Category Archives: Shoes

Shoe Blogging Resumes

So I’ve been sitting here quietly photographing my shoes, but I didn’t want to post about it because of the whole debt ceiling/gov’t shutdown debacle that was unfolding here. First of all, the whole business was too infuriating and embarrassing to describe. Second of all, had we breached the debt ceiling, I didn’t want to be posting frivolous shoe pics while my 401K burned (kidding, I don’t have a 401K). And also, I was really busy posting angry notes on John Boehner and Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan’s Facebook pages (not kidding).

In the interim, some shoes happened, though, and some of them even relate to travel. Shall we?

Got 'em in Berlin, wearin' 'em in Berkeley.
Got ‘em in Berlin, wearin’ ‘em in Berkeley.

These cuties were purchased in Berlin, as a last-minute buy on the way to the train. I seem to be a sucker for wood-heeled green shoes. Huh. I never really noticed that before. You know, they tell you a blog is a journey of self-discovery, but I’m just now realizing how true it really is.

For those who cannot pick a color.
For those who cannot pick a color.

These are red-grey-beige colorblock mules, purchased in Vienna at Salamander. Now, ordinarily I am very strongly opposed to shopping at Salamander. Very. Their prices are a Frechheit, an impertinence. You can often find literally the very same shoes down the street for like 20 euros less. But. These were on mega-sale, and I have an on-again-off-again romance with colorblocking. They look particularly charming against the institutional carpet of my classroom (no students were present when I took this picture).

Is that Houndstooth? What exactly is Houndstooth, anyway?
I don’t know the name for that pattern. Is that Houndstooth? What exactly is Houndstooth, anyway?

I’m not gonna lie, these shoes hurt. They hurt like you wouldn’t believe, especially after 3 hours of lecturing in them. They make the plantar fasciitis in my right foot burn with the fire of a thousand suns. But so what? They’re so cute. They’re actually fabric on the top, like a knit kind of stuff, giving them a friendly look. Which they need, because you could take out someone’s eye with that heel.

One more? These are a classic:



I got these in Trieste, Italy. They were over my budget. Well, one of my budgets. I have a mental price limit on Utterly Ridiculous Shoes — and it’s a lower amount than my limit for Elegant Classics I Could Walk A Block In. (No, I don’t want to specify the relevant amounts.) These were over my Utterly Ridiculous limit by like 15 euros. My traveling companions pitched in the extra for the pleasure of seeing me buy, and then wear, these shoes. I did and still do consider that to be a highly friendly gesture.

A word on Trieste, since I’m on the subject. The place is a revelation. It’s off the beaten path, so far around the Adriatic that it’s practically opposite Venice, which is itself already the established limit of the traditional tourist loop of Italy. But Trieste is, in my opinion, far more pleasant than Venice. Certainly it offers better vistas. The city center comes straight down to the Adriatic, embracing the water:


Ignore the ugly scaffold. Trieste is characterized by its fantastic and fantastical Baroque architecture from the time when it was the primary sea port of the Austro-Hungarian empire. And at night, that architecture is spectacularly lit:

Trieste by Night

I recommend a trip to Trieste if you ever have the opportunity. And next time we speak, I rather think I’ll talk boots. I also plan to bitch at length about United Airlines. So much to look forward to!


Posted in Around Austria, Regan Writing, Shoes | 3 Comments

What’s New? Shoes!

“Where have you been,” you ask? Good question.

I came back to the US a few weeks ago. Now, don’t worry. This is a temporary state of affairs — in the same way that a trip to the dentist is temporary. That is, it comes around regularly and is somewhat painful. Every fall I come back to the US to teach a couple or three classes, and then around Christmas I’ll head back to Vienna.

Will blogging cease? I certainly hope not. But I’ve been uncertain about the terms on which to continue. Clearly, going on and on about sights and events in Vienna when I’m not there would be…weird. And while I really do want to write a post on the subject of American versus European drivers (good GOD, California, would it kill you to stay in your lane???), I don’t feel like I want to spend the next several months writing a blog about life in the US.

