I went to visit my friend Terri this past weekend. She lives near Hagerstown, Maryland, where the state borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia come together. While I was there, we ventured out to the Hagerstown Outlets to do some shopping for her son, and afterward decided to wander around see if anything else struck our fancy (and also since we were already out, Terri’s husband was home taking care of the baby, there was a Starbucks… you know how this goes). I don’t go shopping often, so it was pretty fun just to wander through stores with Terri and look at different things, although I was secretly hoping for a great deal on some shoes.
I’ve basically wore my favorite pair of sandals all summer (I have the sandal-strap tan lines to prove it) with occasional use of some old Keds-style knockoffs from Target when I needed an actual shoe. All of my Converse have aged and worn out to the point it’s time to let them go, and the Target-Keds are looking a little worn-out, too. I also needed slippers; I’ve been wearing a novelty pair shaped like unicorns, but they’re getting ratty. I’ve also been looking to replace my riding boots, which were bought for $30 from Payless, when Payless was still in business. I’ve been nursing them along with generous applications of mineral oil on the pleather and careful storage that has kept them looking fairly new, but I’d rather have a pair of quality leather boots. Recently, I threw out a bunch of worn-out ballet flats… they’re not exactly quality shoes, and I find myself buying them because they’re cheap, wearing them out quickly, and having to get rid of them.
Quality shoes aren’t inexpensive… but I’ve made peace with needing to invest in a good pair of casual shoes. I don’t know where I’d get another $30 pair of riding boots now that Payless is no longer around, which is why I’ve been meticulously caring for the pleather… but if I’m going to spend the time and effort to take care of a pair of boots, why aren’t they real leather?! And for all the money I’ve thrown away on ballet flats, I could buy a pair of shoes that would last for at least a few years…
We initially stopped in the Clarks outlet, but the only shoes that really called to me there were a pair of beautiful pale pink leather 3″ strappy pumps that I would wear approximately never. Seriously, what occasion do I have to wear a shoe like that? I don’t. I just don’t. (For future reference, though, I am taking about the “Adriel Cove” heeled sandal. Look them up; they are gorgeous.)
Some time ago, when I started to get into the idea of dressing in a more classic/traditional style, I noted that what passed for a good “casual” shoe seemed to be a nice loafer. This was not well-received by my brain, and it probably resulted in why I have so many ballet flats, as I desperately tried to fill the loafer-shaped void in my wardrobe with another other than loafers. My parents are of a certain age — they’re first-wave Baby Boomers — and my mother delivered me about six months shy of her 40th birthday. Mom had very definite ideas about what was appropriate for the classroom, and they largely seemed to be based on her own childhood. Even though she was a teacher, she taught at a private high school — so maybe she just didn’t realize how out-of-touch with 1990’s child fashion she was. I wasn’t allowed to wear jeans to school, at all, until the fifth grade (when mom finally caved to my begging and pleading about how I was the only kid not wearing them). Before that, there was an argument about school shoes… do I need to explain the horror of being a child made to wear penny loafers when the other kids have Nike sneakers?
Terri and I actually walked past the G.H. Bass outlet the first time. Then I changed my mind, we turned around, and went in. The entire store was on sale, since the company is currently in restructuring and they’re closing their retail operations. Right up front, there was a display of shoes that were marked down to 70% off. You’d pay only $33 for any box on the table.
Another thing you have to understand is that it’s impossible for me to find shoes that fit well. I generally wear a women’s 11 B, a size in which no cute, quality shoes have ever been made, ever. Sometimes I can wear a 10, and in some styles I do need a D (wide) instead of a B (medium) width. This shoe size is a cursed side effect of being 5’10” tall; good shoes are for other people.
On the table, there was a pair of women’s 11 B brown leather Weejuns. They fit perfectly. Once I had them on, all reservations about putting penny loafers on my feet for the first time since the second grade disappeared (and seriously, why are loafers so comfortable? I broke them in driving back to Ohio).
On the table, there was also a pair of women’s 11 B brown leather riding boots. They fit perfectly. I immediately resolved to donate my Payless boots to the thrift shop as soon as I got home.
Terri called to me from the back of the store; she’d found more shoes. I picked up my two boxes and wandered to the back, where I picked up a single plaid box from the shelf. It contained a pair of women’s 11 B moccasin-style slippers, in red plaid heavy flannel with a black faux-shearling lining. They were marked down to $13.50, and caused me to forget that my unicorn slippers ever existed.
I walked out of the store with three pairs of quality shoes/boots/slippers for less than $90, which I am counting as an absolute frugality win. These shoes are also marked down online currently, but nowhere near to where they’re marked down in the store. If you have a G.H. Bass outlet close by, definitely swing by and see if you can score some quality footwear for $33!
I’m super excited to wear these… it needs to cool down and actually start looking like autumn in northeast Ohio so I can pair the loafers with some wool sweaters, and the riding boots with skinny jeans and flannels! The slippers are already my “work shoes”, since I work from home, although if I still had an office they probably would have become my “office slippers”… don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it, I know several other people with office slippers!