When I was in Europe this past September, I wanted to do a little splurge for myself for a BIG upcoming birthday. I went through all of the possibilities….handbag, jewelry, sunglasses….none of those choices spoke to me. I tend to like things that are classic and have staying power, I also wanted to make sure that what I purchased was something that I would USE and not put in a closet and never see. After chatting with one of the girls on the trip, the lightbulb went on.
Gucci loafers! I had always admired their classic style, so being the researcher than I am, I opened my laptop and started searching for styles that I would be interested in.
TIP #1-always do your research, NO store has everything displayed and it’s better, especially in a foreign country, to have something in mind when you walk in the door. This is also a great way to know the price range of the items so you aren’t caught off guard.
The choices were a little overwhelming so I chose a few pairs that I thought I’d be interested in and headed out to the Gucci store in Cannes where we were staying. This store is rather small and very boutiquey so I’m glad I’d done my research.
The first problem was that I wear a 10 in US women’s shoes so that put me into a 41 European size….this is NOT a common size for French women and so there was really nothing for me to try on. THE GOOD NEWS was that the great young salesman realized that most of the shoes I was looking at (classic loafer style) were pretty unisex and suggested I try a men’s shoe….which was identical to the woman’s. Voila! I found something I liked, the classic black loafer with the gold hardware. I was pretty happy, but only one choice? I felt a little uncomfortable about that, buying something that I couldn’t return, spending that much money and only having one choice? Since I was headed to Italy, I asked if there was a store in Florence….the salesman’s eyes lit up!!
Apparently, the store in Florence is regarded as the MOTHER SHIP! It is where Gucci first began and there are a few stores PLUS a museum and a restaurant. This was it! He assured me that I would have a larger selection there, the visit to the Florence store as an experience to look forward to!
TIP # 2- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and think outside the box when making a large purchase. They want to help you!
So fast forward a few days, I arrive in Florence and head directly to the beautiful Gucci store to find the perfect shoes. With a few girlfriends in tow, I almost ran to the women’s shoe department and guess what. ZERO LUCK! They didn’t even have the classic pair in my size! I was SO hugely disappointed, I saw down in their beautiful chair and pouted.
After remembering my experience at the other store, I asked the salesgirl if they had any similar shoes in the men’s department and I headed that way. MOTHERLOAD! They had velvet (which I was smitten by) the classic black, one with a stacked heel….that didn’t seem very manly to me, and one that I hadn’t seen before, it was the classic black with the Gucci color stripe along the top. Classic, traditional, but a little unique, we had found each other! I put them on and they were instantly comfortable so I told her I’d take them. She wrapped them up in a beautiful box and chatted with me as I filled out the tax form. She offered me a glass of Champagne.
TIP #3-The VAT tax charged in Europe in refundable if your purchase if over $150, in one store, in one day! Make sure you bring your passport with you when you shop for the bigger purchases, you can’t get the Tax Form without it!
TIP #4- Always accept the Champagne
I know a lot of you followed my “shoe” shopping story and wondered how it ended.
I’m glad to say, it was a happy ending! Here is a photo of the shoes I chose!