Day 77 of the Shoe Challenge – Geek Ladies Lunch Date Boots

3 Times OTK Boots

Do you remember Sex and the City when it was on the telly? When there was nudity and energetic shagging and Carrie was still cool and all the ladies had long lunches with scandalous topics of conversation?

Until recently, I had never had one of those lunches. Until Damana Madden arranged a ladies lunch and directed that the dress code was ‘long boots’.

The Vital Statistics:

Venue:  Bird Cow Fish, 500 Crown Street, Surry Hills

Photo originally appeared on the Melbourne Gastronome Blog January 2010

The Attendees:

Alegrya, Damana,  Cathie McGinn, Kristen Obaid, Me

The Chow:

Potato gnocchi with prawn meat sautéed in burnt butter, verjuice, capers & crispy sage

Langoustines, courgette and fennel salad or (to Aus-ify it as Cathie McGinn would say)  yabbies with zucchini and fenn-o.

Fish & Chips

Possibly too much Veuve Cliquot

(All courtesy of the absurdly  generous Damana).

The Occasion:

I would say that this was a Geek Girl lunch but then, apparently, I would be infringing a trade mark. As a mostly law abiding lawyer I would not dream of doing so.

So it therefore came to pass that five fair geek ladies (it is my story shaddup) joined together in lifting our champagne glasses aloft  aloft and talking about a number of things that turned heads and caused much tsk tsking at the other tables as follows:

Topic 1 – Breastfeeding

How we ended up talking about breastfeeding is less relevant than the public reaction to our discussion. If you ever want to get a roomful of people to go silent immediately this is the topic to do it. In fact I am pretty sure that tumble weed tumbled past for the duration of this part of our discussion.  Two or three people  left at one particularly graphic point. You would probably rather not be involved with the mechanics of the let down reflex and the accompanying trajectory speeds discussed or how the taste and composition of breast milk changes depending on the time of day.  The accusatory fingers should quite rightly have been aimed at Kristen and I as none of the other ladies have kids. Nor are they likely to want them now, I’ll wager.

In the light of the number of stomachs we turned, I wonder how/when chef Daniel Angerer will eventually introduce his now canapé of breast-milk cheese with figs and Hungarian pepper to his Klee Brasserie clientele.

Chef Daniel Angerer's Blog - Mommy's Milk - February 6, 2010

Topic 2 – Nice Smelling Stuff

Meeting people in the flesh as opposed to online involves dealing with a host of competing sensory stimuli.  You see people in three rather than two dimensions – you hear the timbre and the warmth in their voices, you are bombarded with an immediate olfactory sense of that person as soon as you hug them. All of these things, in my experience, either draw you to the person or put you on fight or flight stand-by.  It is something that always worries me before I met people in real life who I have formed previous online relationships with.  So when you meet me please don’t be concerned if I appear to be sniffing you. If I am close enough to do so take this as a good sign. Trust me – if I don’t like the way you smell, I’ll be on the other side of the room or mouth breathing.

Perfume is a really hard thing to judge.  One friend of mine disliked Coco by Chanel with such ferocity that she insisted we ate outside when I wore it. At least she was honest.  We all agreed that it is becoming increasingly hard for us to find genuinely alluring and distinctive womens fragrances these days. Most perfumes are so synthetic that the top notes resemble air freshener.  Alegrya mentioned her  love of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab oils.

How can you resist a perfume company that uses words like indolent and judicial in relation to its scents? These days I check with Violet Lily (who blogs about fragrance and is obsessed with scent) before I buy anything new in the smell department. Her review of Alchemy Lab oils is posted here

Topic 3 – What Lies Beneath the Burqua

Kristen (who has in-laws from Kuwait) discussed how fond Arabic women are of rare scented oils. This lead us inevitably to the burqua and what Muslim women wear underneath.  As a child I used to be similarly obsessed with what nuns wore under their habits and whether or not their heads were shaved. It is a bit of a shame that fewer nuns dress in the traditional habits these day. In plain clothes, nuns aren’t quite as formidable as they were when I was at school.

I have long advocated allowed people to dress to express themselves and if that involves bringing attention to their religious beliefs, so be it.

According to popular cliches (and the new Sex & the City Movie) were you to disrobe a niqabi clad woman  you would find her wearing exquisite clothes and shoes, perfectly manicured nails, beautiful jewellery and yes – elegant lingerie.  Recently the German lingerie brand Liaison Dangereuse has attracted a lot of positive and negative publicity for its viral ad which carries the tagline “Sexiness for everyone. Everywhere.

The advert features a beautiful Muslim woman dressing in a nice bra and knickers, rolling on a pair of sheer stockings, slipping into a high heeled pumps and then donning the niqab with a theatrical flourish.

Without going into the politics of male objectification of women the advert works for me precisely because it blatantly uses our cliches against us.  The most interesting question that the advert raises is – is this woman dressing for herself or for someone else? The point of view is that of the woman in question – we are voyeurs and that is how we will remain. We want to know who she is, where she is going, what she is going to do. Arguably the advert draws us in with its narrative.  That is, in my view, engagement rather than objectification. Personally I find the advert for Budget “Boojay” Direct Car Insurance on Australian television and the cultural stereotypes therein are much more offensive to women.

Have a look here and judge for yourself.

Our discussion, it transpired, was prescient in that Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has since  labelled the burqa ”un-Australian” and called for a ban based on his belief that it signals Muslim women’s oppression. Last time we looked at you Mr Bernardi, you were neither female nor Muslim. So back off. Fashion censorship is something that I will always oppose. If you want to wear hot pants and gold tassled cowboy boots, go for it. If you have a penchant for head to toe pink chiffon (as a friend of mine used to) and it makes you feel good, wear it with applomb. That said, I am currently trying to get the Minx to wear some clothes, any clothes in public so the well of my magnamity runs deep these days.

