Shoes for the “Soft Butch” Plant Person

By Manolo the Shoeblogger

Manolo says, one of the Manolo’s internet friends has asked him the question.

Dear Manolo,

I am a young plant ecologist. I generally trudge around the forest in hiking boots whose original appearance is well disguised by a thick layer of mud. But soon I’ll be presenting at several scientific meetings. I am, of course, terrifically nervous and very anxious to make a good impression on future colleagues. If I am particularly impressive, I may be paid for my work (a novel idea after being an undergraduate for so long). I am having quite a lot of trouble choosing a shoe. You see, I don’t quite fit into a gender. I think “soft butch” describes me well. So what shoes should I choose to wear with my lovely, but almost masculine black suit?



The Manolo loves the ungendered peoples of indeterminate gendering, with their girls-will-be-boys-will-be-huh? aesthetic. So wonderfully confusing!

And this story of the Manolo’s friend, it is marvelous. Indeed, it sounds like the Hollywood Indie Comedy, with the ambiguously gendered person living in the Edenic wilderness, with the plants and the hiking boots, who is forced by circumstances to emerge from this sanctuary to save the world from ecological disaster and/or deliver the academic paper.

But first, s/he needs suitable shoes for hir feets!

Luckily, the recent fashion trends, in which many of the best designers have shown masculine shoes for the women, means that there are many handsome shoes suitable for persons of ambiguity.

Cap Toe Womens Oxford by Gravati   Manolo Likes!  Click!

Behold, the beautifully constructed cap-toe oxford from Gravati!. Yes, it is somewhat costly, but this is the sort of shoe you will have your entire life.

Of the course, living in the forest generally does not pay well (just ask the chipmunks and the dryads), so perhaps the Manolos’ friend would require something slightly less costly, like this simple, handsome shoe, the Cloak from Franco Sarto.

Cloak from Franco Sarto    Manolo Likes!  Click!


15 Responses to “Shoes for the “Soft Butch” Plant Person”

  1. jen Says:

    Love the Franko’s!

  2. Sarah Says:

    Those oxfords are so sweet! I’d wear those with a business suit any day, and I’m not prone to androgeny.

  3. Jaddy Says:

    … if they would only come in sizes for all genders. It’s not easy to find elegant high-heels in US-W 12 and 13. And it’s especially frustrating to find them in an online store, only to learn that they don’t deliver across the water (i.e. to Europe).

  4. Ninjarina Says:

    I have those Franco’s! They’re fantastic work shoes.

  5. oakling Says:

    Manolo, I love you and I love your pronouns.

  6. Barb Says:

    Suz –

    I am a forest ecologist, and while I don’t particularly identify as butch these days, I certainly have in the past. Going more in the direction of a k.d. lang-esque dapper butch look as compared to your typical crunchy butch aesthetic is the right idea for a scientific conference, but keep in mind that you’ll be presenting to fellow ecologists. You want to look professional, but not so polished that they question whether you’re comfortable out in the field.

    Also, if you don’t wear heels on anything approximating a regular basis, don’t buy something with a substantial heel and put yourself through giving presentations and walking around with potential colleagues/employers while you’re both breaking in a new pair of shoes and getting accustomed/reaccustomed to walking in heels. I did this for an interview with a environmental consulting firm, and I’m fairly well convinced it lost me the job.

    I have had very good luck with Clarks, and I’m wondering if an ankle boot with a moderate heel, either from Clarks or somewhere else with a similar but slightly more polished aesthetic, would do the trick. Boots inspire confidence and can be very stylishly androgynous.

  7. Joan H. Says:

    (gush warning) OMG! I love both pairs! (end gush)

    I think these would also work well for a student teacher, yes?

  8. Long Island Says:

    The oxford is beautiful well made shoe for the tailored suit. However a chill goes down my spine when I look at it. I break out in cold sweat for fear of not having being able to spell transubstantiation.

    The Gravati is a nun shoe.

  9. mizztissa Says:

    The gravity isn’t very pleasing. Someone commented a nun shoe. Have to agree.

    The Franco Sarto looks fashionably acceptable, although I prefer more of a spike or stiletto heel, and maybe a peep toe, and more strappy… not really a shoe anymore.

    I read in an article in UK newspaper The Telegraph (I think) that shoes will be the new “it” item for women. Previously, handbags wore the crown for some time.

    I say – About Time!! Our Shoe fetish has taken a back seat to handbags snobs for years.

    Afterall, men notice the shoes, and the legs attached, but I don’t think you’ll ever hear a (straight) man say “nice handbag”…

    MT – sexy shoes and boots

  10. Jan Says:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. When I was in school–before the wheel was invented–these are the kind of shoes the old lady teachers wore. I bought some when I was 19 and loved them!

  11. L. Says:

    Oh, Manolo. The “and/or present an academic paper” made me lol, lol, lol.

    And Barb, I just got a degree in forest ecology myself! The Manolo’s readership is wide-ranging indeed.

  12. E. Says:

    What a fantastic post. Truly the Manolo is up to any shoe challenge put before him. And truly will answer with both hilarity and good taste.
    Having been to a few academic conferences in my life I can attest to the difficulty some of my more Teva-inclined colleagues have in cleaning up enough to give a paper. The best bet is something comfortable for a long day of shmoozing and paper-giving, that will look fine with the suit. I would suggest that a hiking-boot-loving ecologist might be sorry midway through the day for having picked a heel higher than one inch. Much better to rock a good laceup flat and have energy after the day to still go out to dinner with the important ecologists you just met.
    I was once witness to a poor grad student’s full-on crying, yelling, shoe meltdown in the women’s restroom of a major academic conference. She had a job interview later that day and had suddenly decided her shoes (rather fussy ruffly black high heels perhaps more appropriate to a dinner date) were so inappropriate that she would not be able to keep it together for the interview. The other women in the restroom had to talk her back down to sanity.

  13. E. Says:

    Another thought– I would highly recommend some of the more dressy offerings of the Patagonia footwear line for this situation. They feel like hiking boots, look presentable (to my eye at least), and offer the added bonus of unimpeachable environmental credentials. The Poppy, Ebony, and Gilia styles all seem right to me. I wore my pair of the Ebony in black suede to a 3 day job interview and got the job, if that means anything!

  14. roz Says:

    While I personally shop John Fluevog for the ultra girly styles he offers, I can attest to the fact that Fluevog also carries many unisex he/she styles, which would be a good investment for the student who would also like a little funk in his/her life.

  15. roz Says:

    p.s. I think the Wearever and Fellowship lines of Fluevog would fit the bill, and they are not labeled specifically as unisex.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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