Day 53 of the Shoe Challenge – Platform Slides, Plane Pee & the Perennial Problems of Denim Purchases

Ravel Black Mock Snakeskin Block Heel Slides

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.

Pattens from Austentation Regency Accessories

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.

Why on earth was I wearing jeans in Miami in August?

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.

Me, aged 10 (sometime in the 70s)

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.

Eighties 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.

11 thoughts on “Day 53 of the Shoe Challenge – Platform Slides, Plane Pee & the Perennial Problems of Denim Purchases

  1. Still appears you have had to take yours up, or the pre-wearer has done so. I have to endlessly email the dumb sellers who don’t post measurements in search of jeans with an outer leg of longer than 108cm.

    Did you painstakingly measure the length, rise, waist etc of a pair you already had before hitting eBay?

    • The jeans have not been taken up per se or at least only on a temporary basis. One of my failings is failing to have jeans altered. It very often ruins the integrity of the line. If only women’s jeans could be made in the same types of measurements as men’s (inside leg, waist etc) it would make life so much easier.

      After a couple of online purchasing disasters (skirts being waaaaay too short) I am getting better at measuring things before I buy.

  2. One of my favourite posts yet! I love your photos, you were “so cute I want to squeeeeze your cheeks” as my daughter says.
    My little ones wardrobe is the same as the Minx’ – by her own choice.

  3. Jeans are a mysterious and ephemeral thing. I did not wear them at all during the 90s because I could not find a single pair that fit me and decided that my jeans wearing days were over. Then one day in the early noughties I found denim again and haven’t stopped since.
    I have tried every trick of folding and iron-on hemming tape but have found that nothing beats a well-sewn hem. You MUST wash the jeans first as they will always change shape a little, whether to give a bit or shrink. Then have a trusted adviser pin the hem for you while you are wearing the kind of shoes that you will wear with the jeans. My husband is very good at pinning hems.
    The other thing is to try and sew them yourself if you can because those alterations places often do a rather approximate job. I have a sewing machine that I bought for the main purpose of doing hems. It will quickly pay for itself as tailors charge about $20 a hit for hems these days.

  4. It actually makes me a little sad that jeans have become a staple in my wardrobe. I’ve been trying to get away from denim every day. I’ve found, for me, the best jeans are Joe’s Jeans. They fit my loooooong legs well. Trust me, there are fitting pitfalls even when you’re tall. At 5’10” I have some issues. If/when I find jeans that fit lengthwise, there is a continual need for vigilance. I can NEVER put my jeans through the dryer for fear of losing a precious inch or two off the length.

    I’ve got a huge phobia/hang up about wearing second hand clothes. I’m not sure I could ever buy “pre-owned” jeans off Ebay. I’d be so hung up trying to imagine the personal hygiene standards of the seller that I would never be able to put them on my body.

    If you are planning on hemming your own jeans, make sure the machine can handle the layers, and that it can feed through the jean thread you should use, otherwise your hems look wimpy and odd.

    PS: I’m sending a Yankees shirt for the Minx to wear. It’s a start in the right direction, AND you can pair it with nappies. Trust me, I’m sure the guys at the game are wearing adult diapers in order to more fully appreciate the game with excessive beer intake and minimal bathroom breaks. She’ll fit right in.

  5. Hopefully you will all be forewarned about plane travel with the women in my family. If there’s a line at the door, it’s either a terrorist or a MacGregor struggling to pee while levitating.

    • There is nothing funny about public bathrooms. There is a very real need for concern, and the need to cultivate strong thighs for the use of straddling the toilet without actually sitting down on the throne. While my time living in NYC has lowered my normally high PBS (Pubic Bathroom Standards), I still believe in the use of toilet seat protectors, and, most definitely, the need to roll up my pant legs before assuming the position inside the stall.

      I also flush with my foot, not once touching that germ infested handle with my fingers.

      You have all been warned.

    • FYI: Fiona and I made use of every tactic mentioned here while using the Rest Stop Bathrooms between NYC and Detroit;

      – rolled up the pant legs
      – used seat protectors, or when unavailable, swaddled the seat in toilet paper
      – tried to levitate, didn’t have the upper thigh strength after 8+ hours behind the wheel
      – flushed with foot, NOT fingers

      we practice what we preach

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