Q: When do you really know you need a pair of shoes?
Me: Is that a trick question?
Me: Because you always need a new pair of good shoes.
To add to above, Id say, you definitely need a pair of Indian Sandals! As I mentioned earlier, the range of shoes available to the common ladies of India are quite different from those available in some other world economies.
However, as far as we are concerned, we have one of the best deals ever. We got chappals and jutis, since time immemorial. Lets talk about chappals first.
No, they are not the so called ‘flip-flops’ which apparently harm your walk, these are creations which leave your feet with enough space to breath, wiggle and have a smart small heel, if so required.
The traditional childhood wear of our Moms, these thin soled slip-ons are comfortable in offices where they can be quietly slipped off under the table, yet are elegant and fashionable. And come in more varieties than the Kolhapuri and Osho slippers.
While the standard chappal/ slipper is thought of by most Indian women as one of those chunky ugly pieces of footwear only aunty’s-from-conservative-households-who-are-also-extremely-bitchy wear, they do have their original strappy lovely numbers existing, which can give the Greek ones a run for their money and their makers for inspiration. (Yes, including the Gladiators)
Made in a wide variety of colours and ranges, these are probably the only type of footwear which can effectively carry off any design without looking really bad. Sure, they can make you look ‘aunty’ (as Indians say), but never really ‘bad’.
Available in all price ranges in every type of shop, ranging from sidewalks to top notch places, they are the footwear that at most can do only one type of harm to your feet – by giving you a shoebite if you bought ‘em tight.
The modern shoe makers have evolved the humble chappal into its newer shoe-inspired avatar. These can be tied around your ankle or have a loop thereby resisting any impulse of the shoe to slip off or ‘flap’ while you walk.
Essentially, a chappal shall not flap while walking because unlike a flip-flop, its fit is snug.
The Kolapuri chappals are made from leather, and have to be made comfortable by regular use – just like any other leather product. However, the readily available ones in various colours and exciting designs are made with any material the shoe designers can get. Another unique point of the Kolhapuris – they do not have a single bit of nail on them and are made of pure leather! Once you get an original Kolhapuri, it may just last you a lifetime! And, they are cheap.
In recent times the Kolhapuri chappals have evolved into various looks including hand painted leather on some of them, with the designs in blue, green, red…making the whole chappal interesting and bright to look at – and look amazingly well with jeans.
Then there are also the Juti-inspired chappals. Juti/ Jutti’s are essentially made famous by the Punjabis. They are covered in front and flat soled, with a little triangle at the heel to hold the foot in. In some designs the back may be open as well. The top of the Juti is highly decorated. It can be decorated with anything. Ranging from paint, to bead work, to silver and golden threads, plain wool threads, etc. the jutis are as versatile as any Indian garment when it comes to embellishment. They are also called Mojri/ Mojari and are worn extensively in Rajasthan and Gujarat as well. As with chappals, they are very comfortable once broken into!
WHAT DO I SUGGEST? Well, with the variety available in chappals and jutis, women quite justly should go mad. When wearing a plain pair of jeans, nothing can brighten up the whole getup like a pair of colourful, ethnic chappals / jutis.
With traditional wear, salwar kameez and ghagras, a well embellished juti goes very well. Especially if the salwar kameez is the Punjabi patiala style, and the ghagra is rajasthani. Awesome party wear.
Men of course are quite partial to both of them. With a traditional Kurta-Pajama, a kolapuri chappal or a plain leather Juti looks graceful and elegant.
DONT’s One thing is for sure, Indian Sandals/ Chappals/ Jutis are best suited for long dresses – i.e. things that cover your legs. So, it is a definite no-no with knee length skirts. If to be worn with long skirts, it is preferable that they are Indian ethnic to look at. Preferably wrap around, with enough flair. Also to be avoided are Saris! They are elegant dresses, but in my opinion, unless a heeled sandal is worn, a juti can quite spoil the show for a sari – unless its for casual daily wear. Chappals and stylish sandals can be worn with a Sari, but the colour and style has to be kept in mind. Again, these go best with crisp cotton and thick silk saris rather than chiffon/ mixed fabric ones.
For men, anytime is a good time to wear a Juti/ a Chappal. Right from jeans, to sherwanis, pujama-kurtas to shotis. However, I hope my male readers would remember that trousers were never meant to be paired with this oh-so-Indian footwear. A kolhapuri for near-the-house grocery shopping can be pardoned, but definitely not as a dress-up!
So I say, go get yourself a pair of genuine chappals and enjoy your walk for years to come! I promise you will look chic all the while. This is one design that has been there for eons and will continue to stay.