Getting and spending: Shopping spring shoes

I happened upon an interview with the model Amyline Valade, who mentioned that she wore, when not working, a white Van's slip-on, "the only shoe that reflects my spirit".

The minimalist in me (fully 80%) purred. So simple, so clean. Now that women can wear the same casual shoes with anything from a swishy dress to shorts, it's never been easier to pare down a shoe collection. 

So why don't we? I offer myself as an example. Before moving to a small condo, I had crates of shoes and the biggest box (you could stow an armchair it) was labelled "Shoes Not Worn Much".  Shoes are art, fetish objects, trophies, confidence-boosters. The right pair can affect your mood; a pair of pert sandals practically dictates "We'e having fun!"

All of the Not Worn Much box was donated or given away, but I have never since seen such a pert pair of  flower-printed slingbacks.

I'm reluctant to offer my current shoe recommendations, though, because many women in the Passage contend with feet that require specialty sizes, orthotics, or enhanced support. Keep the Van's Principle in mind and look for a versatile pair; a shoe that works for only one outfit no longer makes sense.

Spring is an invitation to go through the racks, taking those that need care to your cobbler and trying on those you wore last spring, because feet can change in even five or six months. Extra angel points for polishing the ones you'll donate.

Dated, so divest

It's a heartbreaker to own a pair of pricey shoes that suddenly are demodé, but these styles have seen their best days. 

Left: The bowed, low-heel pump can hurt to part with, especially if one shelled out nearly $500 for Ferragamos. I sometimes see these on teenagers who nicked them from their elders, worn against type with cropped jeans—but if in the Passage, they look a bit bug-in-amber.

Top right: The fussy, applique'd or printed sneaker. once marketed as a "fun" shoe.

Bottom right: Stupid-expensive logo'd shoes. Now on sale at Rue La La for $CDN 637... need I say more?

Stepping into spring

So the donate bag is full, and you want fewer pairs in the closet. Below, examples of the kind of shoe to look for now.

Left: Hipper low heel 

This shoe dresses up, yet looks relaxed: Coclico low-heeled pump with three-colour wood heel: unexpected, modern, distinctive.

If devoted to Ferragamo, the Viva bow is the updated version of the classic:

Top right: Chicer sneaker

If you want a supportive sneaker with colour, choose a solid, such as  Ecco's Biom 2 sneaker in "Sherbert": tart, versatile and I trust Ecco quality. This is an especially supportive shoe with some style. Available in racy Neon Phlox and a juicy Hibiscus, too.

Bottom right: Courtship 

A crisp white tennis shoe with no one's name scrawled across it (though Roger Federer helped design it): The Roger Center Court sneaker by On, a Swiss brand with an under-the-radar cachet and solid tech features. 

The upper is synthetic leather, easier to keep clean than than canvas.

You may have a specific brand that your feet love, so think about these design trends when shopping there.

The knits: What do you think?

Stretchy, mesh-knit textile uppers are everywhere, and if you can wear them, useful for accommodating width differences caused by anatomy or  bunions, because of the give across the toe box—but getting a pair with enough arch support can be a challenge.

These are PureGem "Stretchy Slip-On Mesh Orthopedic Bunion Corrector Sneakers"—not only a mouthful but rather suspicious claim because while shoes like this can accommodate bunions, no shoe can ''correct' them. My friend Jan, who has sizeable bunions, wears only these stretchy shoes. I would like to know what you think.

And then I fall into a shoe thrall

Let's not leave behind the emotional, even transcendent, nature of a shoe that makes your heart sing every time you look down. (But let's also make sure they fit.) 

After one hell of a winter, this spring my heart yearns for something in purple, whether an ethereal lavender or a saturated royal.

These flats are called the "Valencia", in ultraviolet; price, $CDN 190. They're from a beautiful shoe store in my neighbourhood, called McGuire

I am not in the market for these Bottega Veneta "Madame" pumpsbut they show exactly why a woman can lose her mind and drop $1, 400. 

Girotti offer the capacity to design your own shoe combinations; your pair is handcrafted to order and delivered in a week or two. These Modern Ankle Boots are $US 200. If you've shopped there, tell us what you chose!

Maybe this is why we end up with boxes stuffed on shelves, because shoes are not just 'things'. I have done my clean-out, but now, at the end of salt-crusted winter boots, I'm longing to treat my feet as more than just trusty, trudging appendages.


Jane M. said…
I have a pair of knit stretch Dr. Schools slip-on and they are very comfortable. I was concerned at first about how the shoe was going to support my feet (wide with bunions) but they do the job very well. They are mesh with an open weave so very cool for summer wear. Wish I could find something comparable for fall.
Jane M. said…
P.S. I meant Dr. Scholl's.
Jane said…
We have gone from leather shoes to vinyl to nylon mesh to fabric. What's next? Wearing plastic bags on our feet? I refuse to purchase shoes that say man-made on the label.
Jane in London said…
Oh, how I loved the Ferragamos that I had in the 90s. The new version, though lovely, would not work for my feet, wardrobe or budget these days, sadly.

I adore those purple boots - a real shot in the arm of colour. I now operate a zero-tolerance policy in relation to anything that gives me sore feet, so those knit mesh things interest me strangely ;)...

I find that many (otherwise unsupportive) items of footwear can be magically improved by the addition of a partial orthotic. I often use the Orthaheel Triplanar Motion Control regular insert, although those with more complex foot problems should probably seek advice before wearing an insert.

Jane in London

Duchesse said…
All you Janes! I see that one Jane's meat is another Jane's poison.

While man-made uppers usually make my feet sweat and do not conform to their shoe, some material such as cotton (espadrilles) and mesh are comfortable. I too use a non-custom orthotic on the advice of a podiatrist, and it works well to add extra heel support. And I agree complex foot problems need expert advice, which may include custom orthotics.
I much prefer the pretty but practical Valencias to the torture shoes that cost almost 10x as much!

