A few years ago, I (Mary) was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. As I strolled about, photographing the picturesque colonial architecture and taking notes on the town’s fashionable boutique hotels, cooking and art classes, I stumbled upon a gem. It was a tiny shoe store, packed to the gills with eye-catching women’s shoes in a rainbow of hues. It was abuzz with women, who were walking out with two to three boxes each. Clearly, this was a special place.
I tried on a pair and they fit. In fact, I bought two pairs, figuring I’d never find these shoes in the U.S. But last fall, while walking down King Street in Charleston, S.C., a store’s picture window brought me to a sudden stop. The shoes on display looked familiar.
To my delight, shoe and accessory designer Neely Powell, owner of the Charleston Shoe Company, has discovered these “San Miguel” shoes herself and teamed with their Mexican manufacturer to market her own designs here in the U.S.
Neely’s reasonably priced shoes come in a variety of flattering styles, colors and heel heights, but their distinguishing feature is the fabric, made of a supple, supportive elastic that cradles almost any width foot, from ultra-narrow to wide.
Neely offers a range of styles, but one stands out as the perfect travel sandal: the Monterey, which her tagline says will take the wearer “from cobblestones to cocktails.” The Monterey is a unique combination of the utilitarian and the feminine. It has a chunky 2-inch rubber heel that allows a woman to easily negotiate uneven pavement (I’ve even run in it!) and comfortable, flattering straps in colors that take it right into evening. (Every time I wear any San Miguel shoe, they are the center of attention.)
Neely’s shoes are selling like hotcakes. She has stores in Charleston and Savannah and plans to open others in Charlotte, N.C., Newport, R.I., New York, N.Y. and St. Michaels, Mich. Visit her stores and have a look online at www.charlestonshoeco.com.
Attention-getting, comfortable and reasonably priced…. I guarantee you’ll end up with more than one pair!