“Things I worry about less as I age”: Fashion vs. comfort

I’m having lots of value shifts as I age.  Well, not only am I having them, I’m becoming more aware of them.  It’s very important at any age, to be open to changes in values and ideas.  Here’s No. 6:

In my youth, I’d wear something that was uncomfortable or a tad shoddy if it LOOKED good on me and was in style.  Back then, ‘comfort’ and ‘durability’ were words that I applied to work boots and furniture, not clothing.  But now I’m less concerned with whether my clothing is fashionable than if it fits and is comfortable.  As I age, I have come to appreciate quality and comfort in clothing more than whether it is au courant.  This is particularly true with regard to shoes.

I have wide feet, hyperelastic arches and I weigh much more than I should.  Therefore many fashionable shoes are dreadfully uncomfortable, if not downright unwearable, for me.  I found out last summer that my penchant for cute, inexpensive little rubber thong sandals was actually damaging my feet–they don’t offer enough support and the bones in my ankles kept sliding out of place, causing me pain.  So I’ve had to accept the fact that I must care for my feet and choose sensible shoes.

Thank goodness for Merrell shoes.  Their Jungle Moc is tremendously comfortable, and offers perfect arch support at the exact place I need it, and they’re cute.  But they don’t always work with shorts and they’re a tad expensive for us right now, which means I have to find something else that will offer support and not make my wallet cry.

Our chiropractor introduced me to a removable arch support which immediately makes many shoes much more comfortable, and at only $32 a pop, they make it possible for me to wear cheap sneakers and not end up walking like I’m balancing my body weight on bloody stumps at the end of the day.

Don’t get me wrong–in my youth, I often wore painful, impractical shoes for the sake of appearance.  There were the 3 1/2″ spiked-heel pumps which made my weightlifter calves look like carved artwork, and there were the teeny, darling little butch black leather engineer boots, complete with ankle strap and lug soles (which should have been comfortable but weren’t because they were too narrow).  Those, along with my black leather motorcycle jacket and black Ray Ban shades, made a breathtakingly tough outfit (costume?) and I ignored the cramping muscles in the bottoms of my feet because I enjoyed the drama of that whole ensemble way too much. (I actually frightened a lady at a rest stop near Flint, MI when I stomped into the ladies’ room wearing this getup.  I was in a hurry due to a really full bladder, but she might have interpreted my urgency for aggression, because she grabbed her purse and shot out the door when I ran in.  I felt bad, then I laughed.  The memory still makes me grin.)

I wore darling little white Keds to celebrate springtime back when they were fashionable, even though their complete lack of arch support made my feet audibly groan at the end of the day.  And I wore darling little sandals which had similar structural defects–and similar collateral damage–all in the name of aesthetics.

But it’s now more important to me to be comfortable and to preserve my body’s fading integrity than it is to look cute.  My body is changing and so are my values,  and at the age of 40 I can accept that without too much sorrow.  Please don’t think, however, that I’ll only wear orthopedic double-wide Velcro slippers–I’m just lots more careful to find shoes that fit and save the fanciful things for special occasions.

Manolo, a blogger I admire, has devoted his blog to shoes.  Recently he wrote about aging from a woman’s perspective, and he recommends shoes as a panacea.  Go check out The Shoeblog of The Manolo, and have a grin.

Comments are closed.