In preparation for our move to France in 2003, I did a little clothes shopping to class up my wardrobe. Even though France is no longer the world power it used to be and some would argue that Paris is not even the fashion capital of the world anymore, there’s no denying that the concept of French style still holds a certain cachet. And, let’s face it, everyday American style post-1964 is awfully sloppy. The last thing I wanted to do was look like an American tourist for three years. It’s that whole “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” The Parisians appreciate some effort, too.
If you’ve read French Friday #33, you’ll remember that all those new clothes didn’t show up for six weeks, so I did look like an American tourist for awhile. But once I had the opportunity to begin dressing “more French,” I noticed that something was off. I had missed a key component that I hadn’t even been aware of before. French women, regardless of age or formality of dress, have an affinity for red shoes. Powder blue was a close second. It didn’t matter what color the rest of the outfit was, in Paris, red shoes go with anything. At first, I thought it was kind of funny, but I began to warm to the idea of the red shoe. Why not have a little fun? Why not tell the world, “I am so confident in the rest of my look, that I can put on these red shoes and not even care.” Sounded good to me. Not having the occasion to wear pumps that often at that time in my life, I opted for the red sneaker, which was perfectly acceptable.
I wore those sneakers into the ground. By the time I threw them away several years later, there was no tread left on the soles, the red was scuffed off the toes, and the soles were peeling off from the shoes themselves. It was kind of sad to let them go. By that time, we were back in the States where white sneakers reign supreme and most women would never consider wearing something as attention-getting as red shoes. After all, if you don’t do it right, you could be flirting with “street walker” rather than “fashionista.” Nevertheless, I made a little vow to myself to always own at least one pair of red shoes from then on. Just another way to keep a little bit of France with me.