Sunday, October 5, 2008

New-Again Beloved Old Shoes

It's been a while since there was anything remotely fashion-y or "what the mature woman is wearing" 'round here. Just too busy, and then when I get a minute, I fill it up right away whining about being busy. Sorry.

But I was so delighted to get these shoes back from the cobbler's a few weeks ago that I photographed their shiny new selves and began planning a post. (And was somehow not too surprised to find, in Une Femme's post yesterday, that we're on the same wavelength yet again -- she speaks of shoe repair as well.) While I have always known, having been brought up that way, that it's important to buy shoes well-made enough to be mended, I was less likely, in the past, to continue loving a pair of shoes for years. Indeed, it seems to me a particular strength of the mature woman's closet that it includes items she has loved enough to make them last, items that lift her beyond fashion into a personal style. I bought these shoes in Paris over three years ago, and I don't anticipate being tired of them any time soon. They're idiosyncratic enough that while certain elements allow them to fit within current trends -- the pointy toe, the stacked heel -- they also transcend the limitations of fashion to help me express a personal style. What that means for me is that I can put my own stamp on a classic combination of black v-neck sweater and whichever jeans I'm in the mood for. These shoes, a strong necklace or earrings or scarf, a great belt and bag (and all of these elements can also boast the pedigree of years-or-decades-long-wear, if they were gorgeous enough to love in the first place) and I'm good to go. A uniform, perhaps, but a comfortable one in which I feel chic AND a little funky. My version of the anti-sweats that Karen wrote about here.

Getting these shoes back from the cobbler's, I was reminded of my mom's comment when I took her shopping at Holt Renfrew this past August: she said, "If I find a new pair of shoes, I could always buy those, because it helps my other pairs last longer." How's that for declaring frugality during a bout of retail therapy?

I'm curious: what's the longest you've continued to wear a beloved pair of shoes?

16 comments:

  1. I just love those shoes!

    My black Stuart Weitzman ankle boots are heading into winter #4 and still look great. I have some shoes that are older than that, but aren't as frequently worn.

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  2. Hmmmm. I'm having a hard time coming up with an answer. I'm very hard on my shoes. The wear patterns of my feet seem to really put shoes to the test.

    So, right now I'd say I've had some of my favorite shoes for 3-5 years. And a couple of those just came back from the shoe repair as well. While in NY I purchased a pair of NAOT sandals, and they are possibly the most comfortable shoes I have ever had on my feet! I hope they never wear out!

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  3. Pseu: So satisfying, isn't it, to get so much wear out of a pair you love. And the ones worn less often that still make you happy years later, that's very satisfying as well.
    Jillian: My first pair of Birks (the really ugly ones, with two broad straps across the front and then an ankle strap as well -- what was I thinking?!) have been re-soled, and are now about 15 years old and could go another 15 at least (especially since I rarely wear them outside the garden). As for your wear problems, my mom would say you just need to buy more shoes to spread the wear!

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  4. Six years, my two pairs of Ferragamo Audrey flats. Had them resoled and they are as good as new. Classic, feminine, comfy!

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  5. I believe my oldest shoes are my brown Bally loafers, bought at Heathrow airport in 1999 (I wore them today actually). I have a bit of an odd relationship with shoes - I love looking at beautiful shoes in the shops, in magazines, on other people, but in reality I end up buying 'sensible' shoes. I think that's because of my lifestyle - walking a lot, needing comfort, etc., I believe we've had this discussion before here? I have a few pairs of heels, but wear them rarely, only if I'm going somewhere special for just a few hours and getting there by car. Yesterday we went to a dinner party and I wore a smart pair of high-heeled (for me)ankle boots; that was probably only the second time I've worn them out in the 2 or 3 years since I bought them! Patricia

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  6. Karen: That's impressive -- such a classic style you'll easily get another six years!
    Patricia: Wow -- so almost ten years, again, another worthwhile investment, and again, something classic.
    Those ankle boots will probably give you years as well, especially if you seldom wear them.

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  7. Comfortable shoes are as rare as hens teeth for me. You mother has it bang on, as the more shoes I wear in a week the longer I can get them to last.
    What I hate is when I wear one particular pair so much that the leather 'sets' and hardens into the shape of my foot. Then they have to go.
    I am currently about to have a new zip put into a pair of biker style boots which I have had for many years. they are perfect for rainy days like the ones coming my way this week.

