My mom is going to kill me if she ever reads this blog post.
Growing up, I remember her cardinal rule of clothes/accessories shopping was, “Always buy good quality shoes.” And she was rigid about this – we weren’t allowed to buy cheap shoes, no matter how in fashion they were (how I coveted all my five-year-old friends that got to wear jellies, for example) because shoes that supported our feet were of paramount importance. And because we didn’t have a lot of extra money, it was the basics only, and good-quality, no-frills basics. Serviceable, but hardly exciting.
Oddly enough, when I reached high school and developed an appetite for high heels, Mom, a shoe girl herself, was more than happy to buy me cute pairs of high heels I didn’t necessarily need – though, consistent with her mantra, they were all very good quality. Boy, did I have a great heels wardrobe: some pink BCBG open toe pumps with a big bow, a pair of faux-crocodile skin black stilettos with a silver heel, just to name a couple.
However, in college, I had a ballet teacher who warned me that I’d seriously thrown off my alignment with all my heels wearing and the subsequent poor posture that had accompanied it for five years. “You can wear heels,” she told me gently, “but only after you’ve retrained your spine and are more aware of your posture.” I took her words very seriously and agreed to follow her suggestion and not wear heels for the next three months. (I think I told part of this story on Fashionably Late Sisters.)
Well, after a summer of wearing flats, you’d better believe it was hard for me to put on heels again. To this day, I can’t wear heels for more than a couple hours before I’m beyond uncomfortable.
But the most interesting thing that developed from that summer was that my shoe-loving appetite switched from heels to flats. And this coincided with a big boom in cute ballet flats in the shoe industry. Of course, I still didn’t have any money, so imagine my delight when I found cheap flats at Target. $20 for a novelty color that goes with everything? Sold! I also remember convincing my mom that because they were flats, they didn’t need to be as high quality because they were so much better for your feet anyway.
As the years wore on, I became very happy with buying all my flats at Target or Payless, supplementing them with Dr. Scholl’s inserts when I began working on my feet a lot at a restaurant and in retail sales. Then, perhaps a year ago, I began to tighten our financial belt, so to speak, and I stopped replacing those Dr. Scholl’s inserts. “Who needs to spend that money?!” I thought to myself. (They are really expensive when you’re on a budget.)
I watched with detachment as holes developed in my shoes. “Just keep going a little longer!” I urged myself. “The longer you wait, the better wife you are, and the more money you’re saving.”
I ignored the constant foot pain (though it was alleviated somewhat when we bought a Brookstone foot spa from a moving sale the other day – best purchase EVER). I disregarded the back pain that accompanied me to the office, to dance class, and to bed. And I overrode my squeamishness for arriving to work with wet feet because the rain seeped in. The holes grew from cracks in the bottom to full-fledged silver-dollar-sized gaping chasms that actually had my toes touching the ground. Of New York City. (Gross, I know!)
It’s safe to say I was not taking care of myself very well.
Then, in the heat of a financial squabble with my husband the other day, I suddenly came face to face with how absurd my penny-pinching perspective was. Yes, saving money is good, but if you’re sacrificing your health over it…it’s probably not wisdom. So in tears, I broke down and said, “I need new shoes.”
I am happy to say that I am now the proud owner of brand new, good-quality flats. They’re a different shape than my foot is used to (because I wore the same style of shoes in three colors for two and a half years…), so there’s some breaking in required, but that’s also because they’re leather, not cheap man-made junk. This is worthwhile, methinks.
So, while in the future I might treat myself to a cheap novelty flat in a funky color once in a while, I’ve learned my lesson: buy good quality shoes, at least for the shoes you wear the most. You’ll thank yourself for it later. And I’ll never doubt my mom’s advice again.
This message was brought to you by humble pie.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/jef_safi/809246756/”>jef safi \ ‘Parker Mojo Flying</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>