To Heel With All That

Fessing up about dressing up.

by Donna Cavanagh • Guest Writer { View Profile }
high heel sneaker photo
Photograph: iStock

I was watching an episode of I Love Lucy in which Lucy and Ethel were preparing to go shopping. In order to go downtown, the women had to change from their housecleaning clothes into suitable attire, which consisted of a nice suit, gloves, stockings, high heels and, of course, a hat.

When I go shopping, my decision concerning dress involves whether I am going to wear my good running shoes or my not-so-good running shoes. If I am walking a mall that stretches for two miles, I am not going to wear heels, for the simple reason that mall floors are always slippery, and I think heels and a slick tile would just cause my premature death.

I know that heels are in, but I am not graceful in them. Sure, I can pull them off for the occasional wedding, business meeting or formal event. But for the most part, heels do not add anything positive to my appearance. I think it could be a generational thing. My mother is great in heels. She wore them every day. My daughter wears medium-sized heels for work and on the weekend, the real high ones come out. She loves her designer shoes and will spend big bucks on them. Am I shocked by the prices? No, but we tend to keep the exact figure from my husband, who thinks $29 for a pair of shoes is a lot.

It’s funny how my generation was a little late arriving to the high-heel shoe trend. I think it’s because we came in after the hippies who bestowed upon us the radical ideas that women did not need high heels, bras or men to be fulfilled. While my generation agreed with the not-needing of men, we totally rejected the hippie’s distaste for cute shoes and bras. We realized that cute shoes are just too fun and should be a part of every woman’s wardrobe. And bras? Well, as we watched the hippie women before us age, we learned that as we get older, letting “the girls” go wild is neither practical nor attractive.

I think I would like to go back, for about two weeks, to the days for about two weeks when people dressed up all the time. I think two weeks would be just the right amount of time needed to teach people how to dress again. For so many of us, work requires only casual clothing--which is nice, but it puts us out of practice for more formal events.

When I was a teenager, it would take me about 30 seconds to put on stockings; now, it is a 20-minute ordeal. It’s not that I am heavier or more out of shape; I just hate to put them on. Granted there is more to pantyhose now. The fabric is designed to suck everything in, which makes it harder to pull them up to my waist. The fabric also makes it harder to breathe in them and then my legs get itchy because they feel trapped, and so my whole day in pantyhose is spent dreaming of the moment I can take them off.

I have accepted the fact that I am a jeans-and-tee-shirt person, so I don’t miss the days when women dressed up to go to the grocery store. However, that being said, if Jimmy Choo or Christian Louboutin wants to give me a pair of $1,000 shoes so that I can help inspire women to return to the days of a more formal wardrobe and accessories, I am willing to make the sacrifice as long as those shoes come with a guarantee that I will not slip, fall or twist an ankle. How hard a guarantee can that be?

Donna Cavanagh's most recent humor book is Reality: Fantasy's Evil Twin. And check out her Web site,

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First Published Mon, 2011-11-07 16:42

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