Allen Edmonds has been handcrafting footwear in America since 1922, building themselves into a company with heritage that’s known for their classic men’s shoes and boots made with timeless American style.
This in-depth Allen Edmonds boots review features the popular Dalton in the dark chocolate colorway. I’ll cover the brand’s background, style & design, quality & craftsmanship, comfort & durability, how it’s held up over 5 years, similar boot styles, answer a few frequently asked questions, shoe sizing & prices, room for improvement, wrap up with the pros & cons and whether or not they’re worth your money.
Whew, it’s a lot to get through, so let’s get started!
Allen Edmonds Boot Review
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About Allen Edmonds
Allen Edmonds was founded in 1922 by Elbert W. Allen in Belgium, Wisconsin. They are an American upscale shoe manufacturing and retail company now based in Port Washington, Wisconsin.
From humble roots as a “new kind of shoe company,” crafting fashionable, durable shoes, they can be viewed as a success story not just in the world of menswear, but among all American born companies.
They’ve proven themselves as a resilient company, surviving the Great Depression, a World War and a factory fire. Today Allen Edmonds operates some 436 stores in the United States, but enough about that, you’re here for the Dalton boot review.
So let’s jump in, starting with the the style & design.
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Style & Design
If you want to play it safe with your shoe or boot game, it’s hard to go wrong with Allen Edmonds. They offer classic styles and silhouettes with that Americana flair. On the boots side of things, they’ve got everything from your trusty chukkas or chelseas to standard cap-toe boots, brogues and weatherproof hikers and combat boots.
You can opt for pairs with more refined leather soles or a sturdier, more rugged and thick lug sole. They’ve also got varying shades of leather colors from brown to black and burgundy to chili and leather types from full-grain leather, cordovan to rich suede.
The pair in this review is the popular wingtip dress boot, otherwise known as the AE Dalton in the dark brown colorway (the most versatile leather shoe or boot color if you ask me).
Allen Edmonds Dalton Boot Design
The Allen Edmonds Dalton is undeniably a dress boot at the core, but it does have some combat boot elements from the high rise (it’s a good 7″ in height”) to the slick silhouette. Throw on a rugged lug sole and they could be mistaken for combat boots.
I opted for the Dalton boot in the dark chocolate colorway, the most versatile out of all the colors IMHO. You can literally wear this color with any other color in your closet. It’s dark brown all throughout with exception to the interior leather which is an orange, fiery red color. This color extends to the pull tab on the back which is a bit odd, but does give it a contrasting element.
The Dalton design is a full brogue also known as a wingtip for the sartorially inclined. A wingtip is the distinctive curved toe at the front of the shoe. In addition to brogue perforations along the upper, the boots feature a medallion on the toe cap. Safe to say that wingtips are a stylish man’s stalwart that’s deserving of a spot in every man’s closet. Ideally you would have two pairs in your closet, but for boots a pair in dark brown is all you really need.
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How To Style The Dalton Boot
And now the styling portion of this review. If you couldn’t care less how you can go about styling the Dalton dress boots then you can skip ahead, but why wouldn’t you want to see some fresh fits rocking these stylish boots?
The Dalton Wingtip Boot is a dress boot through and through and so where it truly shines is with more elevated outfits. Here are 4 versatile ways that I styled my Daltons in dark chocolate.
1. Refined with a Suit
A worsted wool navy suit and dark brown dress boots are a match made in sartorial heaven. They’re both sleek options that complement each other, neither drawing attention away from the other. You’ll want to ensure a properly fitting suit (consult a tailor if you must). In the wintertime, I like to throw the suit jacket over a refined turtleneck sweater and finish the look off with a wool topcoat and leather driving gloves. Well-balanced, muted and still stylish.
2. Elevated with a Peacoat and Tie
Here is a solid winter look that’s elevated as ever. You simply can’t go wrong with a double breasted wool peacoat in winter. Pair that with dress trousers and bold tie and you’ve got a refined look that makes a splash in the best of ways. I love how the Dalton boots help to ground the look, creating a sensible balance between the beige dress shirt and pink tie.
3. Classic with a Blazer and Odd Trousers
This is probably my favorite of the 4 outfits. This fit is both trendy and timeless at the same time. The slim, lightweight royal blue blazer is paired with a crisp linen button up and tailored wool trousers with a clean taper towards the ankle. The brown/navy striped tie and silk pocket square add elegant accents. All in all, the wingtip dress boots are right at home with this look.
