Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The soundly shod feminist
Checking out Linda Grant's The Thoughtful Dresser yesterday, what should I find but this smashing image. It's a Clarks, for god's sake! My mother would have loved the style (for herself, not her teenage daughter, needless to say), and might even have allowed the colour - if buying for a special occasion and if it "went with" her outfit. I left an appeal on Grant's site for an image of those infernal brown sandals, suffering as I am from the compulsion to see them again and make you see them too.
Grant says the shocking-pink Clarks are sold (in the UK) with little gel pads for the balls of the feet - something I've been advised to hunt down for my tango shoes. The more I look at these beauties, the more I feel the need to see them on my feet. Not so long ago that would have seemed preposterous. Which brings me to why I voluntarily shunned high-heels for so many decades. The short answer is the 70s, or, more accurately, the 70s plus feminism.
Even before I left home, stiletto heels had gone the way of beehive hairdos, stiff petticoats, and stockings and suspenders. (Down, boy! Suspender belts were the most uncomfortable garment known to woman, right up there with the chastity belt, but having the opposite effect on men). Those gorgeous little low-heeled blue shoes I brought out from England in 1964 were the shape of things to come. During the decade and a half that followed, I was lucky enough to find fashion coinciding with ideology. Never again would women allow themselves to be crippled by footwear they couldn't move freely in!
My dismay when the damn things came back in the 80s was just about visceral. And complicated by having a daughter who wanted to wear them. Hadn't women learned anything? Hadn't they heard a word we'd been saying? What sort of man wanted to see us tottering rather than striding?