Tuesday, October 09, 2012

In My Closet: Commuting in Style

Downtown San Francisco in the 1980s. Women in power suits. Pantyhose. Tube socks. Athletic shoes. Fashion disconnect. At least outside of the office. Once at work, athletic shoes were traded for stylish, impractical pumps. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I believe, like my grandmother did, shoes should be made for walking.
In My Closet: Stylish, comfortable walking shoes
Go anywhere with my grandmother and she would cluck her tongue. Visiting my grandfather's office with her at lunch, I'd frequently see her shaking her head as women walked by. She frequently traveled to Europe with my grandfather, so she had a different view when it came to fashion. For her, athletic shoes or Tevas branded you as a dirty American. So when I visited Paris years ago I went to her for fashion guidance. Her advice was simple (and accurate -- Parisians didn't think I was with the group of American tourists).

How not to look like an American

  • Never look like you don't care. Fix buttons, strings, holes, torn hems, and so on before you leave the house.
  • Never look like you just rolled out of bed. Iron or steam the wrinkles from your clothes.
  • Never wear scuffed shoes; polish them before wearing. Everyone notices your shoes; don't ruin an outfit with poorly maintained shoes.
  • Never wear workout clothes outside of the gym. Looking good should seem effortless. Don't ruin the image by revealing you exercise. Change out of and back into street clothes in the locker room, that's what it's there for.
  • Choose classic, timeless looks with a few statement pieces.
  • Buy the best you can afford. If your wardrobe is classic, no one needs know you shop at a thrift shop.
  • Pick an oxford with a heel height of 1 1/2" to 2" for walking. Everyone notices your posture; don't chose shoes in which you'll be walking stiffly or worse that will have you limping.
The logic behind her advice? If you don't treat yourself well, how do you expect those around you to treat you well?
For that trip to Paris, I got a pair of black oxfords, a couple pairs of Liz Claiborne wool slacks, and a few warm turtleneck sweaters in neutral colors (cream, brown, and black). When the Americans I was with were drawing attention to themselves in the D'Orsay, I and another woman were able to slip away and join a French tour group. Mission accomplished.
Today, my go to casual Friday outfit in the fall and winter months starts with comfortable shoes. I then add a cashmere sweater and my favorite Express jeans. In case you're wondering why I have two pairs of brown shoes--the heel heights are for different length jeans, short cut and regular cut.
What are your go to comfort shoes for walking?
Ciao Bella!
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.