Men are always shocked when I tell them this – and some women too – but my husband chooses my clothes, in stores or in catalogs. Chris takes great pride in his taste for women’s clothing and his ability to pick out the perfect outfits for me. However, he has a questionable taste for men’s clothing. He would wear a green shirt with navy pants, beige shoes and a black belt, and mismatched socks – maybe a white athletic sock and a black dress sock. And at least one would have a hole in the toe.
For years, I have assembled his wardrobe so that he doesn’t embarrass our family and offend his colleagues. I put his shirts and pants together, the colors are coordinated, and choose the socks that go with them. These are hung together in the closet, with the socks draped over the pants; all that remains is to add the white T-shirt from the folded pile in the cupboard. He has three belts to match his shoes and he has learned to accessorize them. He understands that he is wearing the shoes and the brown belt with the khakis, and the black ones with the grays and blacks. And he has more shoes than me.
I think the stereotype about women and shoes is unfair, even though I have gone through some shameful times where I have adapted to the model. My own bad habit started in the fall of 2017 when Chris and I were visiting my sister and her family in Orlando. Anyone who knows my inclinations from a distance knows my infatuation with bling. On this visit, Lisa wore a pair of pink tennis shoes that she bought herself, apparently according to my taste. The pink suede Guess sneakers had sequins on the tongue and toes in different shades of pink. I had to have them. In size 9 rather than 7, of course.
Lisa had bought her alluring walkers from Ross Dress for Less, which meant there had been a significant overstock somewhere. She buys almost exclusively from Ross. She’s a professional “Ross Boss” who can roam a rack, pick up the best stuff, and get good deals faster than I can type on a keyboard – and that means something. She insists that in Florida, Ross’s shoppers aren’t rude enough to throw their trash on the ground. But going after a Ross store in Oklahoma is like charging onto a battlefield with nothing more than a burst pistol and a pair of flip flops. The last time I entered one, I saw two women exchange racial epithets, then open-handed facial slaps on a red patent leather handbag that I wouldn’t have worn on a bet. Even after witnessing the violence, I was stupid enough to walk into the bowels of the store, where I observed piles of clothes, shoes, and household items all over the floor.
I found the coveted sneakers at Macy’s online. I ordered them and confessed my sin to my husband, who is fine with such frivolous purchases even though he didn’t choose them, as he feels free to retaliate by buying himself, and that ‘is still a tool he doesn’t need any more than I needed shoes. I also noticed that the shoes were powder blue, with blue highlights; black, with black bling; and white, with gold or silver metallic flecks that would have appealed to one of our local huffers. I took the shoes and showed them everywhere I could collect compliments. Two weeks later, I received a text from my sister, along with a photo. Several pairs of white sneakers (faux leather rather than suede) had appeared at his local Ross store; she had planned to grab a pair and wanted to know if I felt an urge coming. I said yes, and we both agreed on the silver glitter.
The following spring, while in Chicago, we passed by Macy’s which now occupied the huge building that once housed Marshall Fields. We were looking for shoes for my husband, and he found a few simple ones, but we decided to walk down the street to a Ross to see if it looked like the stores in Florida. Unfortunately for my budget, it is. On the clearance display were several pairs of previously unknown seafoam green Guess sneakers, with matching laces and cute little rhinestone studs on the toes and tongue. I felt the surge that a crack addict must feel when lighting a glass pipe. I texted my sister, told her I was about to drink, and asked her if she wanted to take a puff. His response: “Uh … yes? But don’t you think we could do too much with the sneakers?”
It got worse; I saw a pair of sparkly sneakers called “Mermaid”. But when they were too showy for Lisa, my niece Amber jumped into the fray. A size 6 was calling his name vicariously, so I snared them. Then I went down a few aisles to look for 9. It was then that two women started scolding the Seven I had intended for Lisa. They were pulling them back and forth like lumberjacks working on a whip saw. As they began to tap into the sort of words once associated with sailors, I slowly backed away and walked not over to the cash register, but to the clothes shelves. I didn’t own nothing to match the meerschaum shoes, you see. I rectified the problem with a few $ 10 shirts and a pair of cropped jeans with meerschaum embroidery.
Later, as we were packing home, Chris noticed the jeans, scowled and muttered something about not having “approved” them. I offered to take them back, but he hurriedly gave his assent. About a week later, a large package containing a rather expensive tool arrived at the newspaper office.
It is “marriage”, I am told. You would think I would be used to it after over 30 years.