Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Shoesday for The Rest of Us

I love shoes. In fact, I have a closet full of shoes, some of which probably just get worn once or twice a year. But when they do get worn, they make the outfit. I honestly got teary when I found out the cat had chewed through the toes of my favorite purple heels, right before I permanently banned her from the closet. (She's sneaky. She keeps trying to dart past me in the pre-coffee morning, but my protective shoe reflexes kick in and I can always snatch her back from the door.)

It wasn't always this way. I used to hate shopping for shoes. Shoe stores became a battlefield backdrop for my worst insecurities and self-loathing. I hated how California-appropriate sandals strained against my wide feet. I hated how the pumps that looked so chic in a size six became boatlike monstrosities in a size 10. Salespeople tried to console me by pointing out that a size 10 was proportional for my 5'9" frame, but that just made me even more disconsolate, since I hated my height. I hated being the tallest person in elementary and middle school. I hated being taller than all the men I knew. I hated that an ex-boyfriend (who was also 5'9") used to complain about my height. I hated that I felt self-conscious enough to pay attention and hide in flats.

When I moved to Madrid at age 22, I lived right around the corner from Augusto Figueroa Street, with the most amazing shoes I'd ever seen. Seriously, it's a Spanish shoe shopping destination. And yet, within a week of arriving, I learned that almost no stores carried my European size 42 (damn tiny Spanish women). So I started wearing a 41 - when it was available - and more often a size 40. Also, since I'd managed to move to a country full of short, olive-skinned people, I figured that adding a few more inches to my obscenely tall and noticeably fair frame couldn't make me any more obvious than I already was, and I finally embraced heels.  In the process, I learned to despise how painful shoes could be, I gave myself permanent hammer toes, and I fell completely and utterly in love with shoe fashion.

Surrounded by shopfronts full of lovely shoes and finally unburdened from my adherence to flats, I fell in love with heels. Heels were intoxicating as they made me instantly noticeable and powerful (though sometimes intoxication was the only way to manage the late-night pain). A tall woman who wears heels has to be brave. She has to be self-assured. And even if she isn't either of those things, heels help project it in a business meeting anyhow. My height became a source of pride. I no longer needed to waste time with the small-minded ex-boyfriends who insulted my height because they felt threatened. Instead, I announced it upfront in my online dating profiles, daring tall and self-assured short men to reply: ""The first thing people notice about me is that I'm 5'9" without heels. And I've been known to wear heels."

When I met Jason, whose height tips out at around 6'3", I indulged in new four inch heel snakeskin(esque) stilettos. Then slowly, as our relationship sank in, I realized I could wear whatever I wanted and my shoes weren't a statement. They weren't a reaction or a rebellion. They were just fashion. I bought more ridiculous shoes to celebrate.

And then, once we were past the "celebrate his height" and well into the "this is my wonderfully partnered life" stage or our relationship, my back went out. And by saying "my back went out," I mean I slipped a disk and spent three entire days unable to move a centimeter (literally) without excruciating agony. It took two months to fully recover. And then my back went out again. And again. And at that point, I realized I had a chronic issue and finally began changing my life to accommodate my back via ergonomic supports at work and home and by taking up a lot of core-focused back exercises.

But then my back went out again, and I finally had to reassess my collection of shoes. I had to look into my closet full of varied heels (black business pumps, pink pointy springtime wonders, red satin peep toes, black suede stiletto boots, etc...) and start the mourning process as I moved my favorites to the back and started buying flats. Boring sensible flats. Flats that steal my joy in the shoe store. Flats made by shoe designers who think that throwing a garish poofball at the end of a flat counts as fashionable (it doesn't).


Kate Spade, Via


Me Too, via

All of this would be less frustrating if I weren't looking for flats and near-flats as wedding shoes. Because flats and near-flats don't get celebrated on most wedding sites. And most wedding sites definitely celebrate shoes (see: Tuesday Shoesday. Yes, this is a real thing on wedding sites around the web). Women who are generally sensible about budgets have Louboutin-gasms or Manolo Blahnik-gasms or pick-your-designer-gasms as they finally identify one occasion that miiiiiight finally justify pretty shoes. Well, I just don't have that option. Or budget. And yet, of course I still want pretty shoes. Even though I find wedding shoe photography horrific (taking pictures of the shoes is a fun-but-silly indulgence. Elevating the photos on blogs about weddings helps promote the idea that weddings are about expensive details more than marriage)...but I still want photo-worthy shoes. However, I also want comfortable, match-my-dress, 2 inch heel max, wide-foot, photo-worthy shoes for under $100, and this is a pretty tall order.

