Then a couple of years ago, I developed a shopping routine with one of my sister-in-laws living overseas. She has a huge shoe and purse obsession and couldn't easily get access to a lot of the fashion accessories I could purchase here in the US. We worked out a system where she would find things she liked online, we would both cast opinions for or against, then I would go shopping and get the items, and when a family member traveled through I would send our shopping bags to my sis-in-law with him/her. In the process of hunting down her items, I began coming across a few things I liked for myself. I remembered looking at pictures from a family wedding where we were all dressed up, and in examining my shoes, I was the only one wearing ugly flats while everyone else had on fabulous heels. I decided that maybe I should invest in one or two pairs of really good shoes for nice occasions. I bought a pair of super high, awesome purple heels and wore them for the next Eid. I spotted my husband's look of obvious approval while we were at a friend's house for dinner. I decided maybe the shoes were a good thing.
This week as I was sorting out the closet, I went through the shoes and piled up all the ones I didn't seem to be wearing so I could sell them on ebay or donate them to charity. As I tossed the purple heels and another blue suede pair onto the pile, my husband stopped and looked. He made a casual remark about not really having to get rid of all of the shoes. I remembered wearing the purple shoes on Eid, and the blue ones the next and really feeling dressed for the occasion. I fished them back out of the pile. I thought about the fact that I wear exceptionally conservative clothing, and I realized that one place where I could express my personality a little is through my shoes.
Then I did something unusual. I went shopping for myself. I left the kids at home, and hubby off running other errands, and I went to Macy's. I wanted shoes. Good shoes. And a bag to match. I finished my shopping with two new pairs of heels and a bag to die for.
Then I did another unusual thing. I started wearing them. When my friend Marissa called me for a long awaited girls' night out, I put on the new shoes and grabbed the bag, and off I went. When my youngest daughter and I went to Petco for a cat carrier the next day, I did the same thing again. And suddenly I realized that I felt different, better, when I was dressed up nicely. I felt like a million bucks cruising through Target in my great new shoes. I tried applying that to the rest of my wardrobe. My husband always compliments me on a red shirt that I have, and yet I don't wear it all that often. So I put it on the other day and actually applied some eye makeup as well. He noticed! And appreciated it. And I realized that even though I'm just around the house most days, maybe it's good for my self-esteem (and my husband's) if I can dress up a little like I used to back in the day.
I might mention that I am 35 years old- not 80, like I may sound. It's just that I am not a very materialistic person. Most of the time I don't worry about the unnecessaries. I don't drive the latest greatest car, and I couldn't care less. I keep my children clean and fed and happy, but I don't rush out to buy them the new must-have games just so that we're keeping up with the Joneses, so to speak. It's just not in my personality to obsess about those things, and I like to think that's mostly a good quality. On the flip side of that coin, though, sometimes I forget that presentation matters. If you cook a tasty meal, it's still tasty if you slop it onto plates from the cooking pot, but it looks so much better if you put it on a nice dish and garnish it with a little cilantro on top. I suppose the same thing goes for how we dress to an extent.
I will confess that yesterday when I had to take my four kids for vaccinations, drop off boxes of clothes and books at the masjid, and take the cat to the vet, I was back in my comfy flat sandals. But if you spot me at the park with my family tomorrow, check out my feet, because I may just be back in heels.
(The shoes I want next but haven't quite talked myself into buying)