Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Zebra Shoes -- Dramatic? Disastrous?

I bought these shoes late last spring (at my local boutique, aptly called From A to Zebra), but I have only worn them once or twice since. While the impulse that moved me to get out my Mastercard is still there, the problem of the 3+inch heel and the open toe made me first hesitate, then reject, each time I considered them. I've been conservative about the open-toe shoe, believing, old-school style, that they can only be worn with bare feet, freshly manicured. Yet last summer, with cheery bright nails, I found my legs too pale to stand up to the black-and-white graphic sharpness of the shoe.

But I've noticed the prevalence in magazines of open-toed shoes (boots even!) over opaque hose and given that the front of these shoes are black, I thought I could get away with wearing them over black tights. When I tried it, I liked the look -- really, with the distraction of that patent buckle, the open toe could hardly be noticed.

As for the heel height, well, I do wear a 3-inch heel once or twice a week on my drive-to-work days. (Thanks to my bike, the kilometre to the ferry is easily managed -- really, biking in heels is a breeze compared to walking in them). From car to office, from office to classroom, the distances are never more than several hundred metres, and I can manage that. And in the classroom, if I get tired of standing, I can always sit on the edge of the desk, as I prefer to do anyway.

So, that was the preamble . . . you're getting used to those now, right?
Our university has expanded considerably over the past five or ten years, and especially in the Fine Arts and Humanities, budgets have not kept up, and facilities are woefully in need of upgrade. My department has run out of offices in "our" building, so along with a few other colleagues I'm housed a little ways up the hill (yes, I suppose this is all preamble as well. Sorry). I could get "from here to there" on non-slippery asphalt and concrete, but there are shortcuts and they involve cutting across grassy slopes and then picking my way around woody roots down a treed (unofficial) path. The grade would make a skiier happy, AND it's been raining and raining and raining lately, so slipperiness is considerable.

And yet. . . .

Even with new shoes, even with a heel height, she decides to take the slippery slope to save herself half a minute or so . . . .

And at the third step on the grassy hill, a slip turned into a slide and with the next step I wondered if I could save myself, and with 4,5,6, AND 7 I doubted that would happen. Steps 8 and 9 took me close to the intersecting asphalt walk; they were accompanied by flashing apprehensions of my favourite black cardigan, a very fine blend of silk, cashmere, and modal, ripping through the arm and elbow, such ripping then continuing through my skin. I pictured my tights ripping through the sides of the knees, I knew I'd be a mess, I wondered how my hands would fare on the asphalt, could already imagine the tiny pebbles embedded in them. All this in micro-seconds. So interesting to me that part of my brain could be processing these possibilities while the other was making my Pilates-strong core and balance work with my running-muscled legs to keep me vertical.

Step 10 was on the asphalt and I started to feel the possibility of staying upright although I had concerns about navigating a speed bump that complicated the terrain. And with 11 and 12, I knew had avoided catastrophe, and was looking out of the corners of my eyes to see which students had observed my undignified careening down the hill. Humiliation and injury and even wardrobe reduction were going to have to wait for my next foray down the shortcut path.

And that might be a while . . .

With the shoes, in case you're interested, the black opaque tights, as noted; a black pencil skirt (with a stride-lengthening slit, thank goodness, or I would really have been in trouble!) that I picked up at BCBG while Christmas shopping; a Banana Republic teal jersey long-sleeved scoop-necked top; the aforementioned black hip-length cardigan, Aritzia; and a blue-tiger's-eye necklace made by a clever colleague of mine.
Any good shoe disasters or near-misses in your past? Do tell . . .


  1. I don't like open toed shoes with any hose- they just erase the charm. But I love them with toes! Glad you survived more or less in one piece.

  2. Last time I wore very high heels in public I walked past a construction site, men on their break, they whistled, I went over on my heel, they guffawed, I limped I do kitten heels and flats!

  3. I'm sorry, I don't mean to laugh at you - but so comical!!! :0) Patricia

  4. What luck you had! I have landed on the ground more than enough, and it is amazing how much stuff your mind processes in the few seconds. Falling off a horse, my whole life passed like a quick movie in my mind. Ok, the falling took a bit longer because I tried to hang on as long as possible, so I had many seconds to view the movie; ).

  5. Oh my! Congratulations on your luck and that strong pilates-core to save yourself mishap. It always amazes what the mind encompasses, almost as if in slow motion, while the body thrashes about in the critical seconds.

    Pretty pretty shoes though.

  6. Duchesse: You're always so very sure, aren't you! I thought I was, on the open toes, but I've decided to be more flexible on this, and at least for this one pair, I liked the combination -- and it means wearing shoes that otherwise would have to shine on the shoe shelf;-)
    Hostess: But at least you knew you looked good in them, right? The whistles? Flats are definitely safer, for sure, and kitten heels give that bit of sass and height without so much danger -- wise choice!
    Patricia: I can't complain about your laughter -- pretty much invited it, didn't I?!
    Metscan: Yikes! Falling from that distance would give all kinds of thinking time -- and time to anticipate a really big thunk! Heels don't seem so scary in comparison.
    Mardel: Aren't they cute? Worth a bit of risk, I guess . . .

  7. I am sure about this, for me- because I inherited "piano legs". If I had lovely legs like you do, I'd probably be more relaxed about wearing any style, since glances are only rewarded.

  8. Well I must confess, I laughed... sorry, but I was always a big fan of slap stick and anyone sliding down steps gets me going. You did it with style though,
    I really fancied a zebra pattern pair of converse last year, and now shoes are off limits for a few months I was toying with getting them pay day Monday. Now I see you have rocked zebra I too will HAVE to have them!
    You are right about the whole opaque tights with peep toe, fine unless it rains.

  9. Duchesse: Aw, shucks! I hope you got that I admire/envy the assurance. It's never as black and white for me (unless we're talking zebra shoes, black and white all the way!)
    Alison: Great! then if we meet up again this year we can be zebra shoe twins!!


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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