Topic 4: Boots – How Long are too Long?

A restaurant full of people will, we found, react strangely and slightly defensively to three women wearing OTK (over the knee) boots having their pictures taken.  Strictly speaking my boots weren’t OTK until I unrolled them.

Shoobiz Pinét Brown Leather Boots

As Cathie suggested perhaps we attracted attention because we looked “stylish & vaguely terrifying, like a dominatrix army on manoeuvres“? Or perhaps it was because we had already outstayed our welcome by talking  loudly the aforesaid topics.

This lead us deep into hitherto uncharted boot discussion territory.  What is the appeal (if any) of the high boot?

Damana (far left) has had men following her up and down in the elevators of her building just to stare silently at her boots. My boots (centre) which are actually quite a demure height for me nearly caused a traffic collision when the driver of a white panel van shouted something incomprehensible at me on the way to lunch. Cathie’s boots (right) ensured that our 10 year old (extremely cute waiter) hovered around our end of the table for the whole meal with the bottle of champagne.

Such was the collective boot impact that further boot research was conducted (with the help of Cathie and some other ladies and gentlemen). The results will be blogged about later this week.

Anyway, and meantime, here we all are and if we put you off your lunch, I do apologise. Next time I shall bring the Minx along to eat off the floor as a diversion.

_________________________________________________________________________________

We also talked about blogging. To this end I highly recommend that you check out the Geek Ladies’ writing yourselves:

GEEK DIVA: Geek Girls do it better

Tropical Snowflake

MANA THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

Mental Meanderings

A Cat In A Tree

Also, if you have not year read Kristen’s excellent Miss Boots series for this blog here are  Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4

Guest Post – SHOES AND DANCING: ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE by Anne Galivan

Anne Galivan (aka @alivenkickin) is a fellow shoe lover but one who has much nicer feet than mine. Actually my husband’s feet are nicer than mine, if a bit bigger and slightly hairier but that is another story for another time.

Anne has four children aged 25, 22, 16, and 8. She is a writer, a blogger (Smart Girl Politics), owns and runs a business with her husband, is a part-time college student and, in her spare time (what’s that then?) loves to go to the beach and shop for shoes. Her passion is home-schooling which she has been doing for 20 years  now and has launched a new website Homeschooling 911 with resources to help those educating or interested in educating their children at home.

______________________________________________________________________________________

I think it’s funny how men say they don’t get the whole “women and shoes” thing.  As if they get anything else about us!  But let’s go ahead and talk about it.  It’s really not all that complicated.  I need only point you to a few facts to make the whole “thing” clear.

First of all, we must take a look at and compare men’s and women’s feet.  I know parts of this will be unpleasant, but it is necessary.  So here it is: have you ever looked at a man’s feet?  I mean, seriously!  No offense intended to any men who might, by some strange chance, be reading this, but…those things are gross.  And do they ever even clip their toenails?  Well, I guess they do every now and then but when and where they do is another whole disgusting subject so I won’t even go there.

Women’s feet, on the other hand, are a thing of beauty.  Think about the care we give our feet: we loofah and pumice them, we moisturize them and paint our toenails all sorts of lovely colors.  Women’s feet are like a canvas and our shoes are the frames!


In this case, the frame is just as important as the canvas.  We treat the canvas with love and then we rock it with shoes!  And although men complain and gripe about “women and shoes” and how we have to have so many of them – the fact is, they love our shoes!  They love to see our feet all tricked-out in a lovely pair of heels or sandals – almost as much as they love their tricked-out cars and trucks and stereo systems (egads, how they do waste their money!)

Every pair of shoes has its place and its own loveliness as it performs the important task of framing the canvas.  Even a sweet little pair of running shoes has its place showing that we are keeping ourselves fit and trim, yet still curvy in all the right places.

Speaking of which, don’t our shoes curve in all the right places too?  The way a pair of heels supports our arch in such a loving and even tantalizing way.  My husband told me one time that the appeal of heels (for men) is the affect they have on the other parts of a woman’s body.  Who knew?

And sandals (and oh, I love my sandals!) speak of wonderful places to go: beaches, parks, picnics – all the places where we can go casual and expose a little more skin (think: strappy tank tops) to the sun and wind…and what man complains about that?!

Yes, there are times when our lovely canvasses must be shut up against the ravages of the weather…but then we have boots!  Western boots, biker boots, calf-high boots, ankle-length boots – all have their place and all have the amazing ability to express a mood, whether sassy or tough-but-sweet or sophisticated.  Yes, boots can downright kick ass!

Ellery Women's Boots from http://www.fashionreview.com.au

Bottom line is, when men complain about women and shoes it is in the same vein as complaining about their favorite sports team.  They don’t really mean it.  It’s just what men do. And we get it.  Really.  It’s a dance.  A lovely little waltzing thing we do as women and men when we pretend to disagree about something that we agree about only too well!  Shoes are simply a part of the dance…

"The Temptress" by Jack Vettriano http://www.jackvettriano.eu

Day 76 of the Shoe Challenge – Culture Crossing & Well Mannered Boots

Brazilio Knee High Boots

If you have ever had the misfortune to appear in court you will be familiar with the pounding of your heart, the dryness of your mouth, the roiling in your guts as you wait for your case to be called. A certain amount of adrenaline is  undoubtedly useful – it keeps the heart pumping blood round your body and your spine upright. The nervous energy probably expends a few calories too which is always handy.

After the first 30 minutes of being in court, your heart rate slows. After 60 minutes of being in court the immobilising fear fades to boredom.

There are, I have found, only so many times that you can read and re-write your own legal arguments so to get round my boredom I wear footwear that entertains me.These boots have nice crinkly textured leather and a lot of zips and studs which are entirely for decorative purposes but sort of work and are good fun to count. The pointed toes and high stilleto heels (with a little metal heel ring) are good for digging crop circles into carpets.  They keep me quiet and out of trouble.

