Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my column no one asked for about things I like!
After months of warm weather and 90% humidity, today is the first day that actually feels like fall, and you know what that means, honey: fall footwear! I usually spend the fall wearing my oldest, dirtiest pair of white sneakers until it’s finally cold enough to wear my oldest, dirtiest pair of black boots, but after a summer spent wearing overall cutoffs and crop-tops, just like all the teenagers who attend the high school next door to my apartment, I’m ready to class up my look a little. While walking a dog this morning, I became engulfed in a crowd of teens headed to school, and noticed that all the girls were wearing white sneakers: Converse high-tops and fresh new Vans. While I can’t imagine I’ll ever overcome my obsession with white sneaks (nor do I want to!), a few weeks ago I decided it was time to chose a more mature footwear option this fall.
I may have overshot it a little. I’ve been considering getting this pair of white high-tops for almost a year now, and to be honest I’ll probably buy them in the spring, but a few weeks ago, I had a vision. I saw myself wearing a clunky black pair of Dansko clogs with thick socks and rolled up jeans, like an art teacher at a rural high school — and I liked what I saw. The clogs were still clomping around in the back of my mind when I visited my very cool friend Erika’s very cool shoe store a couple of weeks ago. I was there to drink prosecco and sell my clothes in the alleyway (I sold nothing) but of course ended up wandering into the store. When I saw they were selling the very Dansko clogs I’d been thinking about, it assured me they’re no longer just for surgical nurses. If Erika sells something at her store, it’s certified cool. Not that I care much about being cool, it’s just that I dress so casually I sometimes lose sense of what is and is not acceptable to wear.
As soon as I bought the clogs, however, I came across this article, in which a clog expert said of Danskos, “There are certain girls who can wear uncool things because they’re so cool…They are having a moment, but it’s one that’s best left to teenagers and semi-recognizable actors.” GULP. I’m not sure I’m cool enough to pull off Danskos, but I’m excited to wear them anyway. This article also featured a beautiful pair of clogs I’d buy in a second if I could afford them because guess what? I fucking love clogs! I was recently listening to one of my favorite podcasts about one of my favorite subjects and they mentioned a woman who has a closet devoted entirely to clogs, which is fucking crazy and very inspirational.
When I graduated from college and got my first job at CNN, my mother took me to Ann Taylor, where I bought the most unflattering black pantsuit on the market, plus several very mature skirts and cardigans. My first few years at that company, I didn’t wear jeans to work once, opting instead for clothing sensible enough for a senator. I knew the career I’d fallen into wasn’t the right fit, so I dressed in character in order to feel more like I fit in. I wore pencil skirts and stodgy blouses and cardigans and always, always high heels.
This summer, I sold all my leftover clothes from that period of my life. They’re nice clothes, but I knew I’d never wear them again. As soon as I left CNN, I started dressing like the type of teenager I wasn’t confident enough to dress as when I was an actual teenager. While that remains my aesthetic — jeans and t-shirts, overalls, sneakers, sweatshirts and the occasional patterned men’s button-down — every fall I feel re-inspired to dress like an adult.
After my experience with bedbugs, I’ve whittled down my wardrobe to the essentials, including only three pairs of white sneakers — one old and dirty which I wear only on rainy days, one weathered but still in good shape and the last still new and beautiful. And now I have two pairs of clogs: my uncool Danskos and my very cool Rachel Comey clogs, which I bought a few years ago (on sale, obviously). They’re my favorite shoes, though I wear them really because it’s challenging to bike in them. They’re also the only heels I wear these days.
Last week, I broke out my Comey clogs for the third anniversary of my comedy show. It was a special occasion, so I wanted to rise to it — literally. Since I’m always in sneakers these days, I’m used to being several inches shorter than everyone I encounter (even, occasionally, children) so wearing heels makes me feel not quite like I’m someone else, but at least like a different version of myself. Though I suppose that’s all fashion is — an opportunity to become a different version of yourself.
In that sense, my Danskos represent a new version of myself, one adult enough to buy sensible, comfortable shoes that aren’t sneakers. One confident enough to think she can pull off something so uncool. Though it’s been the focus of this piece, coolness isn’t something I’ve thought about in a long time. In my youth, being cool — or at least seeming cool — was a preoccupation of mine, as it is for most young people. Now, being cool isn’t on my list of priorities, which is, of course, the great contradiction of coolness. The less one cares about being cool, the cooler one is. Maybe that’s why I no longer care about being cool — because I finally believe I am.
Or maybe coolness, like Dansko clogs, is best left to teenagers and semi-recognizable actors. Either way, I’m going to be clomping around in my new clogs until the snow starts falling — and I’m going to feel cool as hell.
As always, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing for it and am pretty sure no one cares that I love clogs. Still, if anyone is reading and ever wants to give me literally anything for free, clogs or not, I WILL TAKE IT!!!!!!
Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I’ll be back with more unsolicited recommendations soon!