Sometimes, it is simply too hot to shop. That didn't stop me, of course, but it did limit how long I could coax my travel partner out to pound the pavement each day ;-) We were looking for the perfect tango shoes, the perfect tango outfits, and clothes cool enough to wear in 30 degree Celsius weather, with high humidity.
After trips to nine different shoe stores,I had found exactly ONE pair that fit me. Apparently, no one else who dances tango in stiletto heels has a wide foot! Did you know that? In the end, I returned to the shop where I found my new, favorite shoes, and tried on everything they had in the store: I now have two new pairs of favorite shoes that do not resemble any shoes I had on my prospective list when I arrived in Bs As.
I am now the happy owner of a pair of red, metalized "We're not in Kansas anymore" stilettos, and another pair of gold with sparkly animal prints and gold stiletto heels. So much for the all silver vision I had in my head when I entered the first store. I'd like to plug the store where I found both: Artesanal, T. de Anchorena 537, across the street from the Abasto shopping center, Carlos Gardel subte stop. Although I found many well-made shoes, these were REALLY well-made to my eyes; I will let you know how my shoes fare as they age! When you look at her site, remember that most of the shoe places do NOT put pictures of their stiletto heels or their new designs up, because of the constant pirating of designs that goes on.
If you wear lower heels, you will find better prices in Buenos Aires. Almost all the sale shoes I saw had lower heels in droves. I found two pairs of classy, elegant, lower heeled shoes for a friend (the salesclerk looked at the drawings I had brought of her feet, and said in English, "bunion-friendly!" and ran to the back to find shoes for me to look at). Most of the lower heels cost between 170 pesos (on sale) to 300 pesos (not on sale). Most of the stiletto heels I saw were 400-450 pesos, with a few strange colors on sale for less.
Places that had good shoes/clothes/service:
Artesanal (T. de Anchorena 537, between Corrientes and Lavalle): As I said above, I was impressed with their shoes. They have heels that fit right in the center of your foot, so that your foot is well-supported. Only one pair I tried on did not do that, and they were very willing to have me try another pair of the same size to see if another pair fit better (with hand-made shoes, each pair is different). You can fax them outlines of your foot to help them size shoes for you. I wear a 39 in Comme Il Faut, a 38 in NeoTango, and a 40 in Artensanal. In terms of clothes, they had a sale going, and I bought a very sexy shirt for an excellent price. Buena gente!
Tango8 (Lavalle 3101, down the street from Artesanal): When I walked in, I was prepared to not like this store. It is very slick, with tons of young foreigners ransacking the fashions. However, the choice of clothing is one of the best I've seen, the staff are effective, and the manager found shoes for my friend in under five minutes. Bravo.
Scarpe Mahara (Suipacha 252): I used to buy all my shoes here because they last FOREVER (10 years average, teaching in them almost daily, but alternating pairs). Unfortunately, they have not moved with the times, and they have no stiletto heels, which is what I wear now by choice. For lower heels, they are great and I recommend them. This is a mom- and pop- kind of shop, and they are nice/good people.
Asignatura Pendiente (Corrientes 2176): We accidentally wandered by this shop, and I bought several nice pieces for reasonable prices (at last, a plain black skirt!!!), while my friend bought a lot :-) The sales personnel were not terribly helpful, but they did help us find right sizes (still a mystery to me, can't find markings on my clothes!). Good prices, interesting fashions; not very many shoes.
Places that I did not like (remember that this is IMHO only):
Darcos Superstore (Sarmiento 835): The shoes have the heel WAY back on the foot, so that it doesn't feel as if it is supporting my foot. Also, the sales personnel were much more interested in chatting with each other than being helpful. All clothing came in one-size-doesn't-fit-most.
Tango Moda: The fashions were pretty, but almost nothing was big enough to fit me (and I usually wear a size 8). They had size 1 and some size 2s, but almost nothing bigger (I usually wear a 4 in Argentine sizes). OK, Americans tend to be big, but there are a lot of Argentine women out there bigger than me: what do they wear?? Hmm? Nice people, great view of the city from the 16th floor, but eh.
TangoLeike (Sarmiento 1947): I bought some dance clothes here, but the sales help were less than friendly (I considered not buying the outfit because of complete disinterest in selling anything). The shoes were pretty, but very narrow and didn't have much in my size (purple polkadot was NOT an option, sorry). Kinda rude.
In the middle or ??:
Neotango (Sarmiento 1938): I have three pairs of Neotango shoes that I love. I had already selected the colors and models that I was going to buy, before I got to the shop. However, the staff were not terribly helpful, and there seemed to be no shoes in my size available (I went back right before I left to try again, but no go). I did hear that one of the shoe makers was in the hospital, so perhaps the lack of shoes sizes was an aberration. The staff could be a bit more respectful and helpful. Frustrating.
Alana's (Av. Diagonal Norte 936): Closed both times I tried to visit the store. It's small, and didn't look like there were many interesting shoes, but it would have been nice to try some on.
Todo Tango (Suipacha 245): Nothing fit, but the salesperson was nice and helpful, without being pushy.
Tacondando (Arenales 1606): I didn't get to this store. Their stuff looks pretty, but I can't tell you the quality level; sorry!
Comme Il Faut (Arenales 1239): I don't like how Comme Il Faut fit my feet (the heel is way back, so it doesn't support my foot the way I like). We didn't go there, since we can always check out their new fashions here in the USA with Carrie.
We also went to two more shoes shops on Suipacha, but the names escape me. There were nice sales folk, but none of the shoes fit the way I like (again, the heel was further back like Comme Il Fauts).