Ellen was recently invited to a baby naming. She knew she’d be called up to the bimah and the congregation would be eye level with her shoes. While she couldn’t lose 30 pounds in a week, she thought that she could make a good impression from the ankle down. So she went in search of a new pair of black dress shoes – pretty but practical enough to allow her to navigate steps and not trip in front of everyone. She picked a pair with kitten heels and a ribbon bow on the front.
She didn’t actually need a new pair of black shoes; she had many in her closet. This got us thinking: How many pairs of black dress shoes can a woman own? Don’t answer. It’s a rhetorical question.
Joyce has two pairs of black dress shoes but five pairs of black sandals, which she wears as late into the winter as she can. She hates to have her toes squished. She does not wear socks with sandals – her daughter would disown her for that. Joyce is the daughter of a podiatrist, which might explain why she always wears sensible shoes.
Practical black shoes are good. Ellen has a pair of Clarks she loves. She was wearing them when a woman said, “Oh, I have those same shoes.”
“Oh, yeah, they are creepy but comfortable,” Ellen replied. Once again, talking before editing her thoughts.
All this shoe musing has led us to the scientific theory that when it comes to shoes, comfort is inversely proportional to beauty. The higher the heel, the more studded with rhinestones, the trendier the look, the more uncomfortable the shoe.
That’s why our comfortable day-to-day shoes are so plain Jane.
One of us owns a pair of Stewart Weitzman shoes with sequins and rhinestones. Bought for a wedding, they cost a pretty penny. In fact, they are soooo pretty that they hurt soooo bad. They live in the back of the closet, never to be worn again. Someone with more fashionable feet would be glad to find them in a thrift shop, but we can’t bear to give them away — they’re almost like new because we’ve only worn them once!
We both have a closetful of shoes but wear the same two or three pairs. This doesn’t stop us from shoe shopping. We’ll browse anywhere, but we like to make a pilgrimage to the Mecca of shoes Nordstrom. Swedish immigrant John W. Nordstrom was on to something when he opened a small shoe store in Seattle in 1887. The family business grew nationwide; they didn’t even add clothing to their stores until 1963.
Nordstrom’s shoe department is filled with sales associates who ask your shoe size and scurry to the back room, returning with towers of boxes. We like the personal service, but do feel bad when we choose just one pair – or none – after asking to see “just one more” style.
At the self-service end of the shoe spectrum is DSW where you are on your own to roam the stacks of boxes piled sky high. When you try on a pair, you have to stop a stranger and ask, “What do you think of these?” Then you have to figure out the Tangram puzzle of making the shoes fit back in the box. And what do you do with all that left-over tissue paper?
A glimpse of the kids’ sneakers with Velcro closures makes us wish that Velcro was an option for fashionable ladies. We know from experience that it’s hard to lean over in pantyhose and Spanx and thread the thin leather strap through the teeny-tiny buckle on the back of your ankle. Velcro would be so much easier.
But like diapers, Velcro shoes are for people at either end of the age spectrum: You are either wearing Buzz Lightyear sneakers or extra-wide Dr. Comfort therapeutic, diabetic shoes (with Velcro closures).
While we do check to see if the shoe fits – by walking around the store one whole time – we don’t always reject the ones that don’t make the grade. We just lie to ourselves and say the shoes will “loosen up.” We actually believe the clerk who says, “You just have to break them in.” That never happens.
With winter right around the corner, we took a moment to assess our boot situation. We own those fashionable ankle boots that are meant to be worn with tunic tops and leggings, but you’ll be happy to know that we don’t wear leggings ; our leggings shipped has sailed.
So back to boots — we have short Uggs; tall Uggs; waterproof, rubber-soled snow boots; boots with fake fur; and boots without fur and a pair of padded ones, just for snow. But who are we kidding? We probably won’t be wearing boots very much. When it’s snowy and icy, we’ll stay inside and put on our fuzzy slippers.