Monday, August 22, 2011

Gail Carriger Talks About Shoes, Flats, Heels, & WorldCons

I'm still in Reno, Fashionable Reader, and about to set out but I thought I might say a little word on the subject of shoes. 

I have skinny feet. Which is to say: narrow (but not _that_ narrow) but also not very thick, so shoes with straps always require extra holes. The end result is that most shoes made for the American market I simply can't buy. I opt for Italian 90% of the time and leather if at all possible. I need to be able to break a shoe to fit my foot, and man made will break my foot (with blisters) to fit the shoe.

I've ended up with two mandates . . .

1. spend good money on shoes and bras, get everything else cheap
2. invest in shoes that will last for a long time

Currently most of my shoes are: Via Spiga, Miz Mooz, modified dance shoes, (%50 of the collection) with a few Me Too, BP, and Franco Sartos. I have one pair of Lambs and one pair of Irregular Choice both of which I love but which KILL ME to wear. I just can't get rid of the cuteness.

If you are not a skinny foot like me, consider Fluvogs (expensive, but you can at least try them on to see), Clarks, Blowfish, or Aerosoles. If you have an average shape, Me Toos are a good between option, but, of course you will have plenty to chose from.

Word on the street is Irregular Choice, no matter how wonderful they look, are never comfortable. Same holds for Lamb, allthough I will say my sky rockiting booties might be painful but they sure are the most stable 7" stilletos I've ever owned.

One of my biggest tips as a high-heel aficionado to those more cautious with their feet, is to try dancing shoes. They can run very expensive but they break easily to mold to your foot. I have a lovely Shoe Guy I visit regularly who not only puts on walking soles to dance shoes and makes repairs but dyes shoes for me at a very reasonable rate ($5 ~ $10).  I figure if I am going to get more wear out of the shoe with a few adjustments it is worth the money.

I learned the lesson at the Denver WordCon that I should have both flats and heels in all accessory colors. That way, I wear flats to walk to the convention center and then heels once I have a arrive. I have one of those little collapsible totes so I can carry the heels there, then I fold up the tote and the flats. I buy flats small enough to fit into my handbags and handbags large enough to hold both the flats and one mass market paperback.

Via Spiga & thrifted flats; Via Spiga & dance shoes.
Haight St fancy & dance shoes & Aerosoles & Me Too flats.
BP flats & fancy pumps & dance shoes & Via Spiga
Miz Mooz & Via Spiga & Via Spiga & Miz Mooz & flats
I arrived in good time and wore red with white accessories all day Thursday. Unfortunately, I did not take into account the fact that it was so warm I did not wear stockings. This, even with flats, results in blisters when the shoes are not leather. It's hard to find good white patent leather.
I suppose this is basically a defense of stockings. I ended up spending the rest of the weekend in them, despite the heat, and also blister band-aid (which I buy in bulk). The secret, by the way, is to cover the blister band-aid with an industrial strength fabric band-aid.

Some have asked me before but I don't wear vintage shoes as a rule. They tend to be in very poor condition and, unlike clothing, that's not something I have the skill to do anything about. I do modify my shoes though, with attachments and dyeing, expect a future blog on the subject.

Pictures of the Reno outfits to come, I promise. I remembered to take a full length shot of all six! I'm ridiculously proud of this accomplishment. Trust me, I can barely remember my brain at a convention. I left my room key in my room three times! Taking a photo of each outfit (for which I have to pigeonhole some unsuspecting patsy once I hit the convention) is like presenting a dissertation it's so complicated.


  1. Girllllll I love my irregular choice shoes. That said, I have the opposite problem as you: my feet are wide, with an extremely high arch. Little wee misshapen potatoes. ;-) But I've got irregular choice shoes both new and years old that I wear all the time. I think they're outrageously comfortable. But I totally agree on the blowfish. They're definitely my go to brand for everyday wear.

  2. Even though I prefer to walk around barefoot I own lots and lots of shoes. (Which reminds me, I really have to finish breaking in my Hot In Hollywood ones. I couldn't resist. HSN had discounted them to $9.50 and they're PURPLE!) But my favorite pair by far are Munro which are USA made.

    Then again, I'm not like you, Gail. I'm a 6 1/2 DOUBLE wide with "ballerina" or "high stepping" arches like Nicole has. Also, if you look really really closely while I'm standing properly, you'll find my 2nd toe is about the width of a hair longer than my big toe. (Not that it really has anything to do with anything else, but I like mentioning that. My dad's 2nd toe is almost a full half inch longer than his big toe.) Munro seems to be aimed mostly at us wide footed gals.

    Though no matter what the brand or style, I always have to add some Dr. Scholl's because there's never enough arch support.

    I read on a vintage site that you really should never buy vintage shoes for anything other than crafting purposes or to copy the style because they've been broken in to fit someone else's foot and you can injure yourself by wearing shoes that are like that.

  3. the url i'm including has absolutely nothing to do with this particular post, but it reminded me of a few comments in the past related to sustainability & fashion. (i just didn't know how else to include it & thought people might like it.) it goes into the different (newer) types of material we're using to make our clothes these days & it's a pretty interesting read, actually.

  4. Thank you so much for the tips regarding wide or narrow feet, both in the post and from the commenters. My feet are on the wide side and much to my dismay, all my friends have narrow feet and can't really help me out. I sense a shoe purchase on the horizon.

  5. Those LAMB boots are gorgeous!

  6. My old time favorites are a pair of stack-heeled two-tone (black and green) Oxfords from Aerosole. I love Aerosoles in general, and as someone who rarely wears heels because of a bad ankle, I can actual run in them.

  7. On a bit of a tangent - How do you keep all your shoes in such good condition? My shoes seem to get horribly beat up after a season, regardless of how high the quality or how much I've spent on them. Perhaps you simply walk more carefully than I?

  8. Oh, Miss Snark, good question. I do have spit shine for my white, black, and red shoes (and leather jackets for that mater). If they fade too much, I take leather shoes in to my Shoe Guy and have them redyed. They travel in shoe bags. And, biggest tip? I spray them thoroughly with Scotch Guard the moment I get a new pair home after I buy them. Even at risk of changing the shade. I also try to clean and spray my boots every year before the first rain.


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