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20 April 2005 @ 09:36 am
shoes and personas  
Or personae, if you're old-school.

I'm not a shopper of shoes. My modus operandi is to buy one pair of shoes a year and wear them into the ground. But the Nordstrom Rack is an Evil Retail Money-Suck and the other day I followed a whim and bought three pairs. Of the three, two were mules--no backs--which I never buy, one pair was heels, which I never buy, and one pair mysteriously shrunk after purchase and also had slippy soles. Neither heels nor slippy soles encourage a confident stride. But the shoes were pretty. Damn cobbler elves.

I got buyer's remorse and returned two pairs, keeping the heels, which I'm not sure what to do with yet. They're chunky heels, but whenever I leave the safety of carpet I totter. Plus when you're zaftig, heels can start to make your feet look like little cow hooves. These may have to wait forty pounds or so. Of course I bought these things to cultivate the future me: the thinner, more chic me. But personas off-balance me. Like, the other day I was on the bus and I was putting on lipstick and using my pink Sephora purse mirror, and then as I was recapping the lipstick I dropped the cap, and it rolled under a woman's seat and I had to get up and then kneel and root around for it. If I'd been less groggy I might have felt embarrassed, because there's a self-conscious ritual to putting on lipstick in public. It's a gesture of sophistication, like walking in heels, but if you trip in your heels, you feel like a dork, because you've ripped a hole in your persona.

Mostly I'm just myself without a lot of airs, having dorky moments and possibly the occasional graceful moment. But I've put on airs before, trying to model myself after blasé women in Vogue magazine ads and urbane professional women who pass me on the street, women with a certain something. And I'm not sure there's anything really wrong with that, because if you practice these little gestures and adopt these characteristics they can eventually become less studied, more natural. Many things have to be exercised in order to "take." Style is rarely natural.

I was thinking this the other day when coincidentally I finished up Garrison Keillor's Wobegon Boy, which had this passage:
All along Broadway are brand-new nondescript high-rise condominium buildings, and the people who come out of their doors are young, and dressed in black, with sixty-dollar haircuts. The bars along Broadway are theme bars, with a prepackaged attitude, designed for young people trying out roles to see what might fit, the classic reason for coming to the city. You certainly don't care to experiment with a new persona in front of your old uncles--see how they like you as Southwestern Hombre, Bad Dude, Sullen Sophisticate, Preppy Heartthrob. So you move to the city and melt into the mass of the Young and the Restless... New York is the great place for young adventurers. You can roam around, see incredibly weird things, be grossed out, learn the lingo, be glamorous in ways impossible back home...
I don't think he's particularly mocking here; it's fairly sympathetic, especially when the rest of the book has portrayed the main character's struggle to find a life beyond his lifestyle.

Anyway. That's my post about shoes. I've been tagged with a music meme, I see. ::pokes katallison in a friendly way:: ;) I don't have a lot of spectacular music secrets to disclose, but maybe I'll tackle that later.
 
 
 
Valancy: Who Me? by Madelineannevalancy on April 20th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)
shoe posts may be favorite. yes, I am silly.

For slippy soles, you can get stick ons that will give you some grip, very thin. or do what my mother always made me do: go outside and scuff 'em up real good so you don't fall at church in your new Easter shoes. ah, memory.
julia_herejulia_here on April 20th, 2005 04:49 pm (UTC)
The Rack on Pike between second and third? I've never had much luck shoe-shopping there, although I've gotten some dandy random accessories. Different Racks are on different ley lines or something. The one at the Clackamas Promenade (in Oregon, blessed land of no sales tax) is my power place for shoes; the one at the Supermall is dandy for clothing for the household XYs.

Of course (she said, betraying her age and shallowness) the original Rack, at the Holy Mother Store of Nordies, back when the current Westlake Nordies was the Grand High Goddess of Seattle Shopping, Fredrick and Nelson's, was the ultimate cheap weird clothing store for me.

Woolly Mammoth is my favorite shoe clearance rack in Seattle, although it does mean entering into the transportation maelstrom of the U District.

Julia, who has somehow given birth to a child who wants to buy all her shoes at M.J. Feet
Trepkos: Crazy by Becky Bootrepkos on April 20th, 2005 04:50 pm (UTC)
When trying on shoes, its best to make sure you walk on a hard surface in them - they often feel a lot tighter than on carpet, for some reason.

I tend to have other people's personas rub off on me if I like them and am with them a lot. There was a time when me and my partner worked with this friend, and he stayed at our place for a while, and our conversations became almost impenetrable to "outsiders". A very uncool, clique of 3!
Dani Mephistopholes: Marla smoking - big_distractionastarte99 on April 20th, 2005 04:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, now I am thinking about shoes and desiring new ones. I love shoes that, but they contruction, change the way that you walk - making it more badass or more smoothly sophisticated.

Mostly I'm just myself without a lot of airs, having dorky moments and possibly the occasional graceful moment. But I've put on airs before, trying to model myself after blasé women in Vogue magazine ads and urbane professional women who pass me on the street, women with a certain something. And I'm not sure there's anything really wrong with that, because if you practice these little gestures and adopt these characteristics they can eventually become less studied, more natural. Many things have to be exercised in order to "take." Style is rarely natural.

Totally. We all steal mannerisms from those around us and from those we see and admire. Late spring/early summer always seems like the most likely time for adopting new airs and trying out new mannerisms.

