Shoe Shopping in the Kingdom of Wonder

February 28, 2017 | Gilly
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My Dad has always taken great care of his shoes; cleaning them at the end of the day, meticulously polishing and re-soling them, before they desperately need it. This way, he has apparently only ever owned four or five pairs of classic shoes that have lived seemingly forever, smartly set side by side under the bed.

My mum however was a hoarder (of many things) and had the footwear of (this) girl's dreams.... Ballroom worthy gunmetal sandals with high heels, and a thousand sparkly straps... Chunky heeled seventies knee highs, worn with her grey trench coat* to pick me up from school... Dr Scholl, navy leather, buckle topped clog sandals (believe me, they were hot, and if you can track a pair down and learn to walk in them, your calves, feet and spring wardrobe will be revived, I promise!) Anyway, they were all chucked in the bottom of her packed wardrobe, taunting me from aged 14 upwards - she was a size 36.5 and I, sadly, am a size 41.   I obviously inherited little bit from both parents; I love a classic shoe, like a Brogue or a Chelsea boot * and have learned how to care for them. This in my mind allows me to gather myriad styles of sandals, boots, trainers and heels and feel just fine about it, just like my mum!


Holiday in Cambodia and I got no Sole

Just the boots alone... ankle boots, the Marant suede, the beaten up bikers, the holy grail Chloe studded & buckled Suzannes (and 2 back up pairs of the Office versions), vintage Frye knee high tan leather, killer heel grey suede Pedro Garcias, Giuseppe Zanotti flat, black, thigh high pig skins...  and I have at least 9 pairs of cowboy boots. Why on earth didn't I bring just one pair here with me to South East Asia?   Too hot? Cowboys are hot. ALL of the time. And at home it's nearly always soaking wet, so cowboy boots are made for this climate, damn it.  I could have had my old faithful festival boots blessed by the monks and made a few last memories in them.   Ok, so they were literally on their last legs a few years ago, when the cobbler in Pimlico, sadly shook his head and said, "This is the last year Love, let them go. There's no leather left to stitch around the sole and I've replaced those heels umpteen times. I've done my best, but I can't see them getting through another winter..."   Well that was ten years ago and they still exist (but the last time I wore them, it was like wearing two sponges strapped to my feet that sucked mud directly from the ground and up to my ankles.  I didn't care - they looked great and I got to see the beautiful genius that was Prince and danced in his purple rain (Glitter cannon) and I will never throw those boots away, too many great times to remember.

Big Foot

So, here I am in a land of teeny weeny footed natives and I am struggling for even a flip flop fix. Sadly, if a girl wants something other than the standard slice of rubber with a toe post here, in Cambodia, she better have small feet. No there's nothing wrong with a Havaiana style thong (absolutely nothing at all, essential really), but when you want to rock your cropped jeans and straw hat with something nicer (maybe a wedge?) then it's a big struggle to find anything bigger than a size 38 out here.

Usually, my market excursion would commence as thus:  Me: "Oooh they are nice!" (gold, flat, leather, sexy...) Me: "have big size?"   Stall holder: "No have" and repeat...

In fact after a week of trawling, I saw some thick rubber soled wedges with a bunch of squishy grapes, a banana and an Angry Bird attached on the uppers in the market the other day and I WOULD have bought them. IF they had FIT.

Jean Shrimpton Sandals

Jean Shrimpton wearing her Dr Scholl ‘Exercise Sandals’

Lessons Learned

Wear the boots on the plane: You can always put them up in hand luggage and wear your slippers for the flight.

Never give up:  I found some great wedge sandals at last and the old lady was so amazed that she actually had shoes that fit a giant, that she gave me $2 off.

The internet rocks: Dr Scholl have re introduced my Mum's navy buckled ‘exercise sandal’ (getting them) and a sporty looking wedge I like the look of...

vintage R Soles


They Live!!
Far left oxblood and white leather, Vintage R Soles from the Kings Road, London.

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