style icon: laura petrie

I grew up watching Nick at Nite, you know, when it was still good. Bewitched, I Love Lucy, I Dream of Jeannie, I just couldn’t get enough of those old black and white television shows. I spent my night alone during the recent hurricane watching Get Smart (and loving it*). In my oh so humble opinion, shows like these are way better than most of the garbage on network TV today. Which is fine, thank goodness for DVDs.

This brings me to my style icon for today, Laura Petrie (better known as Mary Tyler Moore’s character in the Dick Van Dyke show). I suppose it says a lot about me and my style that my last icon was also from a television show made several decades ago. As long as I don’t start becoming inspired by the ladies of The Golden Girls, I’m okay with that.

Honestly, look how cute she is. The “Laura Petrie” pants are pretty famous (when I Google searched for her, it suggested I type “pants” after her name), but her style all around is pretty nice. Classic, elegant, sophisticated. I’m not sure exactly what her color palette was, but I wouldn’t put it past her to wear some pretty jazzy color combinations.

My outfit yesterday was a tribute to Laura Petrie. I guess it could also be inspired by Jackie O, as evidenced in this picture with her kids, but who came first? Laura or Jackie? Judging from how old JFK Jr. looks, I’ll say Laura came first, but either way they’re both looking perfect.

Here I am, not nearly as polished or iconic as either of them (but trying to keep in character with my sunglasses too!). The week-long struggle with humidity finally caught up to my hair. The black flats I’m wearing are terribly squeaky now, thanks to their dutiful role as my 2nd-place-rainshoes (in plain terms, the shoes I wear in the rain when my rainboots are at a different apartment than I am). I love them though, so I don’t really want to part with them. At the very least, I can’t buy new shoes until October/tomorrow, since I’m being responsible and sticking to my September clothing budget.

*And loving it is one of Maxwell Smart’s premiere catchphrases. If you’ve never watched Get Smart (or have only seen the terrible Steve Carrell movie), get to it.

made for walkin’ – except in nyc

When I find a pair of shoes that I like, I wear them constantly.  If they’re comfortable and color-neutral, I wear them more than constantly.  I can’t help it.  I’m a creature of habit.  Something I certainly need to work on in my transformation into fashionista is working the right pair of shoes into my outfit.  Sure, sometimes I’ll throw on a pair of bright flats that really bring a look together, but translated that to everyday is a work in progress.

Sidenote: This whole transformation from t-shirt wearing frump to fashionista is really slow going. I apologize to anyone who kind of thought this caterpillar would have emerged from her New York Mets cocoon by now. I’m working on it, which is half the battle.  If I had unlimited resources this obviously would be done much more quickly.

So, shoes. I wear them a lot, and as someone that doesn’t have a bike or a scooter or a car, I walk a lot. A lot.  I’ve probably mentioned it before, but in case I haven’t, I like to walk a little bit farther in order to catch an express train, if I can.  This means my walk is usually between 10-15 minutes just to get to the subway. When I’m leaving work, it’s another 15 if I feel like catching the express right away.  Sometimes I’ll walk places just for the heck of it, if I have time to kill.  Forty or fifty blocks isn’t uncommon, neither is six or seven avenues (in addition to those forty blocks).  It goes without saying that this wears down shoes like you wouldn’t believe.

Which brings me to my gripe: shoes don’t last in New York City, no matter how nice they are. I’ve spent $20 on shoes from Payless, and I’ve spent $100 on nice boots, and they last just about a season.  I figured a sign of maturity would be to start upgrading my shoe purchases, but what’s the point if they’re going to get destroyed anyway?

Sidenote 2: I’m well aware that $100 still isn’t a ton of money to spend on shoes if you’re getting really fancy. I’m also aware that buying shoes for 60% off at DSW isn’t exactly “upgrading”, but at least I’m supposedly getting quality shoes.

Who is to say that a $500 pair of shoes isn’t going to go the exact same way?  I need to draw a line somewhere, I’m not rolling in dough.  If I have $500 extra spending money lying around, it’s probably going into savings, because I’m a nerd like that.  So I set my maximum at $100 and it’s been working pretty well.

The one brand I’ve been happy with in this respect is BEARPAW.  I got a pair of their moccasins as a gift, and liked how comfortable they were.  I broke them in pretty easily, and they have yet to let me down.  Then, when I was heading to Ireland I realized I needed a good boot that I could walk in with jeans, but also use if we were trekking about (read: unlike UGGS, I wanted something that I could get wet without ruining them).  They came to the rescue (via DSW) just in time.

These are similar to the flats, I can’t find the shoes/sneakers I bought online, I could only find the cringe-inducing shearling boots. Rest assured I did not purchase those.

To all my NYC fashion friends, my question is this: How do you pick out shoes?  Have you found a great brand that isn’t too pricey yet manages not to be worn down to the sole within a few months?  Do you just cycles your shoes better than I do so they last longer?

In short: what the heck am I doing wrong, and how can I fix it?