As for knit stretch shoes, there is a good brand from Portugal, but I forget the name.
spacegeek33 said…
Ah shoes... j'adore! However, I've been working from my dining room for over a year now, and expect to be here until at least August. I wear my slippers all day, and change into workout sneakers or flat waterproof barn boots depending upon my going-out purpose. I got rid of all of my heels over 2.5" because they hurt now and seem silly! But your introduction to Girotti has caused me to lose 30 minutes browsing already and I'm extraordinarily tempted. Change the heel height? Yes, please! The fabric and colors--oooh my. Wow what fun. I may have to pull this trigger...
Leslie M said…
My recent mesh shoe find that I can recommend:
BZees have arch support (it fits my arch perfectly, but I don’t think it can use an orthotic) and come in wide widths. I have two pair of the Charlie’s in black and brown, but the new rose color is pleasing for spring, no? I’m not crazy about all of the styles, but these seem generic enough to work with jeans and slacks without being frumpy.

I bought one pair for outside and use one as a house shoe and they hold up well.
Tom said…
Re Lagatta:Portugal--arcopedico shoes and boots. I wore the washable L19 boots (not mesh, but synthetic of some kind) all through Europe a few years ago!

Last time I flew--March 10, 2020, believe it or not--probably 90% of the passengers were wearing mesh shoes.

Leslie M said…
Sold out here in most sizes, but might search elsewhere if a girl’s gotta have ‘em.
Duchesse said…
LeslieM: Thanks for the reminder about bzees, which have another big plus, they're washable!

e: They makes sense for travel. I pack similar, not mesh but a kind of neoprene, as a second pair. After tromping around all day a fresh pair of shoes feels good.

Spacegeek33: There are a few other of those 'design your shoe' sites but Giroti looks especially juicy,

lagatta: That's a shoe store that has decent shoes that are not wildly costly like the one in the Old Port whose name I've forgotten. But they do not have many pairs in my size (10).
Ocd said…
Hmmm, no shoe can correct bunions? Perhaps wearing NO shoes for about 14 months can help. :)
Bunions if I understand are the inward curve of the big toe caused by shoes too narrow? I had somewhat mild curves & they have almost straigtened themselves out. My neuroma is much less painful. Bizarrely, my wide feet have somehow gotten narrower.
I do not look forward to the return of the shoe.
Ocd said…
Jane, I refuse to purchase leather. Something for all of us, finally.
royleen said…
Thank you for the Girotti site, looks promising!
Mardel said…
I can see the temptation of the Valencias, and the purple boots as well. I would want to buy them but I am not certain I would actually end up wearing them. Increasingly I think sneakers, boots, or sandals like Birkenstocks or Mephisto Helens go with everything. Or at least I can walk and go where I want when I wear them and still feel like I haven't completely fallen off the style boat. I still have a pair of the traditional Ferragamo Vara pumps, and wear them occasionally as I find them comfortable, the only heels I still own. The new Vivas are pretty but the more pointy toe does not suit me and I am not willing to compromise. I would never wear the little bow pumps with anything too "ladylike" or dressy lest I be confused for some long lost southern matron mourning the past. The exception would be if I am visiting my 91 year old aunt for lunch at her club, in which case I go all southern grande dame, simply because it makes her happy. But that is not real life. IRL the Varas go with baggy jeans, carpenter pants, or chinos.
Duchesse said…
ocd: Here's a good article about the cause of bunions and how to take care of them from Harvard Medical School's health newsletter.
Certain shoes alleviate the pain of a bunion by reducing pressure on the joint, but no shoe "corrects" one. The more I read that copy, I wonder if it is an inaccurate use of English by a non-native speaker.

Mardel: I think of bowed Ferragamos as exemplars of grande dame style. The look you describe is the "worn against type" I had in mind seeing teenagers wearing them with cropped jeans or shorts. I am touched that you dress for your aunt, to make her happy. Purple, BTW, is a fabulous neutral ;)
VeraL said…
Bunions are basically hereditary and not helped by having 95% of shoes being manufactured in only one width. It takes 3 widths to fit 90% of the population and only 40% of people actually fit in the standard one offered. I buy most of my "lady" shoes, dress boots and loafers from Caroline Macaron in France. She makes classic non orthopedic shoes that are made to fit bunions and not look clunky. They are also the only shoes that I know will fit perfectly right out of the box. I have 15 pairs including three pairs of loafers in different colours, and her sizing is 100% consistent.
DeborahM said…
I was interested in the fun, stretchy shoes you posted here so ordered them only to receive notice that they are shipping from China (I am in Canada). I am disturbed since I try not to buy things that need to be shipped all over the world to satisfy my whims nor do I buy where profit is more important than employee well-being (no Amazon for me). I have found some great things stemming from some of your other posts, like Kojima Pearl and Veronique Miljkovitch. I am disappointed in myself that I didn't check this out more thoroughly before ordering. I just did a look at a review of the company and found this link:

Fingers crossed that since your friend wears these shoes, I will get mine and they will be wearable!
Duchesse said…
Deborah M: I too prefer to buy Canadian or (unless ridiculously overpriced) American. If you can find a Canadian manufacturer of these knit, stretchy shoes, I'd be grateful if you let me know. Even makers of leather shoes and boots are hard to find in Canada. (One is Paul Brodie.)

Here is a list of shoes and boots made in USA. Note some brands make some models there but import others:

Since covid, anything coming directly from China can take •months• now, not weeks.

I should have been clearer when I wrote that Jan wears "only these stretchy knit shoes". More accurately Jan wears only this type of shoe. Jan also bought Bzees at The Bay but they are also made in China.

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