Miss Shoes – Shoes you almost Missed

Shoes for the Discerning Indian Woman

Take Care of Those Shoes! January 27, 2010

Recently a commenter, Ketan Vyas, mentioned how important it is not just to own shoes, but also to take care of them. I promised him a post on the same. And here it is!

Till a few years ago, the life of a shoe owned by me was rather short. It was not that I did not look after them, but rather more about how I wore them and walked in them. I did not treat them well, twisting them out of shape when bored. Now, of course, I am more careful.

But that did not mean my shoes were bad to look at. They just tore early because of the friction they faced. I have always maintained that Cracked, Dusty shoes look horrible. Shabby, even. That does not mean you need to take out the shoe polish and spend an hour on those precious leathers every day. Just take care of them!

There are a few simple rules that make it easier to look after your precious shoes – and feet. And no, they are not all about cleaning and polishing and shining those shoes. Some are very simple, doable activities, especially in a dusty country like India. Here is my tuppence on what you can do to increase the life of your shoes.

#1 Watch where you walk

I am the few disreputable ones who does not polish their black shoes everytime I wear them. But then, most times I dont need to. Its simple. I try and watch where I walk. Avoid puddles, roads dug up, definitely avoid cattle. The thing that I find difficult to avoid are the roads in India where the pavement is lose and there will be a sudden crater of dust – just that point where you need to step on to and enter that car/taxi/bus/shop. So you go on to next rule.

#2 If you must, walk lightly

Try not to walk with a full step and weight onto delightless items as those mentioned above. So, it rained. So, there are puddles. That does not mean one need wade over them. You can lightly jump over them to dry ground, or lightly walk to avoid the water splashing on top and spoiling more than need be.

#3 Store them well

And I cannot stress this one enough.

#3 a) A lot of dust on shoes is from shoes themselves. Keep a shoe on top of another, and its a sure fire way of ensuring dust on your pair. All the mud the sole of your shoe accumulated is now being deposited on the top of the other. So, DONT store them on top of each other.

#3 b) The other advantage of not storing them as a tower is, the shoes maintain their shape. They dont get squashed from top, lose their creases at the sides or need extra effort wearing. Good shoes dont need to be coaxed into your feet.

Keep each pair in rows, next to each other. Boots need to be kept horizontally if they are of a soft material since then they may crumple down. If the boots are of hard leather, you can keep them standing. If you have the plastic shoe-shapers, keep them inside the shoe – they will maintain the shape of the foot for the boot.

#3 c) Another source of dust on shoes is your own home. In India, dust is everywhere. Keep your shoes covered as far as possible, unless you are wearing them daily. I use a shoe closet, and for those that dont fit in, I keep the shoe boxes. The special shoes worn once in a while are in boxes which I open to take them out. This ensures that not only do they not rest on each other, but also dont accumulate dust from all over the place and look pretty.

#4 Clean shoes with dry dusting

Once in a while, while wearing the shoes, dry dust them with a brush or a soft cloth. You may not have time to polish, but even this one moment rub down of your shoe keeps the shine alive and dust away.

#5 Really Clean them

This I cannot stress enough. Once in a while, take out all your shoes. Spend a Sunday on shoes if need be. Inspect them and in case of any part that needs to be repaired, keep it aside to get it repaired. Clean the shoes with a dry duster, then polish them with a shoe polish, and then neatly rearrange their shape if they have for some reason got misshapen. For suede shoes, keep a different brush to take care of the hair/wool that can stick to them. Check the heel tips, the toes for friction marks, polish these regions as well. If the shoe has an insole that is wearing out yet the shoe itself is fine, you might want to either get rid of it or invest in a shoe insole which you can use with multiple shoes. Dr. Scholls makes them well, with many varieties – and some especially for women. Gladiators too need to be brushed and cleaned. Polish the straps, especially if they are leather. Chappals, especially Kolhapuri leather chappals also need their fair share of polish. Sports shoes also need care. Wash them regularly!

Then keep the shoes back.

This not only ensures that your shoes are well cared for,  but also makes you suddenly realise the contents of your closet. Old shoes emerge, new shoes get identified, sometimes missing pairs are found and sometimes you will realise there are shoes that can be thrown away.

A last note: many women dont wear socks. Its fine as far as women’s shoes go, but if you are wearing closed, laced up shoes of any kind, you might want to invest in socks for the well being of your feet. Even otherwise, peds, ankle length socks or stockings can be of help for the strappy shoes and saving you from undue shoe strain or even slipping them on easily.

So go ahead, spend a day with your shoes, and remember, the real secret to maintaining any of your shoes are a little regular care!

 

Know your Shoes, Buy them Online July 16, 2009

Dont worry, this post is not just Gyaan (information), there will be some links where you can buy shoes. Though I will focus more on the intent of the blog and then give you the links!

I feel it is important to know your shoes before you go buy any pair. Sure, I usually buy shoes when I am out and I like something in the window. Infact, that is how one buys the best pairs of shoes. But what I am talking about here is knowing. Knowing that it is monsoons and you need monsoon shoes, or knowing that office wear shoes are required and getting a suitable pair, and so on.

Apart from knowing which shoe to buy, its important to know what shoe goes where. When out to buy shoes for formal day wear, it does not do to buy gold stilettoes (and then wear them at work)! When in school and college it really does not make much of a difference what shoe one wears. However, enter the corporate world, and our needs change. Gone are the days when wearing flip-flops was a statement. Suddenly they show how lackadaisical you are. And no, not even in an IT office will it be OK to appear in green flip-flops. No matter if you got them from Gucci.

