A few weekends ago I was photographing a music festival in my city. I was in the back of the crowd trying to get photos of the performers with all the people dancing to their music when I saw an older couple sitting together at a picnic table.
When the song changed to one the woman knew, she stood up and ran to an empty spot on the grass dance floor. She was wearing a blue, flowing midi skirt that ended just a few inches above her mahogany cowboy boots. Her husband, with a smile from ear to ear, lovingly recorded his wife dancing.
There were lots of other women on the dance floor by then, but being so late in the night most of them had either ditched their shoes or were dangling one of the many elaborate straps from their fingers as they jumped. The woman wearing her cowboy boots was the only one I could see from my vantage point who still had her shoes on at that point.
It made me think of this rule I had when I was small and quite useless but experimented a lot with my clothes – I would never wear anything unless I could survive a zombie apocalypse while wearing it.
Long form, it means that while I wanted to wear something that was bold, stylish, and made me look good, I still wanted to be able to easily move around, join any kind of activity that broke out, and wouldn’t wake up in the morning with blisters, aches, or pains.
Thinking of this rule I fiercely stood by as a child, I’ve realized to a point I still follow it. I’m not the best at being able to have a good time while uncomfortable, so I tend to lean towards “fashion doesn’t have to be painful” instead of the other proverb that circulates.
With clothes, it seems easier to dress boldly but still comfortable, but the challenge definitely comes with the shoes. As much as I love those strappy high heels that take 20 minutes and two other people to put on, I have to admit they’re not the most comfortable. Most of the time I find myself slipping back on my trusty white Levi sneakers. Not exactly bold, and definitely basic. This woman’s cowboy boots jogged my memory though, of when I used to be a boot fanatic. And as I began to think about it, the more I feel cowboy boots pass my Zombie Apocalypse Rule with flying colors.
Stylistically, they’ve been teetering the edge of in-style and out for the past few years, which is the exact kind of edge I love to sightsee from. Kendall Jenner has been photographed wearing them regularly, but despite her and other fashion trendsetters wearing them, they’ve never become a cult favorite. They’re just in-style enough to have a positive reaction, but just out of style enough to be bold and different depending on the outfit they’re paired with.
Their roots though, they are made to work in. Keeping your feet warm, keeping them dry, and reducing blisters. When I worked as a photographer for the major league hockey team in my city, all of the rink workers would wear cowboy boots. They had enough traction to walk on the ice without worrying about falling, the cold radiating from the ice that would leave my toes frozen by the time I left had an unbeatable fight against the cowboy boots, and they were still comfortable to wear while standing for the four-hour games.
I’ve always been a big cowboy boot fan though. My freshman year of high school homecoming I paired my boots with a red dress. My other years of school dances always consisted of high heels which had to be kicked off halfway through the dance thanks to sore feet. This meant that while I was trying to enjoy myself, all I could think about was how I was now barefoot on the same court I played basketball on for four months out of every year. Barefoot on the court I regularly dripped sweat on while running suicides during practice. Barefoot on the court where, during my sophomore year, a girl on the other team puked profusely during a state tournament game that had gone into double overtime.
I think the best way to measure success in life sans imposter syndrome, is to ask yourself, “would your five-year-old self be impressed by what you’re doing right now?” To that I say, I think it’s time I dusted off my old boots for that little five-year-old blonde fashionista.
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