Ugly Brown Shoes

April 30, 2012 | My Jottings

Do you ever ask yourself rhetorical questions? Do you mutter under your breath and say things like, “What in the world is going on with you, Gladys?!” Or when you’re driving to the store to buy toilet paper and cottage cheese do you ever ask yourself out loud, “What do you think you’re doing?

No? Oh come on, I’ll bet you do.

We’ve been packing up just a few items and putting them in just a few boxes, and hauling just a few things to our local Goodwill, all in preparation for our move to a different home on May 31st. Recently as I was going through our closet, I asked myself a rhetorical question.

I asked myself, “Hey! What’s with all the ugly brown shoes?”

And I didn’t have an answer for myself because it’s just way too deep of an enigma for me to figure out at this stage of my life.

Here is one pair of my ugly brown shoe collection. Guess how many times I’ve worn them? Zero. Zip. Yes, that’s right. I bought them in late 2006 because we had a trip to England, Scotland and Ireland planned, and Mr. Europe Through the Back Door Rick Steves said Eccos are really, really comfortable and good for a lot of travel walking. I did not think they were cute, but bought a pair anyway, and then didn’t wear them, because my dark blue Danskos felt better. So I walked all over the British Isles in those instead.

But I’ve kept these Eccos for all these years, and am not sure why.

Shoe comfort is important to me. My feet do an incredibly demanding job. They are long and narrow-ish (think “marsupial” as Ember would say), and must carry around more poundage than they would prefer. So when a friend told me these shoes below were comfy, I bought a pair. I wanted to be able to slip them on without tying laces, and I wanted a non-slip sole because we have snow and ice on the ground in Northeastern Minnesota for sometimes six months out of the year.

But these shoes weren’t very comfortable:

The arch hit my foot’s arch in the wrong place, and they ended up hurting my feet. So I don’t wear them anymore.

I love these ugly brown shoes below. Or boots, actually. They’re Mukluks, made in Minnesota, and are the warmest winter boots I’ve ever owned. And soooo comfortable. You can wear these outside in the snow when it’s twenty below zero and your feet will stay warm. So even though they’re not the most adorable looking boots you’ll find, I’m keeping these. (If I ever move to Costa Rica, I will give these to a deserving Minnesotan, but for now they’ll stay in my closet.)

And oohhh, don’t get me started on Birkenstocks. I love Birkenstock sandals. I have owned six pairs in my adult life, and worn them almost daily. They last at least five-six years, with frequent wear. I have a pair without the toe thing that I wear in the winter with warm socks too. When I put on my Birkenstocks, my feet and legs sigh loudly and say rapturously, “Aaahhhhh. Thank you.” I have friends who wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of Birkenstocks because they’re sort of clunky, not exactly feminine and prissy looking. But my Birkenstocks and I will be together in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, so long as we both shall live.

Why I still have these shoes pictured below is beyond me. I bought them for Sharon years ago when she was in college. She didn’t wear them much and gave them to me. I have worn them a time or two, but I think they look a little dated, don’t you? They’re fairly comfortable but since I haven’t worn them in at least five years, I think it’s time to give them to some nice woman who wears a size 9.5 shoe, so she can store them in her closet and not wear them too.

These taupe-ish brownish shoes are sort of dressy — what I might wear to a wedding or a fancy dinner at the White House. When I was young I used to wear very high heels even though I’m already 5′ 10″ tall, but when I turned 50 I decided to boycott high heels. It was one of my Turning Fifty Resolutions, and I’ve stuck to it quite well. These heels are about as high as I’ll go now that shoe comfort means more to me than style.

Two years ago I finally found a pair of very comfortable ugly brown shoes to wear for daily errands. They’re Merrells, and these feel good on my arch, and when it’s icy out they give me some traction. They have good soles. Do you have a good sole? Sometimes I think my sole isn’t so good and I need to spend some more time with the Lord to let Him work on my shriveled, selfish sole. Er, soul.

Okay now don’t laugh. It’s all about comfort, remember? Even Isaiah quoted, “Comfort, comfort my people!” (I know, that kind of comfort was about comfort for our souls, not our soles.)

