Shoes for a month?
March 21, 2007 2:25 PM   Subscribe

30 days in Europe. One pair of shoes. Suggestions?

Me and the future mrs. pdb are busily planning our honeymoon, which will be 30 days in the UK, Ireland, and France.

I want to take one pair of shoes, that I can wear every day - we've got a couple more formal events planned that I will be bringing dress shoes for, but I want to only take one other pair of shoes. We'll be doing a lot of city walking, a little bit of hiking, and being that we'll be in Western Europe in early May, there will no doubt be rain.

Here's my limitations. I don't want clogs, I don't want hiking boots, and as much as I normally wear running shoes I don't think they're the best option for wearing in the potentially heavy rain of the Irish coast. I also don't care about not having metal in them so I don't have to take them off at the airport - I do that habitually anyway.

I would prefer something reasonably monochrome, but not white. As for cost, anything under $150 would work, but closer to $100 would be better.

So, if you've ever spent 30 days in the same pair of shoes and liked the shoes as much at the end of it as the beginning, I'd love to hear about them. Thanks.
posted by pdb to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (38 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Dansko, Dansko, Dansko.
posted by tristeza at 2:33 PM on March 21, 2007

Ecco is my go-to shoe these days. I just bought a pair for a trip to London. Check them out in a store to make absolutely certain you're getting a good fit if you're really going to wear only one pair for a month. Ecco has everything ranging from hiking styles to dress shoes, and they max out around $180, but most are around $120-$150.

If you want to be sneaky, try 'em on in a store, then remember the style name and size, and go find 'em online for less. I did this once, felt guilty about stiffing the salesguy, but spent about $25 less in the long run.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:41 PM on March 21, 2007

Why not just get a pair of respectable looking black sneakers? They can masquerade as 'proper' shoes if you get the right ones, but are still as comfortable and reliable as sneakers.

I mean.. I only actually own one pair of shoes myself, and even those are two years old. They're a pair of black Sketchers. I love them :)
posted by wackybrit at 2:43 PM on March 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Dansko, Ecco, Mephisto are some brand names that come to mind. Also look at previous threads on here for eg nurse's shoes etc.

But mainly: try them on! See if you have a good shoe store in town that carries walking shoes. Nordstrom typically has an ok selection and service, if you can't find a specialist store. A specialist store would be good because they can tell you what kind of shoe will work for your foot shape (eg do you have high or low arches, do you pronate, etc).

Break your shoes in a little before you go, too.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:43 PM on March 21, 2007

I'd have to agree that Ecco's are one of the few fancy shoes that I can wear without wanting to instantly change into my Vans.

However, a decade ago when I wandered around Europe for a summer wasting every dime I had, I went with a pair of steel toed navy deck broganswith a pair of cushy inserts. The kind they use now look more sneaker-y. It is still possible to find those old shoes in the better Army-Navy stores. A good cleaning, a good base polish and they will look fine with a nicer outfit if you polish up any of your travel wear and tear.

They won't look like Eccos (all fancy and shit) but most people won't notice in the West and you will look like you fit in in the East. Great walkers. Sturdier and more comfortable than most civie shoes.
posted by Seamus at 2:49 PM on March 21, 2007

Please don't drink the Kool-Aid about rain in Ireland or the UK. It will be perfectly nice in May; maybe brief afternoon showers, but not so much with the typhoons.

My husband lived in the UK for 35 years and I lived there for 10 before we moved to Ireland. I don't even own a raincoat; I've been fine in a fleece and a brolly. He has worn Docs every. single. day. for 15 years and never had wet feet.

Spray them; you'll be fine.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:50 PM on March 21, 2007

Sorry to post twice, but to address some of your particulars - Ecco has some low cut models with hiking-style thick soles that are waterproof, and many that are nicely water-resistant. I always buy the kind of shoe you're describing - between a hiking shoe and a dress shoe, something you could wear around the city and to a decent restaurant, but also sturdy for lots and lots of walking. I'm an Ecco fanatic.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:53 PM on March 21, 2007

Response by poster: Please don't drink the Kool-Aid about rain in Ireland or the UK. It will be perfectly nice in May;

I've been to both countries many times, and you're pretty much right - the climate's not that different from Portland this time of year. Really, I'm less worried about the wet than the comfortable, but I wanted to make clear that running shoes probably weren't an option given that there may, in fact, be times when I'm out in the rain for an hour or two.

