Recently I purchased a new pair of shoes. This is not, in itself, an inherently unusual thing for me to do. I probably do it every 6-7 months. That’s generally how long a pair of shoes lasts in my experience. I buy my shoes for the purposes of work, being more inclined to wear trainers in my free time. I’ve written about trainers on this blog before and the comments for that post were awash with queries from across the Atlantic as to what I meant by the word ‘trainers’. So for the benefit of those readers, ‘trainers’ is British for what you might refer to as ‘sneakers’. But this post is not about trainers or sneakers. It’s about shoes. And I think we’re all on the same page with regards the meaning of shoes. Although if there is any doubt, I’m referring to a more formal style of footwear than the aforementioned trainers. In this case I’m referring to a pair of black leather brogues.
I quite like a brogue, but I’ve been known to wear shoes of varying styles. I’m fairly sure I’ve dallied with a loafer or two (well almost certainly two by definition) in my time. But my latest shoes are brogues. And their predecessors were also brogues. This is not irrelevant. Well the fact that they are brogues is fairly irrelevant but the fact that my latest shoes and the pair they replaced were the same style is pertinent. Particularly as they were/are the same style from the same manufacturer.
Because, the thing about new shoes is that they often require ‘breaking in’. This is not true of all styles of footwear. Indeed whenever I buy a new pair of trainers, they are generally pretty comfortable straight out of the box. Shoes rarely are. I don’t know why this is. Surely in the modern world it must be possible to make shoes that are both smart and comfortable to wear straight out of the box. But I have purchased neither brogue, nor loafer nor, dare I say it, Oxford, without my feet getting ripped to shreds for the first few outings. And yet, time and again, I fail to learn the lesson that new shoes require a transition period. That you shouldn’t really part company with your old shoes until the new shoes are broken in.
But this time was going to be different. I purchased my new shoes prior to Christmas, and thus had the Christmas holiday to break them in before my return to work in January.
So I safely disposed of my old shoes, knowing that time was on my side.
And then promptly forgot all about my new shoes for the entire duration of the festive period.
But all was not lost. Because, as previously mentioned, my new shoes were exactly the same as my old shoes. And my old shoes had not actually required a great deal of breaking in. They were almost (not quite but very nearly) that exact definition of the shoe nirvana I’d spent my life looking for. A pair of shoes that both looked smart and didn’t hurt my feet on day one. As I recall, they had hurt a little bit, but the pain had been fleeting and the shoes had been broken in within a matter of hours.
So I assumed that my new shoes, being identical, would follow the same pattern.
I opened the box and the first warning that all was not well became apparent. My old shoes had been black leather brogues with black laces. My new shoes, though visibly identical in most respects, were black leather brogues with red laces.
I am not the kind of maverick who buys shoes with red laces.
I checked the website from which I had purchased them (and indeed from which I had purchased my previous shoes) and the picture clearly showed a pair of black shoes with black laces. Now this is, admittedly, a website that specialises in heavily discounted goods. I am nothing if not thrifty and while I do like to look smart for work, I see no need to pay full price for my work shoes. Or I didn’t until I realised that lace colour was not a given when buying from discount websites.
There was, alas, no time to rectify the matter.
So I went to work in black shoes with red laces.
And everyone complimented me on my sartorial choice.
The shoes have been a big hit. I can’t move for someone praising my choice of footwear.
Alas, I can rarely move at all.
Because lace colour was not the only difference.
The relative ease in terms of breaking in my previous shoes was not transferred to these ones.
So I was in agony for my first week of wearing my shoes.
And visibly limping.
So alongside regular compliments about my fashionable foot attire, I have also had a lot of concerned people asking after my health.
I, think, on balance, I’d have taken comfort over the accolades.
Nonetheless, I’m not without a small amount of vanity. Lace colour will be a major factor in my next shoe purchase.
And I’ll no doubt forget to break that pair in too.