New shoes, old feet

Back when I was in my late teens/early 20s, I worked full-time, lived at home, and had an income that was small, but nearly 100% disposable, and I spent most of it on my wardrobe.

In the mid-1980s, in north-western Ontario where I lived, for a few years one of the fashion trends for footwear was boots. Leather was big back then and although I favoured boots and purses. I owned green, granny boots, red granny boots, yellow, slouch leather boots, and grey, suede Peter Pan boots. I wore them with skinny-legged jeans to bars on weekends, back when weekends stretched from Thursday Nights (ladies night) to Tequila Sundays at The Keg.

These days, when I should be stuffing every last discretionary dollar into an RRSP account, I’ve been investing in well-made boots and shoes, and splendid handbags.

I believe in what Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw belief in a woman’s right to shoes.

Although I am not one for strappy sandals that cost hundreds of dollars — I more or less work within my tax-bracket (most def not in line with what’s needed to shop fancy retailers) — I do enjoy stylish, well-crafted footwear. And I want sustainability, so two years ago, I made a purchase that was at the top of my wish list: a pair of Doc Martens. This year, I welcomed a pair of long-awaited Blundstone’s into my home.

As I cruise toward my mid-50s, I decided to replace several pairs of black, low-heeled, sensible dress shoes with roomy for orthotics that I have been wearing to work for two decades. When I lifted my budget from $50 to $100, I discovered there are plenty of casual dress shoes (loafers!) that provide comfort and support.

Good riddance to the cheapies I’m accustomed to wearing. I want footwear, like the Docs, that are built to last.

Last year, I fell in love with the design of Sanita’s hand-crafted (and comfortable!) Danish clogs that I ordered two pairs, then went back for a third. And because I identify with Liz Lemon’s goofiness and adore Frankie Bergstein’s artsy sensibility, I got a little thrill to see clogs on the feet of Liz Lemon in a re-run of 30 Rock then on Frankie of Grace and Frankie.

In keeping with the theme of my breathing life into my wardrobe, I searched for replacement bags, too.

In the 80s, I owned clutch purses to match my shoes: red and black pumps (that I eventually dyed sunflower yellow), so when I found a workplace that felt like home, I quit freelance work and took a permanent gig, and with a steady paycheque in hand, I restocked my inventory of shoulder bags, replacing those with peeling handles and worn bottoms, first with a large and gorgeously soft, leather Roots bag that allowed me to tote a notebook, a novel, lunch, my personal writing work, and sometimes my work laptop on the 50-minute commute to my office downtown. That spring, I followed up with a near Robin’s egg blue, Coach purse. By the fall, I’d fallen for five Matt and Nat satchels and shoulder bags.

I’m not shrewd as I could be with wardrobe purchases, but neither am I extravagant.

Sometimes I feel fiscally irresponsible because I know I should set aside more money, for the day I retire from the workforce, but after twenty years of wearing shoes that made me feel like a retiree, I feel as if my feet deserve comfort and style. RRSP contributions be damned.