Thursday, October 1, 2009
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 Hermés, 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."