I, like most women, am obsessed with shoes. My obsession dates back to the second grade when my mom let me purchase my next door neighbor's green satin pumps from her high school prom at their garage sale. Despite being too big for me, I wore them that year, along with her sequined prom dress, for Halloween and marched around the school grounds at the annual Halloween parade to the shock of many parents. I kept those shoes for many years, most nights wearing them down to dinner or trying to be cool and leaning back only on the heels while raiding the kitchen for an after school snack, leaving two round imprints in the kitchen linoleum right in front of the refrigerator (sorry, ma!).
It continued on to high school when my parents took my cousin and me on an Alaskan cruise (thanks to my older bro for being "too cool" for family vacations!) and between the two of us we had 22 pairs of shoes packed. It was then that my parents tried to teach us the value of "multi-use" shoes to which we scoffed in horror. After scaling back on the number of pairs I packed, I think I may have worn those classic Steve Madden black slide sandals with an evening dress on the "fancy night." Yes, I'm cringing too.
When I became an adult, I tried to learn from my ways, but it wasn't so easy. On a trip to Grand Cayman, my bag was so overweight with all of my shoes that the ticket agent dared tell me I had to leave some behind or face steep heavy bag charges. I looked at her stone faced and said "charge me." Not expecting me to call her out on it, she replied that on a flight of this sort, it would be an arm and a leg ($300 to be exact). I tried devising a plan for how I could expense that fee and was coming up short. Admitting defeat, I shoved as many shoes as I could into my oversized purse. The family behind me looked on in amazement. To their delight, we were also staying at the same resort where they proceeded to call me "shoe lady" and examine that day's footwear selection every time we ran into each other.
After many dollars spent at the chiropractor to mend the damage to my back from lugging all this around, I've learned that less is definitely better when it comes to traveling. To spare you this learning process, I've compiled this list of shoes that do double duty:
1. The Sneaker in Disguise
I'm generally against traveling in sneakers because I feel like the world has decided it's ok to be at an airport looking like you're hungover with yoga pants and messy hair, but sometimes you just need to do it. The last thing you want to do when you're going through TSA is to hold up the line by having to untie your sneakers, loosen the laces, and then try to desperately get them back on once you make it through all while hopping on one foot to avoid having to sit down.
I came across these New Balance Fresh Foam sneakers via an Instagram ad and I'm so glad I did. Notice how the part around your ankle is not like your typical sneaker that can make getting your shoes on in a pinch near impossible. It's more of a soft fabric that has the feeling of putting your socks on and the handy little handle in the back makes it a cinch.
Bonus: because of the neutral colors and leather touches, they're super stylish for regular clothes and a day of walking around and they can double as your running/gym sneakers once you get to your destination!
2. The Ballet flat
Ballet flats are always a good idea on a trip. You can wear them on the plane, to walk around and sightsee, and even with a pair of pants or a dress for a night on the town. I always stick to neutral colors so that they pair easily with nearly everything. Steve Madden is great for inexpensive flats.
I bought a pair of suede booties that have a zipper up the back and a stacked heel before a trip to Milan. I was going for 72 hours, so I didn't want to check a bag and needed shoes that would be comfortable walking around the city and that I could also wear comfortably on the plane. I hit up my local TJ Maxx and found the most comfortable booties imaginable. I wore them on the plane which was a bonus because they easily slipped off, allowing me to be wearing just socks. I also paired them with skinny jeans and an oversized chunky sweater which was fantastic for the fall weather and cobblestoned streets of Milan. I took it one step further and paired them with black pants for an evening out which included drinks at the Armani Hotel.
4. the rain booties
For that same Milan trip where my double duty shoes were more important than ever, I purchased some rain booties from J. Crew. The weather forecast wasn't looking too promising and I wanted to protect my feet so that I wasn't walking around on a cold wet day with damp socks. As it turned out, I ended up wearing them even when rain wasn't an imminent threat. They were super comfortable with a very flexible sole. They kept my feet warm without sweating and best of all, their neutrality also allowed me to be able to wear them out for dinner at night.
On those warm weather trips, espadrilles are a must. Wear them to a meeting, to the beach, doing some day shopping, and to a night on the town. They are a comfortable way to bring some style to your outfit in multiple settings.