I've been debating what to write about Autreat. Frankly, there's so much to say that it's nearly overwhelming. I literally don't know where to start.
I think, however, that it would perhaps be best to focus on one aspect of the experience. While what I'm about to say is literally true, that isn't why I chose it. Perhaps some of the readers of this blog will understand.
I brought three pairs of shoes to Autreat. The first of them was a fairly fancy pair of Calvin Klein dress shoes. They're easily the most fashionable shoes in my wardrobe and pretty obviously not designed for my feet: my feet are far wider than most, especially at the toes, than most of equivalent length. The shoes in question, however, are not only sized for a normal foot, but taper off almost to a point at the tip. All of this makes them the least comfortable shoes I regularly wear... but they're also the ones that make me look the best.
The second pair was the set that I wear the most. They're sized much more appropriately for my feet and are reasonably fashionable, being composed almost entirely of black leather. Unfortunately, I rarely have the time to get them properly polished (and this has been historically true), leading them to have acquired a good bit of visable wear and tear. These were the shoes I wore on the trip to Autreat -- the other pairs were in my baggage.
The third, and final, pair was one that I brought almost on a lark. I decided that I'd need clothes to wear in the event of incliment weather, and fished out a pair of waterproof shoes that I hadn't worn in years.
I'd bought these shoes back in my undergraduate years. At the time, I didn't know much (okay, anything) about fashion, and I'd liked them because they had all of the features of high-grade hiking boots: they offered excellent support, good traction, were extremely comfortable, and had a Gore-Tex lining (meaning that they're waterproof, but still breathe like a normal shoe). As I've learned about fashion in the years since, however, I've come to realize just how much of a disaster they are in terms of fashion.
Not only do they literally not go with anything else (due to unfortunate choices in coloration on the part of the designers), but they're ragged as Hell. I wore them literally every day for most of two years, and they show it. Several of the latches for the laces have broken; the laces themselves (which aren't the ones which originally came with the shoes anyway) have broken and are held in the shoe by simple knots. Loose threads stick out from parts of the shoes... but they're still the single most comfortable pair of shoes I own.
At Autreat, I wore them almost every single day. No one noticed... unless and until I pointed them out.
Even then, nobody cared.