So I thought I’d turn to my other sometime focus: shoes. A couple of years ago I did a thing on Facebook where I decided to teach an entire semester without ever wearing the same pair of shoes to class twice. I wound up posting many of the shoes I did wear as status updates. I’m not going to promise never to repeat a pair, because I have some favorites here that I never get to see when I’m in Vienna, and I plan to work them hard. But. It did occur to me that I could post a weekly shoe update here, on my friendly blog. For example, for the first day of school, I wore these:

Peep-toes from Udine. Loving the neutrals for late summer.
Peep-toes from Udine. Loving the neutrals for late summer.

I wanted to start out neutral, but assert a certain presence. I also got those shoes this summer on vacation in Udine, a city I very much liked. Somewhere along the line I developed a rule that wherever I travel I get to buy a pair of “souvenir shoes.” I’m not sure this was a good tradition to institute, but there you go. That’s how it is. So I will share with you, not only the shoes, but the memories and travels that go with them.

For example, those shoes, neutral though they are, call to my mind the church of Santa Maria di Castello in Udine, where a side apse is frescoed with a fantastically emotive 13th-century (probably) Byzantine fresco of the Deposition:

Udine's oldest church, probably 12th century with much earlier (7th century?) origins.
Udine’s oldest church, probably 12th century with much earlier (7th century?) origins.
Byzantine 13th-century frescoes in Santa Maria di Castello in Udine show a frenzy of emotion around the removal of Christ from the cross.
Byzantine 13th-century frescoes in Santa Maria di Castello in Udine show a frenzy of emotion around the removal of Christ from the cross.

Speaking of shoes with memories, last week I also wore these:

These make a very loud noise when I walk. I like that, but most people don't.
The heels on these shoes are wood. They make a very loud noise when I walk. I like that, but most people don’t.

Those shoes were acquired in the US, so not souvenir shoes, but they are what I like to think of as “lucky accidents.” I ordered them to wear to my best friend’s wedding (where my eventual spouse and I hooked up — talk about luck!). But they didn’t arrive in time, so I had to order another pair of shoes as well. Bonus!

Finally, last Wednesday I wore these. I love these. I got them in Vienna at this store in the first district that sells a highly random collection of Italian and Italian-styled stuff, some of it super-cool, some of it pretty strange, with a staff of very friendly young women who all seem to be Czech or Hungarian or something. These were on mega-sale (something of a theme among my shoes):

Peach and black snakeskin. Because snakes totally come in these colors.
Peach and black snakeskin. Because snakes totally come in these colors.

No promises, people! I still want to bitch about how people drive in California (like, it’s a STOP sign, not a SIT AND STARE sign!). I still want to marvel at how much I have to exercise and how little I can eat here. But in the meantime, I’ll show you some shoes, and hope this keeps you on board until I get back to Vienna in December.

And I’m gonna need to get better at the shoe selfies. I’ll work on it.

Posted in Regan Writing, Shoes | 1 Comment

What Not To Wear

Passing through the Ringstrassengalerie (that’s like a miniature mall in the first district in Vienna), I paused to ponder a rather high-end shoe store’s window display:

What Not To Wear

Now, I realize the photo is both blurry and poorly lined up, for which I apologize. It was taken on the fly, with my iPhone, as all the women working in the shop stared out at me. I’m a bit tired of getting yelled at in Vienna (that’s, like, a thing here—people yell at one far more than the average American is accustomed to), so I didn’t want to linger there lining up my shot. But I think the photo is distinct enough for you to see that this is a display of a variety of styles of shoes, all adorned with spiked brass studs. In fact, spiked shoes like these are all over the place in Viennese shops.

I would like to go on the record as saying that this is a Very Bad Thing.

I get that the craze originates with Christian Louboutin and Sam Edelman. And I’ll confess to at one point having been intrigued by a couple of pairs with studs (not so much spikes) just spattering up the heel. That has (or had—I’m over it now) a whiff of intrigue and a bit of play. But I feel that a pair of, for instance, ballet flats (already what I would deem a Bad Thing) crusted like a couple of fetal stegosauruses is a bridge too far.

