Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sensible Shoes

You saw right. In the mainline fashion sector this subject is anathema (meaning unsexy, unhip, unspeakable) but let's get real for a moment.

You can't move freely in fashionable heels if you need to cover any sort of distance on a non-carpeted surface.

So this entry is devoted to that most retro of subjects, a shoe you can spend a day walking in, comfortably, without blisters, sore arches, strained back, or other grumpy-making side effects. The kind of shoe that is casual, but stylishly so, and doesn't default into the most obvious alternatives, which for me rules out ballet flats, trainers/sneaks, and Uggs (all of which also fall short to one degree or another in weather-resistance, elegance, and/or durability).

So what's left? Possibly brogues. Impeccable comfort, handsome, but let's be honest, kind of mannish. You could play against this by pairing them with matching-color knee-high socks and a skirt, but only if you're coltish (filly-ish?). Plus you have to tie them, which, insanely, can be a dealbreaker, at least for me, when rushing around choosing which pair of shoes to wear out the door.

Tods-style driving mocs are also very nice, but the leather is too soft, and the soles too nubby to support a day's walking, which is what we're talking about here.

So that's leaves loafers. Uncool (unless worn by Alexa Chung for about ten minutes last year) but the right ones might get you thinking otherwise.

Tasselled, penny-slotted or plain-top is a matter of preference. No matter what the sort, loafers in general seem more easily found, in excellent shape, secondhand than on the high street or at the mall. Certain old-school manufacturers did them brilliantly, and are worth seeking out by name: like Etienne Aigner (my new/old ones above, eBay $17), Joan & David (main line, not Circa), of course Gucci and Herm├ęs, and Ralph Lauren. "Made in Italy" in the description is a good tip-off that the quality will be high.

Shop carefully, and you could find a brilliant lightly-worn or unworn pair for a fraction of their actual value. And the worth?

How about appreciating, unreservedly, Henry David Thoreau's observation that "Heaven is under our feet, as well as over our heads."


  1. Love your curiously colourful 'sensible' shoes!

  2. Haha they do look fairly bonkers blue here . . . they're actually more subdued navy. Great with jeans . . . thanks for the comment!

  3. Hey Christa...
    Great subject as usual :-).
    I had a really bad Naomi Campbell-esque accident in Italy 2 years ago and completely tore my lateral ligaments after a fall while walking on 5 inch platforms on a cobbled street. Ouch! Plus the humilation! I was in a Monsoon dress walking with other wedding guests.
    That means I can only wear sensible shoes. So thank you!
    I will take pics of my shoe tree at home and will post on my blog :-)

  4. Five Inchers! Yowza. Will check that tree out! Thanks, Milla.

  5. I like those shoes, too. Very Connecticut.

  6. But not *too* Connecticut, right? Think I'm safe as long as I don't wear them with sensible trousers.

  7. I personally love penny loafers, just look at any picture of Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly wearing them. So stylish!