So I just wanted to take a moment to celebrate the practical wedding shoe.  The affordable and comfortable wedding shoe. The wedding shoe that won't give you blisters while you're dancing. The wedding shoe that you can wear as an actual shoe, instead of as a just-until-the-reception $500 photo prop with your backup "now I can DANCE" shoes waiting in a bag. The wedding shoe that stands up to a 10 hour day of running around, ceremony, photos, reception, and after parties. The wedding shoe that transitions easily into a for-life shoe, that doesn't get relegated to the once-a-year-special-occasion outfits. A shoe for those of us who don't have $500 (or even $200) to blow on shoes. A shoe for all of us who don't get to participate in Tuesday Shoesday. These shoes are for us:


Classic Bridal Whites and Pale Tones 


Blowfish Naked in Cream Lace

 Spring Troxler in Blush Lace

 
Me Too Linda in Soft Silver Metallic

 


A Little Bit of Fun

Romantic Soles Geneva in Purple Satin

Gabrielle Rocha Neve in Purple Patent

French Sole Sloop in Zebra Suede

Report Lilburn in Dusty Pink


 

Notes on flats: I've found, via rigorous testing methods (aka dancing around our apartment to possible first dance songs) that the best sorts of dancing flats have flexible soles. Like real ballet slippers, but with a bit more protection. This lets you move your feet around to the music instead of possibly falling out of stiff shoes as you twist your ankle.

Feel free to throw links to your own favorite flats in the comments or pipe in with recommendations for buying affordable, comfortable, and stylish flats! Or tell stories about how you were also traumatized by/embraced your height, if that's the part of the post that resonated more. Or just gush about affordable cute shoes. I'm okay with that too.

37 comments:

  1. My favorite flats are actually leopard print ones from Target that I really think are actually home slippers. But I stuck some foot inserts to absorb the shock and they're super comfortable.

    And you have size 10 feet? Me too.

    But I'm only 5'5.

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  2. I'm 5'8.5", so close enough to your height.

    I don't wear heels often because... well, I'd prefer to be comfortable.

    I'm wearing sandals for our wedding, 'Bride' by Steve Madden ($80):

    http://www.stevemadden.com/Item.aspx?id=50019&np=127-428

    There are SOOOO pretty in person.

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  3. http://www.786shop.com/detail2.asp?Product_ID=khussa-1m-638&Category=khussa-L

    I love every shoe on that site and these are the shoes I ultimately wore. I haven't had the chance to wear them again, but I will. The only downside is that they're real leather so they require serious breaking-in, and they're not for people who won't wear leather products.

    Oh yeah, and they're shipped from Pakistan so despite the low price and high quality (they really are great quality), you're looking at $30 shipping off the bat.

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  4. @Lira - I don't think I can complain again about my shoe size with my height. And I love inserts for non-supportive shoes (or slippers...)

    @Miss C - Ooh! Great choice! I didn't include any Steve Maddens because they generally don't fit me, but for you... I see why you chose them.

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  5. @Jenna - oh no. I think I'll have to spend some time shopping there after the wedding. I think I love them all. And they remind me of all my travels, but would be stunning with jeans or a black dress. Not right with my wedding dress style, but perfect for my everyday style.

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  6. Haha, yeah, it takes a very certain kind of wedding dress to go with shoes like the khussa ones I bought: http://www.flickr.com/photos/53660106@N02/5011700325/in/set-72157625892924510/

    Because shipping up to 1kg is a flat $30 or so (don't remember exactly) and each pair comes in at just under half a kg, I ordered a 2nd pair just for fun (I can't seem to find that style anymore, maybe it's no longer sold).

