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Women’s shoes that do not hurt and do not look like orthopedic appliances for nurses are incredibly expensive.

Hevvin help me, this afternoon I dropped $450 on three pairs of pain-frees. Amazingly fine pain-frees…but my god.

The attempt, undertaken almost a year ago, to buy pain-frees at bargain prices by raiding the Clark’s outlet failed miserably. I did buy several cute pairs of Indigos that seemed comfortable enough in the store. Yup. They were just great, as long as I didn’t try to walk in them. As soon as I tried to walk any distance further than across the store to the mirror, they wanted to fall off my feet, exactly as one would expect backless clogs to do, being nothing other than slides on platforms. I had to struggle to keep them on, and that was very uncomfortable, indeed. Eventually I figured out that they would sort of stay on if I adopted a mincing gait, taking teeny little steps that didn’t require me to lift my feet off the ground for more than a fraction of a second.

Picture, then, mincing a third of a mile across a university campus in shoes that wanted nothing more than to fall off or, preferably, to twist their wearer’s ankle. That’s about how far I have to walk from my car to my office.

Well, hell. I knew better than to buy bargain shoes at an outlet. The immediate cause of the neuromas that have damn near crippled me for the past 20 years was a pair of sweet little heels I bought at a shoe outlet. They seemed comfortable enough—when you’re young, beauty knows no pain. After I’d worn them for a few months (all the time, even walking the dog…which occasionally entailed running), my feet hurt so much I couldn’t walk in anything. I couldn’t walk barefooted, for crying out loud! Not until I tried on a pair of Birkenstocks (ohhh lovely! perfect for officewear) was I able to walk around an amusement park on vacation with my husband and child. It took over 15 years for my feet to get to the point where I could wear anything other than Birkenstocks or Mephistos without excruciating pain. Heels have been out of the question for decades.

So. I should’ve known that shoes that cost something under $40 were going to mess up my feet.

Old, tired, not cute
Old, tired, not cute

I dispensed with the Clark’s Indigo slides in the late great decluttering adventure, tossing them in on top of the mountain of clothes that went to St. Vincent de Paul. Absent the shoes that I couldn’t wear to walk in, I still needed a pair of unclunky brown shoes and a pair of brown Danskos (having worn my beloved old brown pair until they fell apart). So this afternoon, with $2,500 in the much-refreshed savings account, it was off to my favorite purveyor of pain-frees.

There I found that the original Dansko shoe (which died when Dansko was sold and the new owners started having the style manufactured, with evil results, in China) is still produced by an outfit called Sanita. Lo! A pair of Danskos that actually fits like the REAL Danskos used to fit.

Buy: $120.

Then, these hand-made Spanish shoes of amazing cut-out leather, almost lace-like, utterly free of pain, the effect incandescent with élan.

Buy x 2: $320.

That would come to, yes, $440.

Plus 8.1% tax. Don’t ask.

But I was personful: I put back the INCREDIBLY cute pair of heels that hurt only one toe and would have looked so unbelievably awesome with the pin-striped pants purchased in the late great recluttering coup. And I also put back the STAGGERINGLY cute moccasin-like flats hand-made by the same Spanish shoemaker. So, you see…after all, I did not spend $600 on shoes today. What a triumph.

As a practical matter, shoes purchased at this particular emporium last for many, many years. The pair I had on when I walked in the door are about six or eight years old and still fully serviceable. When I went into the closet this afternoon to throw out three pairs of shoes to make way for the three new pair, I really could find only one pair decrepit enough to justify tossing, and I haven’t bought good shoes in more than two years. Guess I’ll have to count the three pair of Clark’s clogs I tossed as the “one out for every one in.”

I think that, especially where shoes are concerned, it’s better to spend more on good products less often than less on shoddy products more often. I dunno about you, but when my feet hurt, I’m miserable. And most shoes hurt my feet. Women’s shoes are designed to hurt your feet: a good 95 percent of them are bone-crushers. When you find well-made shoes that don’t hurt and aren’t hideous, you should buy them, cost be damned. When I pay $120 for pair of Danskos Sanitas that last upwards of six years, their actual cost to me is about $20 a year.

So. In 2009 I’ll pay $75 for the use of three pairs of not-hideous, fully pain-free shoes.

Not a bad buy, eh?


LOL! The pair on the left is not really peacock-colored. They’re black and a subdued green, with gold thread decoration.

The sequelae to this story appear here and here.

8 thoughts on “Shoes”

  1. Anything with heels and pointy toes…ouch! These shoes are characterized by heels and pointy toes, which to my mind are comparable to the now defunct Chinese practice of binding women’s feet. Even in flat styles, pointed toes hurt. Notice that these little guys are sold in stores like Dillard’s. I’ve found that shoes sold in women’s shoe departments almost invariably hurt like the dickens.

    Look at your feet. Notice that unless your feet have been deformed by daily wear of shoes like these (by the time you’re 45, this will begin to become evident), your feet are NOT POINTY. Look at a man’s feet, which (unless he affects drugstore cowboy boots), are NOT POINTY. The human foot is not supposed to be pointy. For some reason, our culture has decided that deformed feet on women are sexy.

    Forcing your feet into high-heels with pointed toes deforms your feet over time and causes permanent pain.

    Pain, IMHO, is not sexy.

  2. Hi Funny,

    You can get Sanita seconds at This is a very cool website run by a cool person. He also carries Dansko.

    My mother buys very expensive Munro shoes at Nordstrom. I found some for cheaper at Sierra Trading Post.

    Hope that helps, esp the Footprints tip.


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