Thursday, April 14, 2011

Brogues, a Coat and Courage

What is your reaction when you see these?

These have been lying in my closet for decades, literally. They were my very first tap shoes. My tap teacher felt that street shoes, as long as they have leather soles, are just as good as tap shoes. It was fine with me, because I loved them. I liked tap dance even more because I got to wear these shoes.

When I moved on to better teachers, a change of shoes was a definite must, and these landed in my closet. I never gave them away, because I loved them still, but I never took the taps off either, even though I knew I would never tap in them again.

Fast forward to today, brogues turning up in fashion pictures all over, and I dug them back out. They were in miserable condition...

I took the taps off and brought them to a shoemaker to get the soles done and when she gave them back to me, she had this look on her face -
"These are very nice shoes..." or did she say: "...would be..."?
She had this pained look on her face, this woman felt SO bad for my poor shoes, my neglected, not-taken-care-of shoes, which would deserve a much, much better fate. I felt like a very bad person, a very bad mother to my beautiful shoes. I left the shop with shoe care/colour restorer and white shoe cream, after listening to her "how-to" for getting these shoes back in shape.
The leather was all dried up and hard.

For three days in a row I had to treat them with the shoe care (bees wax, jojoba oil, silicone), they swallowed it up like hands need lotion after a day of garden or heavy-duty cleaning work. I wore them around the apartment, and felt how the leather got nicely soft again. You wouldn't believe how much cream this leather drank up!
On the fourth day I took the black and white shoe cream and re-colored them. Oh! All these holes! Where the cream gets caught in! Oh! Agony! Now I understood why the shoe maker didn't offer to do it!
I ended up digging every single hole back out with toothpicks. It took hours, but it worked. Look at that top picture, all restored! And then I wore them. Grocery shopping.
And I felt silly that I had waited that long to wear them again. I had never stopped loving these shoes, but I needed some style bibles to tell me it's ok now? Was I worried that people on the street wouldn't approve?

Just like with my white coat. It actually took courage to wear it, inspite of all the compliments I got for it here and on BurdaStyle. But why? Because everybody else wears dark colours in winter, black, brown, grey? And I could actually stand out from the crowd? I had the feeling that everyone stared at me so scornfully... Or did I just imagine that? Did they look arrogant? Or envious? And do I really care? I think people on the street just forget to smile sometimes. If they like what you wear, they will check you out with even scarier faces than if they don't like it. I think it is because you actually show personality if you wear something unusual. Personality scares people.

Why would I let these people intimidate me?
It takes more courage to wear something you made yourself, because it expresses who you are more than something you merely chose to buy. If it has a label inside, at least you know that it has been approved by a bunch of people before it got produced. If someone doesn't like it, you can just say they aren't aware of the latest trends. But this coat is me. Uniquely. And it does hurt me personally if someone thinks my baby is ugly.
Well, the people on the street, wearing black and brown, aren't exactly Vivienne Westwoods! So I will no longer care if they smirk at me! Which they probably don't, anyway. They are just jealous. And they forget to smile.

Have a happy day everyone, and DO go smile at some strangers. Especially if you like their coat.


  1. My first thought when I saw your shoes was 'lucky you, I wish I had some'. Take courage and pride in your own amazing style, all your stuff looks fantastic!

  2. Very cute shoes. I can't believe all they have been through :) Glad you decided to restore them.