Reader, let me lead you away from the kitchen, away from my comfort zone, to the wardrobe, a place of anxiety, of insecurity, a place where I stand and fret - not about having nothing to wear, but simply what to wear. Particularly where shoes are concerned. I don't buy shoes that often, but when I do, it's often an impulse - shoes that I like the look of, but that don't fit me quite right, or don't quite give me the versatility that I need, and certainly aren't comfortable enough to wear more than once. My shoe wearing history is littered with footwear that my feet start to scream if I so much as look at them. "Don't put THOSE on" they scream at me. "Remember last time?" they wail. "The blisters? The back pain? The AGONY"...
Not only that, but at 43, I frequently feel ill-equipped for the various sartorial challenges life throws at me. In preparation for the occasional smart occasions I am required to attend, I find myself whispering "Don't forget earrings" to myself at increasingly frequent intervals, and panicking about whether I can get away without wearing tights, from about 5 p.m. onwards, fretting about not having the right shoes, only to pull on my boots of last resort which "will do".
Secretly, I think a lot of why I love living out in this most rural of places is that no one expects anything other than comfy clothes, and practical shoes most of the time.
But I do crave elegance, I crave style. I crave gorgeous shoes. And one day, just ONE DAY, I would love to feel both properly dressed for the occasion, and deeply comfortable not only with what I was wearing, but actually comfortable too - outfit, shoes, bag, the works.
Well, I say one day, but it actually happened, this weekend. I was at a wedding. I felt glamorous, I felt well-dressed. I remembered my earrings. And reader, I was wearing knock out shoes.
Shoes that made my feet feel dainty (I rock a wide fitting size 7). Shoes that complimented my outfit. Shoes that had a heel. Shoes I could walk in - run in even; shoes I could (exhausted children notwithstanding) have barn danced in all evening.
Now you may have dismissed Hotter shoes as shoes for old ladies with bunions, and indeed, in the Hotter Shoes range, there are plenty of comfortable sandals available. However, do not be fooled. There are also a significant number of awesome shoes; shoes to totally fall in love with. Shoes that fit properly, yet look fabulous and feel great. Shoes that you can wear all day and wake up the next day without feeling totally crippled.
I was invited to attend a Hotter Shoes blogger event organised at the Carmarthen store - plenty of lush nibbles, some Welsh bloggers to meet, as well as the Hotter Shoes PR ladies, Mel and Jenny, and the Carmarthen Hotter store team - all very lovely people. A great opportunity and what's more, I knew I was going to be able to choose a pair of shoes to take home with me (yes! a pair of shoes!). Fed up with my failure to have the right shoes for the right occasion, I went with the forthcoming wedding - and a particular skirt - in mind.
Rather than struggling to find one pair that would be right (as I feared might be the case), it was actually difficult to choose only one pair.
After much deliberation, and trying on, much marching up and down, discussion, humming and hah-ing, I chose a pair of navy patent and suede 'Michelle' shoes - a cute heel, and yes, very versatile. It was a tough decision - I did feel torn: I was also very keen on a rather lovely pair of pink Antoinette shoes, some flowery Hattie wedges and despite my determination to come away with something pretty, I did keep getting distracted by the range of sandals and walking boots available ( you can take the girl out of the country...).
Decision made, and wedding duly attended, I can honestly, hand on heart tell you that these are some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned. The shoes went on at 10.00 a.m. and were still on at 6. They would have stayed on longer but the kids flaked out and I drew the short straw and had to bow out of the barn dancing. But I have absolutely no doubt that my shoes would have seen me through.
But the brilliant thing is that they don't look like comfy shoes. They look like (and they are) lovely shoes. They go with trousers, with skirts and they make me feel smart and elegant, but also able to walk, run, go about everything I need to. As a trial run, I wore them last week while delivering a training course, quite a stressful scenario and not one that awkward new shoes would have enhanced, but it simply wasn't an issue. First wear - no blisters, no rubbing, no problems. And a friend who had been less then complimentary about Hotter shoes when I told her I was going to the Carmarthen event, and who I saw the day of the course, said that she had totally changed her mind and would be visiting...
Clearly there's been a huge amount of thought gone into the technical design of the shoes, including air bubble technology in the soles of the shoes, but also, to the styling. And it's also worth mentioning that the staff in store are completely brilliant - attentive, trained to fit the shoes properly, know the shoes, and committed to help you find your perfect pair, not just make a sale. Liz helped me at the Carmarthen store and quite honestly, I would trust her to find me the right pair of shoes any day.
And in fact it was so hard to choose that I availed myself of a promotional 20% discount that was kindly available to us on the night and bought the wedges too...
And if you're feeling like you'd like to chuck out your preconceptions about Hotter Shoes (you should do), you can receive a 10% off discount, valid until 31st July 2015, if you purchase online and enter voucher code PMATEN at the checkout.
The code entitles you to 10% off plus FREE delivery for first orders only. You are entitled to 10% off the total order value of any full priced items in the Hotter range (excluding shoe care products) plus FREE delivery. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional offer or on Sale or Factory Clearance items and gift vouchers.
The discount code can be used on our website from Friday 22nd May and ends on 31st July 2015.