Recently, writer/street style star/sneaker lover Veronika Heilbrunner sung the praises of wearing Converse, and she clearly *gets it*: after “outgrowing” sneakers in her twenties, she realized a decade later that one does not “grow out of” Converse — one realizes that sneakers rule and we we’re all fools to abandon them.
More or less.
As a teen, sneakers and/or skate shoes were currency. I remember rolling up to the guy I liked as he skateboarded in a parking lot and showing him my Etnies; my first pair of skate shoes and the first pair of shoes I truly gave a shit about. They were oversized, ridiculous, and absolutely perfect. And for the next couple of years, my friends and I defined ourselves by our shoes and the way we wore them.
But then we kind of grew up.
I’m sure comfortable heels exist, and I’m sure there are women and men on this earth who feel fantastic wearing them. I do not, because I am not coordinated enough and all shoes take several dozen months to break in because life is unfair. But this is fine because when I started going to concerts in my early twenties, I dove back into that sneaker life, updating my Etnies with Converse and — despite the two-week breaking-in period (it is real, and it is awful) — feeling content as f*ck with my choices. After a while, anyway.
For too long, I assumed that to be a bona fide Grown-Ass Woman, I had to abide by traditional style norms. I believed that men expected women to dress a certain way (woof), that I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I favoured a “casual aesthetic” (oh boy), and that age was less a number than it was an indicator of the way you should look and present yourself (false). And while I’d like to say that I was hit over the head with a revelation or woke up one morning and decided to liberate myself, I just got tired. I was — and am — too tired to worry about dressing any way outside of the way I want to dress, and am too tired to navigate shoes that make me want to walk into the sea. Give me oxfords, Chelsea boots, Docs, and sneakers. There are too many things to worry about. Shoes do not get priority.
Plus, I like to be able to flee. I want the option of escaping terrible conversations, guys who freak me out, and walking with purpose. I am never more confident than when I know that if I have to walk a million blocks, I’ll be able to (or that if some dude approaches me and makes me uncomfortable, I can escape quickly). Also, I think Converse look cute. I love a sneaker. I am 32 and will be chasing my nineties teen dream aesthetic until I’m a ghost. And I have no regrets, because why should I? There is no reason for me to justify wearing a type of shoe that saw me through endless retail shifts and music festivals. They serve their purpose and somehow work with 99.9% of pieces I own.
So maybe you love a heel. If you do, bless your heart and wear them all and ignore the way I watch you walk so elegantly in them. On the flip side, I will be evoking the magic of Etnies-circa-2001 but not that brand, worn differently (I no longer own any Ecko), and not to the approval of some guy who couldn’t care less. Because that is the only fashion rule that I think matters: wear what you want because you want to wear it. Nobody else’s opinion matters.