4. Casually with a Fitted Coat and Slim Jeans
While the previous 3 outfits were on the dressier end of the spectrum, this fit takes it down a few notches in formality. Instead of dress pants, I’m wearing slim jeans to dress the boots down. I threw on a fitted performance coat, “fitted” being key here. Anything with a tailored aesthetic is always a great match with dressier footwear. I finished off the look with a trendy ball cap and maskarf. Tread lightly with accessories like these, but it still works IMO.
Now that we’ve gone over style & design, let’s get into the boot’s quality & craftsmanship.
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Allen Edmonds Quality & Craftsmanship
There’s no doubt that Allen Edmonds has offered high-quality, timeless shoes and boots for many decades now, but in recent years, it’s come into question as to whether or not they are truly made in the USA. We’ll get into that in a bit.
According to them, all AE shoes undergo a methodical process that involves 212 different steps, changing hands with 24 different people. Their 360º Goodyear Bench Welt is used to construct most of their shoes and boots which makes for sturdier and more comfortable footwear, that’s able to be recrafted time and time again.
Their shoes and boots are handcrafted in Port Washington, Wisconsin and so it’s crafted in America, but with imported materials which means that the boots and shoes aren’t technically “Made in USA.” As far as I know, they haven’t been using that designation for the past decade or so.
While that’s a blow to what was once known as an American made shoe brand, they still work with the world’s top tanneries to source the materials for their footwear, whether it’s full-grain European calfskin, supple suede from C.F. Stead in England or shell cordovan from Chicago’s Horween®.
AE Dalton Quality & Craftsmanship
The Daltons are crafted with a 360º Bench Welt construction, also known as a Goodyear welt which is arguably the gold standard when it comes to high-quality shoe and boot construction. You’ll also find many high-quality shoes with Blake stitch or rapid blake stitched soles like the boots from Taft or Paul Evans for example. The GYW is a sturdy construction method that allows for easy recrafting when the soles ultimately wear down.
In addition to the Bench Welt construction, all AE shoes including the Dalton are made with their proprietary CustomCork™ insole which aids in a more comfortable step. The insoles are actually solid, but the cork does mold to your feet over time, making for a custom and more comfortable fit the longer you wear the boots. This is a feature of AE footwear that I love as my AE Fifth Avenues and AE Strands have both molded to my feet over the years and are really comfortable now.
The pair that I have is leather soled with a rubber heel, it’s not the best option for wet weather because if you’ve never worn leather soles in the rain, (don’t, you’ll likely bust your butt) you’d better be ready for some slip and slide action. Thankfully AE allows you to customize the sole for an additional $40.
Your current options are as follows:
- V-Tread Tap Sole
- Red Dainite Sole
- Blue Dainite Sole
- Olive Dainite Sole
- Chestnut Dainite Sole
- Extralight Rubber Lug Sole
Quality Control Check
The quality control of my AE Daltons was pretty good. The full-grain calfskin leather is clean and there were no loose threads or problem areas with exception to one spot. The right boot’s tongue isn’t aligned properly and so the tongue is shifted slightly to the side. It’s not a big deal, but something I’ve noticed since the left boot doesn’t have this issue.
Other than this though, the boots are solidly built and from the top down and clearly made with a high attention to detail and care.
Dalton Boot Details
- Lace-up derby dress boots
- Wingtip boot with brogue perforations and medallion
- Classic Fit, fits true to size
- 360º Bench Welt construction for durability and stability
- Reinforced pull tab
- CustomCork™ insole forms a custom fit
- Butyl double leather sole
- Built on the welted 511 Last
- Calfskin upper with orange leather lining
- Thin, round waxed laces w/ small metal eyelets
Moving on to comfort & durability of the boots.
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Comfort & Durability
The Dalton comes in a classic fit, otherwise known as standard fit, I’d say that the standard is more narrow than it is wide based on my experience with other boot brands like Thursday, Wolverine and Oliver Cabell for example.
Right out of the box, the boots need lots of wear to break in. The leather is sturdy, though still soft, particularly the interior glove leather. Overall, they still fit a little tight on my feet. I could have benefitted from choosing the slightly wider E fit instead of the standard D. Thankfully all Allen Edmonds shoes and boots come with 10 varying widths in addition to the myriad of boot fits, including half sizes.
As for the outsole, the Daltons with the leather sole isn’t exactly winter-ready or rain-shower ready for that matter since the leather tends to slip and slide on wet surfaces. Although AE does offer a weatherproof version of the Dalton with a Dainite rubber sole (the option I should’ve gone for since it stands up to the elements without sacrificing style).
Breaking In the Boots
Not only does the Dalton look like a pair of refined dress boots, but they wear as one too. As mentioned before, the leather is stiffer than other pairs I own and so it takes a little while to break them in.
