Wait, did I find the perfect comfy-yet-pretty shoe?
Happy feet are the prettiest
When we talk about shoes that are both pretty and comfortable, we’re usually playing fast and loose with the definition of the latter. It roughly translates to “I can go two hours without cursing the idiot common ancestor who first stood up on two legs and convinced the whole tribe to follow suit”.
This early bipedal influencer has forced us to quiet the cries of our soles long enough to wear glossy heels and dainty sandals. But even as Jeff Bezos takes day trips to space, that proved impossible. So we finally gave up, and now comfy, ugly shoes — think chunky sneakers and proudly orthopaedic-looking sandals — have become wardrobe staples. Call it clean girl, athleisure, or off-duty, the look denotes a post-COVID uniform where comfort is queen. Overall, this potato sack trend is good news for someone like me. My standard uncombed hair and loose cotton casuals are finally welcome in the public sphere.
But I realised I had gone too far when I arrived at a posh dinner and a friend asked if I was just coming from yoga. Clearly, I needed to attempt a more sophisticated avatar, if only occasionally. Especially now that I’m out and about as much as I was before the pandemic.
My clothes are selected for maximum comfort in Mumbai’s heat and humidity, and I don’t wear accessories. Rather than buying a whole new wardrobe for this Pygmalion experiment, an upgrade to my standard comfy shoes would elevate my whole look. At least no one could accuse me of coming from a workout. So I tried out the Tweak x Stoffa collection of three Kolhapuri-inspired sandals.
The line includes Noor, a festive embroidered wedge with the most comfortable 3.5-inch heel (click here) and Lila, a bohemian sandal with colourful beadwork (click here). I went with Gul, the hot pink tasselled pair with a low heel and the most comfortable footbed (click here).
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I’d heard rave reviews about these cushioned sandals before, but this would be the true test of their practicality and versatility.
I went out for a movie, stopping at a darzee in the market on the way there. Wearing a short blush-coloured dress, I skipped easily along the potholed roads. Though I usually avoid open-backed shoes, the one-inch heel easily protected my feet from the dirty pavement.
Reaching the theatre, I took the stairs. In keeping with the spirit of minimum effort, maximum effect — and my dislike for enclosed spaces — I habitually walk up to my sixth-floor apartment, too. These shoes had enough stability and cushioning that I could run up and down with no issues.
I took a walk on the beach but decided against wearing the pink sandals. I’ve since discovered that my boss literally buried a pair on the beach during a thunderstorm and came back the next morning to find them in perfect condition. I still don’t think I’d walk on the beach in these beauties, but it’s nice to know I could.
I went to a friend’s comedy show. I hadn’t been to that part of Bandra in months, a strip jam-packed with pubs, cafes, and comedy clubs where the dress code is ‘starving artist’. Not the place for my prim sandals, I thought, but I paired them with a slouchy black velvet jumpsuit anyway.
That night, two people complimented me on my shoes. Although it was a rainy night and I stepped in a few puddles, they remained pristine. The vegan leather didn’t stain or become sticky. I hopped in a rickshaw and went home, a couple of drinks down, but without a wobble in my step (thinking of going sober curious?).
To me, Sundays are sacred. I don’t party or schedule hectic workouts. My policy is to not wear anything that requires a bra. But today, I had a relatively heavy schedule: a Thanksgiving brunch, followed by a sundowner.
The brunch was at a five-star hotel, and though the jumpsuit may have been aa little casual, the contrasting sandals helped make it look intentional and appropriate for the setting. Again, a friend told me she loved my shoes.
After brunch, I set off for the sundowner, where I danced without once thinking about aching feet or precarious balance.
On Tuesday, I went into the office, wearing bootcut jeans and an ancient Star Wars graphic tank top. I wore the pink sandals around the office all day. Despite being Kolhapuri-style shoes, they didn’t look out of place with my clothes. In fact, they added some funk to a basic outfit.
I was a little surprised at how versatile the searing pink shade could be. I’m not exactly a shrinking violet, more like a shrieking magenta with bright red hair. So while I was always fine with the eye-popping colour, I didn’t expect that they would be wearable in the same way as a neutral. Turns out pink really is the new beige.
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I’d been expecting to hobble through the week, or at least find the Tweak X Stoffa sandals inconvenient enough to go back to my ugly shoes. Instead, I rediscovered my love for shoes beyond sneakers, and for my own wardrobe. I was pulling out pieces I hadn’t worn in awhile and seeing my old favourites in a new light.
My feet lived to tell the tale as well, and were perfectly content with the experiment. The cushioned footbed was soft and stable enough to be as active as usual. I’d be happy to offer these Tweak X Stoffa sandals a permanent home in my shoe rack.