I Love My... Chanel Shoes

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i-love-myNoel Duan is a Columbia University junior studying Art History and Anthropology. Also known as Miss Couturable, she spends her days scheming up big dreams, writing (especially about fashion), and treading the line between being a Californian and being a New Yorker.

Standing at an intimidating 5’1”, I always thought I needed to wear high heels to make myself stand out. My freshman year of college, I teeter-tottered in platform heels to the dining hall, to class, and to Fashion Week without any concerns.

Then, in the beginning of my sophomore year, in my favorite BCBG Max Azria platform wedges, I injured my ankle on the cobblestones of my college campus—and I was told by the doctor to stop wearing heels. I listened…for the most part. (Sometimes, I’ll wear heels and carry flats in my bag for when I can’t take it anymore.)

I couldn’t imagine how I was going to find a pair of shoes to love that couldn't also be used as a weapon, until I stumbled upon a pair of vintage Chanel brogues at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market. I’m no expert thrifter, but nothing comes between me and my Chanel—in high school, I wrote a colossal research paper about Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and her role as a pre-feminist movement figure in an industry originally dominated by men within a traditionally patriarchal society. Thank goodness I reached for my wallet before the girl standing next to me!

A shining moment for these shoes came into being when Mark Holgate, Fashion News Director of Vogue, complimented them when I was a fashion features intern at the magazine. There is nothing like getting your shoes validated by someone you really admire! I remember feeling slightly sartorially inadequate because I rarely wore heels to my internship due to my ankle problem—well, it all changed after that one compliment!

These beige and white brogues with the iconic interlocking C’s at the tip became my trusty confidantes amidst the stiletto jungle that is Manhattan. I love them so much that I brought them to their rightful home in Paris, where I am currently studying abroad. I rarely wear heels anymore, but I don’t look any less dressed up when I go out in these flats. I’ve always thought of myself as a classic Repetto ballet flats sort of girl—if I had to wear flats—but these shoes are teaching me to branch out in a way that doesn’t risk body injury.

Although, as a testament to my klutziness, I have tripped in these flats, too—but I’m not ready to go barefoot yet.