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  7. BTW I also wear a shoe size 10 (I'm 5'8" so it's fine).But you've got one advantage over me: I live in Asia.

    There is one store in the entirety of Taipei city that stocks women's shoes of any sort in my size. ONE STORE, and it's not very big. If I can't find anything I like there I have to wait until I am next home - which is hard because shoes have this way of feeling fine when you try them on in the store, then you get them home and suddenly they pinch and rub. Unlike people who can shop locally, I can't return them. It's so hard to find decent shoes that some weekends I just take out my black cloth kung fu shoes (and no, I don't do kung fu. I just own the shoes). They're supposed to be strictly for long plane rides but I've been known to cheat and wear them normally.

    So take solace: at least you can buy shoes where you live.

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  8. Love those lace ballerinas. Are amazing, and frackly i would wear them not just for bridal oufit!

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  9. The MIA Hepburn - my absolute favorite flat of all time. I have them in like 6 colors. I featured an Unfake Wedding where the bride wore Mia Hepburns and I thought to myself, "Wait a second! They don't make Hepburns in that color!" And they do not. BUT, that crazy and resourceful bride contacted MIA and had hers custom made! I don't even think it cost her much! So, if you have a faveorite flat but it doesn't match your dress? Call the company and ask for them. You never know....

    And you know that I'm a giant 5'10". I went through that whole "heels give me power" thing too. It's enlightening, it's amazing, it scares short men, it's weirdly wonderful. And then I killed my knee. No more heels. I bequeathed the most beloved of heels to a BFF, who just happened to wear the same size and covet my taste in shoes.

    She called me New Year's Day to let me know she wore the purple suede booties with the 4" heel the night before. SA-weet. I still live vicariously through my shoes.

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  10. I am 5'11" with a 9.5 shoe size, so I feel you on the struggle to get comfortable with my size + boys. All of the boys I dated in college were shorter than me actually... and now my fiance is a only smidge taller, but he encourages me to rock the heels :) But the wedding dress hem was perfection without alteration if I wore the flattest shoes possible, so I said goodbye to my dreams of knockout yellow heels and fell in love with satin navy flats instead. And they were $16, so I get to splurge on killer jewelry now!

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  11. I had a very similar problem when shoe shopping for my wedding... and I'm 6'1"! I wear a 9.5. These are the shoes I almost got:

    http://www.punk.com/1480296.html?utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_source=googlebase&cvsfa=2661&cvsfe=2&cvsfhu=31343830323936

    (though in a creamy gold satin color) but instead went with these:

    http://www.target.com/Mossimo-Supply-Co-Floral-Ballet/dp/B002R9V8GC/ref=sc_qi_detailbutton

    which were comfy, and only $10 to boot! I think that affordable, comfy shoes are the way to go. AND we got cute photos. Hah!

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  12. Thank you for this! I love several of those, but mainly its just nice to see cute practical shoes that won't kill my back.

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  13. 5'9.5" girl, who's been rocking size 10 feet since fourth grade.

    I love love love love those Gabrielle Rocha purple strappy numbers. My god, if I hadn't already bought 4 new pairs of shoes this month. :)

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  14. I have the opposite problem, but the solution is the same. I am only 5 foot, 3 1/2 inches tall. However my legs are relatively short and I have a long torso.

    Many fashion experts have advised women with this body type to wear low heels to elongate the leg, because very high heels are disproportionate to the shorter leg. I agree.

    My favorite heel is a kitten heel, which is very sexy in a sandal.

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  15. I've been to a lot of weddings and I never once knew what shoes the bride was wearing under her long dress.

    I never even thought about it.

    It's only become a "thing" because photographers started taking pictures of shoes.

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  16. I wore the Jessica Simpson Belta flats for my wedding, and I'm NOT tall, I just wanted to be comfortable and negate any risk of tripping :) They did give me one hell of a blister though...

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  17. I love the lace ones!

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  18. Well, at least most American shoes come in a size 10. I see it all the time: sizes 6-10. Too bad I wear a 5 or 5.5. I wore heels with the dress as long as I could stand it because I'm so tiny compared to my husband. (5'1" to 5'11"). And then I changed into an awesome pair of old-school Vans that actually fit because they were technically from the kid's section and I bought a matching pair for my dude of honor. The groom and his men changed into a pair of black Converse that we bought for them.

