Let me introduce you to my Swedish Hasbeens.
Have you heard of them? No? They are the LEAST COMFORTABLE SHOES EVER.
Ever come across them on Pintertumblr or any fashion blog ever and thought, "Wow! They say they are handmade by elves in Sweden and, with their hefty price tag, they couldn't possibly be less than dreamlike to wear"? Seen a blogger wearing them and gone, "Well, this lady wouldn't LIE or EXAGGERATE about their comfort or wearability"?
Let me tell you. Everyone is WRONG. Whoever endorses these without a very clear asterisk that the shoes take forever to break in—and some people might not have the mental fortitude to do so—should be ridiculed and publicly shamed.
Here's the story.
I took the plunge and bought this completely innocent-looking pair a few years ago. Woven top, adjustable straps. "Self," I thought. "These are Cool Shoes. They are Worth It. They will last and pay you back in the long run with their versatility. Plus, they are made by Swedish elves."
When they arrived and I actually tried them on for the first time, I was staggered. Holy God. How can one pair of shoes be so uncomfortable? Why was the woven part digging into every conceivable part of my not-at-all-abnormal foot? Why did they sound like I was strangling hundreds of creaking floorboards with a leather noose every time I took a step?
I tried. I really did. I wore them—with socks—for weeks at the office. I hobbled until they stretched enough to be bearable on the street, and then I wore them over layers of bandaids on the subway. I've "broken in" shoes before. This was breaking ME.
After about a year, I put them away and called it quits. All those ADORABLE little bloggers were prancing around in these things, and here I was putting mine in the back of my closet and promising myself I'd eventually wear them with tights, or something. Every Google search for "swedish hasbeens jesus christ loud" or "swedish hasbeens why digging in ow" turned up nil. Why wasn't anyone talking about this? Was I weak?
Every time I pulled them out and tried them on, they sounded worse. I couldn't go two steps without wanting to die of embarrassment.
Then a few months ago, I fell in love with these babies. Could I do Swedish Hasbeens again? But look, these are slingbacks. Those won't be loud or hurt. And if I can wear them with tights and socks, they'll break in just fine. Plus, they were on sale.
Of course, they arrived and the straps were too loose. I was able to wobble around the office once or twice before my ankle buckled and I had to return to my flats. After a cobbler punched another hole tighter, they were… fine. They look good, for sure, but the dratted straps still slide down and the heels are just high enough to cause Problems if I wanted to actually walk anywhere.
Then last week, I had a stroke of brilliance about the stupid first pair. The shoes were stretched out enough (finally) to wear all day without breaking my foot or rubbing a thousand blisters everywhere. But the goddamn squeaking was impossible. Sooo, how do you fix squeaky leather? Either you wear it in or you oil it up. Lightbulb.
I lubed up my foot with lotion and then slowly and carefully rubbed it between each little braidy crossover and nook and creaky cranny. I added some Vaseline for good luck.
It actually worked. It really did. The squeaking was down to a dull roar. I could move around in public again.
The moral of the story: Swedish Hasbeens are hard to break in. In fact, if I weren't such a slave to the principle of the thing, I'm confident I would have eaten the cost and just thrown them out and never bought the second pair.
If you buy them a size down, as they recommend, the leather will scrape against your feet and pummel them into blisters and aching red parts until the straps eventually stretch out. If you buy them your actual size, the straps will be loose and you'll have to get them sorted out by a professional.
You basically can't win. I mean, I suppose I am currently winning, since I can proudly wear both pairs now. Was it worth it? Probably not. You've been warned.