By Tricia Y. Petrinovich
Here’s the scene: I’m walking through the mall, my husband at my side. We enter a department store, where the shoe display on the right calls to me like Ariel’s undersea song to Prince Eric on the shore. My first mistake: I move in closer. My second mistake: My eyes are open. And then…we make eye contact, that pair of black patent slingback pumps and I, like star-crossed lovers who had heretofore been separated. But at last we have slain the evil witch, namely the woman who was holding them with an apparent intent-to-purchase until I shouted “Oh my gosh! These are half price?” near a pair of Sam Edelman silver flats a display away.
The diversion is created. The black shoes are abandoned. The lane opens, and I move in for my first kiss.
And then, cuing the sound of a record screeching to a stop, I hear my husband’s voice:
“Don’t you already have a pair of shoes just like that?”
“Like this? No, not like this!”
And that was technically true. Sure, I had other black patent leather pumps, but these had a slightly pointier toe, were at least one inch shorter in the heel and had that afore-mentioned slingback. They were nothing like the pair I had purchased last month. Ahem.
Of course, I got them home and did a once over of my closet with my husband looking over my shoulder, feigning a horrified realization that they were, in fact, close to several other pairs of my shoes. But I argued for differentiation, particularly among my three favorite pairs of black heels.
Without further ado:
The Polka Dot Sandals. I refer to these as “The Cutest Shoes Ever,” (CSE’s). Betsey Johnson does girliness right with the (now-scuffed) hot pink sole and the black-with-white polka dot fabric. Of course I had to buy these! (And you should scour eBay and find yourself some, too.)
The Mary Jane’s on Steroids. I always wanted to be taller, and in these shoes, I can dunk a basketball while pointing out the bald spots on NBA players’ heads. Styled by Jessica Simpson, I love the classic features of the Mary Jane look with the trendy platform – bigger than that of most politicians.
The Now Infamous Sling Back. Besides a love for black patent leather, I also love bows. (I believe I once actually told a bow: “You complete me.”) This Ivanka Trump shoe has a bit of 50’s retro flair, while being feminine, and almost (I can’t believe I’m going to say this) practical. The heel is moderate and comfortable for all day wear. But of course, I didn’t buy them for comfort but because they are cuter than a puppy.
Besides a self-inflicted overcrowding problem in my shoe racks, I created another issue of upper Defcon magnitude: Which pair to wear? “Eenie Meenie” is more effective for picking schoolyard teams than making a killer outfit. So how to make the best choice for pairing the perfect shoe to the clothing selection of the day?
I’ve got this. Here’s how I mix it up:
I prefer my polka dot shoes with dresses and skirts, preferably in the A-line or pencil variety, and one that goes just below the knees. First, because that enables more of the dots to be visible, and, (my personal favorite) you’re sure to be regularly told just how amazing you look. (And can’t you tell how I hate that?) Second, because the height on these makes legs looks fantastic, and some of us like turning muscular calves into lean, mean walking machines. I love my black sleeveless dress with these, or my white eyelet skirt and black shirt, with or without sleeves.
Pair Mary Jane’s with narrow leg jeans, preferably a pair that is four inches too long so you don’t create highwaters. You will feel like your legs circumnavigate the globe, and I like to pretend I’m squeezing Hawaii with my thighs, just a little “miss you” hug.
Finally, the sling back. It is a must with a full, feminine skirt, think one with polka dots and one with an at-the-knee length. You will look adorable, but more importantly, you will feel adorable. When I wear these, I can’t resist contemplating a name change to “Buffy” and trying out for cheerleader.
Perhaps you don’t share my problem, the “I don’t have that exact pair of shoes” predicament that leads you to purchase multiple similar pairs, especially those within a certain fixation (which for me are black shoes). That means you probably have a larger bank account than me, and room to actually “walk-in” to that walk-in closet, a luxury I haven’t had for years. I would feel bad, but then I look on the bright side: I can now share my favorite three pairs of mostly-similar-but-microscopically-different shoes in a self-deprecating article to you about my propensity for redundant shopping. I’d take myself out to celebrate, but I’ll need a new pair of black shoes first.