Shoes & the Swiss

These shoes were clearly designed by an architect-school reject.

Shoes. Before 2001, I never thought much of them.

That year, I met Carolyn, a Times Colonist editor who did not so much talk about shoes as that she floated about on a wide variety of them, most of which that were hard to miss. Everyday was a new tutorial in the subtle art of foot fashion. Shoes that I once scoffed at, suddenly seemed possible.

For her, that is. Not for me. I don’t have ankles, and showy shoes would only draw attention to that fact.

I bring this up now because in the days leading up to our move to Switzerland, I read that the Swiss gauge strangers by their footwear. I scoffed, of course, because that is how I treat all new information.

Being derisive of new things/trends is tough in the short-haul, but has its pay-offs.

For example: I  eschewed the bottled-water phenomenon and greeted with delight the turn of public opinion (on May 17, 2008), deriding bottled water as environmentally unsound and not any different from tap water, which is what I, the bottled-water-Luddite, said all along.

It was satisfying to find myself swimming not only with the tide but even slightly ahead of it, although I had to wait about eight years for this to occur. My satisfaction was short-lived when I realized that I could not  point out my foresight to anyone without looking like a know-it-all twerp.

That is why I’m so happy to mention it now, as if it has anything to do with shoes. See how the two really have no relation, but I manage to worm it in anyway.

I ramble. Back to shoes …

I came to Switzerland with a pair of Clark’s sandals that I ordered online from the U.S. and that I haven’t seen here yet. Clark’s, by the way, cost a heck of a lot more here than they do in Canada/U.S.  I got these babies for $70; whereas in Zürich similar fare starts at $156. I could go on about shoe-price comparisons – I’ve done a lot of research in this area over the past month, but I sense that would only draw me away from my point, which is pretty weak anyway, but here goes.

I’ve been watching people watching me as I stumble about the cobblestone in my unique, although not fashion-forward, sandals. My conclusion: The Swiss-shoe thing appears to be true. I can’t be sure, because I can’t exactly collar people on the street, and demand answers of them, shouting, “Hey! You! You looked at my shoes! What do you think of me now?”  What I can say is that women here do glance downwards first, and then hold their gaze on my shoes until we have passed.

My shoes are not that worthy of attention, ie. they are not freak-shoes – I don’t have the balance to contend with anything that elevates me to normal-height, or is remotely stilleto-esque.

It is possible the Swiss stare because they’re wondering how I get around on stump-legs bereft of ankles, or maybe they’re just glaring in retaliation, because I can’t stop watching what they’re wearing. I’ve made mention of it before, but Swiss women strap on adventure when they put on their footwear.

At a sidewalk cafe on Sunday, a woman the next table over was wearing four-inch heels with platforms that appeared to be made of frozen bubbles. How they could support an adult’s weight was something I wanted to see, but they outstayed us, so I never got to see her stand in them. I suspect she sat there all day, looking fashionable, waiting for evening, so her boyfriend could carry her home under cover of darkness.

And now I will stop thinking of and writing about shoes.

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6 thoughts on “Shoes & the Swiss

  1. I got the same treatment in Paris. Women would glance at my shoes and their eyes would widen in horror – they sometimes drew back. Oddly, I didn’t notice men checking out my shoes. Or any part of me for that matter.

  2. I too can not wear fashion shoes. Yesterday Bob and I went on another quest for sandals, we have not been able to find any in our size here (13 & 11) so we went over the river to Niagara Falls, New York thinking in the States we would find more selection and our sizes. Wrong we walked in and out of stores looking at the shoes on display and then turning and walking out saying the same thing to each other. After a few stores I laughed to myself think of you and Dave checking out the theaters.
    We did fill up with gas it was $4.05 a Gal. over there and this morning we heard that gas here has gone up another 6 cents a Litre it is now over $1.40 a litre!

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