If you want to get into a fight with an authority figure a courtroom is a great place to do so. For example, it is considered extremely  bad manners to talk on one’s mobile phone or even have your phone switched on in court. Judges take a dim view of people wearing iPods, eating, drinking, chatting to their neighbours, footering around on lap-tops, reading novels, filing their nails and so on.    For a non-lawyer the whole process is a bit, I imagine, like being a non-Catholic at Good Friday Passion Mass. There is a lot of bobbing up and done, indistinct muttering and occasional bits of unexpected verbal gore thrown in for good measure. Having been to more than my fair share of masses and court attendances in my life I have mastered the art of keeping busy quietly.

The useful thing about court etiquette of course is that it is fairly universal. The rules are pretty much the same in any court anywhere in the world and you know the parameters of politeness. This is not the case with social etiquette.

My son and I recently bought  a toy care. After the cashier had bagged our purchase I asked my son to thank her. “He doesn’t have to thank me” she said “I didn’t buy him the car“.

In the city when I still worked there, every mornng I chatted with and thanked the barista and the counter staff for my coffee. One morning the cafe manager mentioned that I was one of the very few people that actually said thank you.

Saying thank you is easy, so why don’t we do it?

Perhaps I am old-fashioned or perhaps Australians just do things a wee bit differently. In any culture crossing there are bound to be misunderstandings after all. In Scotland, for example, titles are still important and you are expected to address people you don’t know by using the Mr, Mrs, or Miss honorific, followed by their surname.  You only use first names and nicknames  when specifically invited to. When I arrived in Australia therefore I was horrified when people whom I barely knew referred to me by an abbrevetion of my first name.  My Scottish reticence stopped me from correcting them but it still felt like an assault on my personhood.

Social gatherings are always a bit of minefield. At one party in Sydney not long after I arrived a woman asked me where I was from. When I replied that I was Glaswegian she rolled her eyes and said “Oh well then that explains where you got your dreadful accent from“.  In Glasgow dear readers I would have verbally eviscerated her.  As I was new to Sydney and unsure whether or not this was Australian humour I simply raised an eyebrow and walked away from her. As is the case with most things in strange places and strange people it is best to err on the side of politeness.

Over the ten years that I have lived in Australia the minor cultural differences I have become used to. I now know when someone is being a bitch and how to deal with them accordingly. (Unlike the meat tray raffles which I will never get my head around.)

No doubt an Australian going to Scotland for the first time would be similarly flummoxed by odd Scottish behaviour such as the Loud Whisper (“who does she think she is?” if you skip someone in the supermarket queue being an example). Scottish people are a bit odd but if I was to pass on two getting-to-know-me  etiquette tips to Australians (or other nationalities) these would be:

1.  Think before you write something nasty about someone

Every time I see a verbal sword fight on a blog, on Twitter or on Facebook I walk away from the screen quietly. I won’t get involved not because I don’t care but because I don’t care for the aftermath of a stoush.

As some of you might already know, I am a media lawyer. During the time that I spent sitting around in courts on defamation matters I have spent a lot time thinking about words and how we use them – online and offline.  In particular I wonder whether people realise just how much we give away about ourselves with the words that we write. I don’t judge people by appearances. I do judge people by the tone and intention of the words that they use and the context in which they use them.

For the most part life would be a lot more  pleasant if we tried to get along and avoided giving our unsolicited opinions on other people’s characters.

If you decide to say something cruel, unwarranted or bitchy to or about someone for your own personal satisfaction I will think badly of you.  I won’t necessarily tell you of course, I am far too Scottish for that, but I won’t want to share anything with you thereafter.

2.  Don’t try to mimic my Scottish accent. Ever.

Unless you are a gifted actor or have Scottish parents you will stuff it up badly and insult me. If I am wearing stilettos I will hurt you with them. You have been warned.

Guest Post – A Lifetime in Red Shoes by Red. On Purpose.

Oh I used to be disgusted
And now I try to be amused.
But since their wings have got rusted,
You know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes.
Red shoes, the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

Lyrics from The Elvis Costello Home Page

There area a lot of red shoe devotees out there – some of them more angelic, some less so.

Pope Benedict XVI is rather partial to red shoes. His Holiness does not, however, wear Prada though (as some reports suggested) but the traditional Papal shoes made for him by  Novara cobbler Adriano Stefanelli.

Red shoes have always had a powerful symbolism but for most shoe devotees this is irrelevant – we are drawn by an invisible thread towards the rich colour and the sheer joy of seeing such warmth on our feet.

There are some shoe lovers who would (if they could) wear nothing but red footwear.

For Jodie McEwen aka Red. On Purpose the colour red is as instrinsic to her life as her love of footwear.  Her wonderful blog is here. She is regular contributor to various Australian parenting publications including Web Child, Essential Baby and Sunny Days Magazine.

She is not on Twitter yet folks so nudzh her here to join up so that we can nudzh her over there.

________________________________________________________________________________________

You know you have a shoe fixation when all your birthday cards have shoes on them. Your coffee mug, key ring, compact and stationary are all stamped with delicious little images of stunning footwear that you carry around and look at from time to time. It was clear to me on attending one particular open house that this was indeed the house we were supposed to buy. It had a wine glass charm clipped to the pantry door, and on it was a tiny red shoe. And yes, we did buy the house.

Shoes happen to be my chosen poison.  Amongst all the responsible, maternal, wifely and somewhat wobbly bits, deep down (well, just below the surface is probably more accurate) there is a shoe princess trying desperately to get out.  That little wanton part of me says ‘Stuff it. I know kitten-heeled, pointy toed knee-high boots are not really practical for the school run, but damn it, I’m going to wear them anyway because I like them.’ Trying to balance what I like against what I need is one of the shoes challenges I continue to face.

