Taking off the training wheels: bike-worthy shoes

I once read a comment by Sartorialist blogger Scott Schuman who noted that Americans need to invent a sporty fashion for the bicycle commuter. I completely agree. Gone are the days of elegantly appointed men and women leisurely peddling back from the patisserie, hats firmly in place, oxfords well polished. These days, bike commuting either involves an embarrassing amount of spandex or a rumpled, sweaty slog wearing office clothing mismatched with running shoes.

Each day that I unlock my trusty bike from my backyard and glide into city traffic, I find myself cursing whatever inappropriate footwear I’ve chosen. Ballet flats don’t protect my delicate insoles from the hard metal peddles, sandals leave my toes dangling too close to the open road, and canvas sneakers would be perfect — were I on my way to eighth grade.

Schuman, in his fashion-savvy photos of urban bicyclists, waxed poetic on the beauty of a woman peddling in heels, but that’s easier said than done. The ankle-wrenching fear of a sudden stop (yes, I admit to using my shoes as backup brakes) is enough to scare me straight to practical flats. But still, even girls with bikes want the kinds of shoes that inspire envy in other women.

Enter John Fluevog’s wingtip Kathy slingbacks. The black and white detailing and perforated leather give a cool, 1940s vibe, the open heel says “summer” and the Mary Jane strap across the top of the foot reinforces the shoe’s sporty feel without anything as gauche as Velcro or elastic. The company boasts “high abrasion-resistant rubber for long wear” (good for those of us who brake with our feet) and the one-and-a-quarter inch heel is enough lift to feel girly without worrying about a stillo caught in a peddle. After all, falling off the bike mid-commute: never stylish.


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