When I was between colleges, I worked full time. When I went back to school, I kept working so I could pay the bills. In total, I worked at the same place for five or six years (prior to that, I temped in a bunch of different offices). I worked full time in an office that had a very strict business dress code. I later learned that each of the specific rules had been added each time someone (the same girl) wore something inappropriate. Some examples from the modified dress code:
No visible undergarments.
Necklines may not be more than four inches below the collarbone.
Skirts may not be more than four inches above the knee.
No bare midriffs.
These are all things that a normal person would know, but apparently some people need to be told not to dress like Patty the daytime hooker.
The rest of us understood how to dress appropriately: blouses, skirts, suits, stockings, high heels. I had two favorite pairs of work shoes, both of which had 4″ heels. Previous to this job, I was a college student who wore flat shoes all the time, so it was a little bit of an adjustment but I got used to wearing tall shoes all the time.
When I went back to school, I kept working at the same office so I could make my car payments. I scheduled all of my classes back to back (usually 9am-12pm on MWF) so I could work as much as possible. I wore the same thing to school and work, which meant that I hiked on campus in my work outfit. By this time, our office had switched to a business casual dress code which meant I could wear twinsets with a skirt (as opposed to a full on blazer/suit set). It was nice, but I still kept wearing my 4″ shoes.
I wore high heels full time for six years. When I moved after college, I got a job working in a lab. One of the best perks was that we had no dress code whatsoever. Considering that my boss wore inside out t-shirts, it would have been hilarious and hypocritical for him to ask us to dress professionally. I started wearing t-shirts, jeans, and flip flops/sneakers every day. On the rare occasion that I had to wear something dressier, my poor feet hurt from being forced into non-flat shoes. My pain tolerance for shoes was non-existent. My achilles was no longer used to being scrunched into tall shoes on a daily basis. In other words, I am now a big baby when it comes to shoes.
When my sister got married last year, I bought a cute pair of cheap peep toe pumps I found at Target for $20. I decided to wear them to my friend’s wedding as a test run. Her wedding took place downtown, so we parked at a garage and took a cab. After walking only two blocks, my feet started to hurt. I sat at the ceremony, I stood during cocktail hour, I sat at dinner, and I sat through most of the dancing. By the time we called a cab to take us back to the parking garage, my feet were killing me. I considered taking off my shoes, but the thought of catching a communicable disease by letting my bare skin touch the streets (which are covered in every kind of human bodily excrement) forced me to soldier on. I had to talk myself down the one flight of stairs to my car. Once I hobbled over to the car, I took my shoes off and sat in the car for a good five minutes just rubbing my feet. I wasn’t sure if my feet were spoiled from years of flat shoes or if the pain had been caused by really awful shoes.
Luckily, after all my years wearing high heels to work, I knew better than to drive while wearing tall shoes. It wears down the back of the right shoe and usually leaves marks on the heel. Besides, it’s just not as comfortable! So I had supplies waiting for me in the car after my friend’s wedding: socks (hey, it was February) and comfy shoes!
My feet are wide, so a lot of shoes squeeze my feet tightly, causing pain. Most strappy shoes make my feet look like a sausage exploding out of its casing. Add to that the immense amount of pressure put on the foot when forced into the unnatural angle that high heels cause, and it’s not surprising that a lot of tall shoes make my feet hurt.
I somehow blocked out all this knowledge while preparing for my wedding. It wasn’t until six months before the wedding that I suddenly realized CRAP, I have to buy shoes! Everyone I know who is already married gave me some variation of this advice: wear comfortable shoes. I had testimonials from brides who wore sneakers, flip flops, or went barefoot under their wedding gowns. I also had passionate descriptions from girls who went the traditional route and had sore feet after a few hours. Everyone said that no one sees the bride’s feet, so the best thing to do is to wear comfortable shoes rather than torturing yourself on your wedding day. It was hilarious to contrast this practical advice with all the online bridal forums where these women were buying multiple pairs of Christan Louboutins and Manolo Blahniks. Some of them spent more on their shoes than I spent on my wedding dress!
I knew I would be wearing a long white gown for the ceremony as well as a red dress at the reception, so I thought rather than buying two pairs of shoes, I could be efficient and just buy one pair that would work with both dresses. I thought that it would be easy to find a cute pair of red shoes in December (holiday parties, right?) but there weren’t many red shoes to choose from and the few that I found were either ugly, expensive, uncomfortable, or some combination. I finally found a cute pair of red Steve Madden shoes with ruffles on the toe. I wore them around the house and after about an hour, my feet hurt. Again, my wide feet were the culprit.
I found an okay looking pair of red Nina shoes with a bow. They were slightly more comfortable in that my feet hurt after an hour and a half.
I was going to bring them back home with me so I could break them in, but my mom said that because both pairs were made of satin (not leather), they wouldn’t stretch so there was no point in hauling them up to my house just to bring them back for the wedding.
