Well-heeled or healed?

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DanskoA few years ago, I was in Chicago for an International Expo. It meant long days standing in an exhibit hall.

I had recently purchased a pair of black patent leather shoes by Dansko. They’re water resistant, non-slip, great for a healthy back and super comfortable.

The Chicago weather was cold and rainy, so my Danskos were the perfect thing to wear.

One of my stylish nieces lives in Chicago. When I walked into her apartment one evening, she stepped back and in the tone a daughter uses only with her mother (and Godmother) said,  “WHAT….are you WEARING?”

I realized she was looking at my shoes.

I tried to sell her on the benefits of Danskos.

She wasn’t buyin’ it.

“Those are…. AWFUL! ….just  TERRIBLE!”

Then she added, “They aren’t even….FEMININE!”

Hey, I was  already wearing black pants and a Land’s End blouse with a company logo, how much more utilitarian could a gal look?

I was comfortable. She was disgusted.

Two months later, I again traveled to the snowy Midwest for Christmas, wearing my Danskos in place of winter boots.

I was immediately scolded: “OK…NOW you’ve crossed over. You’re wearing them ALL the time, aren’t you?”

I had nothing to say for myself. It was true. I had been powerless; seduced by the comfort and practicality of my butchy shoes.

Cited by the entire family fashion police force, I was a victim of officer brutality. Shamed back into cute shoes, I vowed to wear my horrible Danskos only when required for work.

Months later, when warm weather arrived, I dug my Spring collection out of the back of the closet. I wore strappy heels every day for a couple of weeks.

Clearly, fashion sense trumped common sense.

Soon, the pain propelled me to a podiatrist.

The foot doc was passionate about healthy feet. I eyeballed her, and noticed she was sporting a pair of athletic shoes.

She quickly schooled me on the evils of flip flops, all thong-style shoes, ballet flats, and the pitfalls of so-called “comfort” shoes. I sat there mentally sorting the contents of the shoe cubbies in my closet. In my mind, all that remained was athletic shoes and those Danskos – which according to the Doc are great for healthy feet.

Panic set in. I told her about a family wedding just 4 weeks away, and wondered what shoes I would wear. She listened, and then handed me a framed photo of her family taken at a recent, and very fancy wedding.

Her dress was stunning. Her shoes were low in sensibility and high in fabulosity. This Doc possessed the style and elegance that seems to be innate to many Persian women. Perhaps she wasn’t all scrubs and running shoes.

She dispensed this girlfriend medical advice :  “You have to live! Go buy some fabulous shoes. Before you get dressed for the wedding, take 4 ibuprofen. When you arrive at the reception, have a cocktail or glass of wine. Then take 4 ibuprofen with dinner. The next day, put your athletic shoes on and let your feet recover.

I followed the doc’s treatment plan. While my foot made a complete recovery, my style prognosis is bleak.

For many women, buying shoes is an easy way to stay current. Despite figure flaws or shifting shapes, we can always count on finding something cute to fit our feet.

Then we hit middle age, and the sexy foot talk begins:  Bunions, arches, and arthritis. Neuromas and plantar fasciitis.

Suddenly, slipping into something more comfortable means putting in our custom orthotics.

Ironically, the most painful step is admitting you have a problem. Surrendering to rehab is difficult.

I know I’m not the only gal struggling to give their unhealthy addiction to cute shoes, the boot. I hear it from women frequently.

A few months ago,  The Laughing Mom grieved the loss of her life in cute shoes.

I was reminded of the conflict between the shoes we want vs. the shoes we need, when I saw the new Sarah Jessica Parker shoe collection at Nordstrom.

First of all, SJP had me at grossgrain ribbon. In a sweet homage to her mother, and the only hair accessories they could afford during SJP’s childhood, the shoes have grossgrain ribbon along the back of the heel.

SJP

The colors are fresh and the styles are elegant.

While the collection is lovely, I have an issue with it.

SJP is celebrating her 49th birthday next week, which means she is middle-aged!

Since she’s one of us, I’m applying some peer pressure: Not to change her style, but to help her sisters born in the 60’s, with ours.

We don’t need more Manolos, Jimmy Choos, or Louboutins for special occasions. The market is saturated.

We need an everyday shoe breakthrough!

Middle-aged gals want to be well-heeled daily, in gorgeous shoes that are healthy for their feet.

I’m tired of buying good-for-my-feet shoes simply because “Well, they aren’t too bad.”

Maybe SJP will step it up with her fall collection, and bring us some beautiful shoes from Italy, that are sensible enough to wear every day.

In the meantime, if you do splurge on a pair of SJP’s dangerously cute kicks for your Spring collection, they may empty your pocketbook a bit.

On the bright side, you’ll have room for that bottle of ibuprofen.*

.

* This is not intended as medical advice.  While I studied for my Web, M.D. via Google, I am not a licensed physician. 

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13 responses »

  1. Oh if I could only wear the butchy Dansko…..Your niece would be appalled at my show collection and what I am reduced to wearing. Damn arthritis!

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  2. I LOVE your butchy shoes! Maybe because that’s what I own as well. My arthritic feet love Crocs. I know, your niece would have fallen over (as does my daughter). In fact, I live vicariously through my daughter’s shoes. She can enjoy them now for a while until she too will reach this middle age syndrome.

    I hope JSP listens to you and thinks about all of us who are desperately awaiting the arrival of stylish butchy shoes!

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  3. Wear the butchy shoes ( or try some Frye boots…now we’re talking comfort), but for heaven’s sake Dr Annie, lay otff that much ibuprofen…you will blow your liver!

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    • HAHA – was waiting for an unknown medical professional to say that – especially in combo with alcohol!! Drastic times call for drastic measures.
      Thankfully – it was a one time occurrence!

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  4. The only reason your niece said that is she hasn’t gotten to the age where she doesn’t give a crap what other people think of you. Pity. Go for comfort and save your feet. They are the only ones you have.

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    • I’m afraid I made her sound terribly mean in this post – but she is lovely and very kind-hearted!! I always appreciate her style input.

      Brace yourself for the Munchkins’ critiques in a few years!

      In a cruel twist of fate, this niece actually developed her own painful foot problem after working 13-hour shifts.

      Guess which shoe brand saved her feet? Yep!

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  5. Omg Annie! I read this over the weekend while working a convention in Denver all weekend long!!! I must say I shared your blog with another lady working the convention with me who I had just met-AND she was wearing the Butch Dansko’s- the exact pair in this picture!:) I was so jealous by the end of day 1…She proceeded to tell me she had packed her “newer ones” but they were not “broken in” yet-hence the older pair. I shared your blog with her-hopefully you have a new member in your FunnySister fan club. You are hilarious and I am buying the Dansko’s.

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    • Ohmigosh – what are the odds of that? Too funny!
      Thanks for reading & sharing this post with another Dansko Devotee!
      Buy a pair – they make standing on concrete in a Convention Hall so much more pleasant!

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