Cute But Comfortable Shoes

by Nancy Bestor

I have a confession to make. I love Heidi Klum. Every week when she tells fashion designers on Project Runway “one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out,” I think what great friends Heidi and I could be, meeting for coffee, going for walks, and talking about fashion. I see just one tiny problem with my Heidi Klum fantasy. I know very little about high fashion. VERY little. This is perhaps most obvious when I travel. As I’m packing my carry-on bag, I lay out all kinds of clothes and shoes that I THINK I will wear when I travel. On my most recent trip to Barcelona, this included high heeled shoes, which mind you, I don’t wear when I am home, let alone when I travel.

I’d like to think I will look very cosmopolitan, and not at all like a tourist, but the truth of the matter is, I AM A TOURIST. I walk a lot when I travel, easily eight miles a day, and I can’t do that in high-heeled shoes.

I also laid out my Betsy Johnson dress, thinking I’d go out in the evening to tapas bars dressed to the nines. Well, I did go out to tapas bars in the evenings, but I didn’t wear the Betsy Johnson dress, nor the high heeled shoes. I wore my comfortable travel skirt from ExOfficio, along with my cute, yet practical, Mary-Jane shoes.

My go to travel clothing includes cute yet practical (see sentence above) walking shoes. I don’t bring tennis shoes, as I can’t bear the idea of wearing sneakers in any European or Asian city, but I do make sure my shoes are comfortable for the hours I’ll spend on my feet. I also bring a pair of sandals to dress up my look in the evening, or even to wear during the day if I’m not walking too far. Another key piece of clothing is a good pair of pants or knee-length skirt. I never take jeans, but always a pair of comfortable pants with at least one deep pocket that can be dressed up with a nice blouse. The skirt also dresses things up and, if it’s hot, keeps me cool. Tops are much easier to choose. I bring lightweight blouses that can be layered with light sweaters or a jacket. Layering is best, particularly when going from air-conditioned museums and restaurants to warmer outside temperatures, or if we’re out all day and into a cooler evening.

My final key piece of travel clothing/gear is my Baggalini Urban Backpack. As much a purse as it is a pack (it is very smart-looking, as I’m certain Heidi would agree), it’s perfect for least one guidebook, a bottle of water, sunglasses, lip gloss, etc. I always carry a guidebook to see what sights might be just around the corner. It goes without saying that I do not keep money, passport or camera in this bag. These items are either in my money belt or, in the case of the camera, in my front pocket.

It’s possible when I was in that tapas bar (in my travel skirt and cute yet practical shoes) that Heidi would have passed me right over for someone who WAS wearing a cute dress and knee high, high-heeled boots, but I can rest assured that I was dressed far more comfortably than that woman. Right? But maybe, since this really is MY fantasy, Heidi would have walked right up to me in that tapas bar and asked me “where did you get that comfortable-looking travel skirt? I must have one.”