I’m blaming this shoe ‘thing’ on my genes. The responsibility falls directly on the shoulders of my cherished saintly mother, as far as I’m concerned. When I look back over my life, I often remember it by the shoes I was wearing at the time. So perhaps a retrospective will help clear my vision, allow me not to meet someone new, look at their shoes and make a snap judgement about them.

It starts here. The seed of my love of beautiful shoes, with red being my especial favourites. What hope did I have when this is the bench mark my mother set for me when I was all of twelve months old?

Red Clarks baby shoes pic - size 3.5 E- ie tiny

I learned to walk in those little beauties, and haven’t looked back since. From the shoes, you understand. Not necessarily the walking business, which can be rather tiresome at times. Yawn…

They are hardly even scuffed, which is almost miraculous for first walkers. What is also incredible is the fact that my Mum kept them for 20 years, and gave them back when I was expecting my first baby. And yes, I did try to force my baby’s chubby feet into them, but my offspring have considerably larger hoofs than I did as a toddler, so instead, they sit on my desk at work where I can gaze at them at will.

As a three year old, my lofty ambition on life was to be a bride. Or Princess Diana, at a pinch. It was the 80’s, you see. In my formative years, I would force my younger brother to dress up in mum’s old dresses and act the part of the bridesmaid, while I pranced about in lacy negligees, a net cloth over my head and of course, perilously high heels. My preferred weapon of choice was these splendiferous snakeskin creations.

Red snakeskin wooden platform clodhoppers

Mum was always petrified I would break my neck in the five inch wooden platforms, but I didn’t, and I don’t even recall a bad stumble. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for a certain Ms Campbell. Maybe she should have put in the hard yards in her preschool years like I did.

Meandering through the landscape of my shoe cupboard, there is a gap from the early 80’s through to the late 90’s. This could be blamed partly of the wasteland that was fashion during that era, and also on the fact that I lived at home with my parents and four others siblings and there simply wasn’t space to keep all the footwear I accumulated through those years. However, disregarding the Dunlop Volleys, Apple Pies and awful white synthetic court shoes that I probably wore, time marched quickly on. Thankfully. I grew up, finished school and set off to the motherland like any good little Aussie to work for a year in the UK. Scotland, actually. Just in case you couldn’t guess.

Tartan Docs

I wore my Docs to ceilidhs and danced like a dervish until the wee hours of the morning, stripping the willows and doing gay Gordons.  My Scottish friends and hosts were often touched that ‘the little Aussie lassie’ wore some crazy red tartan boots.

It was during my time in the UK that I met Him. Mr Smitten. So we got together, came home, got married and started a family. Just like that.

Due to pregnancy hormones, my feet grew a size when I was carrying my first baby and they never went back. It was a sad day, until I realised the silver lining in the cloud. It meant I would need to buy more shoes. Lots more shoes, as none of my old ones fit any more. Sadly, my super Scottish tartan Docs that I bought for just 5 pounds had to be relinquished. They made their way to ebay, where I sold them to a girl who promised to appreciate them for what they were.

As a new Mum there was very little glamour in the shoe department, in fact, very little glamour in any department at all for a while. Shoes became something that were functional and had to encase my somewhat puffy feet. The only things that managed the task were those stretchy black elastic-y flats that were everywhere in the early part of the millennium, and I’m happy to have closed that chapter of my existence. See, no photo of them. Moving swiftly onward…

As wife to one and mum to three, our days settled into a rhythm (most of the time, anyway) and I started to enjoy the life that I had. I came to accept the fact that I was physically incapable of pushing a pram in heels and that chasing children around the park or the beach would require flatter footwear. That’s ok. I can work with flat, I just can’t work with boring.

So I found red joggers, gorgeous red Django and Juliette square-toed strappy thongs that even made my wide feet look good, cute ballet flats, Mary Janes with newspaper print, red gladiator sandals and all manner of quirky shoes. My clothing was fairly practical, but my shoes were my statement. I was happy in my season of mothering young children, and didn’t lament the fact that I didn’t own any gorgeous high heels to make me feel like an Amazon anymore.

And then, just up over the cusp of that hill in the distance, loomed something rather big. I was going to turn 30. I knew what I wanted to do. A fancy 1920’s-1930’s flapper party, with amazing food, live music, great outfits and of course, the perfect pair of shoes. I pored over sites on the net, found pictures of all the Halston dancing shoes of the era, drooled over said pictures, at times to the detriment of my keyboard, scrimped and saved and planned my 30th birthday party.

But what would I wear?

I found them 6 months before my birthday, and I knew I had to have them. The colour was perfect. The fit was stunning. The shapely toe and slim heel were to die for. I hoped I would get a lot of wear out of them. They were even on sale. So I took them home, and squirreled them away at the back of my cupboard not to be worn until the big night arrived.

Red Birthday Shoes

I showed my prized birthday shoes to a few friends, but they just didn’t understand. ‘What are you going to wear?’ they asked. I pointed to the shoes. ‘But what else? What about your dress?!?!’ I was nonchalant. ‘Oh, I’ll get that closer to the time.’

You’re supposed to buy the shoes to match the dress!’ they all cried in a mass of worried indignation, like I’d broken some kind of fashion commandment. What kind of logic is that, anyway? I’d bought the important part of my outfit, and would build my look around my shoes. I eventually found a lovely dress, and it worked really well with my little red beauties. It was a fabulous party and I danced all night in my heels, truly the lady in red.

