Monday, 13 June 2011

Sensible Shoes

There are only a few periods in life when you can get away without owning a sensible pair of sensible shoes, and all of them are related to employment - or lack thereof.

If you are a student, for example, you can get away with dossing about in the same pair of converse with the sole flapping off for 3-4 years (assuming you aren't working in a restaurant / bar / hotel / shop to pay your way, in which case your manager will probably call you on it after about year two).

Similarly (although not in the literal sense of the word), if you're 8 months pregnant you can probably forgo the smart patent kitten heels for a time. And I'm sure there are other exceptions that could be listed here for the sake of padding out the word count, but the upshot is that sooner or later you're going to have to bite the bullet and get yourself some comfortable, non-trainer type footwear to model about the workplace.

If you're me (which you probably aren't but I wouldn't want to rule it out completely - there are several copies of the Fortean Times in my bathroom so I know to expect the unexpected), you may have a bit of a bee in your bonnet about forcing exercise into your daily routine on the grounds you're too busy/lazy to do it as an extra thing on top of all your writing.

That being the case, the aforementioned work shoes will also need to be sturdy enough to walk to and from the office/library/ice cream van in. Ballerina pumps look cute to begin with, sure, but walk the streets of Edinburgh in them for a minimum 3 miles a day and they get shredded.

One must therefore consider what shop is synonymous with the description 'sensible, reasonably smart and well priced work shoes'?

I got my current pair from Clarks for £35 - a bit more than I wanted to spend, if I'm honest, but that's because I'm a bit cheap on account of never knowing where my next contract is coming from. They're basically fine, except for one rather discomfiting design flaw in the form of the elastic trim.

Living in Edinburgh, you come into contact with a high percentage of cobbled streets. If you catch a cobble at a funny angle, it's pretty easy to twist your ankle.

The fun thing about the cross bar on these shoes is that if your foot hits a cobble at a funny angle the elastic stretches, so your shoe doesn't necessarily go in the same direction as your foot, exponentially increasing the possibility of ankle sprainage. Undoubtedly this is good comedy value for people walking behind you, but it's damnably awkward and uncomfortable for you as the wearer.

Then there's the side trim, elastic again, which make these shoes nearly impossible to wear with bare feet. It catches and rubs at the skin, creating blisters or at the very least sexy red marks that make it look as if you've had an allergic reaction to your own ankles.

They're basically fine with tights, but sometimes (alright, three that I've counted so far this year) you don't want to get your deniers on because it's too warm. Sadly if you're on a restricted budget of one pair of work shoes at a time, you either have to sweat it out or invest in a layer of plaster to go across most of the foot area. The plus side to this is that you can invent a series of outlandish stories about how you gained your injuries.

I also discovered in one of the monsoons we had the other week that these shoes are not entirely averse to letting water in. You might even say they were pro. Quite frankly it's a wonder I'm not laid up in bed with two broken ankles and a case of pneumonia, all as a result of buying a pair of not-amazing-but-not-terrible-enough-to-justify-the-expense-of-new shoes.

It is, as they say on the twitter, one of those #firstworldproblems that would never have come up if we had simply embraced Communism when we were told. But such is life.


  1. Oh the age-old problem of the Sensible Shoe! I bet the Stoneaged ladies were struggling in just the same fashion, perhaps debating the merits of mammoth hide and soles made of leaves. Personally, my outdoorsy job means that I spend most of my time in rather fetching hiking boots. At least I get to stay dry in wet weather, but in the rare moments (which have been actually not that rare this spring/summer) when it's hot out - I get boiled tootsies. And when I take off said boots, the smell could take down small deer. Working at the Deer Centre, I could actually put this to a scientific test, come to think of it...

  2. You have my blessing to embark upon this experiment, in the name of SCIENCE. You should video the results and put them on youtube.

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