Red ghillies and oxfords, while we’re in the mood, high heels and sandals.
When we were packing up the house to move South, my daughter was helping with my closet. She’d lined up my shoes in 3 orderly groups – 1) shoes I definitely want to keep; 2) shoes I may want to keep; 3) shoes to give or throw away. Naturally, the second group was overflowing, which led her to ask me this simple question,
“How many (insert color) shoes do you need?”
No apology, I happen to love shoes, in all their myriad shapes and colors. There are pictures of me with my foster sister and her fiancee on a trip to see the circus in NYC. What circus I do not know. I was too young to remember this special trip, but was always told how much I loved my “circus shoes.” In black and white, I am beaming happiness with a little pair of oxfords on my feet. Perhaps this is where my need to see the Big Apple Circus every year with my children arose. Being able to wear only oxfords in Sacred Heart School, and only penny loafers at Camp St Joseph may be factors in my fashionable fetish. For sports at camp or school, we would wear white Keds, so you see we had little choice growing up in the 50s. There is also the lasting value in classic design. Trends may come and go, you can gain or lose a few pounds, but a classic pair of good leather shoes can last a lifetime! Though, fair warning to you pregnant girls, my shoe size increased by half with each child. I asked the Rocker once why he needs so many guitars, he looked at me and said, “Why do you need so many shoes?”
I’ve written here about shoes a number of times. About our town’s famously decadent shoe store Scarpa, http://mountainmornings.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/small-times/
I remember writing about the fashion writer who stood staring at the one red shoe in a gigantic see-through bin of discarded shoes at the Holocaust museum. Once, while writing about Pinterest, I even included a picture of my shoe shelves: http://mountainmornings.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/pining-or-pinning-that-is-the-question/
One of the first gifts I bought when I found out the Bride was pregnant with a girl was a pair of pink leather shoes. Will they be helpful in her quest to start walking, like those overly-polished and re-polished white Stride Rites I laced up my baby’s feet? Probably not. Will they be ever so adorable, absolutely! I was star-struck once while strolling down Madison Avenue with my sister Kay. We stopped short in front of a fancy children’s boutique with pink leather Italian shoes in the window. Of course, I had to get them for the toddler Bride, even if they might only last her a few months.
There have been Picasso shoe periods. The 60s teen years of wearing Weejuns, penny loafers without pennies, polished just so with black to tone down the oxblood color. The dancing decade of wearing espadrilles with rope you wind around your ankle, very Isadora Duncan. The Pappagallo phase of pastel and mini bows with Queen Anne heels paired nicely with mini skirts. Thankfully I never went in for the high dollar, designer stilettos of Sex and the City; either I was just too
old wise or whygobroke/killing/your/feet.
So if you love shoes, you may enjoy reading this historical essay on shoes and gender and power, “Why DID Men Stop Wearing High Heels?” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21151350 Think of Louis XIV, initially men wore heels in order to ride a horse and the height and color became tied with rank and royalty. But eventually, “High heels were seen as foolish and effeminate. By 1740 men had stopped wearing them altogether.” We women dropped the need for height after the French revolution too, but for some insane reason, in the mid-19th Century, we decided it might be nice to squeeze our feet into high heels again…well, if you read the article you’ll learn why, and it’s not pretty.
But take heart, these teeny tiny feet are ready to dance in the Music City. Thank you velcro, and thank you ecommerce for making fancy baby shoes as easy to find as say, a good pair of Minnetonka slippers.