Last week I bought some fairly inexpensive shoes online. The purchase experience was one of the best ever. It still makes me smile to think about. Why? What was so wonderful?
One lazy afternoon, I was sitting on my sofa, reading fashion magazines. Otherwise known as looking-at-pictures-of-stuff-I-don’t-want or things-I-want-but-can’t-find-or-afford. Then I saw this ad in Vogue.
I fell for those shoes. Why? Who knows. Perhaps it was the accompanying house with gray shingles, reminding me of family houses by the sea. I will never forget the way that salty wood smells on hot days. Maybe I was channeling my travels through France as a young woman, not yet ready to tie anything around her ankles. Or maybe it was the pucker of seersucker, like the suit I wore to interview movie types in India. Who, as we say, knows? But sense memory was working strongly to compel.
I Googled “Sperry Cork Platforms.” Brought me here.
Nice image, Sperry! I love it when there’s no background to product shots, and no model, in the primary e-commerce image. When the objet de desir appears to float free, rife with possibility, inflated with imagination.
And they cost $90. How smart, to advertise $90 shoes in Vogue, whose readers – we can assume – often pay more. How smart, to make the path from ad to memories to purchase so smooth. In other words, I could move quickly from evoked impulse to that moment we probably all know. Phone in one hand, credit card in the other. I usually prop the card on my Macbook, up against the screen.
And they arrived on my doorstep.
In this box.
Isn’t the box one of the better branding accoutrements you have ever seen? (I love writing this blog. How else would I ever get to use the word accoutrements?) In one fell swoop, Sperry moves itself beyond the Cottage Club boys of my youth and their boat shoes, up into the higher metaphor of sailing and navigation. In the land of adventurers, a true meaning for “setting sail” becomes clear.
And here, in a low fidelity, high happiness moment, is my foot in said shoe. Reminding me that I have, as my rapscallion uncle once said, wholly inappropriately, my mother’s legs. Again memories. Again something with which to move forward. Thank heavens for small holdouts against the tide of age.
I wore these shoes to San Francisco with olive green J. Crew bermuda shorts, a blue and white striped Brooks Brother’s shirt, and gold hoop earrings. You know, so people might mistake me for a gypsy. In subsequent days, the shoes explained that they required, absolutely required, a little more frou-frou above. I complied.
Which put me wholly in Sperry, Liberty of London, and J. Crew. Let’s talk heritage, shall we? Except, I like to think, heritage with a sense of frivolity and the softening effect of floating fabric and bows. I promise, for me, this much pattern, color, and flappy stuff is pretty risky fashion.
Sperry’s shoes looked great in the Vogue ad. They were easy to find online, well-presented, priced within reach of an impulse. They suited my particular leg configuration. They are even comfortable enough to walk the hills of San Francisco. Sturdy Gals, as I have said, don’t do foot pain.
But most of all, I feel the Sperrys may help in the continued development of a non-corporate, but a little spiffy, persona. I focused most of my style energy on decoding the corporate world. Figuring out presentable casual, a retirement wardrobe if you will, is an ongoing project. As is figuring out an integrated self after 50.
I know, we’re just talking shoes. Trivia. Ephemera. Stuff. But, after all, if Proust could go all, “Life’s-work-of-fiction,” over a cookie, albeit a pretty cookie, I think cork platforms, with seersucker ankle ties that wrap twice around mind you, deserve their day.
Images, by me, except this, from the Sperry website where I made the purchase.