Sensible shoes for serious walking
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.