Shoe Craft: Alden Lasts

The Alden Shoe Company was established in 1884 by Charles H. Alden. A major fixture in the once-thriving New England shoe and bootmaker industry, Alden is the only shoe manufacturer from that region still making all of their footwear in the USA. While other shoe companies have turned towards low cost labor available overseas in order to meet trendy consumer demands, Alden has thrived because of their commitment to quality, craftsmanship and tradition.

Today Alden shoes are known throughout the world for their superior quality and fit. One of the biggest factors in determining how a shoe fits is the form on which the shoe is made known as the last. Alden has been making all of their shoes on the same lasts for decades, and with good reason. For one, a last provides consistent fitting properties. Though a variety of patterns and styles can be constructed on the same last, they will all fit the same because they are crafted using the same form. This means that once you know your size in an Alden last you can expect the same fit every time. This consistency ultimately benefits the consumer when considered in comparison with other companies whose manufacturing standards can fluctuate and change, resulting in shoes with an inconsistent fit.

Each last also provides its own distinctive silhouette. The different toe and heel expressions that result from the unique contours of the individual lasts create recognizable stylistic accents. For instance, the Aberdeen last has an elegant slightly tapered toe shape that lends itself to a wide variety of designs including Alden’s Cap Toe Dress Shoes as well as their Tassel Moccasins and Full Strap Slip-Ons. The Van last on the other hand, is used for just about all of Alden’s Slip-On Leisure Mocassins because it’s fitting properties allow for a high wall around the shoe which can accommodate a full foot as well as a high vamp which helps a Slip-On to fit snugly and securely. All of the other classic lasts used by Alden including the Tremont, Barrie, Hampton, Plaza, and Copley have singular fitting properties as well.

When purchasing Alden shoes, the last is an important consideration for determining your size. If you’ve worn Alden shoes before, you can be assured that you will be the same size in all shoes built on a particular last. If you are a new Alden customer, we would encourage you to contact us and we can assist you in finding the right fit.


25 thoughts on “Shoe Craft: Alden Lasts”

  1. Hello,

    I am thinking of ordering aldens in hampton and tremont lasts. However I have only had aldens in trubalance last size 9.5 width e.

    Which sizes would you suggest I order for the hampton and tremont lasts?

    Thank you for your advice.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for your question! If you are a 9.5 E in Trubalance, we would recommend also trying a 9.5 E in both the Hampton and Tremont lasts.

      You are able to return Alden shoes ordered through us that do not fit for refund or exchange. For tips on trying on Alden shoes without damaging them, you can watch This Video.

      You can also find videos with information on the Hampton Last and more on our YouTube Channel !

      If you are ever in the Norwalk, CT area we would be happy to fit you in person, as well!

  2. Hello, I’m an 11.5 b/d on the Aberdeen last for the Norwegian Bluchers. Will Copley last flex welt Penny loafers be the same size?


    1. Hello Chris,
      Thank your for your inquiry.

      The Copley last fits slightly fuller, we would recommend the same 11.5 D for the Bluchers.

      Thank you

  3. Can you tell me which Alden last best fits a high instep? I wear size 11 E in AE but I have to strech the instep.

    I like the Alden straight tip and medallion tip Bal.

    Thanks for any information you can offer.

    1. Hi Garrett,

      Two Alden lasts that are ideal for high insteps are the Modified and Barrie Lasts.

      The Modified 558 is probably your best option in a straight tip for a high instep.

      The Alden Barrie last does not currently offer a cap toe or straight tip stock model, but all Alden models run more generous in the instep area than any Allen Edmonds. So, the 907 or the 908 models in an 11E should fit better than the AE versions.

      If you are in the Norwalk, CT area we would be happy to assist you with fitting Alden shoes in person. We understand that this is not always possible, so if you order through our site, you are able to return Alden shoes that do not fit for refund or exchange. For tips on trying on Alden shoes without damaging them, you can watch this video.

      You can also find videos with information on the Modified Last, Barrie Last, Hampton Last, and more on our YouTube Channel. If you have any additional questions you can always call our customer service team at 800-850-7463 Mon-Sat 9:30AM – 6PM EST. You can also e-mail your questions to

  4. I’m considering purchasing my first Aldens, and know nothing about the lasts. My shoe size is usually 7.5, with relatively wide foot and narrower heel. I also have fairly low arches. I’ve heard the Barrie might be a good fit, but would prefer a sleeker silhouette. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Joel!

