While there is, admittedly, something icky about wearing second hand shoes, I'll make exceptions for special cases. Why? Mainly because I love shoes (full disclosure: I love boots and sandals; I like other footwear but we're not exclusive). There is nothing quite like the perfect pair of shoes. I'll wear jeans an t-shirts every day as long as I can pair 'em with killer boots. That song "New Shoes" by robo-babe Paolo Nutini: yes. Hell yes. Because you know he's not talking about just out the box new shoes; he's talking about wearing the right thing at the right time. "Hello new shoes, bye bye blues."
The other thing about second-hand shoes — not blown out, beat down second hand, but gently worn and of-an-era — nothing modern can compare. Frye boots are the best and the company makes some drool-worthy contemporary styles bu the reason Frye is so good is because they know enough to keep cranking out the campus boots. The tall, boxy, boots-were-made-for-walking that recall Ali McGraw in Love Story, Emmy Lou Harris with Gram Parsons. You can't get that in 2009. Nope. You've got to go back to the 70s.
This pair is a 70s-era throwback that I scored on ebay. I bought 'em because they remind me of a pair I owned when I was about 10 and carried a Holly Hobby lunchbox to school. I love the Prairie-style details: the orangey-brown leather and the toe-to-knee laces. I also like the snug fit — hard to find when you have skinny legs (like me). Soon after I got the boots, one of the soles fell off. That's a hazard of vintage wear. Dry rot, age, the passage of time. Time's not all that kind to any of us and certainly not leather goods, but for about $30 a local cobbler fixed me up with happy new soles.
This pair doesn't belong to me. I spotted 'em in a vintage store and had to snap a photo. Platform boots are easy enough to find, but these are special. Good quality leather (no pleather!) and double wooden soles. Though I wouldn't want to walk a mile in these shoes, I'd love to hear the stories they'd tell if they could speak. That, and I have to say they cross that line between footwear and art. These are a testament to the 70s, a piece of history and a work of sculpture. Why not collect such shoes and display them like weird pottery or art glass?
Finally, this pair. Like I said above, boots and sandals are my passion, but this adorable 30s or 40s era pair caught my eye. They're the thinnest chocolate brown suede with gold trim and kitten heels. I tried them on and (surprise!) they pretty much fit. Vintage shoes, especially those from decades ago, tend to be a tight squeeze for modern feet, but the buttery suede had give and the craftsmanship was so impeccable I was sure the shoes had plenty of life left in them. But... where to wear them? Since I don't happen to have nooks and shelves in my tiny house for displaying object d'art, buying these shoes wasn't an option. But I took a photo for posterity.
Lily Gatins, Palais de Chaillot - Paris
9 months ago