I started to worry that I would have a repeat of my painful shoe experience at my friend’s wedding during my own wedding. I began to wonder whether I should just give in and get some flat shoes. Anyone who knows that I wear sneakers to work every day might have a hard time believing this, but I DO care about looking cute so I really didn’t want to wear flip flops or flat shoes to my wedding. Even if no one would see them under my big white dress, I would still know! Regardless of what I decided to wear with the white dress, I knew that my feet would be visible in the red dress so I had to have cute shoes for the reception – but who wants to wear painful shoes while dancing?
The Friday before I left for my wedding, I found Hey Lady shoes. I have learned to tune out a lot of things, especially ads on facebook, gmail, tribe, and the other websites I frequent. Ever since I changed my facebook status to “engaged,” there have been lots of ads for wedding photographers on the side of my home page, all of which I have steadfastly ignored. For some reason, I noticed the ad for Hey Lady shoes on facebook. They claimed to be the anti-dyeable, actually danceable wedding shoes. I looked at their website and liked the tongue in cheek names for their different shoes (Ball and Chain, Knotty Girl, Pre-Nope, Straptease – I’m a sucker for this kind of marketing!). I really liked their shoe diagram which pointed out several of the things their shoes feature: a wider dancer’s fit toe box (to eliminate toe overlap and muffintop), wing arch support (something that most cute strappy shoes are missing), and Poron memory foam insoles. Another great thing about their shoes is that the 3″ and 4″ shoes have the same arch and profile thanks to a tiny platform on the 4″ shoes. That means I can wear 4″ shoes but my feet only feel like they are in 3″ heels!
I was halfway convinced, but I know better than to impulse buy! I sent them an email to see if I could drive down over the weekend to pick up (and hopefully try on) their shoes. It was late Friday night when I emailed them so I knew that there was no way an online order would reach me before I left for my wedding on Tuesday. On Monday, I got a phone call from one of the owners who apologized for not getting back to me sooner. She said that my email had ended up in her spam box, but she said they would be happy to meet me to make sure I could get my shoes before I left for my wedding. I couldn’t remember the names of the shoes I was interested in, so I had to call back later. I ended up talking to her sister (the other owner of the company), and she answered my endless questions about their different shoes.
They have a cute pair called Princess Buttercup (again, sucker for marketing because The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies) with a pretty blue bow in the back for that wedding day requirement of something blue. They also have a blue and white pair of shoes called At Tiffany’s – and they’re leather (always more comfortable for my fat feet because leather stretches)! If I didn’t have to wear my wedding shoes with a red dress, I would have loved those!
I live up in the hills, which means that most people get lost trying to find my house. I arranged to meet the twins at the shopping center down the hill from my house to make things simpler for everyone. I also brought a mirror and a little piece of cardboard to stand on so I wouldn’t scuff up the bottoms of the shoes I tried on in the parking lot.
I had looked through all of the shoes on their website and found a few favorites. I ruled out any that were listed as out of stock since I knew I was in a serious time crunch. I narrowed it down to three finalists: Pucker Up, Straptease, and Twinkletoes. Unfortunately, they sold their last pair of Twinkletoes after I looked through the website, so that was out of the running too.
I wanted to be able to wear these shoes again, mostly because they were SO expensive. I know to some people, it’s nothing to spend hundreds of dollars on shoes (thanks, in great part, to Carrie Bradshaw) but I am not the kind of girl who buys expensive purses or shoes and I do not have a climate controlled showroom full of fancy shoes and bags. I find something I like and wear it forever. Case in point, my favorite black purse, which I bought for $20 over five years ago (it’s been so long that I don’t remember when I bought it – all I remember is that it was some time after I moved. I have a feeling that I bought this purse the summer of 2002, but I have no idea why that date is sticking in my head. All I really know is that I bought this purse a loooooong time ago). I used it every day until I broke the strap. My point is that I wouldn’t buy an expensive pair of shoes (and remember that my definition of expensive shoes is anything that costs over $50) and only wear them once. I already have enough guilt over buying a dress that I’ll only wear once.
For that reason, it was probably good that Twinkletoes was sold out. They are very classic wedding shoes, but I don’t know that I will have another reason to wear white satin peep toe pumps covered with rhinestones and crystals.
