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I’ve never found it easy to buy shoes. The details are boring; let’s just say I have little (US size 5.5-6), oddly shaped feet that used to give me a lot of pain. Then I had the bones adjusted, so they now only occasionally give me pain. It’s a win on the part of the medical community.

The legacy here is an obsession with making sure I have shoes that fit, and enough of them that I don’t have to wear the same pair every day (which also gets uncomfortable). Like Gail Carriger, I say to grab the rest of the outfit off the thrift store sale rack if you must (in fact, she highly encourages it), but don’t skimp on the shoes.

My favourite shoes, logically enough, are ones with wide, rounded toes (see all Keen shoes), because that’s the shape of my foot. Elf shoes with pointy toes are not for me. I’m also a firm believer in being ready to take on rough terrain at any moment—if you keep an eye out for that sort of thing, it comes up more often than you might expect.

Being the shopper beast that I am—and knowing that I won’t last long in Scotland without waterproof shoes—I scouted out ahead of time which shoes I would buy when I got there. At least, I tried to. When amazon.co.uk returned a small selection of hiking boots for my ‘keen women’s’ search, I got nervous. Then I saw the price tags, starting at 90 pounds(!), and panicked. I have spent too long searching out the best shoes for my feet only to lose them now just because of a little ocean.

End result: shoes. I know I theoretically shouldn’t be buying things that I’ll have to pack, but the alternative seems even more unadvisable. Thanks to amazon US and Sierra Trading Post*, the 90 pounds stretched to three pairs of very expensive Keen shoes, with some left over. My student budget and my feet are both pleased.

I also solved another little dilemma: the problem of wearing brown shoes with black clothes. When an occasion rolls around that requires black shoes, I never have them. This is due to the fact that if you put the same pair of shoes in front of me in black and in brown, I will take the brown ones, every time. I love the variations in pigment caused by natural leather, and they don’t occur with black dye. (Because if it did, that would be grey.) The struggle to talk myself into a pair of expensive black shoes when I really want the brown ones is just sad.

Solution: I will stop trying to buy black shoes. Instead, I will buy red shoes! (Protip: it’s not that hard to talk yourself into something you already want to do.) As half of my favourite shoes are red anyway, I will eliminate a third of the potential shoes in my closet by not even trying to own black shoes.

Shoes of the evening, beautiful shoes! Jada pump by Naya. Sadly, not the red shoes I bought.

And now my panic over not being able to find shoes has been assuaged. Although I wouldn’t mind picking up some gorgeous pumps…

Now let’s just hope that my red shoes don’t bring me to grief.

The Red Shoes, UK 1948. A dancer is torn apart by conflicting desires.

De røde sko, a dark tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Note to self: don’t think about your shoes in Kirk.


* If you’re looking for brand-name sporting gear on a budget, I highly recommend Sierra. Their prices are similar to amazon’s, and they often run deals that drop the price even further, especially if you’re on their e-mail list. This works especially well if you wear sizes no one else does, esp. sizes 5-6 in women’s shoes, which are difficult to find anywhere else but are very cheap on Sierra. As usual, they’re not paying me anything to say this, more’s the pity. I would gladly say the things I’m already saying in exchange for good camping gear.