Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Shoe Biography

(not my cute legs or shoes)

Just how many pair of black shoes does a girl need? Looking through my closet, I take inventory to see if I can, in fact, count on two hands the contents of my black shoe collection. My shoe tree runneth over, and lesser-used-but-still-necessary varieties reside in the closet space of my dear husband. As of yet I’ve been unable to purge any members of the black shoe family because all are essential, depending on clothing ensemble, mood, life stage or level of sentimentality. Let me explain.

1. The ever-versatile black loafers (minus pennies). I bought these when I first moved to Washington before I was married, and they have traveled far and near. They go with casual skirts and pants, although they are very stretched out due to swollen pregnancy feet so they look a bit sloppy on non-pregnant feet. Soles are wearing thin, and the heels sound like tap shoes when I walk because of lack of heel tread. Should get rid of them, but their history is keeping them on the front row of the shoe tree.

2. Slip-on clogs with silver brad accents around the outside. An impulse purchase when I was 7 months pregnant with K1 and the aforementioned black loafers could no longer accommodate my puffy tree-trunk ankles and feet. They are a full 1½ sizes larger than I normally wear, but they’re a keeper for future heavy-laden, delicate condition when it gets too cumbersome to bend down and tie my shoes.

3. Sensible slightly raised heel loafer with silver buckle. These go with skirts or pants, or so I thought, until I caught a glimpse of myself in a department store mirror wearing them and felt particularly unstylish and matronly (not in a good mama way but in an old, tired way). Debating on future of sensible looking shoes.

4. Business casual heel shoes with white stitching and large square silver buckle. Good for work or church, but not too dressy. Another sensible shoe that’s comfortable and goes with everything.

5. Cute rounded-square-toe sling back shiny dress shoes. I bought these for the one and only time I’ve ever been a matron of honor. A friend of mine got married a few years back in Des Moines in a Lutheran church, and I bought a long navy blue formal dress to go with my cute sexy shoes. Good for dancing, standing while making a toast and making me look good when I had no idea what to do in a wedding.

6. Comfortable side-zipper flat casuals. Look best with casual pants – cords, jeans, etc. but with a skirt could come off looking like a specially designed orthopedic model. I’ve put a lot of miles on these babies, as they’re good for traveling…comfortable but don’t take up much room in the suitcase.

7. Calf-length chunky heel boots. I’ve had these forever, and I was so excited post-baby when I could fit them on my feet again. Look best with pants, and I like to wear them with pants that would normally be too long. The heel height of these boots make it so the pant hems graze the top of my foot, which apparently, according to the fashion authorities, is where you want it. Yay a fashion do!

8. Indoor-outdoor slippers. Can’t be categorized as a real shoe, per se, but they are cozy on my toes when it’s cold, the rubber sole allows me to wear them outside to the mailbox, and they have faux fur on the edges. Note: slippers are NOT OK to wear beyond the boundaries of the front driveway.

9. Fancy velvet special occasion strappies. Not worn for some time, but originally for dressy work parties. I could wear these with pajamas and I’d feel kinda snazzy.

10. Mary Jane Doc Martens. Purchased when Doc Martens were a big name in foot apparel in the mid-90’s. They combine the signature sturdy heaviness of the designer with the school-girl charm of a strap and buckle. I haven’t worn these in a long time, but they were the result of haggling with a vendor on Portobello Road in London. Two indications that you’ve blended with the locals – effortlessly navigating your way around “The Tube” public transit system, and successfully negotiating a deal with a street vendor. These shoes represent the completion of my initiation into London culture.

11. Strappy sandals and flip flops. Two distinct shoes that fall into the same category of “shoes that require a pedicure before wearing.”

12. Flats with blue stitching and a little bow on the side. Not flattering for someone like me with short legs, but they’re used enough to secure a spot on the back row of shoe tree.

13. Newest purchase wedge heel mary janes with light stitching. I love how comfortable and cute these are, and they just may be the phase-out shoe for number 1 loafer.

I don’t consider myself a shoe monger, but this evidence seems to speak otherwise. The phrase “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” I realize is a metaphor to teach empathy. Ever try to literally walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? You feel every twist and turn of the heels, every bend in leather that you don’t feel in your own. My black shoes tell a story about me, mostly that I'm a sentimental sap. There are scuffs and scrapes, but nothing that a little shoe polish can’t repair. I’m showing scuffs and scrapes too from everyday life experiences. Sometimes I want to buff them out with a little polish and sometimes I want to wear them with pride to remind myself of where I’ve come from. So it turns out I can’t count my black shoes on two hands, and when I resorted to counting on my toes, you can bet they were covered up with a black shoe.

1 comment:

  1. Nice writing, Jen. You are poetic. What about your cool brown plastic Hawaiian sandals? Best shoes ever in the summer--I've worn out 3-4 pairs.