Thus I think it is important to know what you are buying. Information is never harmful and always useful. Once you know that Clarks can provide you good daily, regular wear shoes, you know what to buy in a Clarks showroom. When you know that monsoons are here, you should go ahead and get some rain loving shoes. But what use is a Leather Boot in the Indian Summer? None. Why not, in that case, wait till you can wear it, and get better designs of the season! This does not mean you should avoid an incredible sale, but means prioritising. Knowing that the boots will lie in the closet till winters.

This blog is mainly for that purpose. I tell you what to buy, where to buy it from, and how good it is. I you want cheap monsoon sandals, Ill let you know the best place for them, for as many places in India as I can. You want luxury shoes? I know the place for you! If you know something, feel free to share with me.

I sometimes also talk about my shoe collection. It has managed to impress everyone I know, but I dont get the big deal. So I have some shoes. They wear out! Shoes are like wine. All beautifuil, tantalising and nice in a bottle, yet perishable and oh-so irreplaceable! I have gone through more shoes in shorter time than any of my friends have. Nowadays, thankfully, it seems my feet behave better with them and so they last longer. But in this manner I have experienced many designs and comforts of brands, non-brands, heels, flats, slip ons, buckles, – name it and I have worn it.

I want to share this knowledge, the experience, and the joy of shoes. Shoes dont come cheap. They are an investment and like any other investment, I wouldnt like to see it go waste. Hence, I suggest you go ahead and read some of the posts here (and if you find anything else this good on the Net, that too – Im not lacking in self praise 😉 and then decide.

Shoes are an integral part of ones dress. Men may not notice them and their intricacies on women. But we women know that a shoe can make or break an outfit. When it comes to men wearing shoues though, they too take a lot of care of what they wear. And they too, should think before donning the nearest available pair.

Enough on the gyaan. Today I will let you know some online portals for getting good Indian sandals (also called slippers or slip-ons).

Shoes, especially Indian shoes are best bought physically. I do not really recommend online purchasing for Indian Shoes. By going to the shop, testing it out and then purchasing it is the best way to ensure a good buy. This is because not only is their fit very important to the user, the leather feel is also important. Again, the sizes of the shoe sold is not very standardised in India. Though with Jutis and Chappals a centimeter here and there does not harm too much, it is till best to wear shoes of the correct size, always, to avoid any foot related problems.

However, since many viewers of the website may not be placed close to an Indian outlet, I am listing below some places where Jutis/ Chappals can be purchased online. (Please note that I have no tie-ups with any of the sites, their services are their own responsibility and I am only making it easier for you to reach some sites which look decent. I do not own any responsibility regarding their actions.)

That should get you started! If you want more information, leads or infact anything at all, comments are open.

Meanwhile, choose your footwear with care, and look great!

 

Rakhi Ka Swayamvar – Shoes July 15, 2009

I am a doting fan of the saga ‘Rakhi ka Swayamvar‘. The TV drama twist to the age old ritual wherein a bride chooses her groom from a group of eligible men.

Rakhi Sawant has made a name for herself in the meda business. She is outspoken and brash, and a lot of other things. However, what I am going to talk about here is her choice in shoes.

Typically, Rakhi is a woman who dresses with care. Now whether that means in good taste, loud, subtle – thats not the point. What is the point is its obvious she takes time over her appearance. And that usually includes shoes.

Most of the time, being a stage dancer she is barefoot. Dance, afterall, to the average Indian dancer is done barefoot and not with dancing shoes as in the West. However, when she appears on the stage or interviews, I have usually noticed her wearing stilettoes. And they look nice.

However, yesterday on her show, she was witnessed holding her shoe. Though the circumstances were unenviable. Rakhi was on a ‘date’ with one of her suitors – Ashwin. Upon him asking rather objectionable questions about her and the behaviour of people in the media industry, she finally had to take off her shoe and demonstrate to him the method by which she gets rid of unwanted suitors. (not him). The shoe in question was what was objectionable – to me.

Rakhi was dressed in a yellow-green synthetic sari, and a green blouse, with some sort of bells dangling from the sleeves. Decent enough, I guess. However, the shoe she took off, was definitely ‘sensible’.

A black shoe with barely a 2-inch platform heel, I did not get the opportunity to see its top. But the bottom was none too interesting. Granted, it was not expected that matters will reach a high where she will really have to take her shoe off, granted that the day involved significant walking around, it was still an objecitonable shoe to be worn by a celebrity, on national television, when she is the cheif guest. And that too, when it is Rakhi Sawant, who claims to be fond of shoe shopping.

So my humble advice to Rakhi, pay more attention to what you wear – including shoes. After spending a fortune on your face and body and clothes, it is equally important to pay attention to your shoes – elegant shoes with small heels are also available for jaunts in gardens if needed.

In fact, if the day involves wearing a Sari, walking in gardens, on uneven ground, it was an ideal opportunity for her to wear Indian Chappals or Jutis. Knowing the market and her wallet size, she would have easily got a pretty one to complement her sari, and those golden bells!

 

Indian Sandals – of Chappals and Jutis May 26, 2009

Q: When do you really know you need a pair of shoes?

Me: Is that a trick question?

Q: Why?

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.

Kolhapuri Chappals

Kolhapuri Chappals

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.

Colourful Jutis

Colourful Jutis

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.

Juti with Sherwani

Juti with Sherwani

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.