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11th Hour Pardon

August 16, 2010
tags: ,

It’s been a long and seriously hot summer, and I’m starting to fantasize about wool and leather boots – a much commiserated fact with like-minded Torontonians.

But the sun still shines, so before turning attention to the impending tragicomedy of fall footwear  – there are still some gripes to grapple with this season. Though I’ve been quiet lo these couple of weeks – drowsy with humidity and the endless daylight – my dull brain has managed to take notice of a few shoe crimes against nature and all that we hold holy. Very few pictures in this post – because I just simply can’t confront the calamity of all the evils of which I speak.

I had this strange moment on the Dufferin bus the other day – where I was like – is every enclosed space simply a microcosm for the wider world? To be honest – I’m not entirely sure of what this means. Maybe just that – if you took a look around any environment in a snapshot of a moment, could you extrapolate what you see there to society in general? Especially in a city like Toronto –  with so many different kinds of people running amok?

Take the Dufferin bus. What did I see that day? A Dad wearing white running shoes with black dress socks pulled up mid-calf. Next to him, his maybe 11 year old son, wearing hefty, horror-inducing beige sports sandals – an obvious genetic and learned-behaviour victim of his father’s inextricably deranged sense of socially acceptable foot encasings. I almost called child services.  Speaking of dress socks inappropriately applied – the same day I saw a 30-35 year old white male (already a criminal in my mind) wearing – oooh this is a tough one – where they manpris or simply a long blocky short that went well below his knee? Not the crux of the issue. On his feet he wore – an olive green, obviously rayon-mix dress sock, velcroed snuggly into sports sandal (akin to the Dufferin bus-riding kid’s – who will – obviously – never fully recover from his fraught childhood). I stared at him for a full five-minutes I’m fairly certain, and gave him a full head to toe once he got up to get off at his stop. He seemed nice – and to be honest – looked like a pale, astrophysicist from Eastern Europe – so was in some sort of cultural fugue  that he could be forgiven for. But do you see?? Two pairs of dress socks in one day. Microcosm? Man, lets just hope it’s a one-off coincidence.

Hmm. What else was on the Dufferin bus that day? You know what? I think summer is a tough time of year for shoes. I’m going to be magnanimous and say – hey humanity – now that we’re at the end of summer – I give you a pass! I hear you – it’s hot, it’s dirty, you get confused about what goes with what, what’s work appropriated, what you can walk all day in without looking egregious or shredding your feet into pulled pork. So sure – you’ll wear those terrible Merrell, open aired-shoes. Or sure – you’ve found a comfortable, yet hideous black flat that you can skip the socks with and has a modicum of arch support. I hear you – and I hereby, by the powers invested in me by my own ponderous sense of purpose to better everyone but myself – grant you clemency. Or pardon. Amnesty even. And absolution also for all your shoe sins this summer. Amen. Pass the wafer.

In other news – have you ever secretly craved something that you know in your deepest, darkest fiber is ugly beyond all redemption, lame beyond all recourse, and slightly perverted beyond all notions of guilt and shame?

Well that’s how i feel about those slip-on ninja toed, velcro-strapped Nike shoes. These – Nike Rifts:

I know they're wrong. Nike Rifts

Besides the fact that you’d be looking like a clove-hoofed beastie – what functional purpose are these even designed for? I can’t possibly expend the energy to google it. I have however, spent like 10 minutes in New York deliberating if a I should try on a pair that were made out of like – furry, cow hide – you know the ones I mean. This was half a decade ago – but I still think of them. I guess somethings just bring out your dark side.

And now – mercifully -I absolve myself too.

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Clod Hoppers and Culture Robbers

July 14, 2010

So prone to ground-breaking epiphanies on a regular basis, I had one the other day that I think captures why shoes occupy such an intense psychic space. Said epiphany probably betrays more about my own predilections – but since when was I not one to universalize what makes my own clock tick. Narcissism!

So the thing I like about shoes is that they allow cultural appropriation in a palatable measure. That’s what I said! Follow: Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of music videos where the ‘artists’ are wearing Native American headdresses, or war bonnets – like Ke$ha (kill me) and Kelis and some other person that I can’t remember. And I’m sort of like – really? A full on war bonnet?

Lakota Headress. Lovely.

