My mother had two pair of black flats that she bought in the 60s at J. Magnin. One pair is long gone, but the other I now own and wear in the fall paired with skirts and tights, sometimes knee-high socks.
I have a particular fondness for these shoes because imbedded in their slick Italian leather is a sweet story.
One afternoon my mother brought my brother, Marshall, along with her downtown to shop. He was twelve and evidently didn’t mind shopping with our mother. I picture mother and son all dressed up and out on the town for the day. Perhaps they hit Brooks Brothers for Oxford shirts and had lunch at the St. Francis.
Mom tells me that she was in the mood for shoes, nothing dressy, just an everyday pair. At J. Magnin she tried on lots but focussed on two pair, both quirky for the time. She was leaning toward the more conventional of the two, which were also black, had a pointy toe with a larger buckle. Ready to buy the one and leave the other, Marshall spoke up, “Mom, you have to get the other pair, too,” he said rather emphatically. “They’re so unique.”
Imagine, this fashion tip from a 12-year-old boy.
Mom was hesitant because she thought the semi-boot style, as she calls it, was a bit too quirky. But Marshall was so insistent, she bought both and held on to that one pair all these years, I think perhaps as a keepsake.
Marshall was right. These semi-boots are so unusual, they’re beyond fashionable even today.
My brother, who always had excellent taste, grew up to become a fabric and women’s fashion designer. With his wife he ran a successful fashion design business and over the years he helped me choose many a great pair of shoes (and handbags).
Whenever I wear these shoes I enjoy thinking of my mother and my brother and their day out shopping together.