Does anyone have suggestions on nicer dress shoes? I'm liking me some Church's. If they're good enough for James Bond, etc, etc.
If you want to spend some money, I highly recommend Prada's classic leather oxfords. No fussing around here, just excellent Italian craftsmanship. $650, but I have been wearing them for over 2 years and they were comfortable from day one, no break-in needed, and I haven't needed to re-sole them or anything.
osiris gave a great start in his initial response here.
I can vouch for Edward Green, Crockett and Jones and Church's all being great shoes, no personal experience with the others mentioned. You really should to go to their shops to find out what last your foot goes with before going down that road though.
I think Allen Edmonds are the best made factory shoe available. Not the most expensive - just the best made. Their shankless and fully welted design alone puts them above anyone else, IMO. I sold men's shoes in college and promised myself that one day when I felt like I could afford it, I buy them for myself.
I just picked these up last week:
Heading back to the store for these this afternoon after work:
i have a pair of walnut AE McAllisters that are basically your quintessential wingtip brogue:
as others have said, AE shoes are really good value-for-money.
if you're looking to spend a bit more on well-known brands, look at Loake, Church's, or Crockett & Jones
of course, there are tons of boutique shoemakers out there that will make you a shoe of incredible quality at comparable prices to the high-end designers. you just have to find them
Maybe not the best pictures, but here is some inspiration, for good or bad. Some dress shoes that I have collected over the last 4-5 years. A well-made shoe will last many years; I have a rubber liner applied to the leather sole at my local shoe guy (cobbler is so out of style).
To be honest, I am not fond of the rounded toe look. However, the Allen Edmonds that people post in this thread look quite appealing.
The black shoe in the following picture is from 2003 or 2004. I don't wear it too often since it's a bit tight on my foot.
These are cheaper alternatives from DSW. In the 60 to 100 range:
I haven't heard about the decline in quality, but I also haven't purchased a new pair of dress shoes in years
Following OG's lead, here is some more for inspiration/guidance. Mix of things in here from Johnston & Murphy to Church's to Edward Green.
For some backup to the earlier statements recommending to stay away from Prada/etc, the two pairs on the bottom row at the far right are both Prada. I stopped bothering to use trees in them after four years of ownership because they just didn't hold up well to time. The two pairs of shoes on the far left of the bottom row and the far right in the top row were purchased before the Pradas were and at this point have been worn just as much.
Look for a shoe made of full grain leather, not corrected grain.