Or when Madonna would get kitted out in a sari or kimono or even that topless lederhosen thing at the Jean Paul Gaultier show back in the 90’s – and people would chuckle and be like – oh that Madonna – she’s always changing her look – voices ripe with reverence. I’m mean I guess that’s all fine if you’re a popstar – sort of – but what about us common people, us lay folk, who can’t get away with donning a costume, hauling ourselves onto a street car, and humping through the hordes in 33 degree weather to get to work (hot as hades here in TO).

That’s where shoes come in – it’s a little TASTE of culture, a flair, a flourish, without having to go whole hog and a) look potentially ridiculous b) offend those are ACTUALLY of that culture and mercifully I have no  c).

Lets take the common moc. Mocassins have been popular for many moons now (heh) (oh god was that offensive?), the high ones, the low ones, the fringed ones, the suede ones – Minnetonkas, Chief Laurentians, slip-ons, pull-ons, the whole kit and kaboodle.

Good. The Masterful Minnetonka.

No one thinks twice about the socio-political implications of wearing this footwear – and trust me, there’s gotsta be some. I have no intentions of doing said issues a disservice by going into them here – but one assumes, and hopes, that the Native community doesn’t look too askance at it – and perhaps even chuckles at our superficial, literal toe-dipping into their culture? However, if we were rolling up left and right in like full sun dance regalia – it’d be irritating. See my point?

Lets broaden the idea of culture and look to less weighty examples of copping styles. It’s like sometimes I’d like to be a ninja. But that’s never going to happen. More to the point, I’ve always like chaps – those big old leather ones that real cowboys zip up?

Chaps. This guys sorta looks like Ralph Lauren.

They look rad. But I can’t wear that shit walking down the street. So I content myself with my rattlesnake boots. I also for the longest time wanted leather motocross pants – which thankfully for me and my hips- I never found – though I looked in vintage stores high and low for years. Motorcycle boots? I don’t have them – but I could wear those bad boys and how – without looking like some Bandidos old lady.  Frye makes a lovely pair.

Good. Frye Engineer.

I think skateboarders are cool – but I can’t actually skateboard. But I have sweet pair of Etnies – wrong? Am I lumberjack – no. A working man of any kind? No. But I love construction boots and Red Wings. Am I Navy Seal, Green Beret? No. But I got a cute pair of quasi combat boots.

Good. Marlboro, currently not serving on the front.

It’s like my weird little Asics boxing booties that I bought 10 years ago in NYC. They were all slim and lovely, with a huge padded tongue and the heaven-sent colour combination of blue and yellow. And I gottem’ and I wore ’em – and they were fab! Was I wandering around in a satin trunks and a  robe that read “The Jabbing Jew” – no.

And what about the feverish resurgence in clog popularity.

Good, bad, Hasbeens.

Hasbeens are the goodwill of wood, and none of us take it up a notch, clacking around in headscarves checking on our tulip crop. Do you see?

It’s all about the MARGIN of pseudoness  that allows you take on different cultures, to experience and enjoy – to APPROPRIATE the ENTIRE WORLD with your great, sweating, grasping-ness for your own aesthetic ends – without becoming a poseur of preposterous proportions. It’s a fine line – but a line that shoes – subtle, sensitive, succinct – allow us to tread-  while maintaining that god-given freedom to express ourselves as we see fit!

And to summarize –

VIVA LIBERACION!!!!

The Want List.

July 2, 2010

Sometimes when I’m feeling lonely and vulnerable, I like to catalog all the material goods I would need to make me happy. Then I go into a paroxysm of self-congratulation because my list is so short, attesting to my inherent down-to-earthedness and appreciation of the simple things in life.

So I’d like a glorious sheepskin coat, an El Camino, and diamond studs.

C’est ça-

Muffled in my duffle?

And ça-

Two'fer

And ça-

Bender.

Oops. Well we all know what diamond studs look like anyways – and remembering  when Claire gave Bender one of hers at the end of B-fastClub is way more evocative of their splendor and importance to life and love.

Reasonable right? I mean I could flush out the list if hard pressed – but I think my top tier wants show an ascetic and functional balance that casts me in a noble and virtuous light. Though when I regaled a co-worked with said list, she pointed out that I basically wanted the same stuff a pimp wants – to which I chuckled nervously and had no adequate response.