These days, buying lush, high-heeled or glamorous shoes is a fanciful penchant that I’m able to indulge in fits and starts. The passion and the interest is always there, the means to satisfy it waxes and wanes somewhat. And I find that, finally, that’s ok with me. If I could have every pair of shoes that I ever thought briefly in passing that I may like to own, I wouldn’t appreciate them. Discovering, admiring, hankering for a pair of shoes makes them more valuable in the end, because there is a story to having them eventually join your collection. I am very fond of my shoes. You might even say I love them. I wear them all and I will even admit a certain amount of enjoyment is derived from polishing them.

I can now say that I am (mostly) at peace with who I am, both on the outside and on the inside. My shoes help to express a bit about who I am, but I’m not defined by them any more. So bring the flatties, bring the kitten-heels, bring knee high boots, jewel-encrusted Roger Vivier pumps and comfy bright thongs. In the shoe-cupboard of my life there is a place for them all.

PS- These are the ones I currently have my eye on, even though I know I wouldn’t really get to wear them much.

Rajani Heels with Frill

Guest Post – Bern Morley’s Red Shoes

There are times when I read Bern Morley’s blog So Now What and laugh until my sides hurt even though at the same time I actually want to cry.

This time last year her mum was dying of cancer. The hospital seriously stuffed up their treatment of her mother. She complained passionately and eloquently to Anna Bligh, the Premier of Queensland and got somewhere with that. People listen to Bern. At the same time she was working 4 days a week,  blogging, studying and renovating a veritable reincarnation of the Money Pit. Bern has three children: one who has a disability, one who is (as Bern says) ‘a natural disaster on legs‘ and the other on the ‘precipice of premature womanhood‘.

In the midst of this she can wrote about depression in the same week that she described her worthy girl fight against Ronald McDonald red hair disasteers and husband shredding dry heel skin.

How does she do it? She has a laconic sense of humour and the ability to find something funny to say about the most melancholy of topics.   When she writes, she inspires others to look for the bizarre and the hilarious in the rickety train rides of our lives. Furthermore, when she writes she inspires me to write.

She loves red shoes.  The question here is whether for her red shoes are a talisman or a monkey’s paw…?

________________________________________________________________________

So can a pair of shoes determine what kind of day you are going to have?  What about what kind of season you will be living through?

Bern Morley's Red WedgesI am not a hippy, so normally; I would say a definitive – NO.

Why was it then, after wearing my new, lovely red wedges that I adore, I ended up in the Emergency Department at our local hospital, not once, but twice?

Now, these aren’t expensive shoes, nor are they are brand labelled.  In fact, these imitation leather, I believe the word is synthetic upper, high wedges were purchased at Target.

They were $8.92 in one of those, had to be there at the right time, 40% off the lowest marked price clearance sales.

I had first seen these shoes about two months before and had immediately loved them.  But red shoes, I thought, were for zany people.  Ones that wore bright green spectacles and were the brightest beacon in the room at any social event.  I just straight up passed them over for a similar pair of black ones.  Same cut, same design, just black.

And I wear a lot of black.  Particularly for two reasons:  a)  It trims down the appearance of my particularly large arse and b) I spill stuff on myself.  A lot.  Black is always going to be my new black.

But then one day, for no particular reason,  I wandered into Target, and there sitting in the clearance bin, discarded along with 2 pairs of gold lame’ slip on sandals that would do Demis Roussos proud,  were my red wedges.  Size 9.  I tried them on with my black work pants.   Great news, they fit.  Extra great news, they were comfortable. Fucking excellent news:  They were less than ten bucks!  SOLD.

The very next day, I went to work wearing my new Red Shoes.  Along with black skirt, a black top and a little black cardigan.  And I loved myself sick.  Compliments flowed.  Well, I work with 3 other people, so they I guess, they leaked, rather than flowed, but they were forthcoming none the less.

Just after lunch an unknown number flashed up on my mobile.   I ignored it with some flippant remark like “If they want me bad enough, they will call me at work or stop blocking their number”.     Turns out they did want me badly.  Very badly.  My eight year old son had fallen off the monkey bars at school.  Standard schoolyard folly one would think.  Except this wasn’t standard.  Basically not much connected his elbow anymore to the rest of his arm.

So after sitting in the ER, having being told his break was “as bad as it could possibly get” and being told they couldn’t guarantee he would ever use his arm again”, I put my head down, focused on my stupid red shoes and cried into my knees.

Good news:  his operation was successful.  An overnight stay. Yet, my red high wedges had one more appearance to make during this hospital stay.  See, my dear husband, stressed to his eyeballs, went home, grabbed me a tracksuit to sleep in, but no other shoes.  So if you happened to see a dishevelled lunatic wandering around the kids ward on the Gold Coast, wearing a mismatched tracksuit with high red wedges, you would have been looking at me.

Not one week later, I got ready for work, but knew something wasn’t right.  I put on my work outfit, yep black and my red shoes, first time since the last time.    Sam was lethargic.  And hot.  And well, just scaring the living shit out of me with his pale listlessness.  I think every parent knows this particular feeling.

I still went out that morning appearing to go about my business as normal, yet inside I just knew it would be anything but.  Sam and I went directly to the ER.  See, his arm had a 5% chance of getting an infection.  Highly unlikely the doctor informed me.  Well, you know what doc, after the year I’ve just had, highly and unlikely are just two words that I have heard bandied about one too many times.

So after a full day of having Sam assessed in the ER, we were admitted.  Likely infection in the arm.  Bad if it gets in the bones apparently. Sam, eight, small, the light of my life, just lying there, whilst I looked down at those god damned red shoes again and commenced my best impression of a prayer.    The next week was not pretty.  Countless cannulas, enough antibiotics to kill a hippo and equal amount of tears to break the outback drought.

Within two months, my mother died.  My two sons ended up in hospital with various degrees of broken bones.  My own mortality was tested.  Those shoes went to the back of the closet.

