Now with things reopening and whatnot, I’m going to be expected to wear clothes again. (Expected by whom? TBD, because good luck to anyone who even cares to break me out of my antisocial pandemic-era comfort zone.) I spend at least half the week in shorts and fluffy socks; sometimes I’ll put on a shirt for a Zoom meeting, if I really have to turn on my camera. Sometimes I just wear my sports bra and kind of adjust myself a little so it just looks like a tank top. Anyways! Most of the time I don’t need to get “dressed,” and it’s great.
But summer demands spending time outdoors, whether or not it’s with other people, and therefore I’ve got to start dressing up again. Which, honestly, is more fine than I make it out to be—I am vain enough to want to wear cute clothes and even makeup when I have no choice but to be perceived by other people. I wear blush, even! But dressing from head to ankle is easy for me. It’s the shoes that can trip me up.
I love shoes, and I always have. I used to tell my dad that I wanted to work at a shoe store when I was a teenager. I always loved how varied shoes could be, from colorways to soles to heights and heels. I admired men’s leather ankle boots, imagining the office-casual looks that they would complete; I appreciated the more feminine cuts of certain sneakers that truly ought to be unisex, like Vans and Converse.
Where I stopped though—the aisle I rarely ventured into—was sandals. I have never paid money for, tried on, or picked out a pair of sandals for myself in my entire life. Even as a kid forced to go to the beach when visiting Pop-Pop in Atlantic City, I wore socks with the white plastic sandals my mom bought, or I’d wear sneakers and would eventually cede them and my socks to the beach towel, burying my exposed feet into the sand. I never felt comfortable with the idea of my entire foot being out there for the world to see, to judge, to dirty up or otherwise abuse. And honestly, I never wanted to see anyone else’s feet either; the ideal world was one where everyone wore close-toed shoes all the time.
My parents thought, and still think, I’m weird. My dad never wore socks in the summer. My mom has a pair of knockoff fluffy Adidas slides that she practically lives in. They didn’t get why I always slept with my socks on, and they worried for my foot health as I refused to either shower or remove my socks in the summer. (They also probably worried about the smell.) My friends weren’t bound to sneakers like I was, even as I impressed upon them my belief that anything but a good sneaker (or perhaps a snow boot) was For Those Other People. Girls at summer camp or in middle school would plod around in their heinously loud flip-flops, their feet almost blackened with dirty. What was appealing about that? But there’s only so much fashion advice anyone would take from a buck-toothed, frizzy-haired, wireframe glasses-having, ripped sweatpants-wearing brat like me. I fought the open toes, and the open toes won.
Now as an adult, I still cringe when people’s toes get anywhere close to me. I will take my socks off when I’m alone, sure, but as soon as someone else tells me they’re on their way to see me, the socks come right back on. (Or the slippers, at least.) Most of my friends have never seen my bare feet, and I’m happy to keep it that way. Why would you want to? They’re gross. Your feet are gross too. Sorry! It’s nothing personal. They’re just dirty and grimy and usually busted and I just don’t think we should have toenails, honestly, because it’s like having hands on the bottoms of our legs and I don’t want hands on the bottoms of my legs; I just want to have socks permanently down there, please.
But! The algorithm has been taunting me with sandals lately, because summer is coming and hot weather means, for most people, hot feet, which means, for most people, no socks. The algorithm only knows me well enough to a point. I immediately scroll past ads for the usual open-toed nonsense, but lately I’ve been enthralled by a pair of, gulp, sandals. So much so that I kind of actually want them. I kind of actually want them enough to forfeit one of the ideals I’ve held for my entire life.
They’re called the Blaire, which is my best friend’s name, so I find that part endearing. They’re also from Dr. Martens, purveyor of the boots I bought on a whim to finally feel like I was super cool one summer, when everyone was out buying new slides. I’m a big fan of the Docs ecosystem, and the Blaire is no different.
There’s something about the boot-like silhouette combined with a slightly lighter frame than the traditional Docs hard leather that I find attractive, even compatible with my personal style. The Blaire is also a gladiator-style shoe, which is one of the less offensive open-toed trends of my generation, because at least your entire foot isn’t just bared for all to see. There is some elegant coverage criss-crossing around the top of your foot with gladiators, so as to make you feel a little more hidden. Plus, these shoes have a thick sole, so you’re not placing your naked feetsies right there on the piss-stained sidewalk and instantly growing ugly warts.
I like them! Do I like them enough to put my toes out there? Do I like them enough to possibly, accidentally land myself on that feet wiki? It’s really hard for me to say. There are some long-held beliefs I am willing to break. Showing you my broke-ass toes might not be one of them.