"Mamma needs a new pair of shoes." Or does she? The sluggish economy is altering buying trends so that folks are making more thoughtful decisions about their purchases. But it's time for a new pair of shoes. How about one pair that can carry you through the fall/winter season and can take you from the office, to the kids' soccer games, and be supportive enough that you can stand comfortably during your commute on the jam-packed Metro buses?
Let's consider that these shoes will need to have a great price-per-wear ratio (the amount you pay divided by the times you wear an item equals the price-per-wear). This means shoes have to be durable, comfortable, and look good. You just won't be reaching for uncomfortable shoes that look bad.
For the purpose of these next shoe suggestions for men and women, let's presume that you don't have to wear suits to work and are at the point of your life where the combination of comfort and style really does matter. Let's also presume that you don't want to have that slightly uneasy feeling that you look a little foolish for trying to look like a 20-year-old.
For fellas, I'm partial to a shoe that can be worn for work and casual in the Northwest. My pick has a "bicycle toe" (seams come up the front of the toe) which gives it a current vibe without being "too cool for school." I also like how the light-colored stitching makes it less dressy and will look good with trousers, chinos, and jeans. I definitely prefer the saddle brown or dark brown; the black looks a little orthopedic. Johnston & Murphy is known for making quality, comfortable shoes, so you should get some good wear out of these.
Johnston & Murphy bicycle toe oxford, $119.95, endless.
For an all-around shoe for gals, you can't go wrong with a basic pump that can be worn with trousers and skirts. But this season consider mixing it up by stepping into knee-high boots. This is a classic way to incorporate the new boot-craze for fall. There are a lot of ankle boots on the market, but for those of us who lived through the 80's, we know some fashion trends are hard to revisit. It might be different if they didn't make all but the slimmest legs look like sausages. And don't get me started on the open-toed version.
Simple tall boots look great with knee-length skirts and dresses or, for the more daring, with an above-the-knee skirt and opaque tights. If the shaft is narrow enough, you should be able to wear these with trousers as well. I know a lot of women say they "can't wear heels," but even a slight heel will look less dowdy than a flat boot with a trouser. Remember that even short, thin heels cause your foot to constantly adjust for balance and will really give your ankles and knees a workout (although they do work as great aerators for the soggy sideline on the soccer field), so for practicality and comfort, try a thicker heel for your all-around shoe. Go for as high as you can wear comfortably for the whole day. Patent leather is still hot and adds a little pizazz to a classic shape. These Ecco boots are patent leather and have a minimal heel for the heel-phobic.
Ecco Brussels boot $220, Ecco.
Note: Seattle weather can be really hard on shoes. Remember to "invest" $5 to $10 on waterproofing spray for shoes. Your shoes will weather the storms much better if you let waterproofing be the first stop for your new shoes at home.