The latest was re-learning the idea that new shoes need to be worn in, rather as you run in the engine of a new car. This is something I had entirely forgotten over the great stretch of time since the early 1980s when trainers first started to be worn as acceptable daywear, and not just for sporting purposes.
Be they the bright white Reeboks of the early trainer era (sing-a-long with me: I’m working nine to five….), the cool All Stars currently widely adopted, or the mid-period Prada Sport trainer/shoe mutant, the collective effect has been to make us all rather lazy about shoes. We expect them to be instantly comfortable. The footwear equivalent of microwave popcorn.
This has led directly to the great rise in uptake of the ‘comfort shoe’ even among people who should know better. People like me. I confess there have been days when I have actually left the house in my cork-soled felt-topped hobbit clogs, too challenged by the prospect of putting on anything more demanding. I might as well have strolled down the street wearing a Slanket (aka as a ‘Snuggie’, either way it’s a fleece blanket with sleeves).
So I’ve decided that apart from Converse for strictly casual outings, any shoe that you can wear right out of the shop and on until morning, is not one you should be happy to be seen sporting in public.
What brought me to this renewed understanding is the current wonder crop of fabulous shoes on sale in London. It’s one of those rare seasons where there is an almost bewildering plethora of relatively walkable shoes, smart enough to be worn to a business lunch, on offer.
Working on the principle that you have to get them while you can, I’ve snapped up wedge desert boots, brogues with a chunky mid-height heel, silk-tasselled black velvet smoking slippers and black patent loafers. I’m wearing the loafers right now as part of my programme to break them in at home, before setting off on a real life mission in them.
Because now I remember that was what you had to do before the trainer revolution made us all so lazy. You had to break in a new pair of shoes like a horse. So I’m rediscovering the lost art of shoe whispering.
You start off wearing them round the house with really thick socks, until the leather starts to give, the toe starts to bend and the whole thing begins to mould to your foot. At the same time, you are also getting your foot used to the shoe. These ones are a bit rubby on the heel, so both shoe and skin need to adapt, one to soften, the other to callus over.
Only once those processes are well started, should you risk the first short outings in your new proper shoes, and then eventually, after a few trips to the corner shop, they will finally be ready to spend a whole day with you.
It might seem like a lot of bother, when you’re used to instant comfort footwear, but when I look in my closet, the things that have given me the most back over the years – the cowboy boots, the brogues, the riding boots – have all involved this process.
I’ve also realised that several pairs of shoes I had written off as major shopping errors actually just need a bit of effort to beat them into submission. This has to be good news.
So re-embrace a more rigorous era of footwear and remember – comfort shoes are the Slankets of footwear. Wear them wisely.
Mid-heel brogues and patent loafers from Office. Smoking slippers from House of Bruar. Slanket from hell.