So, have I worn them again?  Have I tempted fate?  You betcha.

They are shoes, not the precursor to seven shades of shit that seem to have previously accompanied them.   Of course I always knew this; it’s just hard when you associate shite times with an inanimate object.

They now are starting to look a little dog eared.  They have scuffs and the weather is getting cooler and I want to wear boots.  But they will remain in my cupboard until next summer.

Next summer which can’t be as bad as the last.  I refuse to believe that.

The Big Debate: Are handbags better than shoes?

Miss Victoria has two stunning accessories on hand

Now and again I like to think outside the shoe box. I am all in favour of being slowly seduced by leather accessories other than shoes but handbags have never done it for me. Even these handbags.

The reason is, of course, that I know very very little about handbags. I have about 4 leather Leo Monk handbags with varying amounts of crud and children’s toys at the bottom. I like them particularly because they are large enough to accomodate a pair of stilettos, my yoga gear, reading materials and my lunch. One of them will more or less go with each pair of shoes that I own.  For me the shoes are the star of the show.

So when @SeraphimSP proclaimed strenuously that handbags are better than shoes I was intrigued rather than militant. I asked her to convince me why.  Here is her presentation of the First Affirmative Constructive as debating folk would say.

Why handbags are better than shoes.

There is nothing like the throwing down of the proverbial gauntlet to make me rise to a challenge. There is a school of thought that dictates that women usually fall into one of two categories; they are either shoe or handbag women. In fairness, I will say there are those who elegantly straddle this divide in killer stilettos, with their magnificent designer clutch delicately held in their beautifully manicured hands.

I am not one of those women, though I have often wistfully wished I were.

Firstly, I have hideous looking feet. Disfigured by bunions and no arches they are not things of beauty. They are however, very useful for getting me from A to B, so please do not think me ungrateful. My feet and I have long since agreed to live in harmony with each other. I cover them up to protect them from public derision, and in return they get me where I need to go.

But like many women to whom strappy, elegant shoes are out of reach, my love lies elsewhere. I cannot say if it is because of my inability to wear beautiful footwear that was the catalyst for my love of handbags, or if it is a genetic condition passed to me by my mother who is also a lover of handbags. But there it is.

I am of the school of thought that believes handbags are better than shoes.

Firstly:

Everyone can wear them irrespective of your foot status, whether they are ones foot fetishists weep tears of unadulterated joy over, or shrink in horror at the sight of.

In addition they come in all shapes and sizes and seasons. And handbags are not worn according to the dictates of the seasons. No, a handbag can be worn proudly regardless of the inclement weather. Pouring with rain? Your strappy sandals are off the menu, but your handbag? The insanely impractical one that you are still in the throes of infatuation with? It can come out with you dangling proudly at your side, while the strappy sandals languish in their carefully labeled perspex box at home.

Handbags are aspirational objects in a way shoes aren’t. One of my not so guilty pleasures is visiting my favourite handbag website, and reading the lovingly worded descriptions of the bags I covet. I read the words “In black patent leather with rose gold turnlock signature hardware, for a feminine touch which combines function and form with glamour, giving optimal space and easy access to your valuables” and I am transported instantly to a world of glamour and beauty. If I were to read a description of a shoe on a website my immediate thoughts would be mournful at my inability to wear said shoe and an insatiable urge to click away from the site. But handbags? Well anyone can wear one.

In truth, this particular object of beauty is in my hallway right now exemplifying that if one is aspirational (and thank God Mimco does laybys) then anything is possible.

And that my friends is true, but only of handbags. Not shoes sadly.

__________________________________________________________________________

So, if someone offered you the gift of Christian Louboutin, right now, price no object what would you choose?

The shoes...

or the bag?

Christian Louboutin Red Satin Clutch

Guest Shoe Blog Post – What is the effect of Love? (A Cautionary Tale)

This is the effect of love: that the true lover can not be corrupted by avarice; love makes an ugly and rude person shine with all beauty, knows how to endow with nobility even one of humble birth, can even lend humility to the proud; he who loves is accustomed humbly to serve others. Oh, what a marvelous thing is love, which makes a man shine with so many virtues and which teaches everyone to abound in good customs. . . .

Love, as Andreas Capellanus noted in his handbook on love De Amore, has a transforming power – it makes the beloved lovely and the ardent lover virtuous.

Instead of a glass slipper, this beautiful girl wore soccer boots and discovered that in them a self-proclaimed knight in shining armour was really a toad.

________________________________________________________________

I love throwing things away. It’s so therapeutic. If there’s something I haven’t used for a year it gets chucked with the next seasonal cleanout.

But every year I come across these boots. And I pause.

I can’t throw these boots away. I can’t give them to St Vinny’s or pass them on to a friend. I can’t even “hide” them in the garage.

This is partly because they’re still in perfect condition. They’re comfortable and fit me well… and my wobbly bits would greatly benefit from some quality time spent in these boots.

But more so, I can’t get rid of these boots because they taught me a valuable lesson.

Five years ago I was married to a lovely man who wanted to be an actor slash writer. During the day while I was at work he would drink coffee and write scripts that starred himself. Then he did housework… before heading to the beach.

At night he attended plays, auditioned, read scripts, volunteered at theatres and galleries. I tried to see his plays regularly, but they bored me to death.

One day I noticed a sign for a twelve week challenge at my work gym. I thought it would give me something to focus on when my husband wasn’t around.

I found these boots at an Adidas outlet store, in exactly my size. I drafted an action plan and started going to the gym religiously.

Eventually I became “mates” with the guys at the gym. They asked me for suggestions with their diets and corrections for their techniques… and they invited me to play social soccer.

I’ve got no natural sporting ability, but my boots served me well. I tried hard and kicked quite a few goals using beginners luck and “show off” adrenaline. I also scored kudos through the easy bruising of my knees with the chronic purpling making me look tough.

