The nicest pair of shoes I had ever bought myself were a pair of high-gloss shoes to go with my dress uniforms in the Navy. I was stationed in Goose Creek, South Carolina, attending nuke school, and the very afternoon I bought them after class, I wore into the school house with my civvies (aka "civilian" or regular, non-uniform clothes). I had on a pair of black warm-up pants and a sweet Cartoon Network t-shirt with Droopy Dog on it I had found at a Goodwill not too long before. Those were some sweet, shiny kicks, and I wanted to show them off.
Other than that, it's a pair of slip-on sneakers from Payless or Target that I'll wear everyday until there's a hole in its soul. In the last three or four years, I was reintroduced to Crocs and have since then bought a few pairs including my recent favorite, the black and white Hank Haney golf shoe, best worn with mustache socks. (Sidenote: I don't play golf, well, mini-golf, yes, but outdoor, hundreds of yards golf, no.)
Now that I spend so much of my time at work on my feet, comfortable shoes have become more important, and so I've come to the realization which is often shared as a cliche, "I'm not getting any younger."
Last weekend I tried on Nikes for the first time. Yes, in my life. I've just never considered purchasing such an expensive pair of shoes, and with no athletic need for them, they never made it into my department store fashion shows. With the help of a couple of footwear-proficient co-workers, I made my way through several pairs of Nikes, Asics, Adidas(es), and even a pair of Brooks. Trying on the Nikes (and being pleasantly surprised with the comfort of them) I found out that, because they run narrow, I would require a wide shoe if I were to go with the Swoosh. I'm 32 years old, and I've never bought a pair of wide shoes in my life. Maybe that would explain why I've never swooned over shoes like sneakerheads I know do--I may have been wearing an improper fit.
I have tiny feet. Not freakishly tiny, but they're pretty small. I'm typically an 8 1/2 but have worn 8s and 9s in the last few years since every shoe manufacturer is a little different. As I went shoe-store hopping, most stores didn't carry 8.5 in mens (apparently only people with big feet buy running shoes). Yesterday I found out that I fit into a Women's 9, and with so many shoes being colored in gender-neutral patterns, you wouldn't know if I had on a pair of women's shoes unless I told you.
(Sidebar: in the mid 2000s, I bought a pair of plaid slip-ons and loved them. After a few months of wearing them, I was stopped one-day by a classmate and they said, "Are you wearing girls shoes?" to which I replied, "They're my shoes, so no. They're Rocket Dogs, I've never heard of them, but they were comfortable, so I bought them.")
I must admit, the thought of purchasing women's shoes was a little weird, but I quickly put myself in check and realized that there's nothing wrong or incorrect about that at all. After all, it's about wearing something that is comfortable, and that you love it, right? Like with clothes. Working in retail I see this all the time, customers more worried about the size of the clothes--the number or letters that no one will ever see--rather than how they actually fit you. Clothes are made in different sizes for a reason, friends. Don't limit yourself to a label of a convention that has been established for categorization. Wear what is comfortable, that you want to wear, that speaks to your personality. I was just about to say that I would get back to this topic (of clothes sizes and obsessing over them), and that made me realize I should really make a list of all these topics that I'm "getting back to" because I'm certain I say that in more blogs than not.
Shoes sizes. 8 1/2 in men's, maybe a 9 in women's, looking for comfortable shoes, opening the wallet a little to get a better quality of shoe because..."I'm not getting any younger."
On an adventure of exploration on my day off today, I came across a mall in Joliet, Illinois and met this pretty lady:
She, along with the other residents of the Furry Babies store, are all relatively tiny, and as much as I wanted to take all of them home, I know that wasn't going to happen. But what I did find that I did take home, was a new pair of shoes. Following my own advice of looking for what speaks to me, and then trying them on to see if they fit well, I tried on a couple pairs that screamed at me. (Shout out to KB!)
As with many other stores, they didn't have any 8 1/2s, so the guy brought out 8s and 9s. Trying on the 9s, I came to the same result that I do with most shoes: the shoe itself is comfortable, the width is there, but I'm left with more than an inch of extra space in front of my toes. No bueno. So I try the 8s. And then I ran/skipped/galloped up and down one side of the store. It was a little bit magical, and the employees (and a couple customers) were giving me some interesting looks although they recognized what I was doing.
The gray/white pair was my initial draw, but then I saw and tried on the blue pair. Like John Michael Montgomery said, "she had ruby red lips, blond hair, blue eyes..."
A bold choice, but a sweet one, if I do say so myself.
Yes, I fell victim to the very thoughts I mentioned earlier, obsessing about the fact that I bought half a size smaller than what I'm used to, but they made these shoes in all sizes so that people with all different sizes of feet can enjoy them.
By no means do I feel like I've joined the ranks of self-proclaimed sneaker heads, but ask me again in a few years. Maybe then I'll tell you about the pair of blue Reebok ZQuicks that I bought in Illinois for my tiny feet.
Tiny as they may seem, I still stand on them every day. So put that in your metaphorical pipe and smoke it.