High Fashion Tempts Me Again With Ugly/Fabulous Quilt-Inspired Item

posted in: Confessions, Fashion | 37
AGGGH! Emilio Pucci patchwork mules. Image: The Outnet.

 

Y’all.

Remember this coat that I coveted MOST DEARLY? Well, high fashion is back with a slightly-ugly-but-also-totally-amazing PATCHWORK SHOE. People, it’s Pucci. Pucci! Not Gucci: Pucci. The famed 70s designer who made the flamboyant, wacky, swirly-print scarves and the disco pantsuits? That’s Pucci. Gucci is like, ladies who lunch in the Gold Coast and have three cell phones for reasons no one should probably ask about.

These shoes. I mean, it’s really hard on me, seeing these shoes. Let’s examine pros and cons. Cons first, in hopes I will convince myself not to buy them immediately.

CONS

  1. Just … no. The term jolie-laide comes to mind. Jolie-laide is a French term which literally translates to “beautiful-ugly.” These shoes are beautiful-ugly, straight-up.
  2. Even with a 30-percent off code — given to me because I haven’t shopped at the site lately because I am seriously not in a position to shop right now — they are going to cost a cool $240. Which isn’t as much as the velvet Log Cabin coat (on which I realize I need to do a final update.) But still. That’s some bread and even though I have a new job, it’s still part-time. Technically.**
  3. I actually loathe the mule as a shoe style. In fact, I have an unofficial No-Mule Rule. My general position on “high” heels, which I wear almost exclusively, is that as long as the toe isn’t too narrow and the pitch isn’t too dramatic — by “the pitch,” I mean the slope of the shoe’s sole from heel to toe — heels aren’t uncomfortable. I’m not wearing stilettos; I’m wearing pumps, mostly. And these shoes make me feel good, as I mentioned yesterday. But the mule … Yuck. The mule’s pitch is usually very severe and what’s more, the heel is chunky by design. I have narrow ankles but wide, strong, Norwegian milkmaid calves, so a block heel is pretty bad for my stems, you dig? That these shoes are mules is a big con, here.
  4. And there are bows! No! Why the bows?? I don’t do bows!

PROS

  1. Oh, good God! There are quilt blocks on these shoes!
  2. Pucci!
  3. I just bought them. I JUST BOUGHT THEM!!! AAAGHHHH! MY ORDER NUMBER IS 2203ZO26F1801H!!!!

I am laughing and laughing right now … Oh, you guys. I clicked on the shoes again so I could describe them for you and meditate on the dumb things and what did it say? What did the little red dot say? “Just 1 Left!” Fie! Fie, you foul demons of online retail! Wretched algorithmic spawns of Satan! I wrend my garments! I wrend my high-fashion garments and I throw my stupid mule shoe at your screen! YOU GOT ME. YOU GOT ME AND MY CREDIT CARD YOU FIENDISH FASHION SUCCUBI! (Succubi? Hm. Spell-check didn’t flag it.)

These shoes are awful. And they’re so great. And there’s free shipping.

And free returns.

I’ll let you know.

Have a great day,
Mary

**hahahaahahaha

Shoes Blues.

posted in: Day In The Life | 11
Wikipedia says these boots are silk, but don't they look like velvet? Either way, they belonged to Queen Sofia of Switzerland (1836-1913). Work it, girl.
Wikipedia says these boots are silk, but don’t they look like velvet? Either way, they belonged to Sophia of Nassau, Queen of Sweden and Norway from 1872 to 1907. Work it, girl!

 

After hitting a wall this past week — I’m afraid my iron levels didn’t improve much after the infusions and I was also in six states last week for heaven’s sake — I’m back and would like to talk about shoes.

I am hard on them.

Angel and the other cobblers at Shoe Hospital at the Monadnock Building in the Loop know me by name, that’s how often I’m in there to get repairs done. It’s not because the boys don’t do a good job fixing up my shoes: It’s that I keep on breakin’ ’em down. But why?