One issue that I have with these boots is how high up my calves they go, it’s a good 7″. I understand they’re dress boots and it’s a stylistic trait of dress boots, but when I’m driving, the boots restrict my foot’s movement and ability to press the gas and brake pedal which makes driving quite uncomfortable, which is why I never drive wearing my AE Daltons.
And so you’ll want to be ready for dozens of wears before they feel at home in your rotation.
With comfort & durability covered, let’s jump into how they’ve held up over the past 4 years.
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How They’ve Held Up Over 4 Years
Keep in mind that since they’re dress boots, they aren’t my most worn pair of boots year-round. I mostly wear them in the fall and winter and typically with dressier smart casual and suited up outfits.
I’d say I’ve worn the boots a few dozen times over the course of the past 4 years and they’ve been holding up strong. It goes to show the quality build of Allen Edmonds shoes. There’s barely any creasing on the leather. The Goodyear welt construction is ultra-sturdy and well-made and so I’ve had no problems with the wood breaking down or sole splits like I encountered with my Thursday Boots.
All in all, my AE Dalton’s are as well-built is holding up as well as I could’ve imagined for a nearly $500 boot. The leather still squeaks when I walk and is something I don’t believe will ever go away.
Now that you know how they’ve worn in over 4 years, let’s get on with shoe sizing and price.
Allen Edmonds Boot Sizing & Price
Allen Edmonds knows that not all shoes fit the same on your feet and so they set out to take the guesswork out of finding the right size for you with their True Fit® 3-step model.
- Step 1: You share other brands you wear and how they fit.
- Step 2: Based on the information they suggest the exact size and width to get for max comfort.
- Step 3: You can then explore various styles based on your True Fit.
For the Daltons, AE offers a myriad of sizes from 5 all the way to 16, including half sizes. They also offer a wide selection of widths from 4A, AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, E, EE, and EEE width to fit the oddest of foot sizes and shapes. The pair that I own is my standard size of 7.5 and is a D width. For the most part they fit me well, although, the slightly wider E would probably fit better.
Allen Edmonds frequently runs sales and new markdowns in addition to the popular factory seconds shoes and boots where you can find shoes up to half-off or sometimes more. Essentially “Factory Seconds” are footwear that after inspection are found to have blemishes or defects and thus sold at a reduced cost.
Currently the AE Dalton Wingtip Dress Boots with leather or rubber soles run for $475 retail and can be found marked down up to 40% during popular sales throughout the year from the Anniversary Sale to Rediscover America Sale and Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals.
Furthermore, the Factory 2nd Dalton Weatherproof Boots with Dainite Rubber Sole can be had for nearly $200 at $299.97 currently. And finally, the more premium Dalton Shell Cordovan Dress Boots come in at a costly $725.
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It’s a competitive industry, now let’s discuss some similar dress boots to the AE Dalton.
Similar Dress Boots to the AE Daltons
Competition is fierce out there with DTC companies and other legacy footwear brands with over a hundred years of American heritage making waves in the industry. This begs the question, how many other brands produce similar boots to Allen Edmonds?
The Taft Mack Boot
Taft is an up and coming direct to consumer shoe and boot brand that was founded by Kory and Mallory Stevens in 2013. It’s hard to top AE Dalton’s sleekness, but I’d say that the Taft Mack Boot rivals the Dalton in terms of sleek and stylish build.
Like the AE Dalton, the Mack Boot comes in wingtip design with only 2 color options to choose from currently, burnt honey and olive suede. There’s not quite as many sizes to choose from and there are no wider widths.
Instead of a GYW, these full brogue boots are outfitted with a blake construction that’s resoleable, made with full-grain Vachetta leather. They come with the standard Taft leather soles with the split leather, rubber heel and mountain rubber inserts for grip.
There’s also a convenient pull tab like the Dalton, but instead of standard eyelets, there are 3 speed hooks along the top of the boots to make lacing up even easier. The laces are thin round, waxed laces just like the Dalton. The Mack Boot comes in at a entry-level $295.
The Thursday Boot Wingtip
Like Taft, Thursday is another boot and shoe company making waves in the DTC market. I own 3 pairs of Thursday Boots and have a long-term review of them and so I can speak to the pros and cons of the brand. In terms of quality, my Thursday Captains, President and Dukes have held up really well over 5 years.
Thursday offers a wingtip boot that is very similar to the Dalton. They carry 3 colors of a burnished mid-brown, black and dark oak which closely resembles dark chocolate of my AE Daltons. Like Allen Edmonds they offer sizes 6-16 including half sizes and have wider sizes in some of their boots (not the wingtip though).
