Let’s Talk About Shoes

When did shoes become the enemy? My friends and I are always bitching about shoes. They are expensive (particularly in NZ), uncomfortable, and hard to find in our sizes. I whirled into my shoe-repair place this morning, thrifted spangled heels in hand, saying “I brought you more crazy shoes!” to see that somebody else had brought the crazy before me. A set of hot orange-and-pink suede platforms with six-inch heels were in the shoe stretching machine. A friend of mine, getting rid of boots from the ’90s, observed that normal heel heights have reached for the sky.

The result is women getting defensive about wearable shoes, with the increasingly-discussed concept of eight-hour shoes versus limo heels, and writers saying things like I love fashion, as long as I don’t actually have to wear it. Because beautiful shoes hurt. Many women my age still default to Dr. Marten’s.

IMHO the point of shoes is not to be beautiful in and of themselves, but to enhance the wearer’s beauty. And if you can’t move, you aren’t attractive. I like to be able to move in shoes, and I like to wear my shoes forever (the shoes I have on today are 4 years old; the oldest pair in my wardrobe has been there for 24 years). I like a 2-to-2-and-a-half inch heel,  leather and wedges. In temperate to chilly Wellington I get more wear out of closed toe shoes.* Often my everyday shoes are black leather, which is nearly invisible, and they are polished and resoled. I’ve been getting good feedback on breaking out of black leather – leopard haircalf, taupe with studs, cognac, just plain red – so I’m diversifying, slowly, as the budget allows.

As a mental palate cleanser, I recommend the blog Barking Dogs, which reviews mostly-US shoes that have comfort as a priority. Also, have a look at Korkers in Nelson handmade sandals – affordable for custom-made, their leather range includes the primary and jewel colors that are having a Moment. Ask them about contrast leather trim, which they used to do.

For polished shoes and sandals, my eye keeps getting caught by Overland, and it turns out the more expensive shoe store Mi Piaci is their corporate sister. Mi Piaci’s sale is on now, and their website has a sale section. After exploring the Mi Piaci sale, I am pleased to bring you some recommendations for fashion-forward shoes. These aren’t just shoes that look pretty in Etherweb la-la land. I have TRIED THEM ON & am personally vouching for their comfort.

Shoes that don't hurt your feet!

Mi Piaci sale shoes that are comfortable & still available in a range of sizes : top row, Tiga; middle row, Tempest; lower row, Adam and Blackton. Tempest and Blackton are also available in a plain black.

I wound up trying the top and middle row shoes on twice, once with jeans and once with a dress. They turned out to be good all-rounders. Tempest in orange is on layaway for me – the orange is a bit more yellow in person, very wearable compared to the acid-orange tones we are seeing everywhere for spring. Tempest in the zebra stripe would go with all the vivid spring/summer colors out there, and transition beautifully into fall. But the little strap on the Tiga made it even more comfortable and easy to wear, and that toast shade would also offset the vivids of the season. A very difficult decision! The chunky heel on Tiga and Tempest is similar to the heel on the expensive designer Celine shoes for Winter 2012. So this shoe on sale in NZ is like a new release shoe overseas. Also: COMFORTABLE.

A word about Ziera, the-NZ-shoe-brand-formerly-known-as-Kumfs. Despite their attractive, comfortable, and often retro-flavored shoes this season, I am still recovering from a really bad customer service experience there. And if I’m going to pay their $200+ prices I could go to an independent boutique like I Love Paris, or go back and get more great service from Mi Piaci.

If you’ve found any good accessible shoes lately, let me know in the comments?

*I even prefer closed toe shoes for emceeing costumes – more protection against whatever’s on a bar floor, and easier to wear tights with them.