One day, a guy I was marking said to me:

My wife isn’t home during the day, do you want to come to my place at lunch time tomorrow?

I literally ran away from him backwards across the field, stammering:

No! I’m not like that!”

I was horrified and disgusted. Disgusted that he thought I was interested in having sex with him, disgusted that he thought I’d cheat on my husband… and disgusted that HE would cheat on his wife in his own home. I just couldn’t believe that anyone could be so vile.

But I also felt flattered enough to mention it to other members of the soccer team – who vowed to “protect” me from the offending party.

The star Striker took his duty of protecting me quite seriously. He started sending emails planning our gym meeting times and offering to walk me home “safely”.

The emails got longer and became personal.

To begin with I felt I was doing nothing wrong. I reasoned that the Striker was just playing a role to assuage my loneliness. He took me to movies and footy games. He took me to all the nice restaurants and bars in town. It was like a close unconsummated friendship. I felt like a seventeen year old virgin, again.

Six months after I bought my shoes, we started having sex. I thought we were in love, and we were definitely in lust.

Not even a month after our “first time” my husband came home early and busted me at our home, in our bedroom, with the Striker. I lied and said that the Striker and I were just friends and he was just massaging my soccer bruises. Later I “confided” that the poor Striker was a virgin, debilitatingly shy around women (which rendered him impotent)… and he was most probably about to “come out” as a closet gay.

My husband asked me to change jobs, stop going to the gym, stop seeing the Striker. But I made all of the excuses in the world. I assured my husband that the Striker was no threat to our relationship.

Over the next year I told so many despicable lies that, to this day, I can hardly bear to hear myself speak. Today, even if I say in complete honesty I’m “working late” or going to a “girls only night” – it sounds like a lie to my own ears and I feel terribly guilty.

I have no idea if my husband believed my lies… but we stayed together for another year and a half, long after my “fling” had ended… leaving me broken hearted.

The Striker turned out to be a serial trophy collector, having multiple girlfriends at once – with all of them thinking they were the “only one”. His speciality was using the same love letter emails to woo the “hard to get” girls. He even ensnared my best friend and managed to keep it secret.

I stopped going to the gym and stopped wearing my soccer boots… and I found ways to stop myself from thinking or feeling.

But I still have the boots.

And every time I see them, I say out loud to myself:

Never make the same mistake twice.

It’s the most important lesson I’ve learned in life so far.

Its Raining Again (but I’m prepared) – Guest Shoe Blog Post by @NickyLavigne

Oscar Marzaroli "Golden Haired Lass" Gorbals, Glasgow 1964 coloured by STUARTHILL758

The Welly Boot Song

Wellies they are wonderful, oh wellies they are swell,

Cause they keep oot the water, an’ they keep in the smell,

An’ when yer sittin in a room, you can always tell,

When some bugger takes off his wellies.

One thing that I miss about the Northern Winters is escaping that droochit feeling – being wet through from rain being splashed up your legs and into your shoes from passing trucks and buses. Something about the Scottish weather brings out the survivalist in a person. There is only one way to stay dry in Scotland – invest in sturdy wellies & raincoats. Forget umbrellas – these invariably end up inside out, back to front and completely knackered.

Of course, the Scots being the Scots, you will commonly find them out in the rain and sub-zero temperatures in singlets and sandals.  There is, apparently, a good reason for this – to stop the gene for red hair becoming extinct.

The non scientific research found that in areas where the temperatures in summer were cooler and winter days were shorter – such as in Scotland – people with ginger hair were more likely to survive and evolve. Bad weather blamed for Scotland having ‘more people with ginger hair

Here in Australia,  people thankfully are a little bit more sensible about safeguarding their health.   Either that or the wellie boot is just appreciated for its innate ability to marry form and function – particularly when crafted in silver rubber and as worn by Nicky Lavigne

_______________________________________________________________________________________

I’m not really a fan of the rain.  I like listening to it when I’m indoors, but having to go out in the rain doesn’t excite me one bit.  Having my makeup run, my hair go frizzy and ruining a good pair of shoes or boots isn’t something I live for. However, after living in the US for eleven years, pouring rain and snowstorms are things you do have to live with.

I have to segue here for a minute to let everyone know how much I heart New York.  Empire State of Mind is played by me at least once a day, if not more.  I’ve been back to visit once since my return last April and I’m planning another before the end of this year.  I miss my friends a lot and I also miss the buzz of The City that Never Sleeps…my NY.

I was there in February.  The hottest month in Sydney and the coldest in the North East of the United States.  After living there for so many years, I’m not used to the stifling heat and was craving cold weather.  So off I went, with a half-packed suitcase.  I took the essentials, but knew I’d shop (of course).  There are a couple of pieces of wet-weather clothing, other than an umbrella, which is an accessory and actually not classified as clothing at all, that were in my suitcase because they are essential for New York.  These include a raincoat, with a hood, a pair of leggings that are a fabric that is quick drying (I wear Lululemon) because, let’s face it, no raincoat is long enough to keep one totally dry in a deluge and wearing wet pants to meet friends for coffee, isn’t fun, or sexy.  The reason you need leggings is so you can look stylish in chilly winter whilst wearing the other crucial item, which is a pair of Wellingtons/galoshes/rainboots.

Before I left, I had one pair of wellies….green Hunter boots.  I’d been eyeing silver ones for a while, so I had bought them online before I left and had them shipped to a friend’s apartment in NY.  They would be there on my arrival.  How I love technology…

They were perfect.  I was able to wear them in the snow and the slush (once the snow melted) and never ruined any of my other boots that I’d taken with me.  P

I love, love, love them.  Enough that when it does rain now, I decide what pair I’m wearing and get dressed accordingly.  In all the years I lived in NY, I tried other rainboots, but these were the most comfortable for me.  Plus, they’re made in one piece, so they don’t leak.  Hunter also makes a fleece inner lining for the colder weather (I own these also in a couple of colors).

