Yesterday, I was so happy and proud of how well I was doing financially. (I set up an IRA account to roll over the money from my NYC retirement money.) I make a poverty-level salary, but if I scrimp and save properly, I should be able to get by. The thing is, I need to make certain investments.
I need trips home to visit my friends and family to recharge. I need books for my classes and for my poetry reading list (required for all poetry MFA students). I need basic clothing to keep me warm, and professional clothing so I can make good impressions on visiting writers, supervisors and the potential employers when I look for summer jobs or employment after graduation.
I've known for a while that I have a shoe problem. When I was packing up all my stuff in New York, I sorted through my clothes and got rid of most of my clothes that didn't fit or that I hadn't worn in a year. As a result, I am down to nine pairs of shoes...and that's counting my heavy snow boots, which won't do me much good in southern Virginia. (See all except the snow boots at left). I adore my flip-flops, my strappy ballet-sneaker hybrids, my sequined high-heeled sandals and my dark brown knee-high boots (though I only bought them because the store didn't have that size and style in black).
However, my sneakers are a half-size too small and I've almost worn the tread off them. (They were shoes I bought to wear just until I found shoes that fit.) My beige wedges give me blisters. I only keep them because they're my only non-black dressy shoes. I never wear my brown ankle boots. My patent leather high-heeled Mary Janes are adorable, but VERY high-heeled. They're not the comfiest, and they're a bit too saucy for job interviews and the like. In other words, I own nine pairs of shoes, but I only really wear four pairs. Only one of those four will work in cold weather: the high-heeled boots, which wouldn't be too comfy for walking around all day long or teaching. Also, because they're brown, they don't go with most of my clothing.
I was on the J.C. Penney's web site, looking at leather jackets. Mom and Dad bought me an adorable jacket last year, but it didn't fit. I returned it in exchange for a J.C. Penney's gift card. While searching "leather" on the store's site, I didn't see a jacket I wanted for the right price, but I did see a perfect pair of black leather boots. Thanks for the pretty boots, Mom and Dad!
I decided to pay more than my usual $30 a pair in the hopes that these will last longer than my usual cheapo boots. (I tend to wear through the heels of a pair a year.) Then I got to thinking about my other shoe needs. I do not love shoe shopping, so I decided to get it over with, all at once.
Recently a fellow MFA student recommended Zappos.com to me. Zappos offers narrow sizes(HOORAY!), free overnight shipping and free return shipping. They have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. I decided to try it out.
In the old fashioned way of shoe shopping, I would go into a store and try on every pair of any shoe even close to suitable for the given occasion in both a 9.5 and a 10. Most stores don't have narrow sizes, so I could only try styles with straps. About an hour later, with the salesperson and I on the verge of a breakdown, I would buy the one pair that fit my long, skinny feet or walk out frustrated and empty-handed, only to have to start over in the next store.
Now I don't know if all the shoes will fit when they arrive, but so far I like online shoe shopping much better than the old fashioned way. You click your size (including narrow width !), style, and price range. Then you just look at the pretty pictures, read the description and click it into your cart.
I found a pair of black peep-toed heels, boring black sneakers and brown peep-toed sling-backs (Hello, non-black shoes! Someday, when I have two nickels to rub together, there will be more of you!) that were in my budget. Hooray! There were some non-peep-toed-shoes I liked, but they were too pricey, so my big toe may have to chill a little. The shoes should arrive tomorrow and I'm so excited. I'll be a little disappointed if they don't fit, but the return policy seems easy. Yay!
I was still within my budget, but then this morning, my bag broke! NOOOO! I'm not one of those handbag girls with a million purses. I don't care about designers or the latest style, but I did love that bag. It was a cute fake-leather tote that was half-briefcase, half-purse. It fit my grade book, a notebook and a text book, as well as everything I normally keep in my purse. I could go straight from class or work to dinner or drinks with it. It looked so nice.
Women would stop me to tell me they'd been searching for something just like it. Now I can see why! I've been looking online all day, and can't find anything suitable for less than $60, which, post shoe-shopping, is not in my budget. I bought the old one cheap at Kmart or Target or Gordmans a year or two ago. I always thought it was great that I paid a tiny price for something that looked like a million bucks, but now I'm taking the hit that often comes with cheap things.
I can't afford a cute new briefcase/shoulder bag hybrid, but I found a few I like and have put them on my Amazon.com Wish List. If any of you wants to buy me an extravagant present (and you know you do), take your pick and send it my way. Until then (or until I save up), I'll have to make due with the adorable, sporty Gap laptop bag Mom and Dad got me a few years ago. My cousin Jenny got one, and I coveted it so much that my parents got me one of my own. It works well for a grad student. I'll just need the fancier one when I start looking for jobs.