For Jessie Cheung, image is everything.
As associate director of cosmetic dermatology at New York University Dermatological Associates, Cheung tries to make a good impression with her patients. “I wear a white coat all day, but my patients can see my shoes and jewelry,” said the 32-year-old. “When you do cosmetic dermatology, patients expect you to look nice. They wouldn’t go to a cosmetic specialist with ugly shoes.”
But since she is on her feet most of the day, she still needs her shoes to be comfortable. In her quest for both comfort and fashion, Cheung has become hooked on Cole Haan pumps with Nike Air technology, owning 26 pairs. When performing surgery, however, she steps into a pair of easy-to-wear Dansko clogs or MBTs.
Her closet also is filled with an assortment of 4-inch designer heels from labels including Fendi and Prada. In fact, one of her most memorable designer shoe splurges took place last October at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel, where she snagged some Valentinos and Christian Louboutins on sale.
Pairs owned: “Just under 200.”
Comfort brands: Aerosoles, Cole Haan Nike Air, Crocs, FitFlops, Frye, Khombu, MBT, Nike, Puma and Taryn Rose, among others
Fashion brands: Azzedine Alaïa, Banana Republic, Bruno Magli, Dolce Vita, Fendi, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Maison Martin Margiela, Nina, Nine West, Pucci, Tory Burch and YSL, among others
Collecting shoes since: 2002. “I was training in Chicago and began my shoe shopping craziness then. There were always shoes on sales there. I don’t think [women] in the Midwest appreciate fashion as much as New Yorkers.”
Storage strategy: “I keep my shoes at the office. I basically have a shoe closet at the hospital. I have about 30 pairs there. I store the rest in closets at home.”
First step into comfort: “Dansko clogs in medical school and then while interning. I started wearing MBTs with my scrubs about three years ago, when I was doing a lot of liposuction and laser surgery — instant relief. I spend most of my workday on my feet, moving between exam rooms and doing surgery. But I also see regular patients and then I can wear street clothes, not scrubs, so I can’t wear my MBTs or clogs. Instead, I’ve made the switch to comfortable, but pretty shoes.”
Most comfortable pair: “Cole Haan Nike Air open-toe pumps in beige-and-brown snake. They’re comfortable and stylish. I always get compliments on them. I have 26 pairs of Cole Haan Nike Air shoes. That’s a lot when you think about the retail prices, but I usually buy them on sale. And they’re so comfortable, they’re worth the price.”
Least comfortable pair: “Stuart Weitzman d’Orsay pumps. I’m normally a size 7 1/2 to 8, but the only shoe left was a size 7. I can wear them, but they hurt.”
Key comfort feature: “For high heels, ball-of-foot support — whether it’s an air pocket or platform. For flats, heel support.”
Favorite athletic pair: “I’m doing the New York City Marathon this fall, so I ordered Asics Gel sneakers from Zappos.com. I read a lot of great reviews about them.”
Favorite work looks: Cole Haan Nike Air heels, Pucci flats, Kate Spade flats, Aerosoles heels, low-heeled Salvatore Ferragamos, Roger Vivier wedges, Tod’s flats
Most expensive pair: “Azzedine Alaïa cosmetic pink boots with perfing. They were $1,400, but I paid less than half.”
Least expensive pair: Old Navy flip-flops
Biggest shoe regret: “A pair of Miu Miu jeweled-heel pumps that were on sale. They were beautiful — walking away from them was my biggest mistake.”
Favorite shoe-shopping spot: “For comfort, Zappos. I like that they have great service, fast, free shipping and easy returns. I also shop the Cole Haan store online. For fashion, I shop Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue.”