It’s hard for me to admit this, but I tend to drag my left heel a little. You won’t notice it unless a) you’re a hunter, tracking me through the icy tundra! or b) a cobbler, repairing my shoes. I wear down both the heels from all the city walking I do, but the left heel sole always goes first. After just a few months, the metal tip of the heel starts breaking through the rubber and I’m back at Shoe Hospital, forking over the dough and feeling a little sheepish that I’m there again so soon.

Part of this is because I’m a high-heel fan. I don’t wear stilettos for heaven’s sake (well, not in the daytime, anyway) but a bit of a heel on my shoes is de rigueur. I’m the shortest in my family, so a sensible heel helps with that. But I also just enjoy being a girly-girl. It’s fun! The problem is that when you wear pumps and…scuffle a little like I do — ugh! — the result is that you have to go see Angel for new heel nibs and a patch job on the scuffs and tears while he’s at it.

The scuffs and tears aren’t the fault of my weird, quasi-Quasimodo leg drag thing, though; such repairs are needed when you stick a high-heeled shoe through a few too many subway grates. (It occurs to me I should invoice the City of Chicago for some of these repairs. I’m sure they’d be happy to help with that.) I’m sure I wouldn’t need so many repairs if I lived upon the rolling meadows of [insert pastoral locale here] and ran errands back and forth on soft grasslands. We can never know.

It’s a good thing that I like shoes. A lot. My very favorite wardrobe item is the coat, hands down, but shoes run a close second. This means that if a pair of mine really go kaput, it’s okay. Not only do I have backup, I won’t have to drag (!) myself to go find a suitable replacement. That’s an errand I can handle for sure.

But I also really like going to the cobbler. It feels good to pay a little to get a good pair of shoes fixed up good as new instead of tossing them out and buying a new pair. (It might be the same part of my personality that doesn’t throw out food if it’s been sitting out all night — within reason!I try to take care of the material things I am fortunate enough to enjoy. I’m lucky and I try to be responsible about that.

It’s good to see you, good to be seen. There’s so much to tell you. I started with shoes, started at the bottom.

True Story Update: New York So Far

posted in: New York City | 3
Impossible, beautiful, dangerous to walk in -- just like New York! Keith Haring shoe, Nicholas Kirkwood, 2012.
Impossible, beautiful, dangerous to walk in — just like New York! Keith Haring shoe, Nicholas Kirkwood, 2012.

I had lunch with a born-and-raised, lifelong New Yorker yesterday. He asked me how I was getting along.

“You seem a little ambivalent in your blog,” he said. “I can’t tell if you’re warming to the city or not.”

We were eating sushi in a restaurant only a local would know about, one of the best sushi bars in Manhattan, as it turns out, tucked away deep in Soho. There might have been a sign on the heavy wooden door, but I didn’t see one when I pushed it open.

“Oh, I’m great! It’s great!” I chirped. “I love it here!” That’s the truth, too. In no way has my New York City life truly begun yet, but the hunk of molded clay has at least been dropped onto the wheel. It will begin to take shape, if you’ll tolerate me extending that lame clay metaphor.

But then my lunch date spooked me a little.

“But how are you doing really?” he asked, eyeing me as I put more edamame into my face. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe me when I said I was doing well, he just knew he was asking a serious question that deserved a thoughtful response.

“The pace of this place,” he said, “is not for everyone.”

Correct. I’ve known New York City to stomp, chomp, and otherwise flatten people. It does happen, absolutely, every day I’m sure, and even though there are plenty of folks who lament the glossification of New York, who say the city is a soulless shell of what it used to be, all Carrie Bradshaw and no Joe Strummer, those people probably didn’t grow up in rural Iowa like I did. Please. New York is still a killer whale. Have some imagination.

I chewed. I considered. Okay, how am I really doing? Because there are a thousand thoughts a day that pass through my brain and right now, directly related to moving here or not, all those thoughts are tagged “New York City.”

“There are moments when I feel overwhelmed,” I said, and a mini-monologue suddenly poured out, because one had been waiting, apparently.

