Style is not just about how clothes look on a person, but how they feel; it's about form and function. When someone is uncomfortable it shows and they then tend to look awkward. Whether it's an ill-fitting undergarment, pair of shoes or pants that might not outwardly look wrong, the moment one feels uncomfortable all sense of "style" is gone. Discomfort leads to awkwardness which is never chic. Shoes are quite often the greatest culprit. Uncomfortable shoe pain is the worst. There's a shoe for every moment. Flats, kitten heels and low sling-backs are great for the office. A more serious heel is perfect for a more formal affair, a night out on the town, at a restaurant, or a party where you know you'll not need to spend too much time on your feet. For those times when you're on your feet all day - sightseeing, walking to work or running errands - and for those who work in more creative environments, we sing the praises of the sneaker. And, as with every other article of clothing much depends on the pairing.
I've had a long history-slash-love-affair with sneakers over the years for fashion and fitness. I remember wanting a pair of Adidas and how terribly disappointed I my mother came home with a generic pair that had 4 stripes along the sides instead of 3. The next pair proved to be the real thing. The iconic Stan Smiths. Classic. Clean. Crisp. White. I wore them with everything from shorts to skirts and sundresses to my school uniforms. From there we graduated to Nike. The swoosh had made it's grand debut and was all the rage for both stylish and fitness reasons. I remember first stepping into a pair. I felt like I was jumping on a cloud. From Stan to the Swoosh we then moved on to the Ultimate Preppy Tennis Shoe. Though no one I know actually wore their Tretorns for tennis. The little triangle on the sides of the canvas sneakers came initially in traditional white, navy and red. Soon, though they were available in a myriad of colors - pastel pinks, yellows, greens and even plaids. The terry cloth insole gave these sneaks their distinctive comfort. (Tretorn has since tried for a comeback but it's stiff and uncomfortable and the lines aren't at all the same. Alas, their reincarnation did not pass the test.) I wore my Tretorns with my Polo shirts. I had a collection of them with more colors than the rainbow, due to the fact - I am quite certain - that Ralph Lauren was one of my father's clients. In those days we wore our Polos layered, multi-colored, collars popped. Naturally. And while the Tretorn never fell from grace - I still have the last of my original pairs, I had a brief affair with the all-white K-Swiss, and then later, as embarrassed I am to admit, the Reebok which was a sensation delivered to us from across the Pond. I will happily tell you I never owned any but the white and no high-tops in either color ever made it into my closet. (The stirrup pants I had did plenty mde up for that fact, and are probably worthy of a story of their own.) I don't remember much past the Reeboks and am glad that my relationship with them was very short lived. Once I graduated from college and was forced to grow up, my shoes did as well. Ballet flats, loafers and driving moccasins became the comfort shoes of choice.
Lately I've been doing a lot of walking around - city walking. The aforementioned aren't always the most comfortable when you're on your feet and walking around all day long. And I started to notice the sneaker once again. I started noticing that all sorts of well dressed people were wearing sneakers. Europeans do all the time, and they wear them well. We've not always been able to pull that look off. But we're starting to and we're starting to wear them well, whether little white sneaker, running shoe, tennis shoe or the casual canvas or leather slip on. And so I recently bought myself a pair - a pair of faux snake skin slip on leather ones that seem to work well with leggings or jeans. But then I wondered, am I too old to carry this off? Nearing the end of my 40s am I supposed to dress a certain way? Or is style all about attitude? Are there rules as to who can and cannot wear a little tennis shoe? Or are these rules meant to be broken? I happen to love the look. I happen to love the idea of being comfortable. I happen to like breaking the rules as well. Check out the images below and tell me what you think.
Below the last pair of my beloved original Tretorns. These shoes are a part of my personal history!
Below my latest comfort shoe acquisition. These comfortable, stylish slip-ons come from The Gap. These are perfect for long days of walking around and standing. They're more comfortable than my ballet flats - younger and hipper to boot. And so the question still stands. Am I too old for these shoes?