I needed a pair of shoes aside from sneakers or work boots for the musical act, which is old-time to an extreme, so I went out looking for 19th century clothes on the net. After digging around for a while I ended up in the civil war reenanctment scene, which is oriented towards people dressing up in oldy clothes like Confederate army outfits.
I decided that I liked a style called a brogan, which is antique looking but not pansy, and after surfing a bunch of sites ended up buying a pair of brogans from a site called Fall Creek Sutler. The site seemed a bit dicey, just not very organized or slick, and designed in the style of the early web, so I was a little leery about sending them money. All the sites in this vein are like that, though — small operations with roots in the old mail-order business, no credit cards accepted — and the shoes were priced decently at $100, so I printed out the order form and mailed it in with a check.
The order took a while to arrive, but this was in line with the site’s promise of 4-6 weeks to delivery. And all the other stuff I ordered was there and in good shape.
Out of the box the shoes were way cool. Brutally simple, no ornamentation at all. Straight up leather with nothing synthetic in any way. Soles stuck on with small wooden pegs. Ultra soft on your feet. Big and roomy. The best thing is that they don’t have the reverse left/right symmetry of modern shoes. They’re perfectly straight instead, so that they look almost like I have my shoes on backwards.
Here’s what they look like:
One thing I didn’t like about them was that I ordered them with metal heel plates to make the leather soles last longer and the heel plates turned out to be insanely loud. I walked the dog in my quiet residential neighborhood and the clicking sound really bugged me.
So I took them to a shoe repair place in my neighborhood. The place I went to is called Maya Shoe Repair. It’s a tiny storefront with an award on the wall from a shoe repair convention in 1972. I asked the guy to take off the heel plates and put on rubber soles. $38. Coulda been worse. Buying another pair would have been more expensive, and ordering the heel plates was my own fault.
When I picked them up the shoe guy was blown away. The style is obviously very unique. The shoes are crazy wide — officially EEE and in practice more like EEEEE. And he was in awe of the workmanship. Completely handmade. Good quality leather. Solid stitching.
Even though I had to get some insoles to make them fit, the store threw them in for free, and the guy cut them to fit. Nice guy.
Anyhow, the whole experience was a little over the top as far as buying a new pair of shoes goes, I could have spent 20 minutes in any mall and still gotten something decent, but these are badass and feel great. Plus they’ll give the stage act a bit more style.