Anyhow, I thought it might be just as important to think about the specific shoes that would be on the want list. What’s interesting about this exercise is that it really forces you to focus on the essentials – I mean saying a material good makes you happy? You got to be sure you’re not being superficial about that shit. Like if I had thrown down $400 on a pair of outrageously overwrought mukluks at the height of their popularity – would I have been happy? Really, truly, happy?  If I was Antanarjuat maybe – but being me, myself of tender-footed extraction – not so much. They wouldn’t have staved off the craving for next year’s big winter winner.

More mukluks than you could shake a stick at.

The key is to think of a shoe that will satisfy, that if you never could buy another shoe – EVER – which I know is tantamount to blasphemy and contrary to all things we hold holy about shoes (their breadth, their variety, their endless textures, colours, roles and responsibilities) – you would ultimately be content. I think it’s a good life lesson about being happy with what you have – once you have successfully accrued all your big ticket items.

Okay – so – I’ve never been interested in designer shoes in the classic sense. Jimmy Choos, Louboutins, Manolos, Prada, Miu Miu whatever. I just can’t feign a deep abiding interest – I admire them on other people – but they bring me no particular joy. The most I ever threw down on footwear was my snakeskin cowboy boots – which I have to massage regularly with balm and due reverence to keep them from cracking. So that’s the kind of girl I am – carry over from my tomboy-hood I suspect. THAT SAID – I think I’d like a pair of classic black Louboutin pumps:

Good. Gracious. Louboutins

Rieeeght? I mean what’s not to like? They’re not the sexiest, or highest or most au courant of the brand – but they’re so sleek, and lovely, absolute classics, a faint retro redux without being costumey or kitschy. I’d never have to quest for another black pump in my life time.

Next! The Ferragamo black flat – another classic:

Good. Ferragamo.

Have you ever seen such lines? This choice is directly influenced by my mother –  though I will deny, deny if ever questioned in person. Everyone needs a flat or loafer they can depend on – and this is a shoe that is saving your ass time and time again until they bury you in them. They resuscitate any outfit, put the polish on whatever rags you’ve garbed yourself in that day – you could be having a horrible hipster moment of acid wash jeanshorts and an American Apparel crop top – and you’d still look refined. Again – the search is over with these.

Okay lets get back to my natural stomping grounds. I know I go on and on about sneakers, and especially my love of Nikes. I’m almost ASHAMED that I don’t own the one pair that might shut me up for good.

Good. Accompanied by hymnal choir. Air Jordan V Retro.

Some people are going to scoff – I think 4s and 3s are generally held in higher esteem – but I can’t help it – these are the ones I love – one day I’ll gird my loins, find some originals, mortgage the house that I don’t own and that will be that.

Like a lot of people, I’m a serious boot lover and it’s probably the shoe category that I’ve indulged the most in – not in  a crazy way – but to a degree where I’m not contorted by covetedness.  However – there is one boot that I’ve danced around for years, and that I actually want desperately, but don’t seem to be able to close on. We have a fractious relationship, I love them but know they’re no good for me – so I just swing by stores to ogle them and feel them up. Not healthy really. For either of us. Voila.

Good. Redwings.

The russet leather? The yellow cord laces? The crepe sole? And I mean listen, where I live, it’s like seeing your boyf canoodling with some other girl every night. Heartbreak. Lots of people got’em, usually boys with some dark wash straight-legged denim, billowing boisterously over the tongue, tucked with deft precision, or maybe the pant sits perfectly with a crisp cuff – who really knows – except that that shit is tormenting.

But I can’t get them – not right now – and I dunno – maybe never. To be plain, I currently have this short hair cut, and my wardrobe isn’t the most feminine to begin with – and these boots would take me whole other level of butch. And when my hair grows out fine – but like I’m tall etc. etc. – and to be honest – achem – which I hate to be – but remember I’m all vulnerable and such at the moment – I’M NOT SURE I COULD PULL THEM OFF. I can’t believe I admitted that. I’ve always espoused that you could WILL yourself into pulling anything off – if you believe it – you’re doing it and you’re looking gooood. Except for like knitwear, jersey and rompers.

