Through the centuries, cunning shoe makers have found ways to keep us buying footwear. During the Middle Ages, a period when the streets were generally unpaved and strewn with debris and human excrement, shoe makers developed Pattens or galoshes which were basically wooden cages that fitted over your shoes so that you could walk around without stepping in something unpleasant.
In the Sixteenth Century, rich Venetian traders bought their lady loves bejewelled and upholstered towering cork or wooden platform shoes called chopines. Chopines were also known (apparently) as “walking footstools”. Chopines served the dual purpose of showing off the wealth of the gentleman accompanying the lady on the footstools as well stopping the aforesaid lady doing a runner or getting up to mischief undetected with another wealthier bloke.
Raised soles are something that I deliberately seek out in my shoes, particularly when planning a journey that involves visiting a public toilet.
Perhaps I am a little odd but I can’t use public toilets without either hovering over the the toilet seat or giving the whole cubicle a good wipe down first. Plane toilets are an unhygienic nightmare of seismic proportions for me. By the time that I have wiped down the porcelain surfaces to my standards of usability someone with their knees clamped together is usually hammering on the door shrieking for relief. As a practical measure, therefore, I no longer attempt to wipe down the floors with Dettol before I go in. Instead, I travel long distances with a good supply of platform shoes or sandals with thick, wedged soles.
So it doesn’t surprise me looking back at this holiday snap (taken at South Beach Miami in 1998) that I am either wearing platform slides. What is unusual is for to have a picture taken of me in the 1990s wearing jeans. Same shoes as I was wearing today. Similar weather. Humid. Muggy.
Was I insane?
Maybe, probably, definitely because I had finally actually managed to find a pair of jeans to fit me. Although I can’t remember with any certainty the brand (Gap?) I that I bought them during that holiday. Buying jeans was something that I very seldom did – I could never find a pair that fitted properly or looked reasonably flattering anywhere in the UK.
Looking back through some snapshots this afternoon, I realised that I have had a bit of an unfortunate run in the denim department. During the 70s I could blame my parents and grandparents for this.
Rigid blue flares. The Noddy Holder inspired shoes were the only ones I had at the time. I was aged around 10.
Later when I was doing the buying for myself, I found myself with complete a lack of choice. The Eighties were not a good time for denim for anyone and although I escaped acid wash denim, I did wear three quarter length Hobbit jeans.
These were full length. I have absolutely no idea what I was doing while this picture was being taken – walking, dancing, trying to make my bum look smaller? The jeans were probably from Marks & Spencer or someplace with very large changing room cubicles. For most of my life I have avoided any store selling denim with those saloon style changing room doors. Some bit of you is going to make an appearance to the outside world over or under those doors. When trying to wriggle into jeans on the floor of a changing room, none of those bits is going to look its best really.
When I told my husband that I was going to blog about jeans he asked me to insert this picture, I suspect as a blatant attempt to get fellow Neil Young fans to come out of the woodwork. “Tell them” he said “that I used to have a pair of jeans like these“.
These jeans have the look that the designers behind True Religion brand denim are trying to achieve with their embroidered jeans. My husband managed to get the look after seven years of wear and tear and conning his sisters and his mum into patching them for him.
Therein lies the problem with buying jeans. Denim looks at its best when it has been worn in a wee bit first.
Recently I had a denim epiphany courtesy of @princessnowhere. She buys literally all of her jeans from eBay because someone else has worn them in first and no-one needs to see you try them on.
Finally, over 30 years after those 70s flares I do the same and very much prefer to buy second hand denim. There is quite a denim re-sellers community on eBay. We are all obviously over the public humiliation of denim buying.
I bought these Seven Jeans off eBay from a girl in California for US$20.00 (postage was US$22.00). Not as much fun as buying them in Miami but with the money that I saved on travel, I can probably buy the Minx some clothes.
The poor wee thing has nothing to wear but nappies.