I have a tendency to get really attached to a certain clothing item until I've literally worn holes through it, and then I don't know what to do without said awesome piece! In the last couple of years, I've had three pair of incredibly comfortable flats that I wore EVERYWHERE (two of which I found on DSW clearance racks).
The first pair was handmade in Spain out of black nubuck; and I never even had to "wear them in." They were blister-free from the first day I put them on! As Linda Richmond (Mike Meyers) would say, "They wuh like buttah!" I also loved them because they were unusually dainty for being made of nubuck: The hand stitching was evident and lovely, and the cute little pointed toes caused me to sometimes refer to them as my "elf shoes." I wore them so much that they got holes the size of nickles in the soles, allowing lots of dust and grit to get between my toes, but I wore them anyway... at least until the rainy season was in full swing.
The second pair I haven't yet allowed myself to toss, I guess, because the holes in them are still pretty small. However, with spring CLEARLY THINKING about coming soon, I am very eagerly anticipating wearing shoes that allow my ankles to be free again. Knowing that I walk in Boston a lot more than I did in Texas, I just know my brown Dollhouse flats aren't going to make it through another year. The reasons I love them so much are because they have this neat detail across the toe that has 3 layers of different shades of tan/orange/marigold leather, making them really versatile; and the shape of the toe box feels like they were custom designed for my fairly triangular feet.
Pair number three is the black patent, hand-tooled Italian leather driving moccasins made by Sesto Meucci that I got off ebay 2 springs ago. My sister and I refer to them as my "foot-gasms" because they are just so amazingly well-made. I ran (and danced) all over Europe and Texas in them, and the beautiful, lacey uppers on them have now stretched to the point of the shoes just about falling off my feet when I wear them. I've also managed to bust one of my pinky toes completely through the paisley-patterned perforated leather. Retiring my "foot-gasms" seems unfathomable, but the time has come.
I have searched high and low for replacements for these shoes, but nothing quite does them justice. Sesto Meucci is still making incredibly beautiful and comfortable shoes, but the ones that really make me swoon cost around $200 retail. Even ebay doesn't have any of the pretty ones anymore--just the clearly-comfortable-but-kinda-weird-looking ones for about $50-75. As for my black nubuck and brown artsy flats? Nothing quite does them justice, either. Most shoes made of nubuck look really sporty, or like they only belong on the feet of someone shuffling around a nursing home. Sure, there are brown flats all over the internet, but the ones with pointy toes have no space in the toe box for ACTUAL TOES. Case in point: BC Footwear's Hovercraft flats in Whiskey. Maybe they don't have orange and marigold on them, but they do have two tones of brown, and they are slick, yet feminine. They come so close to being acceptable replacements for my Dollhouse wonders, but then I read the reviews, and everyone says "beauty is pain." This is a sentiment I refuse to adopt.
So, now, of course, I'm obsessed with learning about shoemaking. I know, I know--at Christmas I asked everyone for hatmaking supplies, and most of you were smart enough to steer clear. It's not like grad school and three jobs allow you much time to fiddle with totally unfamiliar supplies/tools that could potentially cost an arm and a leg and make a huge mess. And yet, I persisted. I watched tons of instructional videos on YouTube; I inhaled 100-year-old illustrated millinery guides on Google Books; I dug through hundreds of ebay searches looking for the right kind of felt and glue and needles; I daydreamed about how to make my own (affordable) custom hat blocks so I could invent awesome designs to hug my head! Somehow, I never got sick of it! I am a self-diagnosed "research-aholic," and anyone whose met me wouldn't dare disagree.
I've been posting my YouTube finds on Facebook, but that doesn't seem the appropriate place for cataloging all of these gems. I must blog about the wonders of research.
Blogs about people learning to make shoes are really exciting for us craft-nerds. I have found two that are pretty good: Nori's Stuff and Green Couple. The folks who wrote Green Couple actually went on their honeymoon in the backwoods of Virginia just so they could spend a week learning about shoemaking. Cannot imagine talking a certain someone into that sort of "romantic getaway," but maybe I could get a coupon for a local class next birthday! There are actually quite a few traditional artisan cobblers/shoe repair guys in Boston that it's entirely possible I could charm my way into some sort of summer/weekend apprenticeship. It would be so fun to learn from someone in real life, rather than just online! But I digress. Nori's Stuff is a really great blog that is much less overwhelming than Green Couple's incredibly detailed (but somewhat poorly photographed) endeavors. Thanks to blogs like these, I've learned how to make your own shoemaking last (a copy of your foot that you can use for stretching/hammering/gluing leather into the right shape), how to make a flexible steel leather needle out of guitar string, how people in Budapest make really fancy men's dress shoes from scratch while listening to techno music, and so much more!