Shopping: Madewell’s Finch Flats

Madewell’s Finch Flats

After several months of not really buying anything (!), I recently fell moderately in love with Madewell’s Finch Flats, in the willow green color. These are so unpractical, I told myself. They’re light green suede; they’ll be ruined the second I wear them outdoors.

You can get protective spray for suede, one of my friends pointed out.

Indeed, I can. So I ordered them, in my usual size 10, when they were 15 % off.

And…they were too big.

Let’s pause here and reflect on how that never happens. I’m usually struggling to cram my feet into ballet flats. But these were very loose, even with socks on. Without socks, I had about a half inch of space between the heel of my foot and the heel of the shoe.

Madewell does make these in a 9.5, which is a rarity, but I’m on the fence/too lazy to exchange them for that half size down, since the shoes are online only.

Another issue, the toe cap was short enough that, without socks on (and these do look funny with socks, by the way), you can see the spaces between my toes. Toe cleavage, I think they call it, but that’s a disgusting term. Anyway, it’s weird to see the spaces between your toes in shoes. I’d rather that not happen.

And one more issue – there’s no cushion in the sole of the shoe. I think I’m spoiled by Banana’s memory foam ballet flats (RIP) or by the very cushy soles of my Nisolo loafers, but I just can’t do with that any padding at all.

So, in sum: Madewell’s Finch Flats are pretty, nicely made, but run big and aren’t for me.

Shopping: Nisolo Smoking Shoe

A good pair of shoes is hard to find. Everyone’s feet are slightly different, sizes vary, quality of material varies. Since I work at home, I probably wear shoes more infrequently than the average person. But, I still need to go out from time to time, and that requires shoes.

nisolo smoking shoe

Luckily for me, I recently found not a just a good pair of shoes, but a great pair of shoes. Handmade in Peru, the Nisolo Smoking shoe is super comfortable, well-made, and decently priced.

Nisolo Smoking Shoe in Noir

My friend actually told me about the brand (she was raving about it), and gave me a $25 discount referral code (thanks!).  I wanted a pair of black flats to replace my well-worn BR flats, but didn’t actually want a ballet flat. The smoking shoe fit the bill. It can go casual with jeans (not that I wear jeans that much) or work well with a business casual look. If you need to go professional and don’t like heels, I think you could pull these off, too.

nisolo smoking shoe

The shoes are made from leather, leather, leather and there’s a rubber cap on the heel to keep it from wearing out too quickly. The insole has a bit of cushioning and arch support, to make the shoes more comfortable.

I ordered a size 10, the largest size available, and crossed my fingers that they would fit. They did, with a tiny amount of room on the sides, so I hope they don’t stretch out too much as I wear them.

The leather of the shoe isn’t super stiff right out of the box, which is nice, but I do get the sense that they will need a bit of a break-in period before I can walk miles and miles in them (which I can easily do in my BR flats at the moment).

The company’s stated commitment to making the fashion industry more sustainable attracted me to Nisolo. Like Everlane, they share the production process of their products on their site and describe the company’s mission.

The shoe are also great. I can see these lasting for a long time, and when the heels wear out or whatever, they’d be easy to bring to a shoe repair shop for a fix.




Shopping: Boden’s Alice Flats

I’m not really a shoe person. You know, some people are shoe people and they seem to always have a great pair or at least an interesting looking pair of shoes on? They somehow make walking or even just wearing 6 inch heels look easy.That’s not me. I have large-ish feet, it’s hard to find shoes that fit them, I’m tall, so people comment when I wear heels, and I work at home and spend most of the day either barefoot or in stocking feet.

When I do go out, I tend to put on either same pair of  boots (in the winter) or the same pair of flats (the rest of the year), because I know I will be walking or biking and will need to be wearing something that won’t pinch my toes or scrape my heels or do whatever it is most shoes do to my feet. My big anti-shoe rant is actually just intended to serve as an introduction to what might my new favorite pair of shoes: Boden’s Alice Flats.


Boden brought out the Alice line of shoes this past spring, with a high heel (3.25 inches) and mid-heel (2.25 inches). The shoes come in a range of colors, from the basic black and gray combo above to a color blocked amethyst and teal. There’s also a few polka dot options and a hot pink. I almost got the mid-heel, thinking it would be good to actually have a grown-up pair of dressy  heels on hand, for you know, things I have to do as a grown-up.

Then they introduced the flat version and I thought to myself, Cannes be damned, I’ll never wear heels, so I might as well get the flats.

When the shoes arrived, I have to admit, I wasn’t that into them. The toe’s a bit pointy and I wasn’t sure about the look. But, I think that’s just how dress shoes are supposed to look and maybe I’d know that if I actually wore them from time to time.

Looks aside, what’s really important about these shoes is the fit. Boden has weird shoe sizing, which actually works for me, because I have weirdly sized feet. It’s a bit of bastardized European sizing system (not UK sizing, interestingly enough). I think I technically wear a 10 in US sizes, but the Alice flats were only offered in half sizes, so I went with the 10.5. It might be a bit big, but I’ve worn them out without any rubbing or other issues.

Back to the Euro sizing thing: Although Boden lists US sizes on their site, when you get the shoes, they have the Euro size printed on them, not the US size. A 10.5 in Boden land translates to a 42 in Euro sizes, which is actually a bit smaller than other brands I’ve seen. For example, my size 10 Doc Martens claim to be the equivalent of a size 42 Euro. It’s also bigger than other brands: a pair of Superga sneakers I have claim to be a size 10/size 41.5. All these shoes fit, which I guess just means there’s no standard when it comes to converting sizes.

The Alice flats are surprisingly comfortable. I actually wore them while working the day they arrived, then wore them to the grocery store for the heck of it a few days later. I’m not sure if they’ll be great for walking miles and miles in, but I can totally see myself riding a bike in them or walking to and from the subway or bus.

Most importantly, they are really well made. I’ve only recently come around to the value of a really well made pair of shoes, ones that are not only leather on the outside, but lined in leather and that feature a leather sole. The quality difference is amazing.

I might not be a shoe person, but I’m definitely into these shoes.