Monday, August 26, 2013

What I Wore, Shoe Change and All . . .

Thanks so much for your many thoughtful responses to my post on the whole Visibility Project among Women of a Certain Age. They have helped me take my own thinking about this aspect of my/our
bloogingblogging a bit further, and I hope to articulate those thoughts here fairly soon. Meanwhile,  over in the Welsh Hills, Elizabeth has taken up the issue, exploring it further by looking at the values we might find in in-visibility. She's elicited another batch of great reader responses, and overall, I think the conversation is a lively and useful one that shows we Women of "That" Age are also Audible (if we can use the metaphor that equates writing with speaking) as a complement to our visibility.

Meanwhile, though, in a move that exemplifies what an old friend of mine would have filed under the "beauty of contradictions," I thought it was time here for a little What I Wore -- at least for an outfit that doesn't involve dusty shirts and trekking poles.
This is a little print pencil skirt (Jackpot) I've enjoyed wearing this summer, worn with a white Gap t-shirt and a navy linen men's shirt I picked up at J Crew because the stylish woman ahead of me in the lineup had been urged to grab one by her even more stylish friend, visiting from Paris. I know! But as an impulse buy, this is one of the best I've ever made, doubling as a jacket but so much easier to throw in the machine.

As for the mix-and-match I introduced through these slingbacks I bought in Paris so many years ago, I love the play of blues; I also like the way the pointed toe elongates my legs, exactly the way everyone style-wise says it will . . .

But.

I was walking to campus that day, and it was a warm day, and if you know me, you know that means that any minute now. . . . I'm going to switch to my Birkenstocks.
The photographic evidence makes it crystal clear that these lend a chunkier, even clunkier, look to the outfit.
But if the camera doesn't lie, neither does it tell the whole picture. I walked that 3.5 kilometre uphill trek to campus thinking about all the tasks I have to get done before classes start. I made 4 or 5 mental to-do lists. I sang a few songs (in my head, or at least under my breath -- don't worry, I managed to keep it contained!). I debated which poetry collections to order for next year's 4th-year Canadian Poetry class. But I didn't once think about whether my feet were chafing up a blister as they swelled up a size in the summer heat. Because they didn't. They had room to breathe, thanks to my trusty Birkenstock companions. Who, by the way, have cousins on the feet of many, many women walking the streets of Paris. Right now. I've seen them there every single visit we've made.

If I'd been teaching that day, I'd probably have thrown the slingbacks into my backpack and changed into them in my office. There's no question they lend a more polished look to the overall outfit, never mind a more flattering one. But for a day of cleaning my office, getting documents to the printshop, working at my desk with my door shut. . . .the Birkenstocks won, yet again.

There you have it then, What I Wore one day last week. Now let's get this week started . . . . Happy Monday! Comments welcome, as usual. . . . But in the interest of clarifying my intentions as I post What I Wore: I'm NOT looking for approval or flattery or, even, constructive criticism. And I'm obviously not trying to teach you anything about how to dress (ha! say both of us). I'm just sharing, because how I dress is important to me, still, at 60, and it's a Part of my life. Just Part. . . .

While I'm not joining in the Visible Monday party that Patti hosts over at Not Dead Yet Style blog, you might want to take a peek . . . 

30 comments:

  1. I know you are not looking for approval or flattery, but... wearing sensible shoes (Birkenstocks) simply makes so much more sense! I love that you described how much you were able to get done once your feet were comfortable. Maybe the outfit with the slingbacks is more "flattering" in a conventional fashion sense, but the Birkenstocks say that you care about more than shoes. Plus, they are a little more unexpected and artsy, in my opinion.

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    1. To know the Birkenstocks is to love the Birkenstocks, right? Thanks!

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  2. The shoes change up the look of the outfit, yes, but BOTH work well to my eye. And I have a saying, mostly applied to travel and our Paris trips that involve so much walking, but that also spills over into the quotidien, "if the feet ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

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    1. That's a great saying, Sue, and so true! I have become so much less tolerant of foot discomfort, just in the last two years really, primarily because my hips and knees get affected and then that gets in the way of my running addiction . . .

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  3. I'm always amazed at how far and how fast one's mind can travel, especially while walking. The comfy Birkenstocks contributed to your mind travel, certainement!

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    1. I know! We can cover all kinds of distance, not all of it geographic!

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  4. Having suffered today with a pair of Fluevogs that rub my toes the wrong way, I can sympathize with your decision for the comfy shoes! I had to wear heels with the pants I was wearing, so I was suffering for fashion, not something I choose to do often!!

    The Fluevogs are fine with socks, so I usually wear them in fall winter conditions.

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    1. It's a trade-off, sometimes, isn't it? Sometimes the chafing shoes are the only ones that will do . . . glad your suffering is over for the day!

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  5. Whoa, I went back and read all the visibility/invisibility posts. Very impressed by the discussion you've started, and appreciate the mention. I've been wearing a pair of shoes like this most of the summer!

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    1. Summer can be very good for the feet, can't it? I've been living in comfy shoes and sandals!
      And thanks, I'm pretty pleased by the conversation . . .

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  6. My feet need to be comfortable in order for me to enjoy a walk. When the feet are sore, the inner singing and planning is impossible! I'll be travelling over to the Welsh Hills to see what's going on.

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    1. I think you'll enjoy the twist the conversation takes there . . .

