Lessons Learnt – Shoe Edition
In continuation of my last post, here are the lessons that I learnt from buying and using some good shoes in the past few years. These are my ‘field notes’ after years of buying bad shoes, and then learning to buy some quality ones.
1. LOVE vs LIKE
If you don’t LOVE those shoes on day 1, you won’t like them later on. So, wear the heck out of new shoes on the carpet at home for 14 days and return them if they don’t get comfortable or feel right for you! No one should suffer in bad or ill-fitting shoes.
2. Find the material that works for you.
Kid, Calf, Pebbled, Grained, Patent, Suede, Nubuck – for me it is Patent leather for every day shoes and Kid leather for boots. The weather in Arizona doesn’t provide much scope for OTK boots or Suede shoes. Also, Suede wears out much faster and needs more TLC. While the idea of sitting down to take care of my shoes is very romantic, I have limited time in my day. Though I admire the slow paced life, I have an extremely busy job. I work more than 12 to 13 hours on most days and ‘clean up’ is not my ‘de-stressing mechanism’. I am working on changing this. But for now, Patent Leather will do.
3. Find your ‘sweet
My really good friend who stays in NJ does a lot of walking during her commute. So Flats are her go to shoe style.
In my case, it’s between 1 and 2 inches for work. If I’m going to do rigorous walking during travel, Nike it is! I draw the line at 3 inches for event or party shoes. I’ll never be comfortable in anything more than 90mm. No Louboutins for me!
4. Weekend Shoes
As beautiful as they look, these really don’t go with my normal everyday work clothes
I have to remind myself that the weekend is only 2 days of the week and my wardrobe composition shouldn’t be skewed towards those 2 days. I’m neither a globe trotting fashionista nor do I have a job where showing creativity in my outfit matters. I don’t really need or want to show a great degree of variation in my shoes. One pair of ‘special occasion’ flats and one or two pairs of party pumps or sandals are enough for me. Find the number that works for you. If you love color, go for a couple of knock out pairs for the weekend and use the hell out of them. Please don’t baby them!
5. Take care and clean up
This is no brainer, but I thought I will call it out. Per my schedule, once in two weeks, I give all my Patents a dust off. I polish the non-patent ones that need a shine. I inspect the outer soles and insoles and try to clean them as much as I can. Please remember to rotate your shoes, if you can. Also, Archana did a wonderdul post about Shoe Maintenance on her blog. I recommend everyone to take a look.
6. Find a good Shoemaker / Cobbler.
I found mine and I trust him. For the amount he charged for repairing my Vara pumps, they look new and beautiful. He gave them the’Shoe Spa’ treatment. I see them lasting another year. If I let them go after an year, it will only be because I’m tired of them and would like to replace them.
Personal Style Lessons – Shoe Edition.
7. Stick with designers and brands that have exclusive shoe collections or are known as ‘shoe designers’. Their shoes are infinitely more comfortable.
My Ferragamo Vara pumps and Charlotte Olympia flats prove this point. Extremely comfortable. Beautiful craftsmanship. I see them lasting at least for the next 3 years. I’ve been wanting to add a pair of Manolo Blahniks pumps, hopefully by next year. I get mixed messages about Prada shoes. Some insist they are really comfortable, while others warn you against them!
8. Don’t fall for shoe trends.
Despite of this being a cardinal rule, it is a big lesson for me. Case in point: Ankle Strap shoes. They look hideous on me. They just cut off my already short legs at the worst spot, making me look more shorter. If a shoe trend is really not your style, don’t feel the pressure to wear them just because they are the ‘Summer Shoe Style every girl needs’. (Ankle Straps sandals. Wrap ups, Tie ups, RockStud cages, fur lined loafers – Save your money and if you really want to add a new trendy shoe, pick one that actually suits you!)
9. Don’t fall for all the Must-Have lists.
While it is important to ignore trends, it is also important to ignore ‘Must-Have‘ and ‘10 Basic classic shoes styles every woman should own’ lists! It would be a very sad day if I owned even 8 types of these shoes!
For instance, it is accepted universally that every woman should own a pair of wedges. I really don’t need wedge sandals for my lifestyle.I don’t like them much either.
I also don’t need strappy sandal heels for parties, as much as every fashion magazine and blogger keeps reminding that they are a must-have. I love the versatility of single sole pumps. They work well in board rooms and ballrooms. They make me feel confident and provide much needed support when compared to strappy, shiny sandals.
10. Every BEAUTIFUL shoe that fits need not be bought.
Shoes and Bags – These are the work horses of every women’s wardrobe. The major difference between a Work Horse and a Show Pony? – A Work Horse is known for its strength and productivity. A Show Pony is an absolute pleasure to watch prancing around. A Show Pony cannot be put to hard work. It is absolutely OK to have a couple of ‘Show Ponies’ for the special occasions and weekend. Sticking to this rule is very hard for me! I have a tendency to shop for the life that I don’t really have. Sometimes, I buy things like I am going out 3 times a week, and have at least 4 black tie events in a month! (Illusions of Grandeur anyone?!) I ADORE all those Satin silk pumps with embellishments.Some of them are pieces of art. But Alas, I don’t go to enough parties or events in an year to justify a shoe like MB Nadira. They would just ruin my finances.
11. Don’t be afraid to buy a gently used or a preowned pair
My Black Vara pumps were my best buy, not only among my shoes, but among all my sartorial purchases! I wish I could buy more shoes on Ebay. I don’t see any good quality shoes turning up on the pre-owned online market, in my size (34). But, if you wear a size 6 or 7, it might always help to look through ebay first for designer brands. I think many women, including me, own more pairs than they ever need or even want. Chances are that all these pretty shoes sitting in closets may just turn up on the internet for half the price!
I’d love to hear your ‘Shoe Wisdom’ acquired from buying and wearing shoes over the years. Also, what is your most used pair and why does it work so well for you? Do you have a cobbler?