These shoes are Earth Shoes, and are designed on the premise that when we walk on sand, our heels actually go deeper than the balls of our feet, so shoes should also follow suit. As you can see, the heels of the shoes are lower than the rest of the shoe. They look a little dorky (ugly might be too strong a word? Yes? No? What do you think?) but they are sooooo comfortable! If you don’t have a pair of Earth Shoes and you have feet issues, I would encourage you to get a pair of these.

However, if you have feet like mine that are size 9.5, these shoes do nothing for making your feet look smaller. If you’re into that. These shoes make your feet look so big it’s almost comical. When I got them home and put them on again, one thing immediately came to mind.

And what came to mind were the 1000-foot ore boats we see almost daily on Lake Superior, transporting iron ore from our port to various parts of the world through the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

Does this ore boat look like my Earth Shoes, or what?

I’m going to keep five pairs of my ugly brown shoes. The others I’ll give away in hopes that they’ll find some nice big feet to land on.

How about you? Do you buy your shoes based on the cuteness factor or the comfort factor? Do you have a favorite brand of shoe? Do you have any ugly brown shoes? Or ugly green shoes? Or ugly purple shoes?…….


  1. Julie says:

    Ugly brown shoes – check.
    No one who knows me confuses me with someone who buys anything for cuteness factor. I am strictly a comfort girl.
    I am cheap. I have one pair of brown shoes and I will wear it until the sole starts to pull away from the base.
    I have a pair of winter boots I bought at Mills Fleet Farm. They are not comfortable or cute.
    I kind of like my crocs, but my feet are different sizes and I haven’t found a size and style that works on both feet.
    If I have to wear shoes, I generally opt for socks and slippers. Yes, they are brown.
    I have never owned a pair of Birkenstocks. Too expensive.

  2. Just Julie says:

    Hi Julie! Thanks for your comments. I am going to pray that the Lord provides you with a pair of Birkenstocks! If you love comfort, you might love them, and I think if you had a pair to fit your bigger foot, it wouldn’t be a big deal for your smaller foot. God bless your week Julie!

  3. Kay in UK says:

    I just asked my husband Alan what he thinks about the kind of shoes I wear. I asked him because I purposely wear feminine-looking shoes so as to make him appreciate my femininity. And what did he say? ‘Well, to be honest, I never notice the type of shoes you wear’!!! When further interrogated (and I do a good line in interrogation), he admitted that he wouldn’t like me to wear ‘ugly, horrible-looking shoes’. I would never ask him, ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ when trying on an outfit as he can be brutally honest. As Alan is only 5ft 6ins tall and I’m 5ft 4ins short, high heels are not really much of an option. I’ve worn them in the past, but like you Julie, at age 50 I decided to wear heels no higher than 2ins.

    I buy most of my shoes from Marks & Spencer because they have a range called ‘Footglove’ that caters for wider feet. Oh dear, it’s true. I live in a county renowned for a local delicacy called the Cornish Pasty and now my feet resemble said morsel.

    Love to you and your feet, Julie. xx

  4. Just Julie says:

    You should have a blog, Kay. I enjoy your comments and I know other readers do too. I never ask Michael if my behind looks big. My grandchildren remind me of that truth. πŸ™‚ And I’ve had Cornish Pasties, Kay – not in Cornwall – and they are scrumptious. (Note to Alan – take a look at your dear wife’s shoes now and then…) πŸ™‚

  5. Ember says:

    Birkis rock. And, I have discovered the joy of Vivo Barefoots. The are the only (bar none) closed shoes I can wear that doesn’t squish my toes together. Normally, if I have shoes too small, my toes get squished; if I get bigger ones my feet slide along to the front (a marsupial problem) and my toes still get squished. Not any more. Now I have Vivo Barefoot shoes I can wear them as long as I like and my feet still come out looking the same as if I’d been wearing Birkis – and how cool is that? I love the style of Birkis you have on in the photo Julie – mine are the Arizona sort – and they are old and manky, but still hanging in there!

  6. Just Julie says:

    Once a Birki owner, always a Birki owner, I guess, Ember! And now I’m going to find out about Vivo Barefoots – sounds pretty promising. I will try not to like the brown ones. xxoo

  7. Marcia says:

    Okay, laughed out loud at the ore boat- Earth shoe comparison! As a nearly 6′ tall, size 10-shoed 50s gal, I know about shoes that look like boats! I’m all about Cole Haan loafers. They are pricey (although I often find them at Nordstrom Rack and other outlets), but I make ’em last until they are falling off and I’ve had a chance to find their replacement. In summer, it’s sandles or gardening shoes. Inside, slippers with an outdoor sole. (I, too, have an outdoor sole, so I often find myself in the garden in those slippers! Thanks for the post, Julie. You cracked me up!

