I am of the mind that shoes make the woman. Or, rather, shoes make the woman’s look, outfit, dress. And unmake it, as well. Meaning: the most gorgeous, expensive well-fitted outfit will be brought down several pegs at least by shoes that are not the equal of that outfit. And vice versa: A blah dress straight off the marked-down-forever racks at Ross or Penny’s can be made to soar, so to speak, by wearing it with incredible shoes.
I have been, if nothing else, the girl with the cute shoes, and I relish shoe shopping. The thrill of the hunt: what new and different is out there? Will they have it in my size? Will it fit? Well, maybe that last one wasn’t so important. Not that I would emulate Cinderella’s sister and cut off my toes to fit into a cherished slipper, but really, don’t all women expect some measure of foot discomfort?
Beauty is not painless, as my Aunt Regina used to tell my mother. My mother listened to her older sister; she daily wore high heels, as high as they made them, which at the time was a scant three inches.
Of course, Aunt Regina, who was an artist and designer, not to mention an Upper Westside New Yorker, was the absolute arbiter of what one did and didn’t do fashion-wise. So I was befuddled when she suddenly appeared in the worlds clunkiest shoes. Space shoes, I believe they were called, about as ergonomically correct as could be, since they were made to fit a plaster mold of one’s foot.
They were without any redeeming design features, but according to Aunt Regina they were necessary for her feet. Something about bunions and corns and falling arches–I don’t know what all. Clearly this was something only old people thought about, so I stopped listening to her explanation. Such shoes had nothing to do with me. And never would. Ever.
I am not sure if I am close to the age Aunt Regina was then. When you’re young, everyone over forty looks old (which is why we don’t recognize ourselves in the mirror these days). I do know that the ills of the aging foot, of which I wrote last week on MidLifeBloggers, are mine. I still won’t wear space shoes, but I’ve moved into the arena of Comfort More Than Cuteness.
You’ll notice I said Comfort More Than, not Comfort Over Cuteness. My friend, Laurie, and I debated this the last time I was in New York. Laurie is also an Upper WestSide New Yorker. She has the delicate, narrow feet that I associate with patricians, while mine are the large ones that the peasant stock stood on. She had the exquisite shoe taste to go with her feet, and I have spent no little time envying her foot wardrobe. No more, though. Laurie now wears running shoes 24/7 wherever she goes. Sad to say, those beautiful patrician feet aren’t holding up so well, and Laurie has opted for comfort over style.
I could tell from the comments on the MidLifeBloggers post last week that Laurie is not alone. I am somewhat solitary, it would seem, in my insistence on wearing shoes that have some modicum of Cuteness to them. But this whole adventure with FootSmart has forced me to question my standards, and that has sent me dangerously close to that spiralling downward tunnel labeled “I Don’t Want To Be Old.”
I don’t want to be dead, either, which is what wiseacres, generally male, generally middle-aged have told me is my alternative to being old. Yes, I get it. So let me rename that tunnel, “I Don’t Want To Be Perceived as Being Old.” Ah, that’s much clearer.
It’s a tunnel that has many entrances. Today we’re talking of feet, but it could just as easily be facial features and hair color and the propping up of various body parts. Isn’t that, after all, why we cover our gray and botox our wrinkles? So people who see us don’t automatically put us in the category of Old. Because we know how old we are, so there’s no fooling us. And those near and dear know it as well. No, it’s that person over there, down the street, in the next office who we are hoping to convince to still take us seriously. Which means, we believe, in seeing us as Not Old.
It used to be easier, I think. When I was a kid, old ladies wore black lace-up brogues with a squat inch heel. Now they’re the height of fashion, and old ladies wear–what?
These are the shoes that FootSmart just sent me. They’re by Clark, Haley Eagle Flats from their Privo line. Clark’s, you know, the ones who make all those ergonomically- and orthopedically-correct shoes.When you see them on my feet, tell me–how old am I?
The Drew Women’s Sandy Sandals? Drew’s is known for their orthopedic shoes. Do these look orthopedic? I thought not.
Clearly, the problem is within me. Perhaps if I hadn’t spent so much time as a young woman thinking ill of my elders for their seeming lack of style, I wouldn’t, now that I’m the elder, be so hoisted on my own petard. Perhaps.
FootSmart sent me the styles shown above for the purposes of reviewing them. The opinions are, as always, my own.