They're not beautiful and they're not cheap. So why are people so enamored of the Mephisto walking shoe?
"Comfort. People tell me they're the most comfortable shoe they've ever had on," says Shoepermarket owner Cole Porter, who's been selling great quantities of this homely, but very trendy French-made walking shoe in his Pikesville and Timonium stores.
"In an age where people are so conscious of fitness and health, these shoes make sense," he says.
The shoe, which is available for men and women in about 35 styles, is equipped with an array of sophisticated features to protect, cushion, and ventilate the foot. Prices start around $190.
Ugly shoes have gained a sort of chic in recent years and it hasn't hurt Mephisto sales that a slew of celebrities have been spotted wearing the shoe.
According to a recent issue of Self magazine, Mephisto aficionados include Janet Jackson, Luciano Pavarotti, Jeff Bridges and Debra Winger.
Dress-for-success acolytes beware! A study commissioned by Converse (go figure) concludes that wearing less formal or casual clothes to work improves executive morale.
It should be mentioned that three-quarters of the companies (of 201 randomly selected) didn't even have a formal dress code, but slightly more than half approved of casual or "less formal" styles.
The survey noted that half the respondents said male executives are wearing less traditional suits than in the past. For instance, 39 percent of the companies report seeing more jackets or blazers, and 90 percent said colorful ties are "in."
Almost seven of 10 companies say women's clothes are getting less traditional: shorter skirts, more stylized suits, dresses (instead of suits) and open-toed shoes.