Like all women, I have a closet full of shoes, many of which could be UN-classified as instruments as torture. I love strappy sandals, tall boots, clogs, and cunningly-constructed items with pointy toes and cute little heels.
I also like to walk. And if I want to walk far, and want to walk without pain, I wear my not-quite-new-anymore Merrell Barefoots, which I picked up about a month ago at The Outdoor Store on Church Street. I went there in search of Vibram FiveFingers, a glove-type shoe I saw someone wear at the gym. In the end, though, they were a little too weird and made my feed look webby. And then salesgirl handed me heaven in a shoebox: Merrell Barefoots. The best $100 I ever spent.
They’re called Barefoots because wearing them is the next best thing to going barefoot. There’s a Vibram sole, but the upper is a breathable mesh, and they weigh about five ounces. Since they tie, they also give good support. You wear them sockless – or with very thin socks — and they’re machine washable. They take up almost no room in a suitcase, and they make your feet look a size or two smaller than they are. Touring the great cathedrals of Europe this summer? Trust me, bring these.
In addition to Vibrams and Merrell Barefoots, the The Outdoor Store also carries the lightweight Vivobarefoot Brand. Prices of all these brands range from $80 to $100 and are available for women and men.
Fleet Feet on Bloomfield Ave. also has a nice selection of barefoot-style shoes, including the Nike Free and the New Balance Minimus. Prices range from $99 to $130, and manager Paul Giuliano says the barefoot shoes — especially the Nike Frees — are selling well. You might not normally think about wearing athletic shoes as streetwear, but these light little babies may change your mind. “There are so many colors,” says Giuliano. “It’s a cool-looking shoe.”