A new spin on the dowdy old Aussie UGG (sheepskin) boot - a decidedly Caucasian geisha by Ed Hardy
Oh woe is me.
The signs of ageing are happening at both poles - I'm plucking out the first strands of gray hair, and ... carting the nth pair of perfectly good shoes to the Salvation Army.
Yep, my feet have slowly but surely spreading over the years, from a petite size 5 at age 17 to almost a 7 (!) at age 47. Does gravity really suck that bad?
Now in my younger years I'd be rejoicing - what a perfectly legitimate excuse to follow in Imelda Marcos' stiletto-steps. I challenge all but the most die hard Tomboys to deny they had a personal warehouse of both silly and sane shoes between age 20 and 40.
Lately, I'm just disgruntled because it means having to replace perfectly good shoes that seemed to fit two years ago with new ones - just so I can walk more than a block without ending up hammer-toed.
But it's not all bad. I've come to genuinely believe that shoes are the single most important item in your wardrobe. Unlike clothes, they have to fit very well, because all your weight is distributed over them. Your arches and ankles are like the basement parking lot of a skyscraper - holding the whole thing up on stilts. If you're unhappy way down there, the rot will rise to the top.
With this in mind I dropped off 6 pairs of my most treasured shoes at the local Salvation Army. These included my beloved Harley Davidson boots, size 5 1/2, that I bought in London in 1997 and did most of my early travels in them. There was an extremely versatile pair of size 6 DKNY Gestapo boots (that's not the model name but it's what I call them) I bought only two years ago and wore everywhere but in the shower (yes, I even slept in them once). Plus some terrifically quirky other shoes I'd been hoarding for 20 years. The one thing in common - they were all now too small!
I then headed to DSW, a very large discount shoe store in Union Square, New York City.
Now I've been shoe shopping in Singapore, Japan, and Italy and beyond. I, and seems like many other women I talk to, concur - there is nothing like New York for shoe shopping - for both price and selection. Wandering around Rome, it was like all the interesting stuff had been exported somewhere else, and everything was $200 Euro. Imagine a price in NYC, replace the $ sign with the Euro sign, and leave the number part intact. That's what it costs to be in Europe. In Japan, someone bailed me up while on my bicycle and asked about my DKNY boots. They claimed they could not get the same subtle styling and quality, in Japan. This I find hard to believe, but there do seem to be a lot of buttons'n'bows on basically everything in Japan ...
DSW, which stands for "Designer Shoe Warehouse" is a virtual shoe-nami of shoes. The aisles of shelves are arranged in the longest rows you have ever seen, but no higher than chest height, with the shoes perched on top. This enables you to stand at the door and survey the entire sea of footwear in a single glance. You can then head straight for the boots, the sneakers, or whatever you're looking for. From a merchandising point of view, I think it's brilliant. It's as if the company realizes that people don't actually want to spend time shoe shopping, they just want to land on the right shoe for the right price - the faster the better - then get out of there, and get a life (wearing the shoes).
Ugg Boots from Australia and all their lookalikes are the current rage everywhere in NYC. Downunder we use them for scuffling around the house in winter, or looking tough if we were actually one of the tough kids at school (I wasn't). In NY it's high fashion. I don't like them because they tend to slump after while and resemble a tired old dusty donkey, only not as appealing. But they're sellin', for $150 or more.
Here at DSW there were stickers on everything ranging from 30 to 80 percent off. I spotted a pair of Kenzo flats previously priced at $400 or something ridiculous, now half price and 80% off that. No wonder, slipping my foot into them I could not imagine a less comfortable shoe.
I even spotted some Gucci loafers, which I found fascinating for their lore. I felt compelled to buy them just as a collector's item, a relic of the excessive 80's to go with my clapped out Tizio lamp. Then I discovered a whole pile of them, with uncharacteristic hiking soles, at 40% off - as if mass produced purely for the label-conscious Asian market.
You can see the rest of my shoe-capade in the above movie. I ended up walking out with a $55 pair of fake fur boots size 7, 30% off. which I returned the next day because they were too hard for my poor old feet. I need more cushioning too. The no-questions asked 30-day return policy is one good thing about DSW and a lot of places in America. Here's to spreading feet, and spreading the word!
DSW (Nationwide locations)
40 East 14th Street
New York, NY 10003
Sun 10am-8pm, Mon-Sat 10am-10pm