“It’s like… So you’re on a street corner here, waiting for the light. And you look over and you see the most beautiful girl you have ever seen in your life. Right there, a supermodel, maybe the supermodel of the moment that you just saw on the cover of a magazine. And then the light changes and you’re crossing the street and you see the craziest person you have ever seen in your life. Like, in a wig, with a parakeet or something, screaming into a transistor radio. Then, an old Chinese man zips past on a bike and you smell his tobacco and it’s this wild smell, totally from another world. Then a black, mirrored car snakes through the street and you wonder, who’s in there? Jay-Z? A congressman? The Shah of Iran? Maybe all of them?

And in those moments, you realize the layers of existence here. It’s like shale. And all these people, they all have their own realities, they all have their own days, their own New York City. And the truth of that can feel like a comfort, because everyone is just like you, or you can lose your mind, because that’s too much input, too much to think about and still remember to blink.”

This answer seemed to satisfy my lunch date. That I could identify the complexity and consider it, that is maybe proof that I’m keeping my head above water. And maybe proof that I have a chance to thrive, too. We’ll see.

I rode a Citibike back home after lunch. They’re the Divvy bikes of New York!

 

Shoe Story.

posted in: Fashion, New York City, Tips | 2
A British housewife puts out items for salvage during 1942. Ministry of Information Second World War Official Collection
A British housewife puts out items for salvage during 1942. Ministry of Information Second World War Official Collection.

Last night, I left a pair of gray Celine ankle boots outside the iron gate into the apartment building where I lived until this morning. If you happened to be walking west of Avenue A on 10th St. around 9pm last night, you would’ve seen them, placed nicely side-by-side against the brick wall. They were free to a good home, but you wouldn’t have wanted them. Even Celine boots aren’t worth much when they’re as trashed as those boots were. I blame Manhattan.

I’m hard on shoes, though. I didn’t know that was a trait one could possess until it was pointed out to me a few years ago. I don’t remember who did the pointing, but it must’ve been someone I cared about because I remember looking down at my feet and seeing my dinged-up shoes with scuffs deep like wounds and I remember feeling embarrassed about that.

It’s great when you make changes in your life based on feelings of self-confidence, but frequently it’s shame that compels us to change. Shoes are important. They communicate silent messages about how you feel and what you think about the world; certainly they affect how you move through it, figuratively and literally. I decided that I wanted to be the sort of person who cared about not just her shoe style but the state of the shoes themselves. I resolved to buy the best shoes I could afford, always, and take good care of those shoes.

And so I did: I’ve been a committed shoe-maintainer for many years, now. I visit a cobbler regularly. My cobbler in Chicago is located in my favorite building in the city, the Monadnock. Not only is the architecture of the Monadnock great, the lights in the building’s arcade are low, like gaslights, and there’s lots of wood and glass; the floor is mosaic and my heels make a great little tic! tic! as I walk the hall. The cobblers in the shoe repair shop know me well; they’re all Mexican and I get a “Buenos dias, Maria!” when I walk in. Orlando always takes my shoes and looks at the heels, first.

“Ohh, ohh. Yes, this bery bad,” he’ll say, and then cluck his tongue. There’s usually some catch to the repair he has to make. It’s not because he’s trying to take advantage of me; it’s that most of the shoes I buy are unique in construction or shape, e.g., the heel of the YSL pump is metal, the toe of the Marni pump is cloth, etc. We agree on a price for the fix and I come back the next morning to shoes that not only look better but feel better: maintaining great shoes is one of the most glorious feelings I know. I’m serious. There’s something so adult, so capable about a pair of resoled, polished shoes. Some people buy fancy shoes at full-retail prices and then they don’t take care of them. I buy fancy shoes on sale and take great care of them. I like my way.

So what about these Celine boots?

Oh, they were goners. I had them fixed twice. The seam over the instep was coming apart again and I could see my sock through the top. The stacked wood heels were chipped and battered, the leather was rubbed to discoloration. I walked miles and miles and miles in those shoes and they served me well. Very sharp, those boots.

Take care of them.