Thanks, everyone, for all the tips, keep 'em coming!
posted by pdb at 3:01 PM on March 21, 2007

I know some people who really like Merrell Jungle Mocs for this kind of use. You have to like the slip-on look though.
posted by cabingirl at 3:03 PM on March 21, 2007

Ecco are very comfortable and versatile shoes.
posted by fire&wings at 3:08 PM on March 21, 2007

Rockport Walkers have a great rep, but I've never owned a pair. Sperry deck shoes in leather, well broken, and properly fitted, might work well too -- *those* I *can* vouch for. :-)

Good socks and tie them properly.
posted by baylink at 3:09 PM on March 21, 2007

Definitely Docs, as DarlingBri said. I've worn them on every trip to Ireland and around London and never had a problem. Same for NYC and San Francisco, and so on. Come to think of it I've pretty much been wearing them for 15 years too with no wet or terribly sore feet.
posted by jdl at 3:10 PM on March 21, 2007

I wear Merrell lace up walking shoes the whole time, I can't find the exact shoes on the Merrell website but something a lot like this.
Some of their shoes look smart enough to be "smart casual", they're all good for extensive walking, and some of them are waterproof.
Mine are amazingly comfortable.
posted by emilyw at 3:16 PM on March 21, 2007

Response by poster: Definitely Docs, as DarlingBri said.

Shoulda mentioned - love Docs, can't wear 'em. I have wide feet (EE) and Docs don't accommodate that...I forced my feet into 'em in college but 30 straight days may be asking more than I can do...
posted by pdb at 3:18 PM on March 21, 2007

Shoulda mentioned - love Docs, can't wear 'em.

Oh. Bummer. Well, since I'm married to a Docs-only guy (who actually got married in them) you have now exhausted the sum total of my male shoe knowledge.

The only thing I would add, then, is that whatever new shoes mefi wisdom leads you to, wear them in before you go. Your tootsies will thank you so very heartily.

Have fun! I'd say I was jealous, except I already live here :)
posted by DarlingBri at 3:28 PM on March 21, 2007

Keen. Love love love love. I swear they give me superpowers.

In addition to the aforementioned Briggs (formerly Bronx) I also like Austin, Portsmouth, and Presido of the men's styles.

I wore my Bronx through the recent snow/ice/slush storm: though puddles of dirty slush, across curbside icefloes, and through the subsequent rain. Kept my feet dry and stylin'.
posted by desuetude at 3:29 PM on March 21, 2007

I'll also sneak a peek at my SO's closet for the brand of his favorite walking shoes -- his feet are wide, too.
posted by desuetude at 3:30 PM on March 21, 2007

I did my two weeks there with my Brooks Beasts. Of course, those are basically the only shoes I can wear anymore. :)
posted by smallerdemon at 3:39 PM on March 21, 2007

Seconding Keen! The Briggs style comes in an all-black that's pretty versatile.
posted by drycleanonly at 3:44 PM on March 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Earth shoes look intriguing, though I haven't tried them. Anyone have experience with them?
posted by puddleglum at 3:47 PM on March 21, 2007

If you are a girl, wear what I wore -- Birkenstock Mary Janes. They are extra-super comfortable, look nice, don't stink, and are good for wide feet.
posted by Methylviolet at 3:54 PM on March 21, 2007

I was amazed to see all of the Ecco posts.

If you are a guy, try these.

I wore these for two months all over Italy, France and the UK. I swear by them. I swear, buy them.
posted by Jay Reimenschneider at 4:12 PM on March 21, 2007

Earth shoes take some getting used to. (I'm not sure I'll ever get used to mine.) I don't recommend something so different for your only travelling pair, unless you have a good amount of time to try them out beforehand and they convince you to bring them along.
posted by bassjump at 4:35 PM on March 21, 2007

Keen's are fantastic if you have wide feet and need arch support. I love 'em.
posted by selfmedicating at 4:37 PM on March 21, 2007

Dansko, Ecco, Birks, Docs, Josef Seibel, Merrell. I am currently a huge fan of Eccos and Danskos, in particular, for daily wear.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 4:47 PM on March 21, 2007

Seconding Methylviolet's suggestion, although I have the Eden style of Birkenstocks. Very versatile. Have worn them everywhere, for many many miles at a time. (And when I broke my little toe last summer, those shoes were the only ones I could wear for several weeks . . .)
posted by oldtimey at 4:53 PM on March 21, 2007

Whoops -- I just noticed the original poster is not female. Well, anyway, Keen or Docs or Danskos should serve you well.
posted by oldtimey at 4:55 PM on March 21, 2007

My husband has wide feet and loves the Keen Portsmouth.
posted by candyland at 5:37 PM on March 21, 2007

