My Shoe Anti-Rhapsody.

The weekend turned out to be good because I escaped having to shop for “nice” shoes, a task I’d been avoiding. I spared myself with the realization that if I need to dress up (I am capable of cleaning up kind of nicely, when I want to), I have several options that look perfectly okay with ankle boots. I can wear boots with tights and a knee-length or longer skirt or dress, and no one would look twice at a simple black ankle boot if it’s not dirty or scuffed, right?

It happens that there’s an upcoming event whose dress code is “cocktail attire.” I’m pretty sure I can get away with short boots, though.

I’m not sure where my aversion to wearing dressy shoes comes from, because I haven’t always had it. There was a time that I didn’t mind wearing them, and I often wore them to work. The heels couldn’t be more than three inches high, though, and even that was pushing it! I was never comfortable walking in heels.

As a result of wearing heels on a semi-regular basis, I now have a bunion on my left foot, and it looks like I might be developing one on my right foot. If I could go back in time and tell my younger self anything at all, it would be, “Don’t wear high heels, even if they’re not really high. They’re not worth it.”

(It seems that one way or another, women end up mutilating their bodies whether they’re aware of it or not. I mean, aside from the drastic differential in damage and degree of pain and severity, how is the practice of Chinese foot-binding any different than modern women wearing high heels regularly over an extended period of time? Both are done for the sake of fashion and in compliance with current beauty standards, and they have the same effect in the end: deformed feet.)

Anyway, I haven’t worn high-heeled footwear on a regular basis since 2009. I did thrift some kind-of-high wedge sandals in Texas, but I only wore them twice, and only for a few hours each time.

Since shopping for dressy shoes means fashion, it also pretty much means high heels, and since, to me, trying on high heels is only slightly less fun than getting invasive dental surgery, I’ve come up with every excuse to avoid the whole business.

My (admittedly) halfhearted attempts to find “nice” shoes usually end in failure. One day in the summer of 2012, I wandered into a shoe boutique in Nice, France (where we were pretty much living at the time). The shoes were mostly trendy and some combination of glamorous, provocative, strappy, studded, or colorful… and they were mostly high-heeled. Many were high-heeled with platforms. I was supposed to be looking for shoes for a special occasion, but I ended up getting some converse knock-offs I found hidden in the back corner, high above and out of reach… I had to ask the shoe guy to get down a pair in size 38.5 (my European shoe size). The shoes were casual, but they were made of metallic material and faux patent leather, so that made them special occasion converse knock-offs, right? My reasoning was lame, and I knew it. I bought them anyway.

In their defense, those flimsy, blingy black and silver converse-inspired shoes were pretty comfortable. I spent the rest of the summer power-walking through Nice in them. I still have them:

 

Brand unknown. It just says "sport" on the metal plaques at the tops of the laces.

Brand unknown. It just says “sport” on the metal plaques at the tops of the laces.

 

“Never say ‘can’t’,” but… I can’t walk in high heels, and I don’t care.

Also when we were still living in France, we visited Los Angeles for a week, and once again, I went shopping for dressy shoes. This was in September, at the end of that same summer. We had an event in Berlin coming up in November, and I was running out of time. I had to find some shoes! I finally found a pair of black velvet-like wedges at a mall shoe shop. Of all the shoes I tried on, those were the most walking-friendly ones in my price range.

Fast-forward to November: I wore the shoes from the hotel in Berlin to the convention center, and I only made it half-way down the street. Luckily, it just so happened that my comfy, reliable old cowgirl boots were stashed in my backpack. (Yes, I wore a backpack with my dressy outfit.) Cowgirl boots aren’t exactly formal footwear, but they’re better than barefoot at a convention center event. My excuse was going to be that I was an inappropriately casual American who didn’t know any better. If there’s a stereotype about Americans wearing casual western boots at semi-formal events, I’m afraid I helped to propagate it. Sorry, not sorry.

Shoes. If “perfectly okay” is good enough, they’re perfect as far as I’m concerned!

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