Who invented the unwritten rule that you must wear the same shoes (i.e., a matching pair of shoes, assuming you have two feet, of course)? It was probably created by the same person who said women (at least, in those days the only gender to use them) must wear matching pairs of earrings. While the latter rule has seriously fallen to the waysideâ€¦folks wear earrings on just one ear, multiple and unbalanced earrings, mismatched earrings, earrings in noses and tongues insteadâ€¦the concept of matched shoes has prevailed. I understand the need to have the same height of heel or perhaps even a more conservative view that the materials should be the same (say canvas sneakers, patent leather, etc.) but there seems, to me, no good reason why you canâ€™t wear two different colored shoes at the same time. Wearing two different colored belts, on the other hand, seems somewhat silly since one usually only has one waist. I often encourage my daughter to think â€œout of the boxâ€ and to challenge convention and the extent of that challenge included buying her several stud earrings of the same design but with different stonesâ€¦blue, green, red, clear, etc. that she occasionally mixes and matches as she sees fit, or outfit, for that matter.
So that was a longish introduction to the Florence shopping post. Florence had some utterly spectacular shopping. Whenever I go on a big foreign holiday, the one goody that I typically bring back for myself is a pair of driving shoes. For the most part, I look around and find the pair that really strikes my fancy and if it fits, I buy it, and price is an afterthought. It is an extravagant habit, I know, but I only get one pair every year or two. And they last for years so I have a closetful of favorite driving shoes. I decided Florence would be the source of this yearâ€™s goody. First stop was the flagship Salvatore Ferragamo store in a historical riverside palazzo with thousands of square meters of showrooms. Wonderful store, very nice driving shoes, average range of prices were about USD300-400! So I crossed the street to Bottega Veneta, that venerable leather house from outside Venice that had one or two pairs of driving shoes at USD400-550+! So far, nothing said â€œbuy meâ€ so I walked down Via Tornabuoni and stopped off at Todâ€™s, that Italian shop with an American name that brought driving shoes to the absolute zenith of popularity many years back. They had several nice pairs but at the USD350-450 range as well. Yipes, what happened to supposedly reasonable leather prices in Florence??? For the first time in eons, I hesitated and decided not to buy anything at all.
But the day before we left Florence, we passed by a shop with driving shoes in the window with a sign that they were just Euro 35 or about USD45. We entered the shop and immediately realized the Shoe Gods were looking out for Marketman & Family bigtimeâ€¦dozens and dozens of styles of casual and driving shoes for men and women and all at about the USD40 range. I tried on some driving shoes and they fit very, very well. Except for the snazzy brand or tatak missing, these were the real McCoy! Made in Italy in a family-owned factory, the hides were supple and comfortable. I could not believe our luck! And since I had resisted the temptation to buy the branded pair, well, letâ€™s just say I temporarily lost it and bought 6 pairs of the same driving shoe in different colors!!! Please donâ€™t send me nasty comments about folks starving in some third world country or Tondo, castigating me to be more self-controlledâ€¦after all, the entire bill, less VAT refund, was less than one shoe at Bottega Veneta! Letâ€™s just say that by the time Mrs. Marketman and the Kid were done, plus the pasalubongs we bought, we ended up with more pairs of shoes than Imelda might have purchased on a whim walking down some Florentine alleywayâ€¦ The storekeeper said he could close shop for the dayâ€¦heehee. Which brings me to back to the discussion on unmatched shoes. Because I have six pairs of exactly the same driving shoe but in different colors, I can actually comfortably wear many more two-color combinations and one day I tried out the black and brown suede combination up top. It worked very well, thank you. But since I had to take pitstops at a couple of McDonald’s enroute to our final destination that dayâ€¦you can just imagine the amount of whispering and finger pointing (actually LIP-pointing, perfected by pinoys only) going on behind my back as I walked byâ€¦ perhaps if I make this a Marketman trademark it will be even easier to spot me in your neighborhood market!