SAS Shoes -- and I have wide feet and frequently sore joints -- might not be beautiful shoes -- but very forgiving. And they last forever!
posted by peace_love_hope at 5:54 PM on March 21, 2007

I'm partial to Fluevogs for go-everywhere shoes in that price range. Most styles are great for wide feet, and the soles are like butter. You'd probably want to go with one of the more conservative styles, with a flat sole. The ones with raised heels are a little wobbly on hikes.
posted by danblaker at 6:37 PM on March 21, 2007

I spent close to 3 weeks in Italy, in one pair of Eccos. We did a lot of walking. Wonderful shoes.
posted by everichon at 6:39 PM on March 21, 2007

My vote is with the Keens. I bought a pair for a week long trip to NYC where I would be doing a lot of walking and also needed to have something that would work in some nicer restaurants. The black pair of Keens fit the bill and I still loved them after a long week on my feet covering a lot of ground.

I took them on another week long trip to Tokyo recently (again a lot of walking) and they did me right there as well. These are some of the best shoes that will provide you with both comfort as well as style.

Have a great trip!
posted by cjw333 at 10:52 PM on March 21, 2007

I have worn the same pair of brown Timberlands five/six days out of seven since late August 2004, walking everyflippinwhere in them (I was a college student without a car). I have put miles and miles on them. They are some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn, they are waterproof, they look good enough to wear to church after a spot of polishing, and they are showing some signs of mortality but will last the year out (more, if I wanted). And they cost me $100 on the nose. I recommend them without hesitation. But break them in first, because they did make my heel bleed a touch until the leather loosened up.

Eccos are well spoken of, but I took a pair of those on a mission to Ukraine (translation: tons and tons of walking), alternating them (even day, odd day) with a pair of Clarks in the summer, and they self-destructed within four months of my beginning to wear them. Well, I mean they didn't fall apart, but they lost all well-constructedness and comfort, basically became a sole with a decorative cover. Lucky I have high arches.

The Clarks, on the other hand, I wore on alternate days both summer and winter for both years of the mission, and two to three days a week for the next three years, putting a thoroughly punishing walking load on them, and they have held up like iron. One of them finally developed a tear in the leather near the heel, and I put them on furlough until I could find a cobbler to nip it up. (And then moved to Taiwan and left them on furlough.) If it's a dress shoe you want, you have my recommendation for the Clarks, maybe with an insole as the footbed is a little tough.

My brother took a pair of Rockports on a similar mission (London) and they fell apart promptly. Not recommended.

I had the advantage of shopping for both my Truly Great Pairs of Shoes in the state of Utah, where the salesmen were returned missionaries themselves and therefore knew what it means to be hard afoot. The Eccos I bought in my home state of Washington, where the salesman was an older fellow who thought he knew what that meant, but honestly had no idea. I'm afraid you're in for the latter, mostly, in Portland.

And yeah, I realize you only need the shoes to not suck for thirty days, or rather you think you only need the shoes to not suck for thirty days. Uh-uh. I'm too poor to buy cheap stuff, and so are you. Buy shoes for the long term, you won't regret it. Especially if you are hard to fit.
posted by eritain at 3:20 AM on March 22, 2007

Wear a throwaway pair to Europe and get yourself a pair of Pikolinos once you get over there. Pikolinos are comfortable and are casual dressy. They are good European style shoes. Seriously, buy a pair of European shoes - they are much better than the stuff you can find in the states.
posted by JJ86 at 5:44 AM on March 22, 2007

My long-distance casual shoe of choice is the Mechanix Wear M-70 Pit Shoe. I just retired a pair after five years -- two of which I spent living in and hiking around Scotland. Wore them pretty much every day. Engineered for pit crews, they grip the ground and look good when they're dirty. Not monochrome, but I would recommend them to anyone who's on his or her feet a lot.
posted by milquetoast at 7:21 AM on March 22, 2007

I have a pair of black Merrell Mary Janes - they're great to walk in, waterproof, and work with both jeans and skirts (and if you go to a bar with a no sneakers policy, you're safe).
posted by echo0720 at 12:12 PM on March 22, 2007

These are great; casual with jeans and smart with pants etc. If I could, I'd move my familly into them and sell the house.

I could only find leather on the .com site - but they are available in suede, which are fantastically hard wearing and look even better IMO than the leather ones.

30 days? I've had these on for 6 months so far... they are that good I went and bought a 'backup' pair as I can never see myself being without them now.
posted by DrtyBlvd at 2:07 AM on March 23, 2007

*Ack* Linkitus. Here
posted by DrtyBlvd at 2:09 AM on March 23, 2007

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