I've been on a no-shopping spree all summer, hiding out at our Connecticut country manse* and saving all sorts of money. (Buying nothing is easy when you're not in the city, assaulted by a boutique on every corner.) But when I spotted this ad last week, I had to heed the call. It's not often that one finds a trove of designer shoes in the middle of nowhere. It's even less often that one finds a designer shoe sample sale held on a dairy farm. The combination was irresistible: Really, what goes better with expensive Italian stilettos than an ice-cold glass of milk?
Arethusa may be the world's chicest dairy farm. It's owned by George Malkemus, the charming president of Manolo Blahnik North America (can't say I know him personally, but I've interviewed him for fashion stories and he's always a joy), and his partner, Anthony Yurgaitis, an equally big Blahnik bigwig. The place is Farm Fabulous: Sweeping emerald pastures, white fences, meticulously groomed black-and-white cows that match the meticulously painted black and white barns. Please don't ask: There's not a cowpie in sight. And if there were, it would undoubtedly smell like English tea roses or Chanel No. 5 or freshly baked oatmeal cookies.
But enough about the farm. We came here for the shoes, didn't we?
The sample sale was set up under a monstrous white tent in the middle of a grassy field. By 11 a.m. this morning, when I got there, the place was packed with women pawing the tables of jumbled-up shoes. Those lucky enough to wear small sizes had a cornucopia of goodness from which to choose. I, a graceless size nine, got a near-empty table. Disappointed, I went to the try-on area—a plywood platform with some folding chairs—and vicariously watched the size sevens prance like show ponies in their Mongolian lamb-fur boots and electric lime satin party pumps and periwinkle ostrich flip-flops.
One woman, in a black spandex tennis outfit, was holding a pair of thigh-high seqined stretch boots—very hooker-glam. "Wow, those are amazing," I said to her.
"Aren't they? I'm buying them for my daughter."
"She's so lucky!" I petted the boots enviously. "How old is she?"
"Nine," the woman said.
I circled back to the jumbo-size table, where in my absence a miracle had occurred: There were more shoes now! Soon I had gathered a heap of possibilities:
I stood there, mulling over which of these shoes to make my own. Silver mules: Definitely yes. Buttery-soft suede boots: Heavenly, but maybe I'm too old for fringe. Striped booties: Hm. Where would I wear them? Gold sandals: Ditto. Green velvet rhinestone booties: Beyond divine, but the five-inch heels are diabolical.
I had settled on the silver mules, reluctantly replacing all of the other not-quite-right choices, when Lo!—I spotted a pair of hunter green and bronze boots abandoned on the plywood near a folding chair. I tried them on. Score!
I walked out with two pairs:
And now, back to our regularly scheduled austerity program. You know what tastes great with self-discipline?
Mmm, mmm. Milk.
*Just kidding. It is far from a manse. There's a spiderweb in every corner and mice in the basement.