A mathematician’s closet:

She has a well rounded shoe collection. I have been begging her to let me photograph it and make some style posts. “I wont answer shit like : describe your style in 3 words. Don’t you ask me such inane questions”, she said. I agreed.  Easiest things first – presenting her shoe collection :

“Ten years ago, I lived in three pairs – sports shoes, covered or semi-covered flats, and slippers. Moved to America for my PhD. Lived in New York, which marked the beginning of a huge transformation in how I looked at dressing up, grooming and taking care of myself. Today I own a variety of shoes – loafers, oxfords, sandals. And still want to add a few more styles into my collection. “

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 Brown Sandals : Made to measure by Kikanyc. You send in your foot impressions with measurements as per their specifications. The shoe artelier is run by a protegee of the legendary shoe maker Barbara Shaum

Cognac Sandals : Jerusalem.   ( Between Maanasa and me, we bought 8 pairs from the brand so far. For our husbands, dads, uncles, cousins, … The sturdiest sandals I have laid eyes on. Excellent value for money. Pairs well with Indian clothing. )

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Blue Perforated Loafers : New York City based sustainable brand – Coclico

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Black Sandals : Birkenstock.

Tan Sandals : A.P.C  

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Brown Loafers : Ralph Lauren Collection

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White Cut-out oxfords : Coclico

Tan oxfords : n.d.c

A Chat :

I see a lot of masculine shoes. Tell me a little about what you wear outfit wise on an everyday basis that goes with the shoes.

I don’t think my shoes are masculine. They are just not heels. But neither are they the black oxfords that my husband wears to work. So it is relatively easy to wear them. I think wearing black oxfords are so much harder to wear compared to tan/brown ones. I am a uniform dresser. Its usually a plain shirt half tucked in, wool trousers/denim cuffed up, black belt and my  shoes.   I try and make an effort to add a very feminine element to my dressing. It could be in my make up (eye liner ) or top bun or open curls or wear colored stone jewellry or a scarf with a subtle pattern. This extra touch is to celebrate the woman in me.

Oldest shoe and newest shoe ?

      Oldest: NDC – tan oxfords. I got them 4.5 years ago. Ruined them once since I got drenched in rain. But my cobbler could repair them.

Newest: Jerusalem sandals in cognac. They are only two months old. I started craving slip on sandals after I got pregnant and moved to India. 

How do you care for what you own ? fav cobbler in NYC ?

 

My shoe care starts once I am home. I dust them off and then put them in the shoe bags, and clean, condition, and polish at least once a month using my shoe care kit from Saphir . When I first moved to US, I had two shoes in my collection – Bedstu loafer in a very nice green color and dark brown lace up mid calf boots from vintage shoe company. I didn’t do anything to them. They lasted me for 4 years. But the quality was so good that I could have made them last longer had I taken good care of them. Since then, i started relying on two cobblers- one who was close to my place in Long Island and the other one in NYC (Cowboy Shoe Repair on Broome Street).

 

Lets take a moment to remember your studded loafers that we ruined hiking in Sedona. (She visited me in Arizona. And we went on an impromptu hike during a road trip. I was wearing combat boots. She was wearing studded loafers. It was a rocky slope. We destroyed the loafers ! )

Can you believe that I did not throw them away. I did not have the heart to do so. They carried me for almost 3.5 years and made me feel pretty. They became a part of me.  They were my signature shoes. Plain outfits and studded loafers. Early in 2009, it was not in fashion (or atleast my purchase decisions were not influenced by bloggers, instagram, or pinterest). I used to feel that my outfit is complete the moment I put them on. I walked and biked a lot in them. But was surprised that I could even hike them. Later, the leather became very hard and was ruined from the Sedona Bell Rock hike. If I had to buy a similar pair, I would not think twice. But I won’t buy it if it is the same brand (Antik Batik) though. I will get them if they are made with better leather quality.

 

You told me about the one shoe per color that you follow. Elaborate.

 

I have few constraints while purchasing. Need a tick in each of these categories: 1) very comfortable or guaranteed comfort after few wears, 2) usually buy in store unless its impossible, 3) avoid exact color repetition across different styles. The last one is a very strict rule for me. I don’t see a big difference in wearing a heel/sandal/oxford in the same color with denim. Heels might make me feel more delicate..but that is not what I want from my shoes. They have to keep me comfortable on my feet, should be of high quality, and sometimes be attractive.  Here’s a list of what I have currently. 

**Loafers – brown and blue
**Oxfords – tan and white

**Sandals – dark brown, cognac, black strap Birkenstock

 

Since moving to India, how has your collection changed ? ( Avg temperatures : 80-90 degree Celsius )

 I added cognac Jerusalem sandals and dark brown KikaNY sandals. The weather here is rather hot for oxfords and loafers. I only wear them during morning or evenings now, and choose my sandals or my blue perforated loafers if I am walking to work mid day.

Anything on your wishlist ? Or missing from your collection ?

I want to add few more to  my collection. 

**Flats – nude/grey ballet flats? I like this one from Salvatore Ferragamo.

**Kitten heel – grey/black ? (No idea where to find something thats a bit sexy and still functional).

 Any shoe wisdom you want to share ? 

I can only tell what helped me in my purchases.

1) Always buy in a store after walking all morning. It makes hell of a difference when you can talk to the sales representative  about any doubts you might have about the shoe.
2) Look for shoes with great quality leather, and take them to your cobbler for installing a vibram sole after few uses.
3) Stick to the brand you love. My husband only owns Santonis shoes and didn’t once hear him complain about them.
4) Notice which shape of the shoe cap suits your feet. (Almond shape works great for me).
5) Look for shoes with the stiffener. They help with making your shoes last and for ankle support. Use shoe trees.
6) Care for your shoes. Buy products specific for the leather type of your shoes.
7) After wearing the shoe, I see to it that I have half an inch gap between the shoe top and my longest finger.
8) Don’t buy suede shoes. They are very hard to maintain.
9) Don’t buy shoes just because they went on sale.
 

Brands that I adore: Santoni (I dont own any from this one. But constantly drool over my husbands shoes), NDC and Bedstu.


There you go. Isnt it a well chosen collection ? Coming up sometime soon : Style mistakes from our 20s, a conversation.  She is holding the voice memo we recorded hostage.