Vampire Book Club wanted to know if Queen Betsy (of the Undead and… series), known for her love of designer shoes almost as much as her love of being a snarky pill, had any shoe-shopping tips for the rest of us (read: mortals). So I went to the source and asked. By which I mean, I tapped my teeny tiny mind and came up with the following. Enjoy! Or not. Your choice. It’s not weird that I hear voices, right?
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It’s Trendy Because I Have Spoken
I Didn’t Really Wear That To Prom, Did I?
People think that because I married a millionaire, and my best friend is a millionaire, and I live in a mansion with lots of storage space (though I’m not going near that attic ever again), and can stay up all night perusing the Web for the best sales, and manipulate the time stream to accidentally fix it so that a certain shoe designer’s parents never meet and thus he never becomes the designer for the gods (I’m so sorry, Christian Louboutin!)…uh…where was I going with this?
Right, got it: people think all those things mean shopping for designer shoes is a hobby for the elite. And it totally, totally is. But it’s also for everyday people like you and me. I mean, like I used to be. Don’t judge me because I accidentally fell in love with an annoyingly white-hot (un)dead stud who, when I’m not banging him silly, has access to a seven-figure checkbook balance. None of it was my fault. Except the stuff I actually did. That’s entirely my fault.
It might seem like I’m getting off track, but I’m (probably) not. See, I used to be a secretary. Not an Administrative Assistant. I didn’t assist any of those asshats, unless it was to an audit. It was a point of pride to think of myself as a secretary, especially when it went out of fashion. When in God’s name did secretary become a dirty word, along with stewardess and housewife? Anyway, secretaries (you prob’ly know this) don’t make a lot of money. They didn’t then and they don’t now. It’s not teacher-bad, or nurse-bad, but it’s not car salesman-good, either. There were times when I had to pick between a pair of Pradas and my monthly student loan payment. (You want to know real evil? Soulless bastards with a craving for death and destruction who want nothing more than to shatter humanity’s only chance to better themselves? Default on a few student loan payments. You’ll see so much evil you’ll choke on your screams.)
So anyway: when I making I-can’t-live-on-that an hour as a secretary, I had beautiful shoes. And I’m going to try to explain why. The thing about shoes is, at worst, they keep your feet out of shit. At best, they’re miniature works of art. All kinds of art: modern, classic, weird-like-Picasso-or-the-melty-clocks guy…for your feet! Don’t you love it? It’s possible I only love it. But come on: what’s not to love? Art. For your feet!
Art’s never been hard to come by, whether it’s the good (Monet), the bad (Pollock), the weird (dogs playing poker) or the grotesque (see above, dogs and poker), and that also applies to shoes. And that’s where some people get it wrong, every time. I don’t know who started the whole “expensive means awesome” shopping trend (I’m looking at you, Elizabeth Tudor!), but consumers have been sucking down that concept like it was a smoothie made of Awesome for way way too long. If no one’s ever told you, I, Betsy Taylor, Queen of the Suckheads, am telling you now: expensive doesn’t necessarily translate to the best.
Style translates to the best. And style’s like a sense of humor or spandex or being able to mix beer and wine: everyone thinks they can pull it off, but only a few of us do. And the rest either don’t notice the few, or don’t do anything but notice them.
We all know her (or him, or them). Right out of high school or college they had all kinds of cool stuff in their cheap apartments, stuff that if you tried to make it happen in your own cheap apartment, it never quite worked. These people can make jeans or garbage bags or plastic shoes (which are on yet another comeback, which is as awful as it is hilarious) look like high fashion. They know the right shirts, the right shorts, the right lip gloss, the right foundation, the right aftershave, the right raincoat, the right neighborhood. For them. And sometimes for you. They can look at you and know what you’ve got wrong and, if you’re lucky, or if they’re nice, they’ll tell you. And you’ll listen, and sometimes you’ll dress better, but often not. They just know. We have to learn. It’s hard!
Because it’s hard we get things like bell-bottoms. Not wide legged pants. When they were ugly in the 70s they were bell bottoms and now that they’re ugly in the twenty-first century they’re still bell bottoms. (Not to get on another tangent, but I can’t believe those are not only back in style, but have been for years. Madness! What’s next, re-opening Studio 54?) Trendy? Yes. Asinine? Big yes. Huge. Giant can’t-be-missed-as-it’s-the-size-of-the-IDS-building yes. And that’s the trap; that’s how they get you. Because trendy only means you’re doing what people told you was cool, right now. It doesn’t mean you look good. Quite the opposite sometimes. See: whale tails, legwarmers, and waistbands that stopped an inch below your pubic bone (who wants to see a high school girl’s five o’clock shadow at noon, anyway?). You know when you look at pics from a decade ago (or last week) and groan at how awful you looked? The horrifying secret: you also looked awful when you were following the trend, not just when it wasn’t the trend anymore. It’s just that you couldn’t tell, because all the other zombies were wearing the same thing. Now there’s a sobering thought to take to the grave two or three times.
I don’t care how trendy something is, how hard it rockets back from trendy to lame and then super-duper trendy, there are some things I will not wear, bell-bottoms (“No,” you protest like the brain-washed trend-slut you are, “they’re called wide legs now.”) and plastic shoes being two of them.
Shoes, natch, are as subject to the whims of the trendy brain-damaged as anything else. Pumps were out and then flats were in and then pumps were back and flats were out and penny loafers got huge until they weren’t and platforms were back again. Platforms are the zombie of shoes; they won’t die. Why not just strap a brick to the soles of your shoes? Same effect.
And I hate the round toe trend. Yes, I came of age in the ’80s and made mistakes (Jellies? “Why,” my BFF would demand, “do you dress in such a nice outfit and then ruin it with plastic shoes?”), but pointy-toed flats weren’t one of them. They elongate the foot, and they don’t remind me of witches. (Thanks a bunch, Roald Dahl, for freaking me out with witches who don’t have toes. They don’t have toes! So it’s rounded or squared-off shoes for them. All the time! Dammit, Dahl!)
But if you can avoid trends that are trendy because that’s the trend right this nanosecond, you can fill your closet and therefore your life with wonderful glorious shoes someone put his or her whole heart into designing, and designing well. I thought beautiful shoes were magical long before I knew magic was real. I think that’s why I cling to them, literally and figuratively.
We as a species, we can be just awful; cruel and selfish and full of hate. And we can be wonderful, too: good and kind with soft hands that never slap and smiles that never slip into sneers. And in a world(s) where vampires roam and the devil’s a real bitch and the future’s terrifying, with all the bad shit happening in the world(s), some people come up with shoes so beautiful they’re art. Because we’re awful? In spite of our inherent awfulness? Dunno. And not knowing, that just adds to the coolness.
I’m not saying this well, so here I go again, and you’ll either get it or you won’t (meaning I was either clear, or I wasn’t): our feet take us from the playground to the grave and everywhere in between, and sometimes they’re bare and sometimes they’re not and sometimes they’re covered with art that is beautiful and thoughtful and one-of-a-kind. And it’s art you can go out and get for yourself. You don’t have to be married to a dead millionaire. You don’t even have to be alive.
That’s kind of cool, that right there. And that’s about it on the subject, I guess. Thanks for humoring me.