So there. I guess Redwings might be the unrequited love of my want list – the grand romance that stalls, sputters and dies. That open and endless void that can never be filled and will always exist, a gaping cavern of such specific proportions that no other cork can cork it. Sucks really.

I’m sure there are other shoes on the want list, but I’ve descended into the melancholy of unfillment and can’t think of any others at the moment. I sure as shit will be getting that El Camino.

Fighting the Man one Flat at a Time.

June 23, 2010

Sure, I got kicked off the Dufferin bus last week, and mostly because the driver took umbrage at the fact that I had skidded through the back doors instead of waiting in the line at the front. I had a Metropass for godsakes!

Anyways, I was duly purged from public transport and hoofed it home instead. What stuck in my mind – and craw – was that the driver was literally aflame with indignation that I would even THINK of not taking my place in the bottle-neck at the front and shuffling on in due course. Skipping the queue compromised my character. Yeah man, it’s because I think I’m BETTER than all these people – you’re a true HERO to the MASSES!!!!

So I had this long walk ahead of me – and was patting myself on the back because I hadn’t been too mouthy and showed great restraint – but also – feeling quite put out because that driver didn’t realize that – ACTUALLY – I was VERY concerned with equality, and that I myself was a civil libertarian.

Case in point – it’s summer and I decided I needed a new cheapy flat, one I could wear all season, and then cast aside when I was  done with it. Equality! So I trundled down to Urban Outfitters and got myself these:

Good: Deena & Ozzy Oxford

$36! Now I know some of you are like, dude that’s a total jazz shoe and you wrote this long, arduous indictment against them weeks ago – proselytizing and fulminating, railing and ranting. But ACTUALLY, if you look closely – this a hybrid between an oxford and skimmer, therefore – perfectly fine, environmentally sound and subsequently, entirely wearable. Plus, I’m a known hypocrite and unredeemed scoff’n wanter. Plus, plus these are all two-toned and shizzz- and who can resist a two-tone shoe? Cheap as dirt and they remind me of my momz’s Oldsmobile!

So I in fact, I believe – strongly, fervently, righteously – that comfortable, all-purpose flats are essential for summer – and sure you could go get your Tory Burches for $250 – which I think are ludicrous looking, with their big, weird, toe decal that looks like it would be better served snuggled in some chest hair – but why spend the cash?

Feh. Tory Burch, chest hair wear included.

It all comes back to equality: We can all have nice flats. I’m pretty sure MLK broke it down in ’63.

Cheap, cute flats are everyone’s right – and don’t let anyone tell you different. Like Payless for instance:

God Awful. And un-American.

They’re telling you – these are perfectly fine. These are the kind of no-nonsense flats you deserve – you can’t do any better and you never will. These flats – cheap mind ($22) – are trying to put you in your place, dictate how you raise your children, who you vote for, and what vacation days you take. And you don’t have to stand for it man.

Omigod, omigod. I totally want to say something about the back of the bus, and how you don’t have to sit there if you don’t want to, and then it all ties in with how I SNUCK into the back of the bus – you know, from the BEGINNING of the post? Is it too much?

Sooooooo to summarize, you may have a paltry few sheckles to your name, you may be backward from the backwaters for all I care – but nobody is intrinsically better than anyone else! Am I right? Ergo – we should all have flats we can be proud of.

There’s a  swathe of defective and defeated flats out there – and as the simplest shoe to get right – you don’t need to accept these as your lot in life. Keep the faith, and keep on looking for that cheapy flat, that will serve you you faithfully all summer long – until you chew it up and spit it out for something better and nicer. I’m applying to the UN tomorrow.

A (bar mitzvah) Parable about Pumps

June 3, 2010

I just spent the past two hours in my boyf’s sweatsocks and new suede pumps. Am facing a serious bar mitzvah weekend, in which these shoes are rescuing a random amalgamation of never-worn items and pulling them into some semblance of an outfit.

I mean this is why I write this blog people – because shoes really matter. Here I was, my nephew is becoming a MAN, I have three back-to-back events (Friday night dinner, Sats bar, Sunds brunch) and no wardrobe to sustain me.

I plunged desperately into my closet one Sunday afternoon and as is my wont, geniously put together enough looks to get me through – not only said bar mitzvah – but in fact – all my social obligations for the Summer.

