27 October 2011

If the Shoe Fits . . .

My entire current shoe wardrobe
I've undergone a complete wardrobe overhaul since moving to Brazil, and no item of my apparel has changed more than my shoes. The above picture? That's it, that's my shoe wardrobe as it now stands. Not a mid- or high-heel in there, though I used to own dozens of them. No more pumps, platforms, stilettos or wedges. Not a single boot, not for rain, not for snow. In truth, this abundance of flats and sandals owes more to lower back problems, developed over years of wearing seven-inch heels, than to my new environment. But the flip-flops, or havaianas as they're called here, I owe to Brazil.

I remember flip-flops growing up, but my mother warned against them. They were bad for our feet and bad for our posture. We were allowed to wear them at the beach, but nowhere else. So flip-flops were relegated to the furthest reaches of my closet. I wore mother-approved "sturdy" shoes during my formative years and then, as a young woman, I went a little crazy and wore platforms and pumps with heels as high as I could find them, which was just short of Lady Gaga's current inventions. I developed back problems and bunions, in addition to suffering my fair share of blisters and corns.

The flip-flop brand "Havaianas" dates from 1962, but I met my first pair in the early '90s. And now they're almost all I wear. They're comfortable, they're colorful, they're convenient, they're easy on the bunions, they're available all over the place in all kinds of styles, and they're cheap (at least here in Brazil, where you can still buy a pair for the equivalent of $9). Havaianas even have their own Facebook page! 

havaianas, havaianas, havaianas
It's said that you can always tell a tourist by those sensible walking shoes they wear. But here in Búzios the reverse is true. Who's the tourist? You can pick her out in an instant on our lovely main street, the Rua das Pedras, famous for its charm, its restaurants, its nightlife, and its large, uneven stones, strewn about in dangerous disarray. She's the one in high heels, trying to remain elegant and poised while at the same time clutching her companion in the hope of avoiding an embarrassing (and painful) fall. She's the one looking down all the time, missing the sights around her. And by the end of the evening she's the one with sore feet, a few blisters, and occasionally a scraped knee or two. The locals? Oh, we're the ones sitting around in havaianas, feeling smug.  

For the shoe fetishists out there, here are a few pairs of shoes I have loved over the years:

I gave most of my high heels away before moving, but I couldn't part with these. I can't wear them, but I take them out and look at them twice a year

Original Pro-Keds. You won't see their like again.

I saw these flat sandals in NYC in 2010 and I lust after them. Anyone know where I can buy them?

1 comment:

  1. And to think that, not too long ago, wearing an havaiana meant one was living on a budget. It was the cheapest thing one could buy.

    And to think that it is sometimes used as war shoes by criminals!

    Three times you wrote havaianas under the picture. It sounds like you share the Brazilian collective memory.