Wednesday, June 22, 2011

old lady shoes

One of my summer staples has always been a pair of old lady shoes.  I've probably been wearing them for 20 years.  Some sort of white sandals with a small heel or wedge, open toed, no velcro, and a comfy brand.  I used to wear a brand called Penaljo which I think no longer exists (bought them from an old guy with a dusty old shop in the East Village, which almost certainly no longer exists).  Lately, I am very loyal to Propet.  Most of what they make is stuff I would never wear (old man velcro sneakers, for instance), but their old lady sandals are excellent.  They are a comfy brand, meaning well-made and wide, and consistent enough that I can order online and always get a perfect fit.

This is a shoe a mite dressier that my flat sandals, and since my every-day summer wardrobe is a shirt and top, or a dress, and sandals, it's nice to have a pair that's a click nicer.

So there's a shoe store near where I work that is promoting -- "granny sandals"!  They're displaying some German comfy brand I'm not familiar with.  But I guess my old lady sandals are finally in style.

This summer's other sandals:  last year's flat All Rounders (the cheaper line of Mephisto), and a new pair of Birkis (the cheaper line of Birkinstocks), which are lime green with a blue fan print.  The Birkis were a bit of overkill, but they were only $26 and they were so damn cute.

Shoes I never understood:  Dr. Scholl's sandals.  They looked cool, but felt miserable.  The contoured wooden sole was a good idea, but maybe not in wood.  The upper was so stiff that I got painful blisters each and every time I wore them. They never did "break in."  Plus I've never been comfortable wearing backless shoes.

Other shoes I didn't get:  Candee's.  Candees makes a lot of different stuff now, but in the late 70s, Candees meant one thing:  a shoe with a wooden sole and high heel, and a stiff upper.  No back.  Essentially, a Dr. Scholl's on painfully high heels, made worse by the wood and the stiff uppers.  I could not understand how anyone could walk in them.  I bought some and maybe attempted them a couple of times, because they looked really sexy.  But no more.

I guess what I can't understand is why anyone would wear shoes that were really uncomfortable.  There are plenty of other pieces of clothing that look good and are uncomfortable, but shoes are working clothing.  They actually have to do something.  You have to walk on them. and if they hurt, tough, because there's a good chance that you'll have to keep walking on them for an hour, two, more.  Even before I got diabetes and had to be very careful of my feet, I tended to have a small wardrobe of very good shoes, comfortable, usually something European and not cheap.  And some good sneakers.  I like to walk.  I walked for a good 45 minutes on Monday in one of my sandals, I can't remember which, and my feet were fine that day and the next.

This is not to say that I didn't try wearing a lot of fashionable shoes when I was younger.  The main problem is that most women's shoes that don't come in widths are a B, and I'm a D.  (Mmm...two days of reading about things I don't fit into, lucky you!)  I had a pair of the most adorable blue suede short boots that maybe I wore twice because they hurt too much.  Many cute shoes that were unwearable.

The good news is that most good European shoe brands are kind enough to make wider widths, and shoes you can walk in comfortably.  The best brands (Mephisto for sure) are insanely expensive; I'm not sure if they make that lesser line any more.  I've only bought their regular sandals on closeout.  I've always liked Birkinstocks most most of them don't have backstraps.  There used to be a lot more styles with them.  Basically, the cheaper lines have the same footbed and sole, but less fancy uppers.  The All-Rounders do have velcro on the uppers, but you really can't see it.  The difference with the Birkis is that the uppers are artificial, not leather, but they have a lot more styles with backstraps, plus some really wild colors and prints.  Mine are lime green with a pattern of blue fan. 

But the best thing about the good Euro lines is that a size 38 always fits me perfectly.  Their sizes are pretty uniform.  American sizes tend to be difficult; sometimes a 7-1/2 wide fits well, sometimes not.

Am I really writing shit about shoes and lipstick?  How the fuck did I get so girly at 52?

1 comment:

  1. I can certainly get why you're writing about shoes. I've been called a shoe whore in my day. But unlike you I had a mad love affair with cheap high heels. I LOVED my Candees. Yes, they were Barbie Doll shoes but I adored them. I wore them everywhere. I walked all over the city in them. They were the only really high heel shoe that I could do that in. They were magical.

    Now, my diabetic feet supporting too much bodyweight, cringe at the idea of Candees. In the summer, I pretty much exclusively wear Birkenstock knock-offs. I thought I had found a good substitute in a pair of Sketchers, but a few weeks in had me with the beginnings of Plantar Fascitis, and I realized that their just isn't enough arch support for me. Heartbreaking.

    As for backless shoes, another place where you and I differ. I love the backless, thongs, sandals, clogs. The freedom to slip on and off at will coupled with the ability to show off one's handknit socks (clogs) make backless de rigeur .

    Otherwise it's sneakers. Or the occasional high heel wedge mule (if I'm going to be doing neither standing nor walking).

    My biggest regret as I age is that my feet aren't up to the shoe excesses of my youth.