Over the years I have learnt that some shoes make me pay an extra price for wearing them. That price translates into painful toes, painful back, painful legs, burning strap marks. Some shoes I could have sworn were comfortable, let me down badly when I took them along on trips abroad. Walking short distances at home was totally different from walking longer distances when out all day touring a city somewhere abroad. I've had beautiful red leather shoes that didn't enjoy the rain in Paris and became a shameful pair of miserable sodden dismalities that had to be thrown away. I've also had beautiful black leather boots, very expensive ones at that, that riddled my feet with pain after walking round Paris (yes it was twice in Paris) and I ended up with toes that spelt trouble for many months after that one episode. Both experiences taught me to always take two pairs of shoes in my luggage when travelling abroad.
So..... I've become extra wary about what I buy. I look at the heel, its height, its structure. I try on, walk around, test the feeling, check to see if my foot is cramped, if the shoe is loose fitting.... if it is comfortable all round. I don't sacrifice my feet's happiness and bliss in favour of fashion but.... I want my shoes to be fashionable, lovely and made well.
Meaning, that when I scout around looking for good shoes, I shy away from 'Made in China' plastic simulant leather that spells trouble. And I realise, more often than not, that good shoes, comfortable shoes, real leather shoes that are constructed well, are not that easy to find. When I do find them, some heels are way too high, some are way too flat, some are way too narrow and I suppose I am rather fickle about it all.
But would you blame me? Synthetic materials keep my feet cold in winter, make them sweat in summer. Synthetic materials usually do not last long and many shoes made with plastified leather start falling apart after a while. I would like to have real leather on my feet, but which shoes are real leather or at least mostly real leather? Comfortable shoes made of real leather are more often boring in style, old-lady-like and un-exciting. Do we have to sacrifice style for comfort?
Another issue about new shoes is how to care for them. Do you notice that you buy even one simple cotton vest and it has washing and care directions attached to it? What about shoes? They rarely have any care and cleaning directions attached do they? We are supposed to know how to clean leather, suede, fabric, plastic or whatever else the shoe is made of, whatever its colour, whatever its finish. When two or three different materials are used in combination, the cleaning solution is usually fraught with risks of destruction. This is especially true of trainers - some people will throw them in the washing machine, others will just sponge them clean, and the less adventurous ones will just let them be until they become so filthy they only deserve to be thrown out. Is there a safe way out?
I hope that somewhere out there, shoe manufacturers read this blog and so, I invite you, reader, to write back, send in a comment and tell them what you think about this shoe dilemma business.....