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.

This entry was posted in Regan Writing, Shoes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Shoes: A Collector’s Story

  1. Judi says:

    What would happen if we declared “sequester” day for shoes?

    • Lisa says:

      I’ve been thinking about this for 2 days and I still don’t get it…. would it mean across the board cuts in shoes? How does that work?

  2. Bridget says:

    P.S. Sorry about the “you’re” / “your” typo. I know how much this bugs you in student papers and I’m ashamed I just committed it.

    • Lisa says:

      Please, we’ve all done it. That’s not the point. The point is that you CAUGHT IT. If the students would do as much, there would be no problem.

  3. Bridget says:

    Love this post, obviously. But one point of contention: Madrid is a shoe wasteland? Bist du serious? I bought three pairs when I was last there, and had to cut myself off. They are not only beautifully made, but one of them may be the most fashion-forward pair in my whole closet (i.e. Todd thinks they’re “weird”). So I have to stand up for Madrid leather products in general (gorgeous gloves, too) and shoes in particular. But your boot purchases rock, and you’re legs are looking fabulous as always.

    • Lisa says:

      Ich bin ernst! I confess that the Madrid thing may have been a timing issue — we were there in February, when the winter stuff was largely sold out but the spring stuff wasn’t totally in stock. All I can say is that I was on a mission to buy a pair of shoes in Madrid, and I came out empty-footed. I gather from your remarks, however, that a return visit is necessary in order to reassess the situation. I’ll have to work on that….

      Thanks for the kind words, B. I dig your legs, too. ;)

  4. Chez says:

    While I am in no way a shoe savant (think Aerosoles – eee gads!), I can appreciate a pair of hot boots when I see them. Dayum, gurl.
    Also my less than stellar shoe collection notwithstanding, I am proud to serve as your foot soldier (ahem) in the war against the flip flop and the perfectly flat sandal. Viva la closed toe! Viva la wedge heel!

    • Lisa says:

      Chez-man. You have cute shoes! I’ve seen them! And I have some Aerosoles — in fact, I have a great pair of summer wedge sandals that may make an appearance on this here blog that are Aerosoles.

      But now you made me think of perfectly flat sandals. Gross.

  5. Nireena says:

    A blog about Vienna AND shoes. You won me over. Bookmarked! :)

  6. Sabine says:

    Oh my god I thought I was alone in this obsession. It got worse when I moved to a place I didn’t like. I keep buying shoe types to compensate for conditions. What I want to know is: what is it about shoes??? Why???

    • Lisa says:

      Sabine! It’s true that there’s something magical about shoes. Surely it’s at least in part that one can basically own two pairs of jeans and, by changing the shoes all the time, make a constant stream of new outfits? I imagine that your shoe habit, like mine, was also partly born of the coincidence of moving to an inclement climate, if not getting rich, making at least post-graduate wages. It’s pent-up demand!

  7. Nanna says:

    Being a recovering shoeoholic, I feel you – I used to go to the shoe/heel guy at least every other week during spring season in Stockholm. Grabbed this pic from the blog I wrote in college when Nick made me put doors on my most prominent livingroom shoe display (he moved into *my* teeny 1 bdr apt):

    He used to complain about my $250-per-use shoe investments, but now he’s begging me to get my style on again. Funny how company logo t-shirts and flats can turn a man around…

    • Lisa says:

      Nanna, Thank you for the picture — I enjoyed that display greatly. I have a similar shelf in our apartment, and it’s also exceeding capacity. My spouse doesn’t complain about my shoe habit though, being aware of the alternatives. That said, there’s a lot of talk around here about pieces of furniture that could potentially double as shoe racks. (“Should we get a bench for the hall? Maybe we could find one with a shoe rack under it?”). My dear friend K. used to love to buy shoes, and once in a while would call me and say, “Tell me again about your horse,” and I’d say, “Yes, every 6 weeks the horse gets a new set of shoes for $200, and we throw the old ones away. That gets me over all reservations about spending money on my own footwear!

  8. Meryl says:

    Boots should always have heels. I have a pair of Kate Spade rain galoshes with a 3 inch heel. They work great. I see no reason why you should compromise your most dearly held principles simply due to the miserable weather in your adopted city of residence. You can get puff boots with heels:

    • Lisa says:

      Meryl, I feel encouraged by your strong stance. I should make it clear that the puffer boots have wedges — they are not flat. Flat puffers are hideous. But I do get a kick out of the fact that the defender of the flip-flop is taking me to task over a lapse in wearing heels! One nice thing about Vienna — fewer flip flops. :)

  9. Hillary says:

    Love the photo with the boots and stockings! You are my kind of gal!

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you, Hillary! I appreciate your encouragement. I love those stockings, too. They’re actually that rarest of animals: comfortable fishnets. They’re a brand called Wolford that makes really nice stuff:

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