Last summer I began the girlie girl adventures with a post called “I’m Sexy (if Only in My Head).” I had a summer dress with a gaping crisscross overlay in the front, a new pair of matching shoes, and a dream. Hilarity ensued.
Still, I persevered through the winter months by rediscovering Victoria’s Secret and going “underward.” My girliness continues to evolve, and this year my summer dress collection expanded thanks to the addictive marketing of Old Navy. I’ve learned a whole new language—ruched and empire waists, scooped necklines, adjustable straps, and dresses with features I don’t yet know the names of. I doubt I’ll ever be fluent in girlie, but like a tourist in a foreign country who can ask where the bathroom is, I can get by. So there I was wearing my dresses wantonly everywhere—the grocery store, at the beach, to take out the trash—when I realized that the black pair of flats I’d added last fall to go with my black dresses wasn’t going to cut it for the new batch of light-colored blue, white, and peach colored summer dresses. Curses.
I’ve never had a shoe thing. I own the basic black and brown work shoes, some kickass tall black boots, a pair Fluevogs I got 15 years ago after the birth of my son to reassure me I was still cool (if you haven’t had a baby, please be kind; if you have had a baby, you totally know what I’m talking about), and a small assortment of flat shoes I can walk in, including one pair of sneakers. None of these plays well with cute sundresses. Well, maybe the kickass boots and the Fluevogs, but I don’t have the fashion sense or attitude to pull that off. This reminded me that girliness can be a harsh mistress, but there was nothing for it now but to head back to Old Navy. I managed to get one pair of blue denim flats that pretty much covered the non-black dresses.
Then as the summer heated up and I no longer needed a jacket, I lost the pockets and a way to carry my wallet, keys, and phone. Designers, please note, I will pay extra for dresses with pockets. And this is where I and the mistress had words. I don’t like purses and refuse to get one. I can barely keep track of the things attached to my body, never mind things that are easily left behind. We settled on a cross body bag—I would look for the smallest one that I could find that would fit my three items and maybe my sunglasses. I knew I couldn’t order this online. I was going to have to feel it and see it. I knew what I had to do, but I fought it for weeks. Waving my sundresses at me like a red cape before a bull, my mistress stared me down with her steely gaze until I gave in,
I was going to have to go shopping. In multiple stores. For more than an in-and-out-15 minutes. Dear god have mercy on me.
It took a few weeks to psych myself up, but finally one lunch hour I decided this was it. The time limit as well as a target of three stores in close proximity would minimize my pain. The only thing I hate more than shopping is driving to shopping. So I power walked to Downtown Crossing, took a deep breath, and hurled myself into TJ Maxx, H&M, and Marshalls. I attacked the bag section with a laser-like focus. I could eliminate 90 percent right off the bat by:
- Size – what do people carry in these things? Babies? Small dogs?
- Color – neon lavender goes with, um, what again?
- Cost – if I’m spending three digits for a bag, there better be a baby or a dog in it.
The remaining 10 percent got whittled down by discounting the bags with silly accents like tassels and gold chains. That’s what pasties and necklaces are for. The remaining candidates got tried on and loaded with military-drill-like precision. I soon realized that bags are like wedding guests. You invite people by groups and each new group increases the guest number exponentially. You can have 20 people, or 75, or 150, but nothing in between, unless you want the left out people in your groups to stop speaking to you. The bags turned out to be frighteningly similar. I could fit in the three pieces, but there was no room for the sunglasses. The bags that could fit all four things were much bigger and looked suspiciously like a dreaded purse.
I was more ruthless and brutal in my assessment than Harvard admissions, and by the time I had hit all three stores and loaded and unloaded 20 bags, I was sweating profusely. I finally settled on a small Baggallini, and was quickly rewarded with that ultimate seal of approval: a fellow shopper stopped to gush about her (multiple) Baggallinis. Mission accomplished.
My enabler coworkers were impressed when I got back and they too gushed over my bag, even indulging me when I patiently explained that is was a cross body bag, not a purse. What’s the difference, you may ask? My self-respect. My one coworker—let’s call her “Shoe Sith”—couldn’t resist murmuring, “The shoes are next.” I looked at her and for a moment I saw the Emperor in “The Return of the Jedi,” when he’s trying to win Luke over to the dark side. She has a shoe collection under her desk that people come to visit, mesmerized by the four-inch heels and strappy fantasies.
I laughed without fear. No one was getting me into that kind of shoe. My feet don’t fit for one thing—I have very ungirlie wide feet—and I firmly believe in wearing shoes that you can run in—either away from something scary or toward something fun.
And then I saw “Kinky Boots.”
I saw the movie years ago and loved it, and I had no idea how they would translate it into a musical. OMG. Damn that Cindy Lauper to hell. It’s fun, the music is catchy, and they honored the movie. And those boots. I can only blame my love for disco and gay men for the fact that I want to wear those boots. How else can I explain how I want them even though I can’t possible walk in them? They are so red and sparkly…and red…and did I mention sparkly? In case you haven’t had the pleasure, here they are. Who wouldn’t want to wear these badass boots?
Mind you it will take more than a flashy Broadway show to get me into some serious girlie shoes, but when my sequined vision finally cleared, I had to admit the door was cracked open. I thought I was done with accessories with the Baggallini, but I may have to admit there really is no end to girlie accessories. Maybe there is something fun I could run to…