New shoes, old feet

When I was in my late teens/early 20s, I worked full-time, lived at home, and had no mandatory expenses. My income was a little over minimum wage of the day, but it was 100% disposable, and I spent most of that on my wardrobe.

Leather was big in the mid-80s (pants, jackets, skirts), but I favoured purses and shoes. And when boots became a footwear fashion trend, I bought every pair I fell in love with. I owned apple green, granny boots; red, granny boots; cornflower yellow, slouch leather boots; and grey, suede Peter Pan boots.  One winter, I bought pair of ankle-high, forest green, suede boots with four-inch heels that were soon ruined by snow and salt. I wore the various boots with skinny-legged jeans to bars 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 do enjoy stylish, well-crafted footwear — and I want sustainability — so when I quit freelance work and took a permanent gig a couple of years ago, I made a purchase that had been at the top of my wish list for some time:a pair of cherry-red, Doc Marten boots, but I’d made a rookie mistake: The boots were too large for my feet. Something I discovered only after the break-in period ended. This year, I welcomed a pair of long-awaited Australian, Chelsea-style Blundstone’s into my home. They fit my orthotics nicely.

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 budgetary restrictions from the $40-$60 range, I discovered there are plenty of casual dress shoes (Franco Sarto bocca loafers!) that provide comfort, support, and longevity, but don’t break the bank.

Good riddance to the cheapies I’d been wearing. I committed to footwear, like Docs, that are built to last.

Enter Sanita’s hand-crafted (and comfortable!) Danish clogs. I so loved the design that I immediately ordered two pairs (bordeaux, brushed-off leather; colourful, fun, tokidoki print, by artist Simone Legno, in patent leather). I went back for a third, on sale, a year later. And because I identify with Liz Lemon’s goofiness and Frankie Bergstein’s artsy sensibility, I got a little thrill to see clogs like mine on 30 Rock re-runs and an episode of Grace and Frankie.

In keeping with the theme of my breathing life into my purse collection of three, 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),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 Robin’s egg blue, Coach purse. By winter, my bedroom clothes closet hosted five Matt and Nat satchels and shoulder bags.

I’m neither as extravagant, nor as shrewd as I could be, and I keep within my financial comfort zone, but sometimes feel fiscally irresponsible for treating myself, and wonder if I am trying to recapture youth in some small way.

Yet, after schlepping around in my 30s and 40s in footwear that made me feel like a retiree,  I feel as if my feet deserve a little style as well as comfort.