Monday, May 15, 2017

The Only 4 Pairs of Shoes You Need in New York

New Yorkers walk a lot - everybody knows that. And so it's only logical that they wear (for the most part, with some insane exceptions!) practical shoes. But after some careful observation, I realized that almost every pair of shoes that I saw on a woman in New York could be classed into 1 of 4 categories:

  1. Ballet flats - if you're wear a dress or skirt for work, it's better than even odds that these are what are on your feet;
  2. Canvas loafers - a step up from athletic shoes, but equally comfortable and relaxed. Paired with pants, jeans, or more casual skirts;
  3. Short boots - worn with tights and skirts, or with bare ankles and the narrowest of pants. As a general rule, the legs of pants in New York were so narrow that I wondered how anybody but a ballerina could get them over her feet! And the absence of visible socks made my ankles sore at the thought of the rubbing potential....
  4. Athletic shoes. On all ages, from every company, in any color of the rainbow, worn with just about anything.

I imagine that at least some of the women that I saw changed into other shoes when they got to their final destination, but unless you're planning to get a job in New York, these 4 "street shoes" will cover you for all sorts of daytime activities. (if you're going to the opera, to somewhere posh for dinner, or just generally getting dressed up, you're going to need 1 more pair of something amazingly beautifully dress, of course!)

I then imagined what different shoe wardrobes might be:

a New York assortment of black shoes
ballet flats – AGL; canvas shoes – Toms; boots – Munro; sneakers – Converse & Comme des Garçons

Yes, those are my favorite boots! And I had to include the sneakers - there was a huge Comme des Garçons show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art which we didn't see because it was PACKED. The day we were there was the first day, and it's going to be a blockbuster, trust me!

a metallic shoe mini-wardrobe
ballet flats – Marc Jacobs; rose gold slip-ons – Vans; woven metallic boots– Kelsi Dagger Brooklyn; sneakers – Converse

I never manage to really commit to metallic shoes, nor to red. Not the women of New York! I saw lots of both...

a New York red shoe wardrobe
ballet flats – Louise et Cie; canvas shoes – Toms; boots – Aquatalia; sneakers – Adidas

There were a lot of interesting textured shoes on display - they really stood out against the forests of dark clothing everywhere!

a four-pair shoe wardrobe in snakeskin
ballet flats – Cole Haan; silver snake slip-on sneakers – Vans; booties – Calvin Klein; sneakers – Converse

On those occasion when I saw someone wearing a brighter color or printed skirt or pants, they were likely to be wearing shoes in their version of nude - i.e. something that matched their legs very closely. These four here would be pretty good matches for my super-pale legs! (You've got to look around to find something that blends into your legs and keeps the subtle look you're going for - every woman has to figure this one out if they want their own best "nude.")

four pairs of light beige shoes
ballet flats – Badgley Mischka; canvas shoes – Toms; boots – Lucky Brand; sneakers – Geox

And some women were wearing colors that I think they just plain and simply thought were pretty. There's certainly nothing wrong with that!

Four pairs of pastel shoes
ballet flats – Shoes of Prey; pastel slip-ons – Vans; boots – Hush Puppies; sneakers – Adidas

Add in a pair of sandals, and a pair of REALLY GOOD rain boots, and this would get me through most of my life...


The Only 4 Pairs of Shoes You Need in New York
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  1. I would be tempted to say, those 4 types of shoes would be all I need. I do have a pretty casual lifestyle though. My shoes tend to be in neutral colors. A black and a brown in each style. Add white styles for summer.

  2. I think the ballet flats shown here would do fine for dressy occasions, especially since there are plenty of people who just can't wear heels. (I only recently discovered that I can if they're the wedge type where the whole foot has a "direct line" to the ground).

    - Kaci

  3. Janice, you're so right! I live in NYC and this post totally rang true. I usually commute in Vans slip-ons or something similar because they look better with my work clothes than sneakers, but are comfortable for walking and standing on the subway. Then I change to flats or my Cole Haan wingtips when I get to work. And I have a lovely pair of just-above-the-ankle rain boots with nice stretchy gussets that are easy to get on and off and keep my feet nice and dry. As you guessed, a lot of the women you see on the street wearing sneakers with nice clothes are changing when they get to the office. Women in NYC aren't afraid to lean into comfort for commuting.

  4. Thank you thank you thank you. As I age, I find I need to pay closer attention to my shoes (i.e. stop buying cute, but cheap shoes). However, I don't have a huge footwear budget, so I need to be very judicious in what I buy. This is perfect!!!!

  5. Finally! Someone has addressed the efficient shoe collection! Thank you!

  6. I love shoes and you have nailed a great shoe capsule :)

  7. This is a good collection for anywhere!
    Remember the movie "Working Girl," where Melanie Griffith wore sneakers and crew socks with her suits?
    I usually wore loafers for my commute and had a drawer full of heels that I wore only in the office.

  8. I LOVE metallic shoes and those gold converse sneakers! But I wonder how durable the finish is? Also love the metallic boots! BTW I think you would look great in red ballet flats with your black dresses and scarves - so feminine. Janice Collins, Washington DC

    1. I wouldn't think that the Converse would hold up forever, but they're canvas shoes, so you don't expect them to last a million years. I would get them, wear the dickens out of them, and then move on...

      And I KNOW, in my rational mind, that I should wear red shoes all the time. But any time I buy a pair they just languish in my closet - I just don't pull them out. I need to have a chat with myself to see if I can figure out why.


  9. Those red boots sprang out at me and said, "Buy me - you could get a lot of wear out of me". Great post!

  10. Just tried on some Tom's last week at a local shop, seriously I can't see how anyone wears them since there isn't any cushioning, let alone arch support. But my Birkenstocks are really ready for retirement so will take your style report to the walking store next visit into the big city. And if I can find some nice black canvas sneaks might even break out the fabric paints for a little fun. Fabric paints come in metallics too btw.

  11. I was admiring a young blonde woman on the bus and she had beige boots similar to the Lucky brand, the narrowest beige pants and a pale pink sweater, diamond earrings and a silver pendant. She looked fabulous, but I too could see the bare ankles and wondered about blisters.

  12. Add sandals for summer and this is perfect! I have tried to pare down my shoe wardrobe. I got rid of a LOT but I still have more than I need. My whole wardrobe is a work in process! It is getting much better thanks to you!!

  13. I love TOM'S shoes. I live in a pair of gray loafer sneakers on my off days. I'm a new initiate into the ankle boots and made triple-sure my first two pair were ones I could also live in at work!