@JERRLIFE

Why I Started Wearing Sneakers


Confession: for a long time I had an aversion to sporty shoes. Running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, and watchumacallits were not acceptable forms of footwear.

I have two theories. One, I feel like I am an innately sloppy person and dressing casual sends me to Hotmessville and I'm just not ready to reside next to last night's drunks. I could do better I thought. I'm already innately allergic to dress shirts - that's not a hyperbole, they make me physically itch - and balance is something I strive (sometimes subconsciously) for in every aspect of life that a sneaker/t-shirt combo just isn't representative of me. Dress shoes ftw.

My second theory is I associate athletic wear with a lot of negative memories from years of mandatory gym class. It reminds me of things like: this one pair of sneakers whose soles had separated and would flop open every time I took a step and resembled a mouth; or being the only person who failed the arm lift test cuz I couldn't do any at all; or being hit in the face with a ball while everyone laughed. Gym class was rough and I want to leave it behind. Footwear included.

Or it could be both.

What I'm trying to say is I'm just not a sneaker person. I didn't see myself belonging in any of the tribes of people associated with it. Come along, fashion: Alexander Wang, whose design philosophy is partially reappropriating athletic wear as cool streetwear. And then Phoebe Philo who started an internal conflict in me about sneakers that sounds something like, 'I like her brand of cool... and if I wore sneakers then...no, what if someone challenges me to a race? Yes, that could definitely happen. But eventually I came around to the idea that I could belong to this burgeoning brand of cool despite the price of entry being more decorative and less functional (ideally, my choice of clothing is both because balance remember?). Maybe I could start running? Yeah, right.

Also I have a bum knee and bad back that were getting worse. I was willing to try anything. Even sneakers.

So last fall I went to an unfamiliar store called Foot Locker. Or was it Champs? Either way, I asked for their comfiest shoes and the guy immediately chose the Asics Nimbus. They were ugly to me but not any uglier than the rest that covered the walls for full price. They were discounted heavily and available in my size left, so why not? My immediate reaction from wearing was 'my god, is this heaven because I'm walking on clouds.' I purchased them immediately. However,  I was still ugly.

(Side note: I've tried on many sneakers since then and nothing's come close to the Nimbus's comfort. Those gel insoles make a significant difference)

So the search continued.

Fast forward to now and somehow, I have another pair of Asics, an Air Max, Air Force 1s, and Raf Simons X Adidas. Like, wuuuut? That is a lot of shoes for anyone but especially for me. Yeah, I will spend a respectable amount of money on apparel but shoes? No. I get it, and you should too, that shoes really makes - or breaks - an outfit (same with bags! Cheap bags have noticeably poor finishes).   A cheap shirt/expensive shoe can look rich but the reverse? Not so much.

But I digress.

The thing is, it's hard for me to justify paying the same amount of money for shoes which covers 10% of my body versus a shirt, which covers 30% of your body - approximately - despite knowing better.

What I'm trying to say is it's significant I've converted to sneakers. It's like if I didn't opt for a dark palette (read: black) or not eat vegetables. These are established codes of my identity and it's disorienting for people who know me to suddenly see me wearing sneakers.. Maybe I just want to feel easier or maybe it's still the same thing style done differently. Or maybe sneakers are just part of growing up.

Let's hope sweatpants are not next.

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