Well, I've finally caved and given Comme il Faut tango shoes a chance.
The ladies at the Adelaide had about thirty or forty styles, ten or so in my size. I was pleasantly surprised by the sizing. All the size 37s I tried were recognisably size 37, which was not the case when I did the same thing with Bianca's Darcos stock last year. The width around the toes is reasonably good; I would have expected long and narrow fitting, Italian-style. That means that, having tried some on, I might order online if I really liked the style.
I'm very far from crazy about most of the Comme il Faut styles. The heels look anorexic, the toes are often mean, the surface elaboration fussy, lurid and pretentious. The general effect is of plastic tits (another commodity popular, and cheaper, in Buenos Aires) falling out of a too-small bikini. It has Footballers' Wives written all over it, minus the satire.
Their irritating marketing, success in the States, and distinctive 'look' also means that a pair of these are, inescapably, how you pretend you've arrived. I dislike this. I'd generally prefer to under-promise and over-deliver rather than the contrary, and I'm unwilling to risk being another average dancer wearing pretentious, attention-seeking shoes. Another downside is, of course, that they're very expensive. Shipping costs have recently ballooned, so every style on offer was £120.00. That's at least £150% of what I'm generally willing to spend, but it's about the same as my Taras, which are well made and I do like.
However. They have so many styles and colours that they can't help getting it right now and then by brute force of trying. At the Adelaide there were three styles I quite liked, a plain red suede which wasn't in my size, a dark blue which wasn't either, (and I have blue shoes already) and a slightly bluish green-and gold in my size. Most of the styles go with nothing on earth, but I wear a lot of green and blue and I thought these could be made to go with several of my outfits. This style is pretty, the 'look' might grow on me, I can afford them, and it's a poor heart that never rejoices.
And the main reason - I hear far too much about them, and I can't know if they're really so great or not until I have a pair of my own and give them a chance to perform. I know people who have them and love them and love dancing in them; I also know people who have them and never wear them because they look silly and don't go with anything, or just don't work. These people naturally tend to be quieter about having wasted their money than are those who made a good purchase, so it's hard to know how many of them there are. I suspect that even people who rave about them often have a few unused pairs in the back of the cupboard, which is a bit poor at £120 a pop.
So here they are. Getting them out of the bag and taking a picture, I like them more than I did before. Trying them on with the intended outfits, a sharp excresence of plastic on the left heel immediately damages my skirt, and I realise that the green is indeed lurid and doesn't actually quite blend with anything at all. But in the dim light at a milonga, it won't matter. Walking around the flat, I'd say the comfort level and stability are both inferior to my other shoes of the same height, and the soles feel very flimsy, but they're probably OK. A pair of Party Feet makes them wearable, but I think I'll want to add heel cushions, too, before dancing in them for long. I'm a little dubious about the arch - I'm not convinced it's in contact with my foot, but I'll have to see how that goes with wear. I now like them slightly less than when I took the picture, but I feel they might wear in well. Practicing a few forward-back-side-forward turns round a chair doesn't disabuse me of the idea that when I first test them, I should take another pair with me as a change.
So, will I regret my purchase? I don't know yet. I'll put them into action this week. [Update: results here.]