Sometimes I like to wander through the city in the late afternoon and just ppl watch. (B/c oh, Manhattan is great for variety of styles)

And then I later catch myself trying to copy something I saw, and I smile and go with it to see if it will take.
kangeiko: tongue kink by iconic_moonkangeiko on April 20th, 2005 05:09 pm (UTC)
a wee pointless anecdote because my essay pains me. with sticks.
I think you - and Keillor - may well have a points about roles. Occasionally, though, going someplace new to 'try out' a role means your fabulous new roles gets stuck there. My 'serious student, yet is deeply fabulous in a very Samantha-esque way when the right amount of alcohol is drunk' role somehow got left behind in Edinburgh. It was easier to make sure that your underwear was all silk and coordinated perfectly with your toenail polish when, in a moment of panic, you could call someone on the phone and they'd be around in ten minutes with curlers and a bag of make-up. It was also a lot easier to be a 'serious student' when you have a veritable cornucopia of fabulous cafes in which one could drink coffee, read pretentious books and chat with friends about their latest trip to Shanghai.

Now, it's an effort to make sure that my shoes match each other, let alone my bag. My toenails haven't seen polish for a year, and I have yet to make a regular monthly appointment at the near-by salon. All in all, I have somehow stumbled into 'is unable to cope with being a post-grad student, look, her hair is still wet and her make-up was applied in the dark' sort of role. It's damned difficult to recapture any of the joie de vivre when, in my mind, it is definitely associated with Edinburgh.

Frighteningly, when I took a recent trip up there for a weekend, within minutes I was perky and fabulous. My skin glowed. My back straightened. My skirts twirled. I headed into the nearest book store and bought the nearest biography book.

I made the mistake of not actually reading it whilst I was up there and so now it's on the floor of my room, covered in clothing. Because the 'super organised yet delightfully spontaneous' me somehow got left behind in my edinburgh hotel room.

*lapses into despair*

*locates tea and toast*

*feels better*

*sends you hugs* On the plus side, shoes are always good. At the very least, you can park yourself in a cafe, stretch out your feet and admire your beautifully painted toenails.
Trepkos: Crazy by Becky Bootrepkos on April 20th, 2005 05:37 pm (UTC)
Re: a wee pointless anecdote because my essay pains me. with sticks.
Now, it's an effort to make sure that my shoes match each other, let alone my bag.

Snork!
If I'd been drinking tea, it would be up my nose now.
I actually went out in non-matching boots once.
This Space Intentionally Left Blankbarkley on April 20th, 2005 05:27 pm (UTC)
because there's a self-conscious ritual to putting on lipstick in public. It's a gesture of sophistication

Ha! I am not allowed to do this according to my friend. I need to go to a private mirror and do so because I am not a litstick wearing professional and apparently show it when I do so. *g*

And I tried to buy new shoes yesterday that I can wear into the ground. However, the world is conspiring against me. Again.
Alizarin_NYCalizarin_nyc on April 20th, 2005 05:40 pm (UTC)
"Sometimes I like to wander through the city in the late afternoon and just ppl watch. (B/c oh, Manhattan is great for variety of styles)"

Oh absolutely. Just walk down Fifth during lunch hour and pull in all the style. Then sit on the subway at 5:30pm and remember how very "real" and unsophisticated most everybody else is.
julia_herejulia_here on April 20th, 2005 05:43 pm (UTC)
Got distracted by shoes, and the Rack... addicts, God, what can you do about them? and forgot personas, which is the more important topic.

I have cultivated, over the years, a bad-ass mama bear public persona; at first it was a survival mechanism for night-walking and hitchhiking because I was carless and living in Olympia when the buses stopped running at 5:30pm. I'm only 5'6" but with platforms and a very straight back and the kind of body language developed to stop yearling bulls (farming does develop some skills which can be applied in an urban environment), plus the shortened brass-headed walking stick dropping out of my sleeve, I've turned and confronted a street jackal testing for wounded prey and walked away unharmed, more than once (at midnight, at 12th and Jackson, once).

Problem is, I'm deprived of the right props, these days- cigarettes especially- and the effort of maintaining The Walk without limping is progressively more work. So I'm going more for the wise but forbidding crone thing. The current downside of that is getting hit on, in public, by frisky men in their 70s. But that might, in the long run, that might be a good thing.

Julia, there was a diversion into organo La Leche League hippy mom, but with only two kids I couldn't maintain it long
kymess_jrkymess_jr on April 20th, 2005 06:55 pm (UTC)
For the shoe tottering: buy some comfort pads just for the balls of your feet; they help stabilize you when you're walking, and also keep your feet from getting as sore as they would without them. Any shoe store will have them (for some reason I've never found the ones just for the balls of the feet at a drugstore). I know Payless Shoes has them for about 2 or 3 bucks.
torchflambeau on April 20th, 2005 07:13 pm (UTC)
If you can wear lipstick at all, you're way ahead of me; I always feel like an utter idiot when I try.

And I am reminded that I need new shoes. eep.
Cesperanzacesperanza on April 21st, 2005 03:15 am (UTC)
*giggling*

Okay,so what stoppped me was--All along Broadway are brand-new nondescript high-rise condominium buildings, and the people who come out of their doors are young, and dressed in black, with sixty-dollar haircuts.--and mentally I went, "Sixty bucks?? Where? What a deal!"