Wednesday, April 12, 2006

When appearances deceive, or, the perils of online shopping

Before I start this, a quick confession: I am an online shopping addict. I just love the convenience, the browsing, the choices (many of which I couldn't find in a store), and above all, I love Zappos, this Mecca for the shoe afficionado (ok, addict in every sense of the word). And even more than that, I looooove that free and easy return policy.

Online shopping however comes with its own disadvantages--such as, well, you never know what you're going to get. And what looks comfy and practical and whatnot (and on sale!) on screen, turns out not so great in real life.

Take these Stuart Weitzman black microfiber loafers, which looked the image of practicality: one of those shoes that you put on on days you have to run a lot of errands and they go with everything and they're comfortable enough to keep on all day. They were even marked "W"--which for my B+ size seemed purrfect.

And then they arrived, and I was all excited, and I put them on, and it suddenly felt like my feet were being slowly swallowed and digested by a boa constrictor. So, what do you think, they mistook the AAAA for an (inverted) W?

The Weitzmans went back the next day, which is more than I could say about this pretty suede and patent Delman "Wren" flat, which I actually got to wear outside. Many ballet flats pose the issue of, um, cleavage. Just as you can only put so much cleavage in a top before it falls off you, there is a limit to the cleavage you can put in a ballet flat before it becomes a challenge to just keep it on your foot. These are adorable, but cut extremely low, to the point that it's not a feasible proposition to wear orthotics in them. They are also (sans orthotics) devoid of arch support--flat as a pancake, which, in my opinion, should be avoided in any shoe. And after a moderate 10-15 min. walk, the toe-box becomes incredibly constricting and, yeah, uncomfortable.

By the way, there's a ton of pairs of this model around on Bluefly and Zappos, in a ton of colors and at good sale prices. Just be aware of your own level of comfort with ballet flats. Despite their versatility and perceived comfort, some of them are hard to keep on your feet and in general, not that well suited for long walks as I'd like them to be. I don't get to return mine this time, but hey, I hope you get to fare better.


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