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  19. I feel your pain. I am 5'8" tall, "plus size", taller than her groom, woman. I didn't mind wearing heels,(my sweetie loves it!) but it turned out that my dress was just about the right length without any shoes at all. So, I needed a low heel or cute flat that was wide enough to hold my Fred Flintstone-esque feet. Impossible. At least where I live. I noticed a bunch of cute, college-aged girls wearing Tom's shoes. I checked out their website and found that they have sparkly gold ones! My dress was a cream color so I thought they matched perfectly! Plus, my dress hid them most of the time, so it wasn't like, "HEY, LOOK AT MY SPARKLY SHOES!" I still wear them with my work slacks and my jeans and they are fun and comfy. I did wear them for a few hours each day leading up to the wedding so they would be broken-in a bit. Maybe it's an option for you, but if I had been able to find the Romantic Soles Geneva in Purple Satin, I would have been insanely happy.

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  20. What a perfect post! A post about shoes! <3

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  21. @Thirty-Something Bride - Oh I love pointy toes flats. But I prefer them with jeans. And I may need to file that MIA Hepburn reference away, because those are truly great.

    @Kt - ha! I put shoes as a second priority to focus on the killer jewelery too.

    Helen - I think you just solved all my future ballet flat needs. I see tons of those target mossimo flats that I desperately need. And all for $7-$13!!!

    Anonymous @8:13 - Blerg to the photographer shots of shoes. It drives me bonkers. I like shoes because I like feeling that the whole outfit is coordinated. But it's because it feels good to ME, not for photos.

    Bri - Love that you rocked the kids section vans. Love it.

    Christy - I've never got into Toms (love the concept, don't love the shoes for my style) but I know people who SWEAR by them. And who can pass up comfy cute gold sparkles?

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  22. I'm loving those blush lace shoes you posted.

    You know about my shoe hunt and how important that was for me. I was trying to balance sensible with quirk and jaw drop. I somehow got a little more quirk and heel and price than I was originally shopping for. I feel a little guilty now.

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  23. As I was reading I was thinking, ROCK ON! Tall girls embracing heels! But then I got to the "but" part. Ouch, thrown back! I did it once in high school... BY SNEEZING... worst week ever. DDD runs in my family, so I've seen how bad it can be.

    The lace flats and the sandals are adorable. I hope you find a shoe you're happy with! I spent $40 on mine and was really excited that I could wear them again, because they were super comfortable. Well, I haven't worn them again, but at least they were only $40. :)

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  24. @Ms Bunny - Guilt is overrated. If you love them (which you do) then you love them. I feel like everyone needs a wedding splurge (define splurge according to your budget.) We're not going to discuss the splurge levels on my necklace, by the way. It was major (for me) and worth every darn penny. It's the piece I will wear again and again and again throughout my life. The dress? Nope. The shoes? For quite a few years, definitely. But the necklace... forever.

    So, since you've splurged on something worthwhile to you, you are now obligated to enjoy it.

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  25. I come from a family of tall women, but I somehow topped out at 5'6 (not complaining, because D is a shade under 5'6, so it all worked out).

    But I still got the feet! 9.5 on a good day, which is sort of silly without the height. Sigh. My 5'10 sis has size 11, though, so for my family I'm proportional.

    I wear heels for going out, and D has no issue with it (I have to admit that I will never be completely issue free about being taller) but on a regular basis I wear either boots or sandals. So I think the wedding day will be sandals.

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  26. I had to laugh when I saw your post. I spent all day yesterday in L.A. trying on horrid shoes and wondered what you were doing about this situation. Thanks for the charming and uplifting post.

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  27. I'm 5'1" (tiny) and I wear an 8 (way not tiny)...there really is no such thing as a pair of shoes that makes my feet look proportional to my body. But I love shoes, so I deal with it. I'm actually a huge fan of flats, despite being so short. I like to think that a short woman wearing flats is just about as brave/ballsy/awesome as a tall woman wearing heels.

