One of the challenges I have faced as a 30-something is fashion. It’s pretty obvious what to wear in your teens and 20’s (just about anything you like) but in your 30’s you don’t necessarily want to wear a bejeweled shirt that says “Juicy” (at least I don’t) on the weekends.
I want to be age appropriate (and be taken seriously at the office) but I don’t want to look like I’ve begun to wear Alfred Dunner with orthopedic shoes. It doesn’t seem like I can get away with a lot current fashions without looking like I am going through a midlife crisis. This goes double for the sky-high platform shoes the teens and 20-somethings seem to adore.
During my high school years I worked for a shoe store and there were just certain brands that no one under age 65 ought to wear. It was pretty much understood by the brand name because the shoes consistently appeared more comfortable than stylish. (Read: I had sold several pairs to the elderly members of the Sisters of Mercy.)
Recently, though, I was shoe shopping for a friend’s wedding and-to my horror-found myself gravitating to those particular shoe brands. Granted, the brands were pretty stylish all of a sudden but the thought of possibly showing up at a wedding with the same pair of shoes as the bride’s grandmother was a concern.
But were they stylish or am I just getting old? I figure the minute I considered a pair of shoes by a brand called “Fitzwell,” (Get it? Fits well!) I was pretty much doomed. In my defense the “young” pumps currently in style tend to have towering heels of 4 to 5 inches (yikes!). There didn’t seem to be a lot of options at the median of “old lady shoes” and “helllloooo up there!” I was determined to dance at this wedding so there was no way I was going with the latter.
So, I enlisted a panel of my best shoe critics to make sure I didn’t show up at a social event wearing a pair of matronly pumps before my time. After about 100 pairs of shoes (no exaggeration), countless e-mails, and a few gratuitous runway walks in my kitchen, I settled on a pair from Chinese Laundry. They were stylish with a touch of sparkle as well as shockingly comfortable thanks to a manageable 2 1/2 inch heel. They even passed the kitchen runway walk test with the narrow heels making a pleasant tapping sound as I walked.
The big day arrived and I was pretty pleased with my outfit. This was one of the few weddings where I could really dress up so I took full advantage pairing my shoes with a silver clutch. I even straightened my hair. (The officiating pastor didn’t recognize me. Go figure!)
The ceremony took place in a gorgeous chapel built about 100 years ago that happened to have fantastic acoustics. Fortunately, all the guests were still arriving as I tap-tapped to my seat without drawing attention to myself. Then the bride and groom’s mothers were escorted to the front of the chapel at the start of the ceremony.
Tap, tap, tap…
The sound was very noticeable in the hushed room and oddly familiar. Of course, I was too busy with the package of tissues in my purse to really care. I told myself I wasn’t going to cry but I did. The bride was so very beautiful and I’ve known her since she was barely a teenager!
Well, we get to the reception and the groom’s mother-who is a very stylish woman about 20 years my senior-sits down beside me to say “hello.” As she crossed her legs I caught the familiar gleam of rhinestones out of the corner of my eye. Guess what? After all of that agonizing over my darn shoes I still showed up in the same shoes (albeit in a different color) as the mother of the groom. And they looked awesome on both of us. (I wish I had gotten a picture!)
Moral of the story: Wear what you like.
Of course, I’m still not wearing that “Juicy” t-shirt or the sky-high heels. I know my limits.