & Mackay’s version of the Park Avenue. The higher vamp and 5-eyelet closure give this pair a subtle European flair while the choice German calf leather and Goodyear welt construction bring high quality components and construction to a price point that’s hard to beat.
Avg. Score: 4/5 Stars – Spier & Mackay continue to offer excellent dress shoes at a great price point.