The Dark Oak color has both smooth leather and pebbled leather and is fully lined with glove leather interior like Allen Edmonds boots. The Thursday Wingtip boot is also constructed with a Goodyear welt and has durable studded rubber outsoles. The Thursday Wingtip comes in at an entry-level $235.
The Idrese Micah Boot
Idrese is another DTC shoe and boot brand, similar to Taft and Thursday offering slightly more premium quality. I own their Micah Wingtip Boot and it’s actually quite similar to Taft’s Mack Boot in terms of style and design with the full brogue, thin waxed laces, pull tab, 4 bottom eyelets and 3 top speed hooks.
The Micah comes in standard D or wide EE widths and colors of dark brown or black. Just like the AE Dalton, it’s constructed with a 360º Goodyear welt, and features a Dainite lugged sole that’s British made. The boots are also built a cork & metal shank for comfort and support. It’s a superbly made piece of footwear that’s stylish to boot, just like the Daltons, coming in at $450. While it’s not cheap, it rivals Allen Edmonds in terms of quality leather and build.
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Are Allen Edmonds Made in USA?
While Allen Edmonds used to be 100% made in the USA, they can no longer claim that title since their materials are often imported materials. They can say that their shoes and boots are Crafted in USA, but not Made in USA, a situation many other formerly 100% American made brands have encountered. It’s my belief that this is done to increase the bottom line since it costs a lot to manufacture 100% in America.
Are Allen Edmonds Goodyear Welted?
Yes, all Allen Edmonds shoes and boots are made with 360º Bench Welt, Goodyear welted construction for durability and stability. Often the gold standard for high-quality footwear construction, the GYW is sturdier and more substantial of a build than that of a sleeker blake stitch. The Goodyear welt allows for all AE shoes to be easily recraftable when the soles have worn down.
Are Allen Edmonds Factory Seconds Worth It?
It depends who you ask, but if you want to take the chance to save 50% off your purchase, it could be worthwhile. Based on what others are saying in online forums, the cosmetic issues are often very miniscule. That’s up for you to decide if a scratch here or a wonky stitch there is acceptable for the discount you’ll be getting.
It’s worth noting that there is a $25 restocking fee per pair for any Factory 2nd return, which is a small price to pay for the savings that you get and the potential for a more than likely high-quality, well-built pair of shoes with cosmetic issues.
In my opinion, if you’re on a budget and want to save a few hundred, go for it—shoes will inevitably get scuffed up over time anyway. And you can always return it if the defects are unacceptable.
After answering some commonly asked questions, let’s talk about areas for improvement.
Areas for Improvement
Upon close inspection of the boots, the stitching isn’t perfect, but not a real area of concern. What’s more concerning is the loud squeaking noises that the boots make while simply walking in them.
I Googled this and it doesn’t seem to be a defect and many others experience the same thing. It’s most likely the leather rubbing against leather that’s causing this. It’s strange because this is the only pair of boots I own that do this and I have well over a dozen pairs.
I also don’t like that the boots are uncomfortable to wear while driving. They’re a good 7″ in height from bottom of the heel to top of the boots. Since the leather is relatively sturdy, it makes driving more difficult that it should be. I don’t recommend anyone to wear these boots if you’ll be driving long distances.
Other than this though, everything is gravy.
Now let’s wrap up with some pros & cons and whether or not Allen Edmonds is worth your money.
AE Dalton Pros & Cons
- Dalton boots are undeniably stylish and refined
- Classic, timeless styles and designs
- High-quality build that holds up well over the years
- Has a vast selection of men’s shoes and boots
- Many colors and sizes available to suit every man
- Legacy brand with heritage, the name alone is a sign of quality
- Many brick and mortar locations with knowledgeable sales staff to try on the shoes in person
- Dalton boots are not the most comfortable boots I’ve worn
- No longer fully Made in USA
- Prices are going up, up, up
- Complaints regarding quality not being as good as it used to
Is Allen Edmonds Worth It?
Coming in at sub $500 retail, I’d say that the Allen Edmonds Dalton is at the mid-level price range. From its high-quality leather, Goodyear welt construction and stylish design and build, there’s a lot to love about these boots.
At the same time, it’s not my favorite boot to wear due to the discomfort while driving in particular and the squeaking of the leather can get annoying after a while.
In the end, if you are looking for a well-built and stylish pair of dress boots, the AE Dalton is exemplary in many areas when it comes to what makes a quality dress boot. I recommend them, but not at retail, wait for the Anniversary sale to get them 40% off or pick up a pair of factory 2nds or even eBay for a great value.
Onto you—what are your thoughts on the AE Daltons?
Let’s continue the discussion over in the Gentlemen Within Private Facebook Community.
Looking forward to seeing you in there.
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