That left Straptease and Pucker Up. I thought that I could wear Straptease as going out shoes, whether I had on jeans or a dress. Then I realized ha, I’m old and I never go out anymore! The only time I go to clubs now is to perform, and when I do that I have full costumes and supportive dance sneakers. But the sparkly Straptease shoes would go so well with my pretty beaded wedding gown, right? When I put them on, I felt like Cinderella. I’m always self conscious about my feet because they are so hideous after years of ballet. Back in the olden days, dance shoe companies didn’t make different widths so people like me had to cram our feet into narrow shoes. It’s one thing to do that with leather ballet slippers which will stretch a little, but it’s an entirely different thing to do that with pointe shoes, which have a wooden box to support your body while standing on your tiptoes. Wood doesn’t really stretch, so my feet bled in the same places whenever I danced en pointe. Even after I quit ballet, you can see where the blisters and other gross foot stuff used to be. Between that and my fat foot/exploding sausage syndrome, I have loved looking at cute strappy shoes but am usually unable to wear them. The Straptease shoes looked so cute on my feet! They were sparkly and shiny, but suddenly I started remembering what Mindy Kaling had said about Christian Lacroix shoes looking like something worn by mail order brides that rich Saudi princes and billionaires bought from America. Were the Straptease too blingy, like the Rivini dress I had rejected? I wanted to wear whichever shoes I chose with both my white wedding gown and my red satin dress. The red dress has gold beading, so at first I thought the Straptease would be the way to go since shiny + shiny = good, but once I had the Straptease shoes on my feet I started thinking otherwise.
I tried on the Pucker Up shoes next. I liked these for a couple different reasons. First, they looked versatile. I could wear them with jeans or a dress (of course, that would require me to get some light colored dresses or skirts and since I’m a klutz who frequently spills things on myself, I don’t have a lot of white or ivory clothes). The pucked material would provide camouflage in the event that my deformed pinky bulged out as it usually does. With a smooth satin material (as used for Twinkletoes), you would see every bump of my mangled feet.
My sister liked the Yes Ma’am shoes, which are the Pucker Up shoes with a cute little flower accent added to the side, but I decided to stick with the simpler Pucker Up. They seemed slightly more comfortable than the Straptease shoes (which is probably due to the fact that the Straptease shoes have more straps across the widest part of my foot). As much as I wanted cute shoes, I wanted to make sure that they were as comfortable as possible. That was my main motivation for buying an expensive pair of shoes instead of torturing myself with the painful red shoes I had bought six months earlier.
I was a little concerned with how the Pucker Up shoes would look with my red dress, but I decided that I didn’t care. Neither of the red pairs of shoes matched my red dress (red is a hard color to match) and at least this way I would have comfortable shoes to wear for dancing!
I love everything about Hey Lady. Their shoes are cute, from the actual shoes themselves to the patterned lining on the soles of the shoes (Have you seen any wedding photos lately? People are obsessed with having pictures of their shoes – without any feet inside them! It’s probably so everyone can see the label and know you had on expensive shoes that no one saw all day). The boxes are adorable. The black and white pattern reminds me of the red flocked wallpaper we had at our house in Chicago (no, I did not grow up in a bordello or a steakhouse). The box ties shut with a black satin ribbon. They also include a black lace shoe bag inside. The girls have a great aesthetic. As much as I love how sexy some of Christian Louboutin’s shoes are, I cannot STAND his obsession with toe cleavage. Hey Lady shoes have minimal to no toe cleavage (depending on how long your toes are). They designed the toe box specificially so there won’t be toes hanging over the edge (whenever I see girls with shoes like that, I always want to tell them, “JUST BUY A BIGGER SIZE”). The two visible toes are displayed nicely, not crammed together tightly. The hidden toes don’t rub against the inside of the shoes (I hate when I take off my shoes only to find that my nail polish has been rubbed right off). I could go on and on about how much I love these shoes!
I am happy to report that I wore my shoes for over five hours on my wedding day and lived to tell the tale – no crying, crawling, or going barefoot! There were a few points during the night when my feet felt tired, but I know the first time was right before we left for the reception. I had been standing (not walking) over an hour for the ceremony and lots of pictures. When I’m on my feet, I feel better if I’m walking or moving around a little bit. Standing still means all the pressure on my feet and toes are static and constant, which means pain. It’s not a matter of if but when. After we left the ceremony site, I was able to sit down while we drove to the reception site. That was enough to relieve my feet. My feet were a little bit tired at the end of the reception too, but that was after the first dances, cake cutting, more dancing, etc. I can live with having tired feet because that’s normal. That’s different from being in pain!
I wore my shoes again to a graduation party the next weekend, so HA! I’ve already cut the cost of my shoes in half because I wore them twice! I sat for the first hour or so but then I made a concerted effort to stand. My feet got a little bit tired again when I had stood in the same place for too long, so when I could feel my feet starting to get that tired feeling, I walked around a little bit or sat down and then I was good as new. I kept my shoes on after we got home from the party just to see how long I could last, and I felt fine for hours. I can’t remember when I finally took them off, but I had those shoes on for at least eight hours without feeling like someone had stabbed my feet. I made my cousin take a full length picture so I had photographic proof that I’d worn my wedding shoes again.
I am sooooooo excited because the twins told me that they plan to start making their shoes in non-wedding colors! They are going to start with basic black, which is so exciting!
If you want some cute shoes that will not make you want to cut your feet off or resort to Rollasoles, check out Hey Lady!