BrownbootIt didn’t even cross my mind to look for cool boots at First. What’s First? Precisely my point. It’s a new concept from Aldo for girls old enough to realize they don’t have to spend their days in 5-inch, excruciatingly uncomfortable heels. There’s a First store at Mall of America (first floor, south side near Gap) and it features unsexy brands like Clarks along with some trendier lines and its own private label footwear – casual and dress for women and men. Having struck out at literally every other shoe store in the mall (unless I was willing to spend $400-plus, which I was not), I wandered into First and fell in love with a tall, caramel brown boot -just slightly rustic, but with a wooden heel and enough sophistication to work with a dress, which is how I wore it first time out to rave reviews. Just $159.99 – and it was on sale, so I paid around $130. And I’ve got to say, even with the heel, it lived up to First’s pledge of comfort. Maybe being too old for Aldo isn’t so bad!

It hit me last week during a fashion show for top customers at Anthropologie (thanks, Mom, for making me your plus one) that I am in dire need of transitional shoes. Somehow, this seems to happen every spring — I’ve got my boots; I’ve got my sandals. But what to wear when it’s 50-60ish? I needed ballet flats, peep toes, something! I hit the jackpot at my new favorite Mall of America shoe store One Thousand Steps. Along with the usual Steve Madden platforms and Puma sneakers are brands you don’t see elsewhere in town. I immediately zeroed in on the most adorable pair of round toe yellow wedges by Vagabond for $70. Before I made it to the checkout counter, I noticed a light blue suede peep toe with a big button by Nana. At just $55, how could I resist? Blue can be a neutral. It can! Nordstrom is no longer the only place to shop for shoes at MOA.  Besides One Thousand Shoes, Aldo has two new shoe stores at the mall: First, blending style and comfort, and Spring, for younger trendsetters. Staccato, the Hong Kong based fashion footwear chain, is also worth a stop, and how convenient, it’s located right between Nordstrom and DSW!