  8. Just Julie says:

    Marcia, you know exactly what I’m talking about with our height and longish feet! I have never heard of Cole Haan loafers and will look at them right away. I’m glad you had a chuckle today, dear Marcia…. xxoo

  9. Ember says:

    Oh! Blushes! P.S. – *my* Birkis are old and manky, not yours!!

  10. Ember says:

    PPS – It’s hard to get brown shoes from Vivo Barefoot! And, have you checked out Sole Rebels? AND – honey, your feet are the size of a toddler’s – mine are a US size 11/12 (depending on the make)!

  11. Just Julie says:

    These Vivo Barefoots look pretty comfy, Ember: Now off to look at Sole Rebels!

    And I knew you were talking about your Birkis. My dark blue ones are almost dead but I still wear them around the kitchen — very high arch supports. πŸ™‚

  12. Kristi says:

    I am just busting a gut reading your post, Julie. My question is……did you stage all these pictures at one time in preparation for this post? I love the change of hosiery, socks, bare feet, poses, etc. that go along with your ugly brown shoes!!
    Hilarious! I love Dansko, Keen, Born shoes and wear my Stegmann clogs in the house year round. I go for comfort and if they are cute it is a bonus. I am a 9.5 too but am not in need of another pair of brown shoes without further purging from my own shoe collection. I just love your randomness and wit!

  13. Just Julie says:

    Hi Kristi – I’m so glad you found a little humor in your day here. Yes, I knew I was going to do this blog post when I started on the closet, so in about 30 minutes I took pictures of my feet with the shoes, with different hosiery on. πŸ™‚ I have never had a pair of Keens, but I know people who say they’re the most comfortable they’ve ever worn. I would love a pair of Stegmanns too. Someday! Let me know if you have any pretty blue shoes you’re purging. πŸ™‚

  14. Dorothy Sooter says:

    I have a pair of brown shoes that I love because they are so
    comfortable but they squeak. Drives my family crazy but I
    keep wearing them. I am not a shoe person and have only
    about 4 pair that I actually wear. My daughter bought me a very
    expensive pair of black shoes and I love them cause I was having
    problems with my feet and they helped a lot. Enjoyed your
    post on feet.

  15. Just Julie says:

    Hi Dorothy. One of my pairs of shoes squeaks too. Four pair of good comfortable shoes is all we really need, isn’t it? I actually wear two pairs more than all the rest….LY!

  16. Ginny says:

    BIRKIS ROCK! Jewel turned me on to them, but I could not deal with the style of your blue ones. The style in the picture with the toe ring thing are my new best friends… I have silver, bronze and black pats!!! They scream for painted toenails and are so cute!! Yes, cute Birkis!! I can shop for hours in them…the ultimate test for a pair of shoes. At least your feet are slender, girl! I have man-wide feet. If you sliced off the side of my foot, taking the little toe down, they would be normal. I have actually played with that thought many times. Part is the wide Clark foot syndrome, but much is due to bones and flesh mashing out with each step of pounds per inch…poor babies!!!!

  17. Just Julie says:

    Ginny, I still think you should have your own blog…I would read it everyday! I love your black patent Birkenstocks… Xxoo

  18. Ganeida says:

    I own exactly one pair of shoes. They are cheap sandles Star bought me for my birthday. I almost always wear thongs [flip~flops if you’re a Yank], with socks in winter or a pair of Ugh boots ~ only I’ve done my pair of those in so am bootless. I have very weird feet & shoe shopping is never a pleasant experience so I do it as least often as possible.

  19. Just Julie says:

    How uncomplicated that must make your closet or your mud room or porch or wherever you keep your shoes, Ganeida! When I was little, growing up in Southern California, we wore flip flops but they were called Zories. Then thongs. I still want to call them thongs, but always think better of it. πŸ™‚ Thinking of you and your family so often….anxious to read about the things you’re learning in your classes….xx

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.