I’ll start with a disclaimer that I have told Emma that I’m posting this, and she said, and I don’t dare quote her directly, something to the effect that it’s okay to post this because any of her friends reading this will know about her pickiness already.
My daughter has a checkered record when it comes shopping. When I take her shopping with me when I’m buying clothing, I can trust her judgement about whether something fits me, looks okay on me or should be tossed aside. She pulls no punches and gives an honest and fashionable opinion. It turns out, she’s a really good fashion guide and has an awesome eye. When she’s shopping for herself, she will not buy something if I tell her it looks fine unless she likes the way it feels and looks. She doesn’t just say, “well it sort of fits, so I’ll get it.”
That last statement is oh, so true, when you’re overweight, by the way. When you’re packing extra inches, anytime something covers the areas you want to cover without stretching taught is purchasable. Getting out of that habit has taken some time. I’m having tons of fun buying clothing at “real stores” and shops that have “regular sizes” and are “form-fitting.”
However, the most painful shopping experiences I’ve ever had have been when shoe shopping with my daughter. When she as young, we spent several hours at the “Shoe Zoo”–an AWESOME shoe store in our area–trying on everything imaginable. We went through 52 pairs of shoes. This is no exaggeration. She was too young to articulate what was wrong with the shoes we were trying on. The poor clerk was practically in tears when the owner came back from errands or whatever he was doing.
He looked at the clerk and said he’d help. He picked up Emma’s foot and looked at it and had her pick out the shoe she liked the best. She pointed to a red and white leather oxfordy looking thing and he put it on her foot. After a couple of minutes poking around at the foot and shoe he told us to relax while he went into the back. After a short while, he returned with the shoe and put it on her foot. Her eyes lit up and she announced them, “comfortable.” He had rebuilt the foot bed of the show. It turns out that Emma has unbelievably high arches.
We’ve graduated from 52 pairs at one sitting to much fewer. She outgrew the Shoe Zoo, much to our sadness, and moved up to Shoes’N’Feet in Bellevue. Our first visit there, she picked out fifteen pairs that she thought she might like. The clerks looked at her naked food and took away half without letting her try them on. They know feet, and they know shoes!
Over the years, Emma has learned what works and what doesn’t. She’s become articulate in a way that borders on obsessiveness. But it has helped her become her own shopping advocate. She can pass up certain brands by simply knowing they will never fit her foot. She can stick her hand in the shoe and feel around for the seams that drive her nuts, and check out the sole to see if there’s any support at all.
Earlier this spring, we had a shopping Nirvana at Fluevog. She found and tried on about ten possible pairs before these boots. The were a perfect match from the first moment she tried them on. Not only did they fit “her style” they fit her feet! One should note that Fluevogs are hand-made in Portugal and sport a hefty pricetag that would make one think they would be…well…durable. My personal experience with their shoes has been awesome, and every company has mistakes in its inventory. Apparently the entire shipment of these boots had heel problems of one sort or another. She wore these for about a week before I had to take them in to be repaired. WHICH, Fluevog did for free, by the way. I really like their styles and their shoes, and their customer service is awesome. I just wished these boots had held up to the use of a teenager who walks a mile or more in them every day.
Come to yesterday. We are going to New York in a few weeks where Emma will be attending a violin camp put on by Mark O’Connor. It’s very exciting, as we are all going, and we’re going on foot. I looked at her sandals and realized they are about three years old, falling apart and all stretched across the top a few weeks ago. We’ve had one trip to a store that ended in nothing being bought, so I wasn’t looking forward to searching again. I fed her a good Dan-Dan noodle lunch and took her to the Walking Company at the mall. (Shoes-n-Feet was closed for the 5th of July and missed out on our business this year.) Go figure.
She tried on ten pairs. Found four that fit and would be good for her feet. I’m still in shock. She now has a pair of Dansko’s for the long hours on her feet in hot weather in New York, and two fairly cute pairs of Naot’s that she can walk comfortably in. I think we’re looking at a near normal level of picky-feetedness.