All that was missing was a pair of shoes to tie together the critical Saturday bar mitzvah outfit.  The wrong pair of shoes and I was looking like a total  free-spirit gone wrong (oft experienced obviously) – and the right pair would see me  groomed enough to satisfy my mother.

So I headed out into the feverish muggy-ness that was last week in TO, dragging my carcass down Bloor street during my lunch hour, hitting up every possible shoe store. Specchio had hurt me so carelessly the week prior (2k beaded sandals of gorgeousness) that I spared myself further agony and skipped it. But I went to Capezio, Town, Browns, Cole Haan, Nine West, Feet First (oy the desperation), Ron White (weird, horrifyingly expensive store in the Manulife that sell those stigmatism inducing Taryn Rose shoes? You the know the ones I mean? Why would you really – but like these oh god –

Bad. Taryn Rose-coloured beer goggles required.

are like $500), H & M and the Bay.

I skipped Aldo. While willing to fully sublimate my standards to a higher cause (my nephew is becoming a MAN people), I just couldn’t go in. I also didn’t go to Holts (but I did today, and they are having a lovely sale!)

I also didn’t got into David’s, because even on sale, their shoes are too pricey for the likes of moi – and even though we’re talking about my nephew and the onset of his MAN person-ness – I didn’t think the occasion warranted a full-blown throw down of Moses-like proportions.

So having frog marched myself up and down Bloor – how many shoes did I actually try on? One pair at Nine West, which were totally ugly (faux snakeskin – which I actually love – with a large rosebud on the toe that would have made Welles weep with wonder). They were also too high and ill fitting – I knew they would strafe my toes all night long. A no go. My sister has hired a DJ and back-up dancers – I need to be able to JAM.

I slumped back to my desk, fulminating again about how AWFUL the shoe stores in Toronto are, and how there is NOTHING TO BUY IN THIS GODFORSAKEN HINTERLAND (where they try to convince you that Aldo and Pegabo are two SEPARATE stores – remember that? HA! You are the SAME STORE with the same soul-destroying merch -shame!). Won’t some American come in and shod the poor and needy Northerners already? I’m ready for a new NGO.

Anyways, I’m like dear mother of god – if I don’t have proper shoes, I can’t wear this outfit, which I think is quite cute – and it’s really pissing me off.

This where I go into how my fortitude and compulsion to see justice done pulled my back from the precipice of  giving up. When really I just decided to go back to the Bay.

I used to have a major mental block with regards to the Bay, which now – through a slow acclimatization process – I will  sometimes  wander through to collect my nylons and underthings.  So the fact that I hit up their shoe department twice in one day is personal progress ipso facto. Never mind the patina of dire desperation that clung about my entire person that pitiless day of  disappointment.

So long story short, I found this lovely classic pump, that was $125, made by Ralph Lauren (which I think is fitting as it was for my nephew’s MAN-becoming and who else should shod me but the progenitor of romanticized WASP culture  Ralphy Lifshitz hissssself) and I thought they would class-up my outfit and reign-in the boho-ness of it a bit. These are them:

In a pinch. Ralph Lauren.

Cute right? Boyf said they were a classic pump. Boyf also told me to take back the other pair of shoes I bought at the Bay that day  – a pervy, faux snakeskin (I told you I loved!), peep toe, sling back, with a borderline chunky heel. The Bay is still not to be trusted. But we shall not speak of this. You know how I hate to digress.

So I think I’m set. I was wearing the sweatsocks to stretch them out a bit, and as I clattered around my house, I got kind of anxious at the height. I’m always enormous at these functions. Being relatively tall and belonging to a tribe not known for its stature – I spend weddings and other assorted simchas maintaining a vigilant watch over bald spots and bad blow outs.  I suppose someone’s got to do it.

You may now inundate  me with your many mazel tovs.

Jesus wore sandals for our sins.

May 26, 2010

Awash in self pity today, I’ve decided to turn my disappointment and resentment outward, and well – that’s it – I’m just turning it outward.

The only, single, solitary pair of shoes my eyes have alighted on in interest during these early days of summer – cost 2K at half price. And Specchio – evil shoe store – plops them right in their front window – tempting and tormenting me every time I walk by. When I first saw them, I paused – neck craning  – but kept going. They were a sandal, made with thick wreathes of beads, almost like bandages, but effusively coloured and textured. Gorge. I walked by the store a couple more times, and thought fine, I’ll go in and see if they’re remotely in my price range – and if they’re not – maybe they’ll be rationalized as an exceptional purchase. Alas, not remotely in my price range, so beyond in fact, that my powers of rationalization can’t even be called upon to turn the tide.

