Isn’t it said that in order to really get to know someone you should walk a mile in their Manolo’s? Who would like to volunteer to let me do the walking in their fabulous shoes? Take a peek at these yummy ones:
Ohhh la la. They deserve to be dancing upon a wide open, shiny hard wood floor, with a flowing dress and a half-sipped Merlot in hand. Or maybe they deserve to be on the feet of an Italian woman in Rome, perched upon the pedal of her red scooter.
Okay, so Manolo’s they need not be, but I love that this insightful quote includes shoes. Yes, it’s not “walk a mile in their socks” or “walk a mile down their same path”. The shoes part is the most critical for me, as they can tell an awful lot about a person. Also, shoes can be quite kind to your ego. As my beloved Theresa puts it “You never look fat in shoes”. Purses too, but that’s another entire blog entry…
Here’s a quick snapshot of a portion of my much loved, much worn shoe collection, taken just hours before my delightful Mama snatched them up and polished the heck out of ‘em. Ta-Da! They sparkle and shine again!
To the best of my recollection, my obsession with shoes began in high school. However, I do have a memory of wearing wooden-heeled Candie’s sandals when I was about 5 years old. These things were indestructible and perfect for the playground because you could fling them off into the sand quickly. I recall somehow losing one at our favorite park. I was as devastated as a five year old could be.
I also recall playing dress up with a maroon pair of my Mama’s knee high, leather zip boots. I’m sure these were most likely purchased in the 70’s because even then I could detect their groovy aura. These boots were so unlike anything my Mama ever wore, and as I awkwardly stumbled around in them, I often imagined what adventures she had encountered wearing them.
In first grade I wore ‘Roos with zippered pockets where you could stash lunch money, and in grade school, of course I had some K-Swiss sneakers.
So, during high school my mama would take me to “Wild Pair” shoe store in St. Louis (three hours away) just so I could find unique shoes. We had so much fun. Shoes became the medium for which I could express myself within the confines of the uniforms associated with the parochial school system. My first pair of cool shoes were thick soled, black leather shoes that tied. They had fake, steel toe plates and were decorated with small, random “Rasta” colored pieces of fabric. I can still hear the “clop-clop” of the soles in the dark,crowded halls of Mater Dei HS.
When I turned 16, I absolutely had to have combat boots to go with my grunge flannel shirts. My Father proudly took me to a military surplus store near St. Louis and I methodically searched the store for the right pair. Once we arrived home, my Daddy spent what seemed like hours shining, buffing, and lacing the boots and finally presented them to me all wrapped up. He then took a photo of me. I smiled at the camera with long curly hair, fresh make up, and spit-shined combat boots on my feet. I thought I was all that. I wore these boots out, and with real steel toes, they functioned well for our toboggan adventures in the winter.
For my junior year Christmas Dance I found the perfect pair of heels to match the “Some Like It Hot” dress my Mama had crafted for me. These black velvet peep toes with ankle straps had a small platform sole and a pretty decent high heel, and a “Ginger Roger”-esque engraving on the wooden soles. I remember that this platform was a big deal then – no one had worn shoes like this to a dance before…so grown up and ballroom dancer like. I actually just rediscovered them this weekend while going through junk to donate to a garage sale. I stroked their worn out velvet and briefly recalled the memories I had made wearing them. Then, I tossed them into the box with hopes they would make great dancing shoes, and fantastic memories, for someone else.
Glancing at our old shoes can take us back so quickly. I remember the shoes I was wearing when I experienced my first kiss. Brand spankin’ new white Keds. After kissing on the railroad tracks, my boyfriend helped to steady me over a muddy trench. One of my legs slipped into the trench leaving my white Keds brown and caked with earth. Embarrassing. The stains never came out.
Then, of course, there’s a special place in my heart for my wedding day shoes. Ever a shoe purist, I refused to give in to the trend of wearing sandals or sneakers under my dress. Upon finding the perfect pair of pointy toed, white satin heels with a hint of pearls, I knew I’d be wearing them all day long, even if my feet killed me. They even had grass stains from our ceremony. At the reception, I changed into another pair of heels for dancing along to the full piece Big Band we’d hired. The shoes ended up in the safe hands of my Mama as my husband and I took of on our Italian honeymoon. Knowing I’d probably never wear them again, and functioning in her creative mode, my Mama used her “safe hands” to dye them. Black. With hair dye. Let’s just say they didn’t turn out so well. We laughed about it.
During a high school football game, I wore an interesting (read: dorky) outfit and equally interesting shoes. They were another “Wild Pair” purchase in black leather and resembled Dutch clogs in the way they curved into an off-kilter point at each toe. To top it off, they had a zipper right along the center of each shoe. With those shoes, I donned black and red plaid flannel short-alls with knee high white socks. And Pollyanna braids. Ohhhh yeah. The picture of coolness.