    I'm really glad you posted this. You raise a good point about brides using weddings as an excuse to go shoe-crazy. I hadn't really thought of that, and now I see that I've been guilty of it. I haven't even bought a dress yet, but when it's time for shoes, I'll keep this post in mind. Thanks!

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  28. I got these and I love them.
    http://www.shoes.com/Shopping/ProductDetails.aspx?p=EC1037730&pg=5049424&icid=undefined

    White flats, a little bit of metallic, peep toe, and super comfy. It was definitely a tough search though to find some cute flats.

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  29. I am short, therefore it has been pronounced that I should wear heels.

    But I also pronate, fall down a lot, and just never learned how to stand up in heels. So I tend to wear very sensible not at all cute shoes. And flats. All of them flats. So I feel you on the sad state of flats and their lack of cuteness. How I wish I could wear heels! But I probably save money this way ... didn't Carrie from Sex & the City spend her down payment on shoes? Not going to happen here at least.

    Anyway, I'm thinking of just wearing shoes I already own for my wedding. I mean, you'll barely see my feet anyway, so why spend the money in shoes? I kinda feel like people (aka my sister) will yell at me and tell me I need to buy new shoes but, the truth is, it's not even the money. Buying shoes just seems like one more chore that I just don't feel like doing.

    And I really don't want any photos of my shoes. At all.

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  30. Ooh! I tried the Seychelles one on in white when I was looking. But yeah, I had to crack up when I read "garish poofball." Seriously, what is up with that?

    I chose flats for two reasons: 1) foot problems (bunions! wideness! awesome!) and 2) the beau is not a very tall man. So flats it is for me. Both in real life, in professional life, and in wedding life. Wait... I don't technically HAVE a wedding life anymore. My bad.

    Also, I never though I would say such a thing to anyone, but I highly enjoyed the story of your feet. I want to see what shoes you eventually choose!

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  31. @Bri - yeah, they make size 10 shoes in America for most styles, but try actually finding a 10 in stock. They make a lot of 7, 8 and 9, fewer 6 and fewer 10. So what happens is you go to the shoe store (any shoe store) and the 10 rack is full of all the hideous or low quality shoes that nobody wanted; the ones actually worth buying sell out too fast. Asking the salespeople is no help - "sorry, our stock is what's on the shelves...yeah, those sold out months ago...no, we're not getting more. How about these gold sparkle gray suede sandal boots with rhinestones and plastic dangly crap? Those come in 10!" "Uh, no thanks".

    And as you know, buying online can be dicey since you never know exactly what will pinch or rub or if a new brand's size really is a good fit - in some brands I can wear a 9, in others I have to buy 11).

    So..heh..it may seem like we have more options but really, you're not alone.

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  32. I love shoes Too! one reason, we bought our ladies dresses and had them buy their shoes (which wasn't too bad about $60/pair) and i still wear my wedding shoes :-) - it was an ordeal to find 7 pairs of the same shoe, but relentlessness paid off!

    Flats are very practical on a day when you just need to run around, but i also found that flats make my heel crack and hurt. so while heels can pinch my toes, flats put too much pressure on my heels. AHHH its such a pooper!

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  33. I started looking at flats more in the past few years because I prefer being the same height as Tony when we're together. I still prefer a shoe with some heel for work because I'm short and a little extra height goes a long way to building confidence in a male-dominated field.

    That said, I spend a lot of time on endless[dot]com searching for flats.

    Also, I've been in love with Jenna's shoes since she first showed them on OBBT before her wedding. Thanks for the reminder of the source!

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  34. i'm not a huge shoe girl but I want every single pair you posted. nice finds!

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  35. Seychelles flats are hella comfortable.

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  36. http://www.vkingas.com/
    como española con talla 42, te recomiendo este tipo de calzado. Tiene varias alturas de tacon, incluso totalmente planas. LAs de 6 cm de tacon las lleve yo en mi boda y son muy muy comodas. Al tener cuña en vez de tacon, se reparte la presion y son mas comodas.
    si quieres alguna recomendacion o aclaracion, no dudes en ponerte en contacto
    Angela
    agarcia6@gmail.com

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  37. The cream of the crop in pewter are gorgeous.
    Yum.

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