Monday, January 21, 2013

Trifecta: Shoes.

Some people are Shoe People the way I'm a Handbag Person. Don't get me wrong, I love shoes, but they aren't something I generally hoard. (Boots are a slightly different story.) Mostly because I am super picky and have sensitive feet. And expensive taste. Also, I'm hard on shoes, like, really hard. But, I still have a lot to say on the topic, so please read on:

Buy what you like, not what you wish you liked.

By this I mean, sure, I'd love to wear a hot pair of sky high stilettos but oh my God I would fall on my ass immediately. I remedy this by wearing heels that are chunkier and styles that stay on my foot. Something like this is a nice crossroads between style and function. Just because other dummies are teetering around on 6" platform heels does not mean you have to as well. Know your limits and don't buy something that you know is too high (or low or whatever) because even if you love the look, you won't end up wearing them.

I will break you.

Buy the pair that's exactly right.

If there is a pair of shoes that is YOUR HEART but are more expensive than what you'd normally spend, consider saving for them or stalking them for a sale. I have been wearing the same few pairs of Chie Mihara for several years because they are EXACTLY RIGHT. Trust your instincts. If you see something that looks exactly right in ever way(perfect color/style, fits your lifestyle, fits your wardrobe, fits your foot) make it happen. One pair of Perfect Shoes = four pairs of Just Okay shoes. Less is better if what you have is exactly right. And if you're lucky the Exactly Right pair won't be expensive.

The pair that got away. 
No size goggles.

So, you've found that pair of OMG PERFECT glitter patent t-straps and They are ON SALE! IN A HALF SIZE SMALLER THAN YOU WEAR! SHIT!  Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it. That kind of pain isn't worth it and they will not stretch out. I also hate when I try on a pair of shoes that are too big and the salesperson is all, "You can put inserts in!" Yeah, the last time I heard this was at Cole Haan and I'm sorry, if I'm going to spend that much on a pair of shoes or boots they better damn fit perfectly.

Boots are worth spending more on.

I can't say this enough. Cheap boots are just not the same. I really think it's worth it to save up for a better quality pair of boots that fit you well. And fit is important! If you can only buy one pair, really spend some time finding a pair that fits well, especially if you have large or very small calves. My calves are usually too small for a lot of popular brands but I've had luck with KORS Michael Kors, Camper and certain styles of Frye.

Sandals are not.

My favorite pair of sandals came from Walmart. The shame, it is deep. But, they were cute and eventually they self destructed but I sure got my $8 worth. I am hard on sandals and they're usually gross by the end of the summer anyway, so if they're not agony, go cheap.

Take care of your shit. 

I regularly take my shoes and boots to my trusted shoe guy to get re-heeled and polished up. It's the reason I've been wearing the same pair of Camper boots for four years. If you've taken my advice and bought decent quality shoes you really like, take care of them and they'll last a really long time.

How not to be a hoarder.

Now, I had a comment on the intro to this series asking how to adore shoes without owning a ton. I don't know if that is a question I can answer because if you're a shoe person, you'll find an empty niche that needs filling. However, if I had to get strict, this would be my bare minimum shoe wardrobe:

- basic black flats
- cute low heels
- Interesting high heels
- ankle boots
- tall black dress boots
- tall black or brown casual boots
- flat metallic/neutral sandals
- high heeled (or wedge) sandals in black or neutral color
- comfortable-but-stylish sneakers

That is my boring bare minimum. For fun add:

- animal print flats
- brightly colored heels 
- cognac boots
- clog boots (or some other interesting boot)
- brightly colored flat sandals
- brightly colored high heeled sandals
- metallic or funky high heeled sandals

(I'm leaving out things like gym sneakers and rain boots. You can figure that out for yourself.)

And, here are my personal two favorite pairs:

My Chie Mihara red mary janes. When I first spotted them online it was true love and I stalked and stalked and stalked them until they went on sale. They ended up being a Christmas gift from my mother that year, because she understands the joy in a pair of red shoes.

My other favorite is obviously my Camper boots. These were a blind eBay purchase and have just been a workhorse for me. They fit great, have a walk-able low heel, but are still dressy enough for work.

I hope this hasn't all been too obvious. Now, please tell me your shoe rules, assuming you have any.


  1. Any tips for how to know if an item is worth the money? I know that Chies are really good shoes, but so many shoes are $200 or more and not really worth it - not well made, not well constructed. Other than just copying the brands you buy is there some trick to cutting through the marketing?

    1. Carly, other than seeing them in person, I think the best way to find out about quality is online reviews on sites like Zappos. When the quality is bad, people will definitely post about it.

  2. What a timely post. I just bought a pair of boots yesterday with size goggles despite my strict rule about only buying shoes that fit properly.

    I am a total shoe person and my shoe needs are never filled. Just when I think they are, I find something else I need. For example, now I need a pair of red mary janes after seeing this post.

    1. Yep, you do. Red mary janes are pretty much a basic.

  3. What a great post!
    I just took about 20 pairs to Rumors to sell and they didn't want any of them and I just left them there in disgust for them to donate.
    Why 20 pairs? Because I'm an idiot and I break the shoe rules all the freakin time.
    I did have professional stretching work recently but only by width at the toe box, not length, and they're leather boots so they stretched pretty easily.

    If I had all the money back I've wasted, I could have 2 pairs of Frye flats and I'd never need another pair of shoes again for the rest of my life. (lies but, you know)

  4. This post is hurting me because I have stalked that pair of black Madewell pumps for at least the last two months, finally tried them on in the store this weekend, and I am pretty sure they are just too high for me. They are so cute, but I don't think I can walk in them at all. I am really sad about it. (If this posts twice, please feel free to delete.)

  5. I just learned my lesson about buying what's exactly right. I needed new winter boots and even though I wanted Sorels, which are pretty much the best winter boots you can buy, I thought they were too expensive, so I bought a cheaper brand and they were total crap. I managed to find the Sorels I loved on sale, so that's good, but I still wasted my money on the other pair. I should have just bought the Sorels in the first place. This is the kind of shoe drama you have when you live in stupid frozen Canada.

  6. Definitely, buying shoes you wish you could wear is a waste of money and closet space, and if they don't fit, they are going to hurt. We;ve all been there and wished we weren't.

    Almost all my shoes are black, red, or silvery. Those are my neutrals.
    I also love having a little stable of flats for summer so I can switch them around and not have to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row, which I don't love doing. Leather needs time to air out and breathe!

  7. I've learned my lesson the hard way about buying with size (or price) goggles.

    My biggest weakness is sandals. They are my feet's favorite footwear, so I have an unreasonable number of pairs in every type of style and color.