At my high school graduation party I wore grey plaid, felt, low topped converse with low rise (low rise for then!) Gap jeans. That was during my “Look at me, I could give a crap” phase.
Until last year, I had refused to wear “thongs” (what us Midwesterner’s always called flip-flops). Once my feet began to swell with my pregnant body, I resorted to something I could easily slip on. They blistered my toes at first and I was hesitant about wearing them in public. Alas, the bright pink pair with a fake pink daisy on the strap were the shoes I donned to the hospital for the birth of my Kaia. And while I own one pair of sneakers, the last time I wore them was over two years ago at my last Curves workout. I realize that I’m a bit of a wannabe shoe snob, but truth be told I rarely spend over $25 on a single pair. Ross Dress for Less and Last Chance are my best friend and secret weapons for shoe bargains.
A few weeks ago, I got grief for showing up for a downtown baseball game in my beloved Two Lips stilettos. After walking ten blocks or so on the hot Phoenix pavement quite confidently, I guess I had proven my point that they really were my most comfortable pair of decent shoes. When I got home that night, however, I realized I had worn the heels down to the metal!
My dog JP had a penchant for eating shoes. In all, I betcha he’s chewed about eight pairs of my shoes, including my to-die-for Anne Klein 3 ½ inch peep-toe, tiny polka-dotted pumps that I purchased especially for my sister’s wedding to match my pinstripe dress. I went out and bought the same shoes again. They make my heart flutter.
I’ll never forget the purchase of my first “pointy toe” shoes just a few years ago. I strolled the aisles of DSW in search of inspiration. I found it in a pair of BCBG stilettos, with tiny tassels on the toes. Until recently, they were in dire straits. This weekend, my Mom restored them with a quick polish touch up and they will be back in my rotation.
For my birthday this January, my husband planned an amazing day of shopping, chocolate, massage and family time. As we entered a high end shopping mall, he said “I’m buying you a purse, shoes, and lingerie, so go pick ‘em out”. And so, I adore my pair of eggplant-colored suede heels. Comfy and delicious. I think of him every time I wear them and every time someone comments on my “sexy” shoes. I also smile secretly because, ever the cheap-shopper, of COURSE I scored them on the clearance rack. They are still sexy.
And I can’t forget my funky looking, square toed Franco Sarto heels with a copper buckle. Everyone calls them my Witch shoes and you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. Then there’s my Two Lips skinny-heeled stilettos with red vinyl racing stripes, which my Mama nicknamed my stripper shoes. She must have been a little shocked when I told her I’ve worn them to work a handful of times. I’ve owned many a trusty Nine West heel and have dreamed of scoring a high-end designer brand. But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t drop a Benjamin or three on shoes, no matter how deep my love runs for them or how quickly my blood pumps as I strut my stuff in fabulous heels.
As a society-proclaimed feminist, I really am aware that high-heeled shoes are akin to some sort of tortuous foot bondage meant to keep women, literally, “on their toes” for “the man”. I haven’t come to terms with this yet. I’m not sure I even want to. All I can think of is the way I feel powerful, sexy, and flirty in heels. I can hear the distinctive shuffle-click-shuffle-click of the heel/toes combo hitting the terrazzo tile in the hallways at work. I love walking next to another heeled woman. Our click-clicking seems to inevitably end up sounding in unison like some primal, tribal woman-beat. And I am quite sure we are always smiling at the sound of pure, confident femininity. If only I could sashay like Carrie Bradshaw in her Manolo’s.
I think that shoes provide me with that physical expression of creativity that I’ve otherwise lacked in my 29 years. With no tattoos to speak of, and nary a body piercing (even ears), I am practically unadorned. I am quite familiar with my natural hair color (let’s not talk about the recent gray ones) and barely even know how to style my hair. I once had what I called “punk rock” hair. Really, it was soooo soccer-mom. And while I adore jewelry, I have neither the time to remember to coordinate it, nor the funds to really purchase what turns me on. Plus, I end up breaking it or losing it within weeks.
Thus, shoes are my passion, the way I can stand out in a crowd of thongs and sneakers, hiking boots and Birkenstocks. I’d love to think of them as my calling card, but that’s just because I want to feel really cool. I do get lots of great compliments on my shoes, though, and that makes me one happy girl. Most likely because I hope it means the shoes are successfully distracting people from my messy hair and wrinkled shirts.
Often I have wondered what my shoe repertoire will look like once I achieve my dream of Stay-at-Home-Mom. Will I get to wear my mock Croc avacado green Nine West’s? Will my metallic blue Unlisted slings with grommets ever see the light of day again? Shall my calf ever again feel the ecstasy of pulling on my knee-high Anne Klein boots (never-worn, purchased by Savers for $20)? Oh the tradeoffs of Mama-dom. For Mama’s everywhere, I wish to remain hopeful that there can be a successful marriage of the two…