Monday, 11 March 2013

The shoe problem

Fabric and snakeskin platforms, 1944
I have a very particular taste when it comes to shoes- I always know exactly what style I want. I also need shoes that are comfortable and don’t make my bad heel flare up. Unfortunately this means that I almost never find shoes I want to buy. I do have a lot of shoes, but I have recently culled six pair and more will probably go soon. And most of my remaining shoes are party shoes, so even if I love them and they are comfortable, they just aren’t practical for everyday. At the moment I wear winter boots suitable to the snowy and icy Swedish winter, but spring is coming and when it comes to shoes for everyday use, I just don’t have much. I have a pair of black T-strap pumps and a pair of buttoned brown ones. Both pairs are about six years old and are now rather shabby. I love these shoes and it shows. So what my shoe wardrobe badly need are one pair of black and one pair of brown shoes, suitable for an ordinary day, but still nice looking.

1930's style black velvet oxfords
I have talked about dance shoes before; I often buy them because they are very comfortable and often look like the 30’s-40’s style that I like. Aris Allen, for example, has several designs that are copies of old shoes. I recently bought these to wear at work which I’m very pleased with.
Comfy, pretty, but in extremely unpractical velvet. The work well indoors, but I suspect that the velvet will wear very quickly if used outside.

What, exactly do I want then? Well, a pair of black t-straps is quite easy- dance shoes often come in that design. But I also want a pair of brown oxfords. With a 6-7 cm, elegant, but not thin heel and not too pointy toes. Basically these, but alas, they resides in a museum, not in my friendly neighborhood shoe store, so no can do.

My taste in shoes is also really conservative. What I wanted in shoes when I was 18 are the same today. If my taste hasn’t changed in 25 years, well, it doesn’t seem likely that it will change soon. So J wondered why I didn’t check out shoes a bit pricier than I usually go for. More expensive, yes, but probably also better quality. So I have, but I still haven’t found anything I like.
But, a couple of years ago I bought a pair of 18th century style shoes from Harr. It’s a company in Germany that makes shoes for the theatre, so you can find styles from any era there. You can also do some changes in the design you want, like toe and heel shape as well as heel height. And colour and material as well. You also send them the measurements and outline of your foot. I have a friend who is a cobbler so I ordered my pair though the store she works in and she helped me with that.
My very blue shoes

They were a little stiff when I first got them and took a little time to get used to but  leather adapt to your shape and now they are actually the most comfortable shoes I own. They are also very well made. So, why not order shoes, very nearly custom-made, in exactly the design and colours I want, from them? Indeed, why not. Their 20th century collection has several styles I like. These, these and these, for example.

They are not cheap shoes, prices start at €100 and I paid €300 for my 18th century ones, but even if €300 is a hefty sum to give out all at once, if the quality if good, then it isn’t so expensive in the long run. If my rather inexpensive current favourites have kept for six years and I think the quality of Harr’s shoes is a lot better, then then six years of wear will mean €50/year. I would need to budget my shoe shopping better, but almost every time I have bought shoes on a whim I have ended up disappointed. Most of the shoes I have given away had been worn once or twice so even if they weren’t expensive shoes, the cost per wear got rather high in the end.

A pair of brown oxfords from Harr seems to be the most likely shoe purchase I will do this spring. Or possibly year, but they would be exactly as I want them.


Anonymous said...

That's worth it. Totally. I also have a very static taste in shoes, and most of the expensive quality purchases I've made over the years have paid off in years and years of frequent use. Harr sounds like a maker to remember!

Isis said...

pimpinett: Yes, I think so too. Especially if you can get them just as you want them. I ordered my Harr shoes from Skomakeri Framåt in Gamla stan.

Debbie said...

Ah yes the shoe fit and style dilemma. I look at shoes online all day but rarely buy because they never seem to fit my feet right.
I had not heard of Harr before, I will look into them. Sometimes paying more is the only option for good shoes. My friend started making historical shoes in the US 2 years ago. She has 18th and 19th century and some 1920's T straps too. The white shoes are paintable so you can make them whatever color you need. No 40's oxfords yet but I keep bugging her about it. At least in the USA oxfords are pretty easy to find. Right now the trend is for chunky heels so it is becoming a lot easier to find 40's style shoes then it was last year. I did buy a pair of 40's style Aerosoles online that I like. They were a little snug but I hope I can break them in.
Keep us posted on what shoe you buy!

Isis said...

Debbie: I know, Lauren's shoes are very pretty. Several of my friends have bought her brocade shoes. :) I do buy shoes online, most notable Aris Allen ones and they have always fitted perfectly, but some are most definitly "party shoes", which are pretty but perhaps not entirely comfortable...

I tend to buy my shoes in cycles just because of the changing fashion- some years there are a lot of nice styles and then, poof, gone!

Harr is relatively unknown because of the theatre label, I think. Also becasue their websites isn't the easy to find if you don't know about them...

LollyWillowes said...

I sympathise, I have had the Devil's own job with shoes all my life. Just never found them comfortable and as I spent a lot of time barefoot my feet are now fairly wide. I have had some from a company over here called Hotter, a sort of 20's-ish look to them. I haven't got a lot to spend and some of the ones I see that look nice are too expensive for me, especially as there is absolutely no guarantee of my finding them comfortable when I have been walking in them, by which time it is too late too return them!

Lithia Black said...

A thing that I think it's good with Harr is the fact that you can trust them not to drop a style due to fashion change. That means that it's possible to save funds for a couple of months if you need to and that's good for poor people like me :)

Erika said...

The combintaion comfort and style is a hard one in shoes. I have damaged feet and like to take long walks (the long walks and the dancing might have been the cause of my feet-problems...) so I need ortho-inlays and really good soles. But for the office or going out for coffee or dinner I love a pair of nice heels. Esp the first pair you linked to looked wonderful! I think spending more on a pair you'll wear more makes perfect sense.

I've learned the hard way: for me, in the long run there's no alternative to good shoes, and good shoes are never cheap. Having happy feet is worth it, though =)

Solander said...

If you like dance shoes, have you checked out these: ? I own several pairs both of Remix and Aris Allen shoes and the Aris Allens feel cheap in comparison - either flimsy and wobbly or overly stiff in a way that suggests they're never going to "give". I have a bit of "problem feet" too - no pain or injuries, just very wide, high feet that make me buy far too long shoes - and I think the Remix shoes are really comfortable, much more comfortable than you'd think, looking at the heels. Do get them a tad small though, since it's leather - the pair I've got that felt perfect from the beginning now feels a bit big. I really think it's super quality for the money, and quite a bit cheaper than custom made ones.

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