Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Even a Food Addict has a right to "Choos"

Did I Jimmy Choos Wisely?

I have US size 10.5 feet, wide width, please. I have not worn platforms or heels over 2.5 inches since I was twenty-one. Once I topped 250 pounds, let alone 350 pounds, I stopped wearing any heels. My feet and ankles could not take the strain. Once I lost all my weight I started wearing low heels but that is all. I am not comfortable in high heels, skinny heels, pointy toes or anything that makes me unsteady on my feet.

A couple of years after Sex in the City ended, I finally started watching it on DVD. A good portion of many episodes were devoted to expensive designer shoes. Many of the styles were cute and ridiculously expensive. I realize my perception of value is colored by the sure knowledge that I could never wear such things. Oh sure, I like pretty shoes but if they are not comfortable on my feet I have no use for them. I do not want shoes to admire in my closet if I dread putting them on my feet.

Several friends and (relatives with nicer feet) told me I was missing out on one of the joys in life: a decadent shoe shopping trip. For this reason I decided to try on some ultra expensive designer shoes to see what the fuss is all about.

Today my husband and I went to the Millennia Mall, a very upscale mall filled with stores named Channel, Gucci, Tiffany, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vitton, Cartier, Rolex - you get the picture. I do not have the money to buy the merchandise in these stores and I have always felt the salespeople will take one look at me (in my DSW discount shoes and JC Penney dress and knock-off pocketbook) and sneer, guessing correctly that I am not a buying customer - that I am an worthy tlowly browser with NITB (no intent to buy). But today I wanted to try on the expensive shoes and see if I could feel the power behind the hype. I asked my husband to go with me for company. It was not necessary for him to be there to keep my wallet closed. I had no intention of buying anything - I was not going to find anything that fit/looked good/felt good. Certainly I was not going to find anything that fit my budget.

We walked into the Jimmy Choo shop. A friendly saleswoman named Lucia came over and asked if I was looking for a shoe of a certain style or for a particular event. I replied I was browsing and looking for something to make me happy. I asked if Jimmy Choo even carried my size. She replied yes and pointed out that they also had everything from flats to six inch stilettos. She also explained that they were currently having a sale, which they do twice a year. (I guess my cheap shoes gave me away after all). I really did not see anything I thought I could reasonably stand to have on my big feet. Then Lucia offered to "Choos" some shoes for me to try. She went into the back and came out with four pairs of shoes in my size.

The first pair fit but I could tell the minute I stood up that I could only stand to have them on my feet for a few minutes. Ouch ouch ouch! Pair #2 was so tight my foot could not lie flat in the shoe. I would not even try to stand in them.

On to pair #3 - reasonable heel, peak toe, great neutral color but my foot looked stuffed into a too small shoe and felt like that, too. This brought us to the fourth and final pair: a leather sandal in a nude color with a darkly stained wood sole/heel and brass accents. But didn't they look too plain to be fun and powerful shoes?. I do not know what I was seeking but I this pair of shoes didn't have it. . . . or did it?

I stood and instinctively felt that these shoes looked good on my feet. They felt fine but import incredibly they looked - something - what was I feeling about these shoes? Classy. The shoes gave my feet a feeling of class. They were of a classic design that looked rich and timeless. My feet felt good in this shoe. I walked around the store wearing them for at least 10 minutes, looking at them in the many mirrors from every possible angle. I could not find any fault. The supple Italian leather had a beautiful texture that added interest to the simple design of the sandal. The color was so neutral I could wear these shoes with almost any color clothing. The design was so classic I could wear them to most any event with the exception of the beach or hiking.

I expected to spend an hour trying on frivolous shoes and giggling. Instead I found myself looking at the reflection of my feet in multiple mirrors and mentally calculating the sale price. Now as I said earlier, my husband was not there to stop me from buying. We never even considered that possibility. I have never paid over $75 for a pair of shoes with the exception of athletic shoes. The price (before the discount) of these shoes was $395.00 plus tax. That is more than the monthly rent on our first apartment. I looked at my husband and he said "You deserve them." I did not answer, I did not argue. I walked around some more. The next time I looked at him he said "If you like them you should have them. You deserve them." I took them off my feet and handed them to my husband. He handed them to Lucia and said "she'll take them."

my jimmy choo shoes
I do not know if anyone "deserves" a $400.00 pair of shoes but at that moment, I suddenly understood what I was feeling. These shoes were confirmation to myself that I am 'worth it.' For too long I treated myself as not being 'good enough.' Even though the truth is i cannot afford such an expense, it was suddenly more important that this time I treat myself as someone who is worth every penny of the price of this pair of shoes. I took out my debit card (not a credit card - thank you Dave Ramsey), and I bought myself a gift of Jimmy Choo's shoes.

The shoes were individually wrapped in flannel sacks, then placed into a box and finally into a Jimmy Choo tote bag. As we waked out of the store I thought to myself, "this bag is my access card to go into all the other shops." Suddenly I felt like I had a magical entry card into the other stores. I was a buying consumer.

reversible to silver
We went to Gucci and Tiffany, Burberry and Channel and several other stores where we were given very nice attention from the sales personnel. For instance, at Tiffany, the sales woman let me play with the suede summer carryalls that came in six deliciously different colors. They were between $395 and $595 each plus $50 to $100 for the 'accessory mini scarf' attached to the handle. I bought nothing but the shoes. Everything else was 'approved browsing" because I knew I had a Jimmy Choos "calling card" to say I belonged.

When I bought the shoes I did not realize I was buying the self confidence to walk into expensive stores and play customer. It worked. It gave the push to walk into the stores and now that I have, I feel I would go back without worrying about what "they will think of 'me.'

When my daughter came home tonight I brought her into my room to see what I had purchased. The expression on her face when she saw the Jimmy Choo box was priceless. So was the laugh we shared when I told her that as the daughter who wears my size shoes, someday she will inherit my Jimmy Choos.

Note to the authorities: If I am ever 'done in', question my youngest daughter - and check her feet.



Alison said...

Love it! Congrats, I think you made a great choice.

I think that there is an unfortunate focus on luxury brands as empty status symbols -- very silly. But, there are many brands (like Jimmy Choo) that make beautiful, quality products. You knew the minute you put those shoes on that they felt different, and it wasn't just about a label. I think treating yourself to something beautiful and special (whether it is a great pair of shoes, a special handbag, or even a fancy lipstick) is a wonderful gift that everyone should give themselves once in a while.

Also, I wear a similar size and I love that I can buy Jimmy Choos! (though I haven't, yet). We have the supermodels and drag queens to thank for that! (Both excellent consumers of luxury brands.)

bbubblyb said...

Jane, I just loved this post, it made me cry because "you are worth it" we all are and we should always be able to walk into any store and feel we belong :) Thanks for making me realize that today :)

♥ Drazil ♥ said...

I love Dave Ramsey!

Julie said...

I have a 'magic' dress -when I had lost a significant amount of weight (around 100lbs) my husband and I were invited to a fancy lunch at a yacht club. We went to a fancy department store and I had the best time ever. A wonderful saleswoman saw my confusion over what size I now was and took me in hand. I needed everything from underwear to shoes. My husband helped choose items and refused to let me look at price tags. I will never forget that day, how I felt and even thought that dress is now too big I will never part with it. I may have it taken in. It is just a dress with a huge price tqg but like you it was my physical acknowledgement that I was 'worth' it.

Jane Cartelli said...

We have to stop using past tense - We ARE worth it.