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  7. Great post, and thanks so much for the link to the Welsh Hills Again blog. I think your post today is a good example of the point she is making. We do care how we look and put thought into dressing, but once dressed we should have more important issues to define our life for the day. Her discussion of the plus of invisibility is also so interesting. I realize I've been manipulating that to my advantage for a while now (ie when I need to run to the supermarket to pick something in the middle of cleaning the house...).
    BTW both shoes look fine with your outfit, but I love the blue print flats!

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    1. It is interesting, isn't it, that notion of invisibility. . .

      I love those slingbacks as well, particularly because I can still recall so clearly the shop on Rue St. Honoré, the charming vendeuse, Pater encouraging me to get the shoes . . . that was in 2007 and I would buy them if I saw them in a shop window today, surely a good sign!

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  8. I spend all kinds of time looking for shoes that feel great and look fine. I never regret the investment in comfort - and I feel that style is best when constrained by reality:).

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  9. I can't wear Birks because my feet are too narrow - and all shoes of that ilk make me look like a cross between Olive Oyl and a duck as my ankles are ridiculously skinny. But I regularly swap out shoes that I like with an outfit for a comfier pair; I get dressed, decide on shoes that work well, then end up changing them for Converse or loafers 5 minutes before I walk out the door ...

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    1. Yes! I do exactly this too . . . and sometimes am caught up short, in surprise, when I catch a glimpse in the mirror and remember that I don't look quite as soigné as the image in my mind . . . ;-)

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  10. Hi Mater, I remember reading about those shoes way back when - obviously they have stood you in good stead over the years. I find the Gizeh Birkenstocks so attractive, but I'm still leery of that toe post! I did get a pair of thong sandals this summer, but they have a strap around the heel and the toe post is soft leather, so they are comfy and I don't feel like I have to clench my foot to make them stay on.

    And thank you for linking to Elizabeth's article - she makes a whole lot of sense.

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    1. Honestly, the toe post has never bothered me EXCEPT when I very occasionally stub my foot and drive that wedge of flesh and bone between big toe and its neighbour into said post. Otherwise, I've always been able to break in a new pair quickly and to get used to them again at the beginning of the summer.
      She's a thoughtful blogger, Elizabeth is. I do think she makes sense; glad you enjoyed her post.

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  11. Ah yes - the disparity between the mirror view and what to wear in real life, between the Birks (or in my case the ballet flats) and the sky-highs. I have a gorgeous pair of high-heeled gold sandals - they make almost everything I wear with them look fabulous, but can I walk gracefully (or indeed just walk) more than a few yards in them? Nope! And there's nothing attractive about clumsiness, turned ankles or blisters.
    BTW, found your 'what I wore' post thought-provoking - style is fun and endlessly fascinating, but without context and as the sole topic of a blog, I find it unsatisfying - a bit like a diet of macaroons! Love your posts on the subject, but also the beautifully-written and sometimes startlingly honest insights into your life and feelings.
    Rosemary

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  12. Ah yes - the disparity between the mirror view and what to wear in real life, between the Birks (or in my case the ballet flats) and the sky-highs. I have a gorgeous pair of high-heeled gold sandals - they make almost everything I wear with them look fabulous, but can I walk gracefully (or indeed just walk) more than a few yards in them? Nope! And there's nothing attractive about clumsiness, turned ankles or blisters.
    BTW, found your 'what I wore' post thought-provoking - style is fun and endlessly fascinating, but without context and as the sole topic of a blog, I find it unsatisfying - a bit like a diet of macaroons! Love your posts on the subject, but also the beautifully-written and sometimes startlingly honest insights into your life and feelings.
    Rosemary

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary, for taking the time to comment on both posts. Your sitting shoes (taxi shoes?) sound glamourous, but you're right that turned ankles don't make as pretty a picture. . . . curious, have you found ballet flats that give you enough support for long walks? If so, I'd love to know the brand, as I generally find the soles too thin.

      Yes! your comparison to a diet of macaroons is great. Because I LOVE macaroons, but I can only eat so many before I'm looking for something less sweet, more protein. And I'm so pleased to hear you say you find some value to my "startlingly honest" moments -- I've wrestled over these, but have been taking more risks with them lately, finding my way to what kind of writing I really want to do.

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  13. I'm so happy to have found you and I appreciate the discussion that you launched and your thoughts on visibility as we age. Your writing is exquisite!

    Thank you for your kind words on SC; I was deeply touched.

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    1. You are so gracious -- thank you very much for taking the time to visit!

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  14. I actually think I like the Birkenstocks with that outfit, better than those cute French shoes.(In general I'm not a Birkenstock person - and I am a French shoe person!) Thing is, I think it suits the line of the look better with the Birks. It's a bit rougher and I do like mixing skirts (on the prim side) with industrial accessories.

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    1. So pleased to hear this as I really value your keen eye's judgement.

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  15. I appreciate the link Mater and I have enjoyed being visited by some of your readers. In the contradictory way that life works I have followed my post on the potential pleasures of invisibility with a few days of really enjoying dressing and shopping and being very visible indeed! I love the French shoes but like you I love to have comfortable feet. In fact it is one of the compensations for summer's ending that I shall be able to wear boots again. I love boots!

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    1. I don't think this is necessarily contradictory. It's not either/or, is it? I thought your post simply invited readers to consider, even embrace, invisibility. Similarly, I'm posting What I Wore, but I also want us to be mindful of other aspects of life at this stage. . .
      And me too, on the boots!

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  16. Hmm, I really like the look of this outfit with the Birks; the other is nice, but the birks just seem to fit and the combination of the slim with the bulkier shoes and the shirt as a jacket have style and intelligence as well. Besides walking is always good and having comfortable feet even better.

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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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