      The best way to find the right last for you is to try Alden shoes on in-store and be fitted by a professional. Our brick and mortar store is located in Norwalk, CT and we’d be happy to help fit you any time. Here’s a bit of information to help you figure out where to start, based on the information you have provided and assuming you measure a size 7.5D on a Brannock device.

      Barrie Last – great for those with a wider forefoot, but it is quite voluminous. Some find the instep on the Barrie a bit high. We usually recommend going down either a 1/2 size in length or a full size in width from your Brannock size. You will probably want to try on a 7D on Barrie and work from there.
      Plaza Last – Chiseled toe, very elegant silhouette. The Plaza is probably a great option for you based on the information you provided, since it is sleeker than the Barrie last with a lower instep and a narrower heel. It runs a bit long for some, but we recommend going True To Size (TTS) in 7.5D and seeing if that works for you.
      Trubalance – Another voluminous last. You may find the heel a bit wide, but it works well for pronation and flat feet. The Thomas Heel found on the famous Indy boot provides additional support for low arches. Start with a 7D.
      Modified Last – Made for the Japanese market. Also great for a wider forefoot and narrow heel, but we would not recommend it for a low arch or flat feet. It is designed with a wedge at the instep designed to help support high arches. We suggest fitting a 1/2 size down on the Modified as well, so try a 7D (and only if you aren’t too worried about extra arch support).
      ​Hampton Last – ​Higher wall of the shoe allows for more room in the toe box. Many Cap Toe make-ups are on the Hampton Last, such as the 907 Calfskin Straight Tip. Runs TTS.
      Grant Last – A bit tighter fitting, and less generous than the Hampton last. The heel is not as narrow as that of the Plaza, but it is narrower than the heel on the Barrie or Trubalance. Runs TTS.

      Please keep in mind that fit depends not only on last, but also on pattern. If your heels are narrow, you will likely fit more easily in a lace-up shoe than in a loafer. Many factors go into the proper fit of an Alden shoe, so these are just recommendations–sometimes you will need to try on a few sizes before you get it right. We also recommend watching our YouTube videos on the different lasts and particularly the one on how to try Alden shoes on so that you can return or exchange them:

  5. I am interested in the Alden 986 loafer. I live in Kansas City where I can’t seem to find a store to try the loafer on. My brannock size is 8 1/2 C. Should I size down a half size? Also, I have a high arch will this shoe/last work for me?

    1. Hi Bret,

      The Alden 986 Leisure Handsewn in Shell Cordovan is made on the Van Last. Although it offers a generous fit, the Van Last runs true to size, so we would recommend trying your typical dress shoe size and width. The Alden Van Last is very accomodating and offers a generous fit in both the toe box and the heel. In most cases, the Alden LHS will accommodate a high arch or a high instep.

      The problem we see most often with the Van Last is when the customer has a narrow heel. Some heel slippage is normal with the Alden Leisure Handsewns until the sole breaks in, but if your heel is coming all the way up out of the heel cup, the shoes are likely too wide in the heel. This is something you should look out for when trying the shoes on. Please view our Alden shoe fitting video to see how to properly try on Alden shoes so that you can return or exchange them in case they do not fit.

      Our Customer Service Team is also available to answer questions about Alden Lasts and offer fit solutions Monday through Saturday from 9:30AM-6PM EST at 800.850.7463 or by e-mail at

    1. Hi Blase,

      We currently only have Alden shoes on the Modified last in stock in calfskin and Chromexcel leathers.
      You can see all the Alden shoes on the Modified Last here on our website.

      Thank you!

  6. I’m interested in the Alden Horsebit loafer and it’s listed as being on the “Classic Last.” I can’t find this last on a comparison chart anywhere. I own wingtips in the Barrie last – how does that compare and how should I size for these?

    1. Hi Peter,

      The Alden Cape Cod collection consists primarily of loafers that are handsewn on the Classic Last. These moccasin-constructed shoes fit true to size.

      The Alden Barrie last, however, does not fit true to size. We find that the Barrie last runs about 1/2 size long, meaning that most of our customers go down 1/2 size from their typical dress shoe size on the Barrie last.

