The next time you’re out and about, make a point to look down and take a mental inventory of the shoes people are wearing. You can imagine a lot about person you’ve never met based on their shoes – their personal style, where they might be going, what’s important to them, stuff like that. It’s your imagination, right? That guy with hiking boots on? He’s on his way to hike Aconcagua. The fashion-forward lady with the nude pumps? She’s headed out to authenticate a recently discovered Picasso. Who knows for sure?!
Your imagination aside, what you put on your feet is an important step (get it?) towards ensuring that you’re going to get the most out of where you’re headed, so it’s essential that you put some thought into what you slide your feet into. Those hiking boots are going to look as out of place at an opera just like high heels won’t get you too far on the trail.
When it comes to travel, and international travel especially, every packing list you can find is going to suggest comfortable walking shoes. No problem, right? Throw some sneaks in the roller suitcase and forget about it. But wait. Sneakers aren’t the answer to everything. You’re going to look like an American tourist right away. You (hopefully) don’t want people looking at your feet and assume that you’re on your way to an all-you-can-eat buffet in your gas-guzzling SUV.
So here it is friends, a quick and unofficial guide to comfortable, all-purpose shoes with a little back story thrown in for good measure.
Birkenstock: Not just sandals for your hippie friends to wear when they aren’t throwing a Frisbee. This German manufacturer makes close-toed shoes as well, with the same cork foot bed that diehards rave about. Yours truly has marched across several countries in Europe with a pair of these bad boys on and they’re still going strong.
Camper: Brought to you from your friends in Spain, these have won international awards for their style and design. Some folks think they look like bowling shoes, and they aren’t totally off the mark, but you’ve got to give Camper credit for pushing the boundaries of what a comfortable shoe can look like. Bueno.
Clarks Originals: Totally English, totally ready for nearly any casual occasion. Trot around in them all day and own the pavement. Gum soles are money. Plenty of leathery options you’ll be persueded to try.
Chucks: Parisians adore the classic Converse All-Star as a timeless American shoe that adds a little edge and personality to everything. Even with a suit, these alert your fellow man of your ability to hold on to what works. Affordable and universally praised. Thanks, Charles Taylor!
You’re crazy, I won’t give up sneakers: If it’s a must, go with a dark color, preferably black. Don’t shy away from what’s trending now. If you’re going to wear sneakers, you might as well as be guilty of wearing fashionable sneakers.