I’m walking down Hester street looking for a sweet potato that is neither too big nor too small. I’m going to mash it when I get home, which is where I am coming from and where I will be going after I have found my nourishment. I’m holding a tote that should be able to carry this Goldilocks of sweet potatoes and given the circumstance — going nowhere but home, coming from nowhere but home — I am dressed in what some would deem a very dramatic outfit. It is dramatic not because of the leopard print mini dress before 11 a.m. but because I am certain, if not positive, that if a different pair of shoes were affixed to my feet (those of the athletic variety, for example, as opposed to Jimmy Choo’s pearl-encrusted heels that truly, madly, deeply could take your breath away), no one, myself included, would bat an eyelash.
But that is JUST the power of shoes. They are forceful and persuasive and subversive and strong and therefore very much like a woman — but also so damn transformative that sometimes I wonder why we bother with new clothes at all when we can wear just about any outfit over and over and have it say something different depending on what shoes we pair with it.
I know I only briefly mentioned my tote, but I forgot to tell you about a notebook that is inside of it. This notebook is important because it holds thoughts that I no longer want to live in my head and the most recent page boasts a single question: Have we reached peak leisure? I don’t mean, “Are we too relaxed?” It is obvious that we are not. Comfort clothes and the illusion of leisure-living are so clearly a byproduct of the ilk of anxiety that New York breeds, which genuinely tricks itself into believing that doing everything, all the time, is simply never enough. But I’m talking about leisure as a fashion movement, a style statement, the de rigeur way to cover your person and call yourself, you know, de rigeur.
Yet here I am, buying a sweet potato, in a leopard print mini dress and pearl-emblazoned stiletto sandals because I have a hunch! And this hunch is commanded by nothing but my own proclivity to abandon athletic footwear, a cornerstone peak leisure, and dive big toe first into sky-high heels once again.
Now, when it comes to fashion and trends and wearing fashion trends, it is hard if not useless to imagine a reality where the wearing of comfortable shoes is relinquished in the name of high heels, where simple clothes become structurally complicated and tote bags (so tote-ally on their way back in) once again become teeny-tiny coin purses that can barely carry a phone. Lately, however, I’ve been thinking so much about try-hard fashion. The negative connotation it maintains, the way we are so repelled by looking like we care. But what’s so bad about looking like you tried? Like you put effort into your look? Particularly, I might add, if you did.
I am not suggesting that we shun comfort in all its sartorial permutations — that would be nuts and I am only a little bit of that — but more and more, I find myself craving try-hard fashion, which for me, almost always boils down to the shoes you pair with the fashion. Shoes that don’t allow for you to mistake me for having come from the gym or the laundromat or the dog groomer or wherever. They speak out very distinctly. Make themselves known. Carry the weight of your person with wild aplomb. If you’re lucky, they are also covered in pearls.
So I am ready. Ready to stand ahead of my closet for 20, 30 minutes, snapping every last button on the back of a shirt, clipping into the futile cummerbund on a pair of pants, bending over to fasten the dramatic ankle straps on an even more dramatic pair of shoes, heeled at least four inches, but no more than five, as I get ready to go out to do nothing but everything, stroll up the block and then down it, live recklessly and fecklessly from the inside out, and do it like someone who does not need the perverse power of sneakers to claim her power because heels do it literally enough, thank you very much!
I’m not sure why this is happening — maybe I’d like to escape. To trick myself into living through the conceptions I drummed up as a teenager when I fantasized about adulthood: early morning slingbacks on cobble stone, caffeinated beverage in hand. Or maybe, simply, I’m sick of looking so damn casual all the time. I just want an excuse to give my clothes what they want! The gall and gumption and gusto and some other word that starts with a G that really, truly only heels can provide. That only heels can heal! (I’m sorry, I had to.)
I just want to look put together. Maybe it will make me feel more like I have it together. I can’t know for sure until I try, so maybe you will join me? Find your high-heeled Jimmy Choo soulmate at saks.com and post a picture of yourself doing something quotidian in a larger-than-life outfit, heels notwithstanding.
Photos by Edith Young at the Crown.