One of my basic rules for shoes is that while they can be ridiculously high-heeled and come in a wide range of unmatchable colors, they do actually have to be wearable. One is not an orchid, to sit upon a shelf.  All I see when I look at these shoes is what it would be like to try to cross one’s legs in the tight space underneath a restaurant table. I hear the cries of pain and irritation as I impale my neighbors and shred my own hosiery. I imagine the crash of dishes as I get hung up in the table cloth, and I can practically feel the hem of my coat ripping as it catches on my heel. And how sad will these shoes look look when one or two of the spikes fall off? That’s all leaving aside the unpleasantly fetishy impression they give off.

I vote no. You?


Posted in Shoes | 2 Comments

Shoes: A Collector’s Story

It’s time for us to talk shoes. There are probably going to be a lot of posts about shoes on this blog, because, to the extent that I will admit to collecting anything, I collect shoes. And when you collect shoes, you have to have both limits (not any old thing will do), and also quests. The following boots fulfill both of those criteria:

New Blue Shoes

These boots have heels. I know, that’s obvious. But I have, until recently, had an absolute rule: No shoes, other than clogs or sneakers, with a heel under 3″. (Note the “until recently.” Change figures prominently in this post.)

These boots were also the result of a quest, for they are blue. I have been looking for a really great pair of blue, high-heeled, knee-high boots for literally years. I have trawled shopping sites, filtering for the color blue. I have stared in windows. I have…well, you get the idea.

Bonus points for these boots being bought in Italy, in Pistoia. They are souvenir boots.


(Whenever I travel, I try to buy a pair of shoes to remember the place.) (Except in Madrid. That place was a shoe wasteland.) (This shoe-travel thing will likely come up again.)

There is a problem, however. In Vienna, the weather is not exactly footwear-friendly. Some of this is exactly what you’d predict. I speak, of course, of snow. Mountains of snow, and the salt that follows it, make for cruel circumstances for one’s feet.

Snow It Goes

My first purchase since arriving in Vienna was, therefore, the requisite pair of puffer boots. I honestly thought I’d left this kind of thing behind when I moved out of upstate New York, but there you go: Puffer boots with puffer coat, modelled here in a tire rut in the snow on the edge of the 6th district last weekend.

The problems don’t end with the snow, however. Vienna’s public works people have an interesting practice of sprinkling little stones all over the pavement in addition to the salt. This must be to increase traction on the ice, but one primarily experiences it as an annoyance. The snow melts away, and underneath is this fine layer of little pebbles, not quite gravel, but not as fine as kitty litter.

It looks like this:

The Stones of Vienna

See that? That’s my toe, and all around it, a veritable beach of small stones. Well, you try walking over that stuff in high heels. Once the snow and ice are gone—and they don’t last long, because Vienna is not as cold as people think—the innocent heel-wearer will experience a constant sensation of little pebbles digging into the balls of your feet in the most painful way. Not to mention the fact that they scuff up your heels, and make you sort of slip around. All of which necessitated (necessitated, I tell you!) a further trip to the shoe store for a new pair of boots capable of coping with these extreme conditions.

Pragmatism Will Out

Here they are. Brown boots, with a heel that I am forced to admit can’t really be over 2.5″.

I know. If you’d told me a decade ago that I’d ever be wearing brown boots with a low heel, I’d have called you a lunatic.

Of course, I would have said the same if you’d told me I’d be living in Vienna (Vienna?!), so go figure.




But let’s confirm—that heel is just really low, right?

As Low As I'll Go

Of course, one thing has not changed: I am still a…gulp…collector, and as such, I still have criteria and I still have quests. Which brings us to….

New FriendsThe same trip through first district that brought you the pictures in my last post also took us past the store selling these — lovely grey boots (with heel!) that I desperately need to replace the somewhat worn-out pair that I left back in California.

So I bought them.

And I have a feeling it’ll happen again.

Posted in Regan Writing, Shoes | Tagged , | 18 Comments