Shoes really don’t make sense. On the one hand, to the true fashionista, shoes are not about practicality. Shoes are where the most irrational and reckless passions lie — the more outrageous, sexy, and impractical, the better. Let’s face it: stilettos are never about need.
On the other hand, shoes are very practical items. Doctors “prescribe” them, at times. We log mile after mile on them. We walk through puddles and city streets and globs of muck that are, at best, unidentifiable and, at worst, disgusting.
I understand that the world of high fashion thrives on this mismatch between what is perfect and what is real. They want us to envy the fashionistas. They want us to imagine and covet a perfect lifestyle, in which well-heeled beauties flit from party to party, club to club, relying on valet parking to ensure that they never have to walk through the slime like the rest of us.
But this is not how the rest of us live. So it shouldn’t be surprising that we feel just a little bit conflicted.
What do I want? Fabulous, shiny, pointy-toed, high-heeled, kickass sexy shoes to stride around in. What do I need? Shoes that can survive my lifestyle.
And what, exactly, does my lifestyle entail? During the work week, I walk up and down four flights of stairs approximately 10-15 times a day, usually lugging at least one (but often two) heavy bags full of books and papers. When I’m not doing that, I’m walking in between buildings, outside, in rain, snow, sleet and everything in between.
On the weekend, I sometimes stay close to home, resting, which does not require cute footwear in my neck of the woods. If I’m lucky, I’m going out for a night on the town. If that night on the town is in the city, which it often is — because otherwise, why bother? — we are talking about multiple subway transfers and/or walking on cobblestone streets.
Valet parking does not figure in.
And oh yeah, I forgot: I also need shoes that cost less than $100 and work with multiple outfits.
So there’s a bit of a disconnect between the shoes I want and the shoes I need. For example:
Boots — The Ideal:
Boots– The Real:
Now, they may not look that different to the casual observer, but trust me: I own these boots (Clark’s on the left; Aerosoles on the right), and I see the difference. They have served me well, and they get tons of wear. But when I look down at my feet during the day and see round toes, no shine, and a sensible heel, part of me just feels a little sad, inside.
The best middle ground I’ve ever found were these boots by Joan & David:
But let’s continue:
Work shoes, to wear with skirts:
And so it goes. What to do?
I desperately need to replace my knee-high boots this year, and I would so love to up the style quotient of my choices. While I’m at it, I’d love to enhance my work shoe wardrobe with a classy pair of peep toes or stacked heels (or both!). And why stop there? Those ankle boots are getting really scuffed and sad.
But who am I kidding? One pair of knee-high boots is going to kill my entire budget. And no matter how much I try to find a stylish, struttable pair, I know that I’ll be thinking only one thing when I try them on: “Will these make it up and down all those damn stairs?”
Sigh. I guess Dream Shoes are best left for dreaming. But I will continue to dream, and to search for the perfect shoes that blend the ideal and the real. Have you found them yet?