About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the HVAC and hydronics industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, raw denim, and working on his
dad bod father figure.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a pair of decent looking dress shoes from Nordstrom’s in-house menswear brand. For my first big boy job out of college, I purchased a pair of their Calibrate punch cap toe Oxfords and wore them into the ground for almost two years. After the leather started flaking off and the rubber sole turned into a hockey puck, that’s when I started researching and learning about different types of leather, construction methods, etc. and I haven’t turned back since. With that said, there’s certainly a place in the market for budget dress shoes like these. Nordstrom says these are “handsome, polished, and easy to wear.” I couldn’t agree more!
“Handsome, polished, and easy to wear.”
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.
- Brand: Nordstrom
- Style: Cap Toe Oxford
- Size: 10.5M (43.5 EU)
- Last: N/A
- Construction: Glued
- Upper: Polished Top Grain Cowhide
- Sole: Molded Rubber
- Details: Hidden metal eyelets
- Extras: N/A
- Country of Origin: China
- Price: $100
Simple shape. Simple cap toe. True oxford lacing.
My Dane Oxfords were ordered via Nordstrom.com on a Wednesday in late September 2021 and they arrived over a week later on the first of October. This pair was shipped via FedEx Home Delivery, which might be why it took longer than normal. Most UPS and FedEx Ground shipments take just a few business days. This may be something to keep in mind if you’re purchasing your pair of Oxfords for an important interview, wedding, or other event.
FYI: Nordstrom has the industry’s best return policy, in my opinion. There’s no set timetable for returns or exchanges and everything is on a case by case basis in order to best take care of their customers. As long as you don’t abuse it, Nordstrom will take care of your issues. I truly believe this is a major reason why they remain one of the last brick and mortar department stores who can withstand the retail apocalypse. Customer service above all else.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Delivery was a bit slow, but could be worse. Return policy is the GOAT.
A svelte, subtle chisel-tip toe.
This pair arrived in a corrugated black cardboard box with a simple, embossed Nordstrom logo on the lid. Inside, the shoes were wrapped in a single sheet of tissue paper and were stuffed with a bit of construction paper to maintain shape while in transit. While this unboxing experience is less than stellar, we have to remember that these are going to set you back barely $100 USD, delivered to your door! I can’t complain too much here at this price point.
Score: 3/5 Stars – Average at best, but you’re not paying for extras either. It’s fine.
Fresh out of the box, I’m struck with how svelte they look. As someone that wears a lot of heavy welted boots and shoes, it’s nice to see something that was designed to be tapered, elegant, and lightweight. The plain cap toe design is simple and effective, pairing very well with all sorts of formal and semi-formal styles – full business suits, “cocktail attire” casual suits, or even a sport coat and jeans provided that you’re elevating those items with a nicer sport shirt. The cap toe design ends with a subtle chisel tip, dipping down towards the ground. Nice!
Thinner, top grain leather with some burnishing for depth.
The upper is made from calf or cowhide, but at this price point, it’s not a top tier hide. You can see that the overall thickness of each layer is around ~1.0-1.5mm, noticeably thinner than the leather used on pairs from Allen Edmonds or Grant Stone. The surface is fairly smooth and flat, which leads me to think this is a slightly corrected top grain leather. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it allows for an even surface for dye and polish. Speaking of shoe dye, there’s some darker burnishing at the toe, heel, and around each seam. There’s not a ton of depth and luster with this leather, but it is absolutely serviceable.
Note that because the leather is a bit thinner and the tannery dye job isn’t as thorough, any scratches will be visible. Unlike an oil-stuffed leather like Horween’s Chromexcel, you’ll need to actively work to keep these shoes in good condition and cover any scratches with color matched walnut shoe dye or pigmented polish. I mention this because, right out of the box, there’s a scuff on the right shoe down the vamp. It wouldn’t buff out with a dry horsehair brush and a speck of neutral conditioner didn’t help either. Keep these away from concrete curbs!
Cemented construction, which is certainly expected at this price point.
Looking inside, these Dane Oxfords are half-lined in leather from the midfoot backwards towards the heel. The front half is lined in a fabric. I’m not a huge fan of fabric linings in dress shoes; you tend to wear them all day at work and that funky foot sweat will cling to the fabric. The rear leather lining looks to be calf or cowhide, so that’s a plus. The facings have hidden metal eyelets through which round, waxed brown laces are threaded. These laces are actually nicer than the shoe’s price would lead you to believe. From what I can see, the Ortholite insole is made up with a layer of black leather glued to a ~5mm layer of open cell foam. The insole unit is then glued to a hard layer underneath. Without ripping apart the shoe, it’s hard to tell what exactly is under there, but it feels like a layer of fiberboard. Seeing as how these are cemented and not welted, this makes a lot of sense. All in all, the foam insole will be instantly comfortable and may last a while with a proper shoe rotation. If you’re planning on wearing these Oxfords all day every day, the foam insoles tend to break down after a year or so. As long as you plan ahead for that, you’ll be alright.
Subtle ribbed traction soles. Fairly soft though. Could wear quickly?
The outsole is a one-piece molded rubber unit with a subtle ribbed pattern on the forefoot and heel topper for your pleasure for some much needed grip texture. This sole unit is very squishy! The midfoot section is molded in a contrasting color that looks like leather; you’ll fake a lot of people (from a distance) with these. The outsole is fairly soft, so I do foresee this piece wearing out faster than leather or a harder rubber sole from Vibram, Meramec, etc.
Score: 3/5 Stars – They look great, but the components are budget focused.
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
In terms of fit and sizing, I recommend trying your true-to-size Brannock measurement. I tried this pair in my usual 10.5 and they fit slightly long and narrow, but not so narrow that I’d need a wider width. I do notice a bit of pressure on the top of my foot/instep, but that’s normal for me with a lot of dress shoes right out of the box. Given some time, the insole will sink in a bit and the leather will stretch out a touch. I could see these being ready to go pretty quick.
Note: If you regularly purchase wide width dress shoes, you’re out of luck here. Nordstrom only offers the Dane model in a “medium” D width at the moment.
Foam insoles will be instantly comfortable and may last a while with a proper shoe rotation.
Comfort is always subjective, but the initial comfort is pretty good. The Ortholite foam insole is essentially a giant pillow and the rubber outsole is like a foam mattress. You’ll be walking on marshmallows… at least for the foreseeable short term. Not bad!
For size reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in most roomy 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 Converse/Vans and an 11 in most Adidas/Nike/Jordan/Yeezy sneakers. Have a size question? Email us!
Score: 4/5 Stars – Sizing is true to size and they feel comfortable… for now.
A solid option for the guy on a tight budget or short on time.
The Dane Oxfords from Nordstrom’s in-house line up are perfect for a few different people: a growing teenager or young adult, a person who’s working with a tight budget, or a person who needs a pair of dress shoes in a pinch and doesn’t plan on wearing them all too often. If any of those describe you or the person you’re buying for, then you should definitely check them out.
While the overall quality is slightly better than some fast fashion brands (Old Navy, J.Crew Factory, etc.), they are a noticeable step down from some direct-to-consumer brands like Jack Erwin, Beckett Simonen, and Grant Stone. Granted, all of those brands cost more, too. If you’re looking for a pair that’ll last you for years to come, save up and spend a bit more to get more. You really do get what you pay for, and that’s especially true for dress shoes under $400 USD.
Avg. Score: 3.5/5 Stars – For those on a tight budget or short on time, check these out!