Monday, 14 September 2015

Sensible shoes for serious walking

My shoes are boring and I like them that way!

Last year, with vouchers to spend and no idea what to spend them on, I bought a pair of penny loafers. FOOTWEAR REVELATION! I've always veered between clumpy boots and ladylike-but-bland shoes. (I think a really distinctive pair of shoes would send the matchy-matchy part of me into panic trying to find things that would look right with them.) My penny loafers were still great for tramping around in, but rather less casual looking. I wore them so much, I wore them out.

With our trip to Paris coming up, I wasn't sure what to do about footwear. In Spain I tend to stick to ballet flats or my hiking boots, and in Burma I wore flipflops (it's polite to take your shoes off whenever you go inside anywhere, so anything other than flipflops is completely pointless). Why not another pair of penny loafers? I thought. A good-quality pair? So I raced around Bath one lunchtime and found lots of tasselled loafers but no pennies that I liked, and lots of ladybrogues but none that really fitted, and I feel so guilty about sending assistants back to get larger ones that after trying several pairs in various shops I gave it up as a bad job.

I ventured into the little Trowbridge branch of Clarks on Saturday to try on the brogues in a larger size, and what do you know, they had penny loafers too! My friend Lucy is a footwear merchandiser (for Ted and Muffy, not Clarks) so I know not all shops receive the same stock, but it really was amazing how much the stock differed between the Bath and Trowbridge branches of Clarks. The shelves in Trow seemed fuller, and the shoes more practical – I did wonder if, as a shop, that branch gets more parents in buying school shoes for teens, whereas Bath's branch is on the main shopping artery through the city centre and therefore needs to feature more heels displayed with more space so they look 'exclusive'.

Both the brogues and the penny loafers fitted, and Mr Robot said I should get both because I'd wear them and could do lots of walking in Paris in them. I went for basic black, but if one of the more dramatic colours came up in the sales (the brogues come in pewter!) I might be tempted to buy those too. No, they were not cheap, but I have failed to find shoes I like in charity shops, and find if I buy cheap new shoes, they don't wear half as well so I end up buying more in the long run. That's not a problem if you like varying your shoes lots, but for classic basic styles like these, I reckon it's worth the extra to get ones that last.

I need to break the blighters in; I wore the loafers without socks to walk into town on Sunday and have badly-blistered heels. A few evenings at home wearing them with socks should help stretch the rubbing areas and toughen up my heels. Now I've taken a more midcentury approach to my wardrobe, these styles actually fit in pretty well, and aren't as out of place as my hiking boots.

21 comments :

  1. Argh! I've still got the scars on my heels from the Clarks' loafers I wore to school in 1980! I can't get on with slip on shoes at all.
    Glad you've got the footwear sorted for Paris, not long now, is it? x

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    1. Saturday! So looking forward to it.

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  2. I tried on the brogues in black & white in Clarks and was very tempted. They really are a lovely pair of shoes and having them in plain black will mean they will go with everything, so good choice.

    I do love Clarks, they always have a good selection of shoes with a vintage vibe and I've got my eye on a pair of 20s style Mary Jane's at the moment. I've just got to save my pennies, not something I'm good at right now!

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    1. I was very impressed to see they still do shoes with matching bags. I'm sad like that!

      The wool has arrived, so Project Tank Top is GO!

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  3. Love the brogues and reckon that Mr Robot was right about buying both pairs. Clarks are really good quality and I reckon you're right about your shoe theory. I always buy Monkeychild's school shoes from there - she went for brogues too this year.

    I have to break a lot of my new shoes in too. I brought a pair of Hasbeen clog sandals last year and the leather was rigid; resulting in blistered and raw heels. That's put me off buying another pair!

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    1. I've been wearing the shoes at work - a bit of pottering and sitting my desk should wear them in a bit.

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  4. I agree completely with you here. I think good quality shoes are a must and Clarks are my weakness! I need a new pair of winter shoes and loafers are top of my list but Hotter have some fabulous forties styles at the moment!

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    1. Hotter are fab, though the last pair I got from them weren't as waterproof as they could have been, which was annoying. Their styles work well for 20s/30s looks too, I find.

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  5. That's great to hear! I have hard to fit feet at the best of times (it's not uncommon for me to try on 200+ pairs of shoes in order to find one that even half tolerable) and have yet to find a pair of loafers that worked for me. Goodness, do I want some though! They're so classic, practical and instantly evocative of the mid-twentieth century. I'm sure one will come my way some day - they're by no means the only shoe style I've waited eons to find a comfy pair of, so I won't give up on the hunt no matter how long it takes. :)

    Many hugs & happy last week of summer wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. 200+? Ay caramba! Do you get backup pairs when you find a style that works for you?

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  6. Great finds! I've always loved "boring" footwear. I totally agree that it's worth spending a bit more on good, practical shoes. I worked out the "per-wear" cost of some cheap boots vs my more expensive ones once, and the more expensive boots came out to be much cheaper on a per-wear basis!

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    1. Costs per wear is such a fascinating thing to work out, isn't it?

      The thing that really strikes me is how much better the soles and heels wear on the costlier ones; I had my Hush Puppy shoes done once in a year.

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  7. Clarks shoes have in my experience been worth the cost. For years (more than 25 anyway) I was a devotee of Bass penny loafers. I still have a couple pair, but they can't compete with the Clarks for appearance or comfort. I have no arches in my feet to speak of, so loafers will always be better walking shoes for me than trainers.

    Strangely, I've never owned a pair in black. Brown, oxblood, even pale blue-but no black. Now you've given me a task to hunt down a pair!

    I'm getting awfully excited about your trip to Paris.

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    1. Are you ready to go green with envy?...

      WE'RE GOING TO THE GUERLAIN RESTAURANT FOR OUR ANNIVERSARY DINNER.

      I will try to sneak a photo!

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  8. Mim,
    Best shoes for a long day - loafers. I'm wearing them a lot to work. As a matter of fact, they are on my feet right now. Since I run around alot (and I'm not the type of person to tolerate running in heels) the loafers are the best choice.

    Marija

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    1. I can't be doing with most heels nowadays. I swear the 'standard' high heel wasn't as high when I was younger! Stylish flats are great.

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  9. I find Clarks a bit hit and miss, but I think that is probably my feet rather than their shoes. I have some fab boots from there and have just replaced my patent brogues which I wore so much they split!

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  10. I do buy Clarks shoes too, though I often get them discounted off Ebay instead, or there's a Clarks outlet near where I live. I find them good value for money, and I wear and wear the more 'sensible' shoes I buy from them. I think you made good choices! I just checked out Ted and muffy as I hadn't heard of them, OH MY!! Now those are some shoes I could spend some cash on, they're gorgeous. I joined the mailing list. Possibly a mistake... xx

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  11. The Clarks outlet at Clarks village is lethal. I reckon that you're right and Clarks will put their Orla Kiely and more heeled/unusual stuff out in places like Bath, Cambridge, York and what have you, while Trowbridge probably has the more practical basics. I always find way better stuff in the sale in Trow than in the big cities.

    I only came round to brogues last year when I got a pair for £10 in a staff sample sale but they are completely amazing to wear all day!

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