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May 15, 2010

For a (very) short period in my recent life, I considered moving to…well, nowhere. The middle-of-nowhere, in fact. Which Middle-of-Nowhere, exactly?

Idaho. Ew.

I don’t have a bias against small towns or their residents, I swear! I just can’t live in a small town. I live in CHICAGO, fortheloveofallthatisgood, and sometimes even the Windy City isn’t blustery enough for me! I want skyscrapers, honking traffic, chattering tourists, endless opportunities for fun, and above all the “buzz” a city has that smaller towns –try as they might– can’t seem to replicate.

I feel at home in cities, and have always felt like any venture into the suburbs or even (gasp) rural areas during my lifetime was a temporary situation, even though one of those “situations” lasted for nine years!

The only single time I’ve felt a town was overpopulated was when I visited London, and it was only at one single moment I thought it was too crowded.

Rush hour on the Tube. Sardines have it better than the brave souls who commute home from the Square Mile.

But, back to Idaho. So, a former beau of mine had set his heart on becoming some sort of cowboy, and apparently Idaho was the place to do it. Nevermind that herding animals was w-a-a-a-a-y out of his realm of expertise, but all most farm-type work (you know, the kind that results in calloused  hands) he was INCREDIBLY unprepared/unsuited for. But, that’s what he wanted to do, so I attempted to mentally prepare myself for life in Idaho.

The first thing I did was look up employers in and around the town my exbeau wanted to reside in, and unsurprisingly I had two options: school bus driver or forest ranger. Both require shoes like these:


That got me thinking about shoes (um, hello, nuns having a tea party with monkeys on the ceiling gets me thinking about shoes!) and I wondered what my shopping options would be in Idaho.

  • Payless (without the designer collaboration collections)
  • Lady Foot Locker
  • Something called “Zumiez” which sells snowboard-related stuff

Obviously I am never moving to Idaho. But this whole ordeal got me thinking about those poor souls who do live in remote places like Idaho. How do they buy shoes? I’m sure there are super fashionable individuals who live in the Middle-Of-Nowhere but they obviously are doing something different. Maybe they take monthly trips to the nearest big city for a very intense weekend of shopping? Maybe they make their own shoes? (if anyone does, please let me know, because that is amazing) But I figured the easiest way to get your fashion on when living in the wild, wild west is MAIL ORDER SHOES.

I don’t mean like, send in a coupon and get a free pair of shoes. I mean ordering from the interwebz. Here’s what you should look for.

  1. A RETURN POLICY. You ideally want to deal with a company that will easily accept returns via mail (which means THEY pay for shipping it back) and also make sure that they accept returns in the first place!
  2. A SIZE GUIDE. Yes, it’s lovely that shoes sizes say “9 M” but what does that mean exactly? Some websites actually will have information in the product description like “runs small, recommend ordering 1/2 size up from what you normally wear” In my case, this is tricky, because I am a 9.25, so sometimes a 9.5 works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. (that’s where the easy return policy comes in handy!)
  3. Visuals. You wouldn’t buy a dress without at least seeing a picture of it first, would you? Shoes are the same. Good shopping web sites use technology that allows you to manipulate the image to zoom in and look at seams, trim, zippers, etc.  Do this! The shoes they are displaying look perfect. If you see what looks like sloppy/ugly work, they will just look worse in person.

Here’s a trick I’ve used in the past. When you DO get a chance to visit a real store, try on as many different shoes from as many different brands as you can. Figure out which size fits you in each brand. I know that I am a 9 in Guess, a 9.5 in Nine West, a 40 in Louboutin, 8.5 at Payless, and so on. It’s helpful to eliminate the guesswork when you order online. No returns due to incorrect sizes! yaaaaay!

On to the good stuff: The online stores, where to shop. My favorites are:

  • Spring (A less-expensive sister store to Aldo)
  • GoJane (They are on-the-ball with shoe trends here)
  • Payless (of course)
  • 6pm (amazing AMAZING sales)
  • Modcloth (sometimes the shoes are a little weird, but the cute ones are magnificent!)
  • Zappos (who doesn’t know about Zappos? It’s kind of the holy grail of online shoe shopping)
  • ShoeMetro (similar to Zappos but the site is easier to navigate)

Got any questions about online shopping? Either comment on this post or send me an e-mail at

18 Comments leave one →
  1. itssewmystyle permalink
    May 15, 2010 10:20 am

    I used to live in the big city of Miami (which is nothing compared to Chicago – if Chicago were warm all year round, it’d be my favorite city hands down). Now, I live in the middle of no where – the middle of Illinois to be exact). You’re absolutely right on the shopping . There’s very limited selection on clothes and even more limited selection on shoes. There are only two Payless shops here 😦 and my only chance at affordable designer shoes is TJ Maxx (which does not have much inventory). I usually shop a lot when I’m on vacation in the big cities. Whenever I get the chance to go up to Chicago, I shop. And then there’s ShoeDazzle. I order shoes from there sometimes, but my monthly selections aren’t very consistent some months.

    • cherrow414 permalink*
      May 20, 2010 11:38 am

      You’ll have to let me know the next time you make the trek up to Chicago, we should have some sort of blogger party! (of course by “party” I mean “go shoe shopping”) 🙂


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