With the ease of a slipper and the put-togetherness of a pump, a good pair of mules is a wardrobe game changer. There are few other options that strike the polished-yet-comfortable balance so well, and it’s no wonder that statement-making ladies from Egyptian queens to movie stars were known to own a pair or two. Thanks to an extra layer of padding, our new mules feel even more cushy but still look just as sleek. And now we present a very specific—and admittedly silly—list of fancy-slash-comfy things to do in your fancy-slash-comfy mules.
In search of the best ways to keep our favorite kicks looking like new, we reached out to members of our Madewell fam across the country, from Portland to Atlanta. Whether they’re dealing with breakfast taco mishaps or muddy puppy paws, these ladies had plenty of shoe care advice to share.
Jessalynn: Portland, OR
LOCATION-BASED SHOE STRUGGLE: My biggest hassle is rain, so I always apply this protective spray on leather and suede shoes. Just like how I need a spa day every once in a while, my boots need TLC too—they get a good cleaning before I put them away for the next season!
SHOE STORAGE SITUATION: I have my current lineup by the door for easy access and keep others in shoe boxes with the stuffing intact. That way they stay clean and hold their shape.
SCARIEST SHOE-MERGENCY: Being from Austin, I have a thing for breakfast tacos and I once spilled some on my new Ella pumps! Thankfully I was able to remedy the situation with corn starch—a trick I picked up in college.
Early fall is pretty much the perfect time of year for showing off your socks. So for our latest round of style recipes, we cooked up three ways to wear our favorite pairs with a few staple shoes. The best part? Prep time for each is, like, 30 seconds tops.
Our final sneaker artist is a special one—our head designer, Joyce. She put a sparkly spin on the classic Sk8-Hi Vans®, adding metallic silver laces and gold leather star patches. We decorated each one by hand here at Madewell HQ (really, we did), so handle ’em with a little extra care. Learn more about the sneaks in our Q&A with Joyce, then get your own pair before we’re all out—only 50 exist (!).
Friends Claire Lampert and Stacy Daily of B Sides are true artists when it comes to reworking vintage denim, and it turns out they’re just as good at transforming high-tops too. Only 20 pairs of these hand-paint-splattered Vans with vintage-bandana laces were made exclusively for us—so find out more about the sneaks then nab a pair, quick (!).
We’re really into Austin chain-stitch collective Ft. Lonesome’s original embroidery designs—so much so that we’ve done a few collabs in the past and most recently had them do their thing on these limited-edition Sk8-Hi Vans®. Read on to learn more about the sneaks from the crew’s founder Kathie Sever, then nab a pair of your own (only 30 exist, so get on it).
Timeless as they may be, a pair of canvas sneakers presents a bit of a paradox: They’re forever in style but they sure are hard to wear for, well, ever. Canvas shows age and with the frequency we wear ours that can happen way sooner than we’d like. We chatted with our friend, Chris Cottle at Vans, who could be considered a bit of an expert seeing as he’s surrounded by canvas shoes all day long. He did a little sleuthing and shared a few personal care tips. Tip numero uno? You’re gonna want to bookmark this post.
Yes, you can be comfy, and yes, you can look festive (we promise).
Consider it the B side to the American dream—instead of the white picket fence and the well-manicured lawn, there are those whose fantasy involves sweeping expanses of wild terrain, no neighbors in sight and a general willingness to do things the hard way.
Snapping a “perfectly laid-back, styled but not too” shoe shot does take a little bit of work, but it’s never been more worth it. Post yours for a chance to win a $2,000 Madewell shopping spree plus everything you need for a perfect day of strolling: two pairs of Madewell boots (your choice), Grado headphones, one year of Spotify Premium, a Mizu water bottle and snacks from Baked.* Now, to make sure you nail those photos, we gathered up five tried-and-true tips. Let’s get snapping.