So while I mourn the loss of a shoe that will never, ever be mine, I turn my now dark attentions to: The Summer Man Shoe.

See, while fashion editorials and style sections are going to be populating their pages with all kinds of hideous shoe fare for summer, and some poor, wretchedly paid assistant editor has been scurrying around for months trying to assemble these lists of death – I’ll give you the straight dope. Summer shoe wear for men is an out and out disaster. It’s basically  volcano ash – you just need to wait that shit out. The summer months will be gone soon enough, and then everyone can get back into their pants.

Because the issue isn’t solely men’s summer shoes. Quoi? Nope, it’s a much larger, implacable issue of which there is no remedy: The man leg.

The man leg is one of the greater mysteries of our time. Often so pale, so hairy, so skinny. Then unceremoniously topped off – or bottomed off – by the man foot – discussed in hushed tones in an previous post. I’m convinced that the reason board shorts and cargo shorts are so predominant is because they COVER so much of the man leg. It’s not that that the man leg is fundamentally unattractive – just more awkward,  a shy cousin than loiters and lingers, while you wrack your brain figuring out what to do with them.

The inherent dubiousness of the man leg is exacerbated during the summer. The protective pant is torn away to reveal the vulnerable appendage- now jutting bravely from shorts – bewildered, endearing, a curious baby bird taking his first look around before he crashes headlong from his nest. .So now what? My opinion is that when shorts are worn, all flash and attention grabbing antics should be kept to a minimum. It’s not the time to draw attention to your feet or shoes. The objective is to keep the attention elsewhere on safer terrain – broad shoulders? Strong jaw? Head of hair? The key is to do the best you can and fly under the radar. Stay masculine while evading dorky. It’s not easy.

I’m not a miracle worker. You won’t find any epiphanies here. I don’t have the balm for making the man leg suddenly something to celebrate. All I have are a couple of rules to get us all through the summer.

1. No mandals. I’m sorry, you can’t wear sandals. I may concede to a two strap birk – but that is absolutely and unequivocally it. I don’t want to see anything like the extreme ghoulishness below. Even if your European. Even if you’re wearing Khakis. Even if you’re getting married on a beach.  No sandals, no slides, none of it.

Bad. Mandals. Wrong since man had mandibles.

2. Anklet socks. You must wear only these if you are entertaining the idea of any kind of sock – which I’m assuming you are only entertaining if you are wearing sneakers. In my innocence I can fathom no other time where you would be wearing socks and shorts. Oy god. So low socks, almost invisible. That half-mast calf sock that our dads’ are predisposed are not for you under any circumstances.

3. Flip flops. Fine. You’re foot needs to breathe. You want to shuffle like the girls do. I will concede. This category however CANNOT be extended to sports sandals, slides, those adidas swimmer sandal things

Bad. Are you on the swim team? No? Not for you.

or  – wait for it – leather thongs. We’re talking rubber, possible canvas (gerg) flip flop – that’s it.

4. I don’t want to be remiss in emphasizing the above. Sports sandals will prevent you from getting into heaven. Seriously – God knows all remember?  And he hopes that you obey this along with all the other commandments. Otherwise – he’ll be embarrassed to say he knows you. God is crossing the other side of the street to avoid you.

5. No loafers. You know who you are. You’re loving the WASP, preppy thing, and you think your tanned manly ankles look fantastic in the their sockless splendor – but how wrong you are! Burn your bermudas, bury your loafers. Where do you think your are for godsakes? Wandering around your family’s ‘camp’ in the Adirondacks with a roy rogers in your hand? Get over it. Oh god – I got so ANGRY. Um, I will allow sperry topsiders in this instance, mostly because I own them myself and feel like I have to throw dudes a bone. But this is still sorta awful right?

Hem haw. Madras and Sperry.

5. Keep it simple. Wear your sneakers – converse, stan smiths, rod lavers, vans, air max, jordans – whatevs – but just wear them with a shorty sock.

