For the majority of my adult life, my shoes were the most boring part of my outfit. This started when I was in college, and began shopping at Lane Bryant – one of the only “fashion forward” shops for plus size girls. My shopping strategy was to buy fun/bright tops and pair them with neutral pants/shoes. Most often, this meant pants in denim, black, or khaki and shoes in black or brown.
As my body got smaller, and my confidence increased, my fashion sense also evolved. I began searching for clothes in a neutral color palette, with pops of glitter and sparkle coming through my accessories. In the past two years, I’ve had so much fun finding shoes that have sass and sparkle, to compliment a wardrobe of neutral clothes.
For example, the shoes I’m wearing today are hot pink Nikes with a small blue stripe around the heel. The hot pink tone is the shocking and prominent experience of these shoes, which are chock full of panache and exclusivity. They were purchased at the Nike employee store; this is a shopping mecca you cannot enter unless you are connected to someone that works for Nike (one of the hottest brands in world), and have been pre-registered through a guest pass.
When you’re gazing at the shoes, this exclusivity may not be apparent on the surface. However, the boldness of the color proclaims, “I’m courageous and happy and I’ll carry these feelings around on my feet!” Truth be told, I think the shoes are saying this because of the song that was blasting through the overhead speakers as I tried them on. I was trying to talk myself into buying the shoes when Pharell’s “Happy” started playing.
This song engages every one of my cells and makes them wiggle in joy. The lyrics are the absolute essence of bliss. If you actually know what it feels like to be a room without a roof, you can’t help but clap along with a smile that stretches from the tips of your toes to the tingling crown of your head.
Sure enough, when I wear these shoes, I am boldly proclaiming my relationship with joy. We are BFFs. I recognize what joy sounds like and looks like. I’ve tasted it, thanks to Portland’s culinary scene (ahem Salt & Straw). I’ve felt it in the sweet, vulnerable, bare skin of my baby boy when he embraces me after waking from his nap. I’ve smelled it in the moments after my Keurig finishes brewing a single cup of Brown Sugar Cake coffee.
I chase that sense of joy when I’m wearing these shoes. Or as I make choices about the environments that surround me, the food that I eat, the songs I listen to. Who knew a pair of shoes could be so influential?