      We recommend ordering your true men’s dress shoe size for the Alden Horsebit loafer and other shoes on the Alden Classic Last. For example, if you are a 9D on the Barrie last, you are most likely a 9.5D in other men’s dress shoes. If that is the case, we would recommend a size 9.5D on the Classic last.

  7. I noticed a lot of variation on sole types with the same model of shoe. Since Alden has no trouble changing it’s soles offered on the chukka boot or the Indy boot, would it be possible for a customer to order an Indy boot with cromexcel and a crepe sole? What is Alden’s stance on individual customer orders?

    1. Hi Rex,

      Thank you for your comment. Alden does not do individual custom orders. If you were looking for a variation of the Chromexcel Indy boot on a different sole, you can contact us and see if this is a style we have made before or are able to make in the future. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kazu,

      We recommend that most people go 1/2 size down for Modified. We also recommend that most people go 1/2 size down for Barrie. In this case, we would recommend the 9D for Barrie.

      The Modified last has a wide forefoot, narrow heel and “waist”. A wedge at the heel is designed to help support high arches. Extended inside counters for added support.

      The Barrie last is a voluminous last that is wide at heel and ball of foot. There is room to accommodate a relatively high or wide instep.

  8. Hi there,

    I like to purchase penny loafers in van last or tassel loafer in Aberdeen last. I measured my feet on the brannock and it’s a 9E.
    Could I seek your advise on the sizing for the van and Aberdeen last?
    Another thing is that I read from your recommendation, if I measured a 9E on brannock, I can down half a size to 8.5E on barrie last? Meaning a 9D on barrie last I could even fit in?
    Thank you for your kind patience, if you are reading my post.

    1. Hi Alvin,

      Each foot is unique, but the Aberdeen last is the most true last that Alden offers. It is a trim, well proportioned last with a slightly tapered toe and a soft drop-off. It runs a bit long to accommodate most feet with a neutral instep. We would recommend going true to your normal dress shoe size in the Aberdeen Last–in this case, 9E.

      The biggest issue we see with loafers is when the customer has a narrow heel and experiences a lot of heel slip. Some heel slip is normal during the break-in period, but if your heel is coming fully out of the heel cup, the shoes are likely too big. There are some options to remedy this, we recommend contacting our customer service team to find the best solution for you.

      Most of our customers go down 1/2 size in length from their typical dress shoe on the Barrie last. In your case, we would recommend the 8.5E. The Barrie last has plenty of volume–wide at both the heel and the ball of the foot. It also accommodates relatively high or wide insteps. It is within the realm of possibilities that you may be able to fit in a 9D Barrie Last, but we would not recommend this. Sizing down in width is not the same as sizing down in length and does not work for everyone. We cannot say for certain whether or not this would work for you without fitting you in person.

  9. I’m considering a Grant Last boot, but I’m a little concerned about sizing. My Brannock is a US 12 – more like an 11.75, but I wear a 12 in everything considered “true to size” so far. I’m a full D width.

    I own a number of pairs of Barrie shoes and boots, and they’re all outstanding at 11.5D. My Indy boots are 11.5D. I’ve been fitted for Hampton and Leydon at 11.5 E. In AE’s 5-last I’m mainly in E-widths as well. In the Alden for Brooks Brothers M58 last I’m also an 11.5D.

    Based on that, can you let me know what size and width you’d recommend for a Grant-last boot? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lee,

      The Grant last can be tricky. Most of our customers find this last True To Size, but some do size down 1/2 size.

      The Grant last has a sleek silhouette. It is not quite as accommodating as the Barrie, but it is roomy and great for thicker weight socks. In comparison, the Grant last is slightly tighter and less generous than the Hampton. The Leydon has a softer toe and narrower waist than the Grant. The Grant last will accommodate a neutral instep and a normal width heel.

      In this case, you will probably be best off trying the Grant last in a store. If this is not an option, you can try either your True Size or your Hampton/Leydon last size. Each foot is unique, so without fitting you in person the best we can recommend is for you to choose one of those based on the comparison information we have provided. You are always welcome to visit our store at 3 Berkeley Street in Norwalk, CT and we will be happy to fit you!

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