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October 27, 2012 8:18 PM   Subscribe

Leggy Girl Needs Mary Jane Hookup in London... no, not that kind.

So I've got my girl hooked on Mary Janes over the last year or two, which is something she hadn't been been culturally into, being more of a pumps-and-power-suits person.

We're in London for a couple weeks for some shopping and in order to generally avoid Eid. A big item on our agenda is finding her a couple of pairs of comfy and durable MJs that can work in a low-key office and everyday fashion.

The best two pairs she's got to date are some fancy Mui Muis and a pair of Pradas we picked up at NM last year, and while both look great and certainly pass the snobby sniff test in the office sewing circles back home, neither has worn very well: they scuff easily and polish up poorly, and both are starting to show some signs of separation around the heel. If these were men's shoes, I'd be pretty disappointed in how they've aged, but I don't know if it's unrealistic of me to expect more than a couple of seasons of life from woman's shoes, especially when they're subject to nasty weather.

We walk a lot, trying to be healthy and all, and so she'd prefer something comfortable and durable, a pair that won't crumple from Soho slush or Satwa sand, but also something that remains 'pretty' and appropriately girlish. No punk-rock boots, in other words.

Practical but girly ladies of MeFi, what labels or lines should be we considering for the best experience? Bonus points to anyone who can direct us to the best central London shops or cobblers or whatever they're called here. :)
posted by rokusan to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Can you post pics of some mary janes similar to the ones she has and likes so we can get an idea of her style? For instance, were those Miu Miu ones more like these, or these or these?
posted by JuliaIglesias at 9:04 PM on October 27, 2012

Many women wear comfortable shoes in the street and change into fancier ones at work/parties/etc
posted by brujita at 9:13 PM on October 27, 2012

I don't really think of London as a shoe shopping destination, especially if you're coming from the US, but you could try Selfridges Shoe Store (Gallery?) which is huge. HUGE. Like a department store just for shoes. A lot of the brands you can get in the US for cheaper though. Or wander Carnaby St and check out some of the small stores there for something you might not be able to find in the US.

Now Portugal and Spain? There you will find shoes. Many brands that you can't get in the US, generally very nice leather for the price and good soles for walking. Frustratingly many of them are only in smaller sizes and I have giant feet.
posted by fshgrl at 9:35 PM on October 27, 2012

Response by poster: Like your first link with about half the heel, Julia. (She's 5-9 and imposing enough.)

I'm no women's shoe expert, obviously, but I'd call it a sort of "business cute" fashion school, if that helps.
posted by rokusan at 9:54 PM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: Thanks rokusan, that's very helpful! In that case, see if you can find a Clarks store. Their shoes are definitely made with comfort and durability in mind, but they still manage to design quite a few cute, stylish, options.

As far as Deisgner level shoes like Miu Mius or Pradas; those are good quality shoes, you're just not supposed to be walking miles on slushy city street in them. Women's dress shoes, especially heels, are necessarily more delicate than men's dress shoes, because of the shape and style. High heels, even sturdy ones, have weaker connecting points at the heels, and have to withstand very different pressure and wear than flat, men's style dress shoes. Women's shoes also have a wider range of leather finishes, many of which are more fragile than basic cordovan leather common to quality men's dress shoes. Heels also tend to require a lighter-weight leather to achieve the S-shape the foot takes in heels, which is harder to restore with a good polishing. Your lady will want to follow brujita's advice and wear more sturdy shoes when walking any distance and in inclement weather, and switch into the more expensive shoes once safely indoors.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 11:23 PM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: For high street shoes, Clark's is the go-to brand. They are absolutely everywhere and you won't have any trouble bumping into one. Clarks you can wear regularly for two years, no problem. See also Office.

If you want to make a shoe pilgrimage, I would go to the British Boot Company in Camden. They will have MJs from all of the British manufacturers on their site, and even if they don't Camden is worth hitting up anyway.

If you want swishy, go to: Spice; the shoe gallery at Selfridges, or there are literally 14 delicious shoe boutiques in a row on Sloane Street.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:13 AM on October 28, 2012

I'd suggest one of the Westfield malls - there are two in London, one east at Stratford, one west at Shepherd's Bush, both on the Central Line. They have a ton of shoe shops and department stores, you're under cover, you can take a break for lunch and it's a nicer experience than trying to navigate Oxford Street.
posted by essexjan at 2:23 AM on October 28, 2012

Best answer: If you're in London, you may as well visit one of the Church's stores. Church's is a shoemaker well known for their handmade traditional English shoes. They're actually owned by the Prada group, and are often the original manufacturer of Prada/Miu Miu footwear. They're mostly known for their men's shoes and I doubt they make Mary Jane style shoes, but I'm sure they will have something that is fit for wear at the office and everyday (unless your partner prefers a really "dressed down" and relaxed look). If full blown oxfords are a little too fancy, Church's should stock some more casual models (e.g. suede monk style shoes).

Dress shoes may not be considered "girly" shoes, but I think they look great on women (and men), especially those who are already tall enough without heels. Traditionally made dress shoes are a nice combination of sophisticated style and durability and comfort. Of course, they do come at a price. The good news is they will last for many years if properly cared for, and are constructed in a way that enables them to be resoled.
posted by quosimosaur at 3:13 AM on October 28, 2012

Clark's is great. I would also try the Natural Shoe Store on Neal Street in Covent Garden.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:41 AM on October 28, 2012

Not in London (actually in Mexico and mail order), but I've heard nothing but good things about Golden Ponies shoes. They do Mary Janes, T-straps, ankle straps, oxfords, and triple strap flats, in a kajillion colors. They're handmade of real leather, and everyone I know who's bought them raves about them. The only reason I don't have any yet is because I can't choose one pair, and I'm probably going to get about four when I have the money saved up. (Did I mention they're all under 50 bucks? I'm kind of in love with these shoes.)
posted by nonasuch at 7:31 AM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the wisdom on all counts, Julia. Expectations adjusted. We both want her to have nice things, but nice things that last, so that's the challenge.

I love the Camden market walk anyway, so we'll be there later this week regardless, but thanks to DB for pointing out the British Boot Company specifically: it's quite possible we'd miss it in that narrow-ass sea of shops.

And finally, I have some Church's myself, but didn't even consider them as a women's brand, so thanks for that thought and direction, Quasi. If they're half as well-made as the men's oxfords, we'll be delighted. (The female equivalent of that typical cordovan Church's oxford that looks better and better with age is exactly what we'd like to find.)

Thanks, all! Off to market!
posted by rokusan at 8:04 PM on October 28, 2012

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