Good. Stand Smiths. White like the angels.

Bad. Deeply Euro.

5a. Stay away from euro styles like this – that streamline your foot into a delicate torpedo.
Also if you’re wearing shoes like these, you probably are also wearing snug fitting manpris and terrible printed v-necks. In which case, you’re a lost cause anyways so go nuts.

I think that’s it. I feel great! I know that the options for summer man shoe may seem austere and seriously limited – but I am haunted by the litany of love affairs drowned by the siren song of mandals and strange loafers.

Wedged in my memories.

May 12, 2010

I feel like a screed.

It’s cold and gray outside, and as a life-long navel gazer it doesn’t take much more to spin me off into tangents of self reflection, raking over my past for the pebbles of my shoe truths.

Simultaneously – my arch nemesis Aldo has all their summer goods on display, inviting a crashing conflation of past and present within the vastness that is my brain.

Okay, before I go on – I want to provide a preamble to this post by saying this is not the part in the larger shoe blog narrative where I humanize moi by expounding on my own mistakes and misdeeds – selflessly tossing myself on a pyre of self-depreciation and recrimination so we can all relate better. I mean, I hope it goes without saying that I remain aloof from the more pedestrian shoe quandaries that most of you face.

HOWEVER, clambering down off the pedestal, I have decided to SHARE this chapter in my shoe history to show that I EMPATHIZE with choices that result in what is  akin to waking up, befuddled, discombobulated  in a darkened ditch with no memory of what got you there.

When your brain turns off  and in the interim – before it goes back on again – you realize you’ve done something so terrible, so shocking – you wonder if you can ever truly be your same self again? It’s like those movies, when someone returns from the cusp of death, but brings BACK something with them – an evil entity from the other world, a vaporous, malodorous spirit that can never be expunged!

So anyways, basically what happened was this one time I bought a hideous pair of shoes from Aldo. It was the summer, and I was DESPERATE for a pair of all-purpose shoes that could be worn with everything, and had a little lift, but were comfortable enough to wear all day, every day.

I had endured a summer in NYC a couple years before, where my feet had been torn to shreds by one pair of ill-advised shoes after another, until every smidge of foot surface was abraded and worn raw. I had infections and scabs – the  chafing was outrageous. Ever since – I’ve approached summer shoes with trepidation, fearful of being adrift in the city for a whole day, being rubbed and ruined by my shoes. But there’s still that tremulous optimism of finding the go-to shoe that will make your summer.

So I got these shoes. They were like a stacked espadrille with brown leather straps. I carted them home – and pulled them out of the box to show my boyfriend. Remember – he of the Steve Maddens and sport-sandal slip-ons? He was appalled – and at the same time amused. Had I just brought home the open-toed equivalent of the Steve Madden of death?

Suddenly, the fugue lifted, and I saw what he saw – a clunky criss-cross of ponderous leather and hefty heel. How had I walked out of the store with them , slapping down good money, blithely hoisting that Aldo bag over my shoulder and boldly descending into the subway  for all to see? There’s no accounting.

While in-store, I had imagined the shoe as a sort of whimsical, Boho sandal, a little vintagey, the leather gleaming and oiled like a  saddle stored in some musty yet aristocratic barn. In the cold light of my apartment, they cruelly morphed into a  grotesquery of  grained hide fairly STAPLED  to a scratchy, weedy underpinning that looked like an IKEA door mat. The disconnect was almost to much for my addled mind to take.

I scuttled away in shame, returned the shoes, and subsequently have had to hear about it ever afterward by le boyf – who  delights in reminding me of the time I went to Aldo and got confused.

The lesson here is not that we’re all human and do things we regret, but rather, beware of Aldo,  espadrilles and mid-shopping reveries that distort reality, spend your money, and ruin your reputation.

So while I don’t love espadrilles, and I actually don’t like wedges in general –  if I had to endorse something along those lines, I’d say keep it simple à la:

Fair enough. Cole Haan wedge.

Ecch, I look at that photo and remained unconvinced.

Otherwise our friends at Aldo expect us to entertain the idea of wearing this:

Death rattle: Aldo wedge.

I feel like I’ve posted an Aldo wedge in one of my early posts. What can I say – I hold a grudge. No shoe is gonna make me look a fool  .  .  .  twice.