The time has come for expensive jeans, and comfy shoes.
I took my daughter to our local catwalk show last month. As I gazed at the models – all local girls, some of them mums I knew from the playground – something clicked in my mind. All ordinary women, looking amazing in interesting clothes, holding their heads high, knowing they looked good. Wearing gorgeous throw-on knits, skinny jeans, sparkling pantsuits, and exquisite blouses. Yes, blouses. Time was, a blouse was a thing you wore to tea with your grandmother, not an article of chic glamour, but times have changed, and so has my age.
I am 50, and I feel it. I have a frozen shoulder, an aching back, and a waist that objects to cinching. And while once I was able to run around London all day in four-inch heels, now I can only manage them if I’m taking a taxi to a restaurant. Walking is out of the question. Catalogues have started landing through my door advertising comfortable, but oh so ugly-looking shoes, and I have seriously considered them. After all, at my age I need to start looking after my body.
But sitting by that catwalk I was thinking only of my soul. I suddenly felt frumpy in my jersey top, and my boot cut cords. I wanted one of those blouses, I craved an oversized, asymmetrical cardigan with a fur collar, and I needed gorgeous shoes. I stewed all weekend in my comfy slippers and my leggings. Should I stay looking like someone’s mum for the rest of my life, or should I make more effort, smarten myself up, spend money on me for a change?
On Monday, I took the day off work, and went shopping. I was getting me a new look. But first, I was going to try to find comfy shoes that didn’t make me look comfy. When Hotter Shoes arrived in St Albans a couple of years ago, I refused to visit. Blogger friends locally all secured a pair of shoes for review, and declared them comfortable, but stylish, but I wasn’t tempted. I assumed they would be old lady shoes, only one step away from the catalogue pasty shoes. But now my feet hurt, and actually, my daughter had pointed out a pair of boots she thought were cool, without even knowing the premise of the store’s comfortable footwear ethos.
So I ventured through the doors of Hotter Shoes for the first time. I browsed, I turned heels and zips, undid laces and buckles, and finally conceded that these shoes were worth trying on. I sat down and allowed the boxes to be brought to me, as I got stuck between which heel, which patent, which colour I liked most. I left with two pairs, such was the level of my indecision.
I strode on (yes strode, they were comfy enough for striding) to The Dressing Room – a place I’d assumed was only for the ultra chic – and frankly – loaded women of my city. I’d always felt intimidated by the racks of clothing that didn’t look very ‘me.’ But I was feeling brave, so I marched in, said I needed help, and allowed myself be dressed. The sales assistant brought me things I’d never have picked in a million years, but as I tried them on, I saw the old me. The me who strutted round London in snappy suits and perfect jewellery, only more gentle now, still classy, still a mum, but with a hint of glamour I’ve not worn in years.
“Ooh,” my fairy godmother observed. “Gorgeous boots! Where did you find those?” I confessed to my new comfy shoe fetish. “Oh yes,” she nodded, in the know. “They do lovely stuff. The trick is in buying less, but better quality, and wearing it lots. You’ll never regret it.” I left with a never-before-owned leather jacket, a stunning dress that works well for work and socialising, and a properly good top. I wore it for my 50th birthday party; it got comments. I’ve not had comments on a top in years. I’m liking the effect of a good blouse!
As we sipped Prosecco, talk got to jeans. I’d resisted my stylist’s suggestions that I should buy the very expensive jeans she’d given me to try on with the amazing tops. Jeans are jeans, right? “Oh god, no!” declared all my friends of a similar age, who’d known the secret of a classy top for longer than I. “You’ll never regret buying a good pair of jeans at our age. It’s a like a face-lift for your bum!”
I made them turn, and twist. I observed bums over my flute, and I cleared my diary for the next morning. I am now the proud owner of expensive jeans. And a better bum, a top that turns heads, and much hotter shoes. Fifty’s looking much better now!
My teal Vanity boots were courtesy of Hotter, for review purposes. The Divine boots were my own purchase. All opinion and editorial is my own. Hotter are currently running various Christmas offers. Click the link for more details.