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  8. Isn't a good cobbler a joy? SO many of the chain places don't know how to DO repairs. One of them lined black flats with a tepid navy insole and could not understand why I was upset: "No one sees it." My longest wearing shoes are Arche; some pairs hit the decade mark but eventually the rubber soles dry out.

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  9. I think having a good cobbler is one of life's necessities and I was distraught when my former cobbler retired and I had to find another -- not as easy as one would hope. Still keeping favorite shoes "going and going" is just a joy. I have quite a few pairs that have stood the tests of time and pavement and feel that each one is an old friend.

    And fabulous shoes by the way.

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  10. Alison: Those biker boots sound great, well worth replacing the zip on -- know what you mean about the leather hardening up, especially if I don't keep up with the leather cream.
    Duchesse: we have a really good one nearby, except that he keeps a very peculiar schedule, and can either be done in two days or two weeks. So I often send mine back to Vanc'r with Pater, who drops them off at one of the chains, but at a location staffed by very good fellows (middle-Eastern, perhaps Iranian?) who really know what they're doing. There was another great one near our place in Vanc'r that got shifted with rising real estate values and now would require some getting to, sadly. You can see how important I think they all are by my little mental map marked Cobblers!
    Mardel: Precisely what I mean! It is a joy (and this is something I might not have felt when younger) to be able to repair and keep "going and going" shoes that I really love.

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  11. I still treasure my blue Bruno Magli´s that I bought in 1978. They were real expensive at that time, but the model is classic. The leather inside is gold and there are gold stripes on the heel. I still use them sometimes,but they feel a bit tight( my aging). I keep them in the original box like I store all my shoes.

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  12. Metscan: Wow! 30 years old and still classic and wearable AND in good condition -- that's a pretty convincing example of why it's worth paying for decent shoes. It's also got to be a record for oldest shoes still being worn, on this blog at least -- any challengers?
    My daughter keeps all her shoes in their original boxes as well -- I admire that organization (but she didn't get those genes from me!)

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  13. I don't know whether this is good or bad, but I still have a pair of red suede shoes from 1991, bought in England. I don't wear them that much anymore but I still love them and occasionally wear them. They're not as classic as Metscan's Bruno Magli's or as high quality, but they are lovely and everytime I do wear them, they feel almost magical.

    I feel a good cobbler is worth his weight in gold. Mine is a Russian man who can work miracles. He even lowered the heel on a pair of much loved (by my husband) 6 inch heels to a more manageable 4 inches. He even recently restored my white lace wedding shoes back to a beautiful white.

    He has strong opinions on shoes as well, and is not afraid to tell me that a pair of shoes are poorly made. A treasure, indeed.

    Christine

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  14. I don't know whether this is good or bad, but I still have a pair of red suede shoes from 1991, bought in England. I don't wear them that much anymore but I still love them and occasionally wear them. They're not as classic as Metscan's Bruno Magli's or as high quality, but they are lovely and everytime I do wear them, they feel almost magical.

    I feel a good cobbler is worth his weight in gold. Mine is a Russian man who can work miracles. He even lowered the heel on a pair of much loved (by my husband) 6 inch heels to a more manageable 4 inches. He even recently restored my white lace wedding shoes back to a beautiful white.

    He has strong opinions on shoes as well, and is not afraid to tell me that a pair of shoes are poorly made. A treasure, indeed.

    Christine

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  15. The longest pair of shoes I currently own has been eight years. They can't be resoled, I don't think, so I imagine they will depart soon enough.

    But on this topic...I recently gave up a pair of shoes I had bought at a thrift store for nine dollars, reasoning that the $75 required to re-sole them was silly given their initial cost. Oh, what an error this was. A good pair of shoes, properly worn in and fitting just so, is a treasure. And to buy a similar pair has cost me much more, as thrift store luck rarely strikes twice in one year, and now I have to break these in, and I don't like any of the new pairs nearly as much (I went a little crazy and bought four), and and and...

    oh, the folly of sensible seeming math.

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  16. Shoes that can't be re-soled make me a bit sad (my MAGs are like that), but eight years is a good run!
    That's a great shoe-math anecdote -- I've made similar false economies in the past. Four pairs of new shoes?? That's a lot of craziness -- will you be showing us any soon?

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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