Style at Any Age

Guadalupe Goler’s take on outfit-making accessories and personal style

By Jennifer Levin | Photos by Gabriella Marks



Santa Fe New Mexican


Guadalupe Goler’s take on personal style Guadalupe Goler’s childhood in Guadalajara, Mexico, placed her in the center of the country’s shoe manufacturing industry. Beyond geography, the shoe business was also a family business: Her grandfather owned a shoe factory, where her father worked as a Latin American sales rep. Her aunt owned a shoe store. The young fashionista also devoured the style magazines of her 1960s childhood. “I always read Vanidades cover to cover,” she says. “I was so in love with fashion, with the old classical designers — Oscar de la Renta, Valentino.” When Goler moved to Santa Fe in 1973, newly married at age 17, she found a city without a fine footwear market. To remedy the situation, she opened Goler Fine Imported Shoes in 1984. Almost 40 years later, Goler is among Santa Fe’s most venerated businesses and the go-to spot for special-occasion stilettos and flashy flip-flops. Guadalupe Goler grew her business “by innocence,” she says, knowing only what she gleaned from her family and possessing an instinct for fine leather and timeless design. Today, she’s a local fashion icon, and Goler Fine Imported Shoes remains a family business, though she has more help these days. “My brother is the operations manager, my son does the advertising, and my daughter manages the store and helps me as a buyer,” she says. “I’m sure in the early days, I was almost bankrupt many times. My passion is being on the floor. I love talking to people.” Most days you’ll find Goler urging customers to try on shoes and clothing they might not ordinarily consider. “Fashion means taking some risks. You might not like it, but you might fall in love,” she says. She’s always dressed to impress. On an early summer day, she paired cropped black trousers with a blousy hot pink silk tunic and turquoise and bronze mules by United Nude. With simple stud earrings, bold eyeliner, and dark hair swept into a high ponytail, she was part Audrey Hepburn and part Cleopatra. Over the years, Goler has expanded into women’s clothing and accessories, as well as men’s shoes and clothing. It stocks shoes for dressy occasions, but because the store caters to a city that embraces casual comfort, Goler carries a wide selection of “street couture” — high-fashion designer shoes made for walking — including Ilse Jacobsen platform loafers, Casta mules in metallic finishes, and funky, functional boots for all seasons, in a variety of heel heights. Current favorites from her own shoe closet include cream and white U-Dot slip-ons, architecturally inspired sandals from United Nude, and orange Sorel sneakers. “I love my U-Dots because it is like wearing stunning jewelry on my feet, very chic. They fit like a glove,” she says. “United Nude is a brand from Denmark with styles that are edgy, but the heels are engineered in a way that supports the whole foot, not just the heel itself. They make my outfits stand out even more. And my Sorels are wonderful for cruising through airports. I travel often and need to have my feet supported without sacrificing my look!” Goler came of age during sweeping social change — and was swept up by love. She married young and moved to the United States with her glamorous Argentinian husband as an act of rebellion against the machismo of Mexican culture. (They divorced in 1992.) She says her fashion sense stems from the same tradition. “I grew up thinking that it’s nice to look good and for men to find me attractive. Latin American women, we like to dress up. You see us in high heels putting gas in the car or doing the grocery shopping in very fancy makeup. My son teases me — ‘Where are you going?’” Goler, age 68, has no plans to retire and says she’s blessed with plenty of energy. The only mark of age she dwells on is her inability to wear heels like she once did. “I still love them, but they don’t love me back.” She’s already planning to wear a spectacular pair of stilettos at her funeral. “They will be so tall that my feet will be sticking out the bottom of the coffin,” she laughs, “because I won’t have to walk anymore.”