Feet aren’t as young as hoped

‘Sen­si­ble chic’ sud­denly ap­peal­ing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST/TELEVISION - GWEN ROCK­WOOD

Ithink I’m go­ing through a tran­si­tion — from the an­kles down. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but one of the fol­low­ing two the­o­ries is prob­a­bly true: Ei­ther I’ve ac­quired an affin­ity for comfy shoes I once thought of as “old lady shoes,” or … old ladies are wear­ing cuter shoes than they used to. My van­ity hopes it’s the lat­ter.

When I was a teenager and went shop­ping with my mother, she’d al­ways hold up a shoe and say some­thing trag­i­cally prac­ti­cal like, “Why don’t you try this one? It looks like it would be com­fort­able.” And I would roll my eyes (in the oh-so-charm­ing way teenagers do) and say some­thing snarky like, “Mom, those are to­tally old lady shoes. I would never wear those.”

Fast for­ward 25 years, and here I am, brows­ing through the shoe store, find­ing my­self drawn to shoes that look a lot like the ones my mom sug­gested all those years ago. At least three times dur­ing the past year or so, I’ve no­ticed that women who are likely AARP mem­bers are wear­ing the same shoes I have.

Just the other day, I was look­ing for a new pair of shoes on­line and read­ing re­views posted by peo­ple who’d al­ready bought them. One of the re­views posted said this: “This knit shoe is like a very good sup­port sock. They hold your feet and mold to it, bend when you walk and have very good anti-slip soles. They are great for an old wo­man like me, who wants com­fort­able shoes that are safe for walk­ing and at the same time at­trac­tive.”

And you know what? That glow­ing re­view posted by “an old wo­man” did not de­ter me from buy­ing those shoes. I bought them and took them on a five-day sight­see­ing trip to New York, where I walked all over the most fash­ion­able city in the world. I’m wear­ing them right now, and my feet couldn’t be hap­pier.

But how did I get here? Have I re­ally gone from sexy, strappy heels to shoes with “very good anti-slip soles” with­out even re­al­iz­ing I’ve gone through this fash­ion menopause?

Back in my teens and 20s, there were only two cat­e­gories of shoes — cute and sen­si­ble — and I never sac­ri­ficed cute for shoes that made sense. My feet were young, fool­ish and vain. They thought they were in­de­struc­tible.

But now, those same feet have an ex­tra few decades of life ex­pe­ri­ence. They’ve car­ried around three ba­bies. They’ve seen their share of blis­ters. They’ve been sore too many times, and they’re more than done with needless suf­fer­ing.

These days, my feet see me look­ing at a killer pair of stilet­tos, and I can prac­ti­cally hear them scream­ing up at me: “Are you freak­ing crazy? We’ll break an an­kle in those shoes. You’ll never feel your toes again. Put those down im­me­di­ately, and pick up what­ever that gray-haired lady is look­ing at.”

So, I ad­mire the shiny heels but then drift over to shoes I know have a far bet­ter chance of ac­tu­ally be­ing worn, ver­sus col­lect­ing dust in my closet. I like to call this shoe cat­e­gory “comfy cute” or “sen­si­ble chic.” But who am I kid­ding? My teenage-self would call them “old lady shoes.”

But thanks to the gift of time and ex­pe­ri­ence, I re­al­ize now that my teenage-self didn’t know nearly as much as she thought she did. In the 1980s, she thought shoul­der pads and blue eye­shadow were smart choices, too. Clearly, her judg­ment wasn’t al­ways on point.

So, I’m mak­ing peace with my more “ma­ture” shoe choices. I’ll still slip on a great pair of heels when I’m wear­ing a dress wor­thy of them, but I’ll be count­ing the min­utes un­til I’m back in those mem­ory foam sneak­ers that are per­fect for a spin around the gro­cery store. If and when comfort be­comes fash­ion­able, I’ll be right in style.

Gwen Rock­wood is a syn­di­cated free­lance colum­nist. Archives of The Rock­wood Files can be found on­line at nwaMother­lode.com. Email Rock­wood at rock­wood­files@cox.net.

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