On the shelves of the Boylston Street Marshalls shoe department, among the hundreds of shoes, Söfft’s Rori black patent gladiator ($39.99) caught my eye. I put them on while I continued browsing up and down the size eights. The ankle strap felt good, keeping the fit snug. (See the wrinkles on my ankles from my wool socks? New England weather is so fickle.)
The cushioned sole was almost comfortable enough, but the narrow "feminine" heel made the shoe a little wobbly. (See the shoe view from the back, below, c/o shoebuy.com.)
I have one pair of Söffts (that’s Söfft with an umlaut over the “o,” mind you) from about three years ago, but they were literally plain Mary Jane's, and not as stylish as Söfft's current line. I’m guessing this is a(nother) case where the comfort brand finally gets stylish enough to notice. Which reminds me of a comment I overheard at the new mega-Tannery store on Boylston. A woman was trying on the Söfft Vanessa, which has a 3-5/8” heel with a 3/4” platform.
“I’m so ashamed that I love these shoes,” she said, sounding positively giddy. “They look so dangerous, like I should be carrying a whip. Right?”
BRAND RESEARCH: I was surprised to learn Söfft has been around since 1927. I gotta say that I’m curious about that umlaut. Part of their tagline is: “Where European design meets comfort,” but their address is Andover, Massachusetts! Is there really a European connection? I do love their coinage for the category: “Fashion Comfort.” Very smart, actually. Also like the shoe category coinage of “athleisure” in Zappos’s “About Söfft” description, although I am aware that Söfft may not have been the first to use it. So my message to Söfft is, tell me more about your brand than your standard blurb. Put it somewhere on your website, preferably under “About.” Thank you! (And yes, I will friend you on Facebook for a little while.)
NINE WEST: I also tried on the Nine West gold ballet flat ($29.99) because, despite all my emphasis on comfort, I am tempted to sacrifice support if the flat is compact enough to fit in my backpack for those few times when I’m wearing rain boots to work and want to change when I get there. Unfortunately these were too tight in the toe, although just right for my narrow foot — very cute and surprisingly comfortable with a great rubber sole. I have minor regrets about passing them up!