TGIF! Friday is here, along with our paychecks, so you know what that means: It’s time to go shopping. Every week, we write a love letter to the one must-have item that we would happily blow our full paychecks on, because life is meant for treating yourself. Cheers!
I remember the exact moment when wearing heels no longer hurt my feet. I was 22, recently out of college, working in the fashion closet of a glossy magazine, and I was making a "run"—meaning, I was lugging a 10 lb. garment bag with a one-of-a-kind couture dress from a photo shoot; it needed to be back in the designer's showroom faster than a messenger service was trusted to deliver it, so the task fell to me. I was wearing heels, it was raining, and I was holding my arms straight up in an attempt to avoid the dreaded "dress drag." My feet were throbbing, as they had been for the duration of this entire internship because, for reasons that may have had to do with my multiple viewings of The Devil Wears Prada, I had been wearing heels almost every day. And then suddenly, they went numb. The throbbing stopped. I was a new woman.
It was a great thing. Suddenly I could wear heels for hours with no-to-minimal pain. Sure, it was due to the fact that my soles had developed such thick calluses that whenever I went for a pedicure I got asked if I was a runner. So what? (I get asked some variation of that question to this day, despite many a Baby Foot and Baby Foot-adjacent products and callus-removal treatments.) Still, though: I could now wear heels all day and night. Not to say that certain heels aren't still more uncomfortable than others. Some pinch or numb my toes, while others give me heel blisters that color the inside of my shoes with blood. I may be able to withstand the pain, but the consequences of a shoe that needs to be broken in are still evident on my feet. So, yes, I can wear—and wear-in—most heels, but a comfortable heel is still highly prized.
Enter M.Gemi. Several years after my internship, I found myself in the M.Gemi store in Manhattan's SoHo. I'd previously heard about the direct-to-consumer brand whose shoes are made by craftsmen in Italy and that follows a model with a new style drop every Monday (which, if you're signed up for the newsletter, is super-fun to open at the start of the work week), as opposed to collection releases, but I'd never actually tried its shoes on until entering the boutique, located near my office, in search of the moccasins for which I knew the brand was famous. While there, I found myself admiring another customer who was wearing The Stasera sandals. They looked unassuming on the shelf and yet like the most perfect summer shoe on her feet. With a chunky heel that looked like it could withstand the cobblestone streets of New York, they were high enough to eliminate any traces of my Napoleon complex and versatile enough to take me from day to night, from weekday to weekend, from city to beach town. I requested my size, put them on, and immediately ordered them.
Almost two years later, I have yet to find a more comfortable pair of shoes (or one that I wear more). Even though I bought them purely for the aesthetic, I've kept reaching for them because they are the most pain-free heels I have ever owned. I can wear them from morning to day to night to morning again, walking around a city and dancing into the morning. They are so comfortable that the product description on the website even claims that "one wear tester wore it easily for two days straight." (Was it me?!) In addition to going with just about anything—which has earned them a spot in my suitcase for every trip I've taken, as the only heels I bring—they're also resilient. I have stepped into unsavory alcoholic drink puddles in them, got spray paint on them, squished them in my carry-on, and even accidentally stepped into a pool in these (that's a story for another day), and they have handled it all in stride. Plus, this is suede we're talking about (I am dumbfounded, too).
But, after two years and numerous beatings, I've come to the realization that I must retire them (even though, after reading this article published on this very site, I may reconsider). I was dreading this moment as I have been looking at M.Gemi's website (as well as other stores) to find a similar style for the entirety of this year with little success.
Then, last Monday's drop came. "Sun-kissed summer: In rich, Italian leather, these styles are the closest you'll get to that toes-in-the-sand feeling," the email read. Intrigued, I clicked (the newsletter doesn't show a photo of the shoe) and was taken to this beauty. Featuring a similarly chunky high heel and made from soft burnished leather, these shoes serve as the perfect replacement for my soon-to-be-deceased favorites. This time, though, I am getting both colors. And not stepping in any pools.
M.Gemi, The Scultura, $298, available at M.Gemi.