It’s amazing how many comments I receive when I wear them.  More with the silver than the green.  They’re so simple, but oh, so stylish and I wear them with jeans, leggings, dresses or skirts and in all seasons.

Above was yesterday’s outfit and below is today’s.

If it keeps raining, I’ll wear the greenies tomorrow.

N x

________________________________________________________________

For those of you outside Sydney –  here is a photo of Nicky dressed to kill in orange boots.

Day 75 of the Shoe Challenge – On Barefaced Blogging & Instant Girl Kicks

Often I wonder whether I am the world’s worst female girl impersonator.

In the Eighties I worked for an extremely rough pub in Paisley, Hell’s Oxter*.  The manager had all his own teeth but very few of the customers did. The manager had delusions of grandeur. We had to scrub the ashtrays with bleach thrice nightly.  One night during the Staff Drink he asked me if I could try to wear more make up.   At the time, most of the time I looked like this:

except when I worked at the Oxter when I wore bright red lipstick & jet black kohl in the usual locations. Now and again I even wore high heels with my black pencil skirt and white catering issue shirt until my feet were nipping me**.

Those were the days when Proper Girls wore make up that looked like this:

or this:

Gratuitous Kylie Minogue Pic for the delectation of BearmanCartoons & my pal SF Wilson

I could never bring myself to wear pink makeup – then or now although one quiet day a co-worker gave me two Nurofen(R) brand tablets and forcibly plucked my eyebrows. They have never quite recovered.

On and off over the years, I have tried hard to do the Girl Thing, the cover girl make up, the styled hair.  In the places that I enjoy being the most – in the garden or at the beach doing the Girl Thing doesn’t cut it. In fact doing the Girl Thing is annoying.

So two things made me smile last week:

1. Google searching for the term “Instant Girl Shoes” and finding The Shoe Girl’s Blog; and

2.  Reading Jodie Ansted’s Blogging Without Make Up Day Post :

As Jodie puts it:

We all want to “look nice”, and there’s nothing wrong with glamming it up on occasion. I mean, I’d rather look at celebs in all their garb then not. Doesn’t mean I think they look less beautiful without the makeup – just that it’s appealing and a bit of fun for viewing.

But should I be SO concerned about trying to look good?

And yet – whether or not she is concerned she does look good without makeup as do many other female bloggers including (I hope) myself.

And yet – I still have this residual concern that I am just not quite good enough at being a girl. By searching for “Instant Girl Shoes” I was hoping to find that footpath towards feminity – the Holy Grail of Footwear.  It seems that it does not exist on the Internet at this time.
Furthermore if one was hoping to get advice on how to look like a girl from Google, you’ll be looking a long time:
I did manage to find an excellent pre-house departure checklist for girls who are boys who like boys to be girls (or vice versa) from VideoJug’s Fabulous Fairy Godmother:

The ultimate step to becoming a successful drag queen is to  Get Your Kicks (nothing makes your legs sexier than high heels).

Oh really, so why Fabulous Fairy Godmother did you pick such fugly shoes…

______________________________________

* Any resemblance to pubs still in existence is unfortunate, unforeseen and unintentional.

** A Paisley expression to describe the feeling of standing on one’s feet for 6 or 7 hours at a time while performing some kind of menial service industry role e.g. waitressing,  working in a pub.

SPECIAL THANKS TO @levis517 who has promised to mirror blog about being a Crap Girl too.

Sex and Shoes – Guest Shoe Blog Post by Victoria Hughes aka @Firebirdasusual

For a long time many feminists have seen high heeled shoes as an instrument of torture to make women submissive and powerless.  I suspect that this largely due to famous Twentieth Century lotharios like David Bailey who expressed a preference for high heels because in them “girls can’t run away from me“.  His ex-wife Marie Helvin in her autobiography disclosed that Bailey:

insisted on stockings, and high heels: if he saw I was wearing flat shoes when he came to collect me in the evening, he’d sulk in the car until I put heels on.

But female enslavement and high heels is, I would argue, entirely context specific.  Some of us not only love to wear heels but love the effect that wearing these heels have on the men in our lives.

Someone (Anonymous) once said:

I love sex. It’s free and doesn’t require special shoes.

To Anonymous I would say:

Try the special shoes and then see what happens.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Sydney sky was filthy yellow and the blusters of wind blew grit into your eyes. It was the sort of day where dust whipped up to pepper bare ankles and the breeze teased flirty girls in tiny skirts.

We met quite by chance. It was Valentine’s Day.

You were hiding yourself away, not posing brazenly like the others.

When we were introduced, I was at first cautious. You were presented to me casually and mind was elsewhere, I must be honest. You were not the reason for my being there. I was never meant to see you.

You came to me. You were preppy and smart and I was to be the first to unwrap you, to release you from your confines.  I held you, studying you as I ran my fingers over your form.

You were soft.  You were beautiful. I bit my bottom lip. My pulse quickened.

I recall feeling confused, unsure as to whether or not I wanted to go further than this. Looking back, I was terrified of falling for you.

I had to steel myself. Ask myself what was the worst that could happen.

Setting you down, I slipped into you, effortlessly. You drew me into you, you felt perfect. I suddenly felt as stunning as you looked.

In that moment, I knew. It was you and I. And we were going to have some fabulous times.

I looked across the room, met my husband’s eye. He nodded. He smiled. He understood.

You have been so good to me. The murmurs of appreciation from those who see you when we’re together, the tentative touch of a curious hand, the flattering comments that have been made – all testament to your loveliness.

I keep you safe, I care for you – and in return you make me glow.