Monday, March 16, 2015

I am not Imelda

One of the key principles in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is the idea that my belongings, no matter what they are, should spark joy in me. It’s been illuminating to me to see what hits that threshold and what doesn’t as I go about my daily life and consider the stuff around me.

Shoes have long been a problem for me. I’ve written before that my feet are hard to fit: I have very narrow heels, a fairly narrow foot with a high arch, no meat to speak of at all on my feet (they are quite thin) and I have long toes. When I get my feet measured in a Brannock device, I measure a 7.5 from the back of my heel to the ball of my foot. Throw my toes in there and all of a sudden I measure nearly (but not quite) an 8. That’s in overall length. But if I wear an 8, my heels doesn’t stay in my shoes and the balls of my feet don’t hit the proper spot and then my feet hurt a lot. However—when I get 7.5s, my toes generally hit the end of my shoe. All the other parts of my feet are usually OK but not my toes. They hurt. Let me tell you, shoes that hurt my toes do not spark any joy in me at all.

I’ve tried so many brands—cheap, expensive, imported, American-made, all leather, all synthetic, all natural—you name it, it’s probably been on my foot. Most of the so-called comfort shoes lasted all of five seconds on my feet in stores. They are just too wide and I walk right out of them. Cole Haan with the Nike Air (sadly no longer made)? Marginally better. Kenneth Cole pumps? Loved them, they fit my narrow heels (a miracle) but ouch, my toes. Keens are awful on me, Nine West are too short or too long, never Baby Bear just right; same with Ann Klein and her brother Calvin; Kate Spade was a big ol nope (I made a then 12-year old happy with a pair of lovely blue patent shoes, so awesome but so painful to me); Naturalizers are dead to me, so are Toms (my heels won’t stay in them), Munros are heinously ugly but I tried anyway and no; Josef Seibel had limited success (booties, which are big but because they are booties they stay on, and a pair of leather lace up sneakers—but not their dress shoes). Anyway, you get the picture. I’ve tried, how I’ve tried.

This past winter, I’ve worked at a place with a very casual dress code. Officially, it’s a business casual environment, but that’s not what I’ve seen around me. Since I’m not an employee, I dress to fit in, which means I’ve worn jeans nearly the entire time and I’ve worn very casual shoes (from Land’s End and the only reason they work is that they are super snug across the top of the foot so they stay on my feet—all other reviewers hated that and called it a design flaw. Ha, says I!) rather than dress shoes. Those shoes don’t fit all that well either but they don’t rub anywhere, which has been really nice.

Last Tuesday I needed to suit up for an interview and wore a pair of nice Clark’s dress shoes—Clark’s aren’t known for being torture devices, and while not touted as a comfort shoe, these are pretty good or so I thought. After work that day, I realized that my toes hurt again; on Friday they were still sore and I decided that I really needed to try to find those mythical unicorn shoes, ones that work for my weird feet.

That’s what I did yesterday—I headed over to Nordstrom because I knew they would have options and even if they didn’t have the right shoe in stock, they could order it for me. I met my foot twin working there: like me, she’s got the narrow foot with long toes (as she said, she’s probably a 7 ¾ but of course that size doesn’t exist). I immediately found a pair of casual shoes that were ah-maaaazing. The color I wanted wasn’t in stock so we ordered those and they will be at my house this week.

Then I asked about dressy flats for work. She brought out an assortment of shoes at various price points and styles: one ugly-to-me pair, one pair I liked but were too short on my toes (and the next size up wouldn’t work, after this many years I can tell when it’s going to be that way) and a couple of other pairs that were nice enough but not my style. There was one box remaining and she sort of hesitated when I asked her about it. She said they were more expensive and mentioned the brand (AGL). I laughed because I’ve heard of the brand and yes, it’s pricey. But if I could get one pair of shoes that really work then I can stick with them and not buy six pairs that cost more than the one pair and don’t work, right? Right?? So I tried them on.

Readers, they were heavenly. Stylish and they didn’t hurt my feet.Timeless style too, the way I prefer. They are living in my closet now.