Bridesmaid shoes, conferences, and patriarchy

#2 has decided on bridesmaid dresses that have a bit of an Ancient Greek thing going.  There’s probably a lot of that going on in weddings across the country this year given their popularity at David’s Bridal.

While listening to a somewhat dull talk at a recent conference, I noticed these sandals (in black, not tan) on the conference-goer beside me.  They look much better in person than they do on the website.  And they have just that hint of an Ancient Greek thing going on.

“Where did you get those?  They are perfect!” I whispered.

“Teva,” she whispered back.

“NO WAY!” I said quietly, causing the gentleman on my other side to give me a raised eyebrow.  (He then teased me for shoe-shopping during a talk as I looked up the name of the shoe and emailed #2 to make sure the sandal was approved before purchasing.  A few minutes later I suggested that perhaps that email he was writing was not about how exciting the talk was.  It wasn’t.)

The next day as I told my former seat-mate that I’d purchased her shoes for the wedding, the woman she’d been talking to looked down and said they were awesome shoes and she wanted them too.  Where did she get them?

“Teva”

“NO WAY!”

After we had a brief discussion of their comfort and elegance, she wrote down the exact name of the shoe for later purchase.

As I related this conversation to DH, my oldest asked why these shoes being Tevas had produced such surprise.

Well, I explained, the patriarchy makes it difficult for women to wear the same kinds of shoes as men without facing social disapprobation.  With women’s shoes, usually shoes are either comfortable or they’re fashionable but not both.  Teva is a brand that is known for being extremely comfortable, but not something you can wear to work or a wedding.  They mostly make hiking sandals.

With women’s shoes, the holy grail is elegant shoes that don’t hurt a person’s feet.  When such an impossibility occurs, it naturally elicits surprise and happiness.

It shouldn’t be that way.  Men and women should both have shoes that are comfortable and attractive.  They should be able to wear the same kinds of shoes.  But society says no.  And society suggests that when it comes to formal or professional wear, only women’s shoes should come in styles that damage a person’s feet.  Stupid patriarchy.

43 Responses to “Bridesmaid shoes, conferences, and patriarchy”

  1. hollyatclubthrifty Says:

    My chronic back pain flares up any time I wear anything with a heel, so that solve the problem for me. I am pretty sure I have worn nothing but flip-flops since May. My sister also recently got rid of all her heels for the same reason – she was having ankle pain (I think she said ankle). Anyway, she switched to wedges or flats only. Hooray for not caring if our legs look longer or not!

    Glad you found cute wedding shoes that won’t hurt!

  2. taylorqlee Says:

    Women’s clothing in general is terrible on comfort. And it starts really early too! I remember grabbing unisex T-shirts in middle school because everything for girls was body-clinging, sheer, and didn’t allow for much movement. And why can you never put anything in the pockets of women’s jeans. Why, I ask you!?

    • Debbie M Says:

      One exception: little black dresses are way more comfortable than suits in the summer.

      Sadly, it’s the exception that proves the rule. Actually, men’s dress shoes are often uncomfortable, too, which makes no sense because they are flat and practically foot-shaped and lace-up to the ankle so you don’t have to hold them on with your toe muscles, so it should be super easy to make them also be comfortable.

  3. gwinne Says:

    I have been in a wedding exactly once. I was ‘best woman’ (LOVE that term!), and my best friend,the bride, told me to wear whatever black shoes I wanted that were comfortable. There was still some toe pinching, but that was my own damn fault.

  4. Mrs PoP Says:

    Lovely! Does teva make them without a heel?

    If I had found them earlier, I would have worn my teal crocs (I think Adrina is the model – can’t find link on phone) as a bridesmaid in my BFF’s wedding. They are soooo comfy and I always get compliments on how much people love them (and then we reminisce about wearing jelly shoes when we were 5).

  5. Steph Says:

    Those are really nice! I’ll have to check out Tevas next summer – B.O.C. by Born has been my go-to for comfy sandals the last couple years. These wedges (http://www.famousfootwear.com/en-US/Product/51788-1033309/B.O.C/White+Leather/Womens+Wynda+Wedge+Sandal.aspx) are super comfortable and pretty walkable. I also find their flat sandals pretty comfortable, but the one tiny bit of elastic wears out really fast, so they’re only worth it if you’re willing to replace that. The soles and the leather straps can last through two summers of heavy use, though.

  6. Ana Says:

    Those are actually cute, in the brown. Good thing I’m on a shopping ban. My women’s clothing/patriarchy rant is always about pockets. I could go on forever about how lack of pockets keep women down. I love dresses from eshakti specifically because they all come with deep, usable pockets (you can customize to remove, but the standard is to have them).

  7. chacha1 Says:

    I just added those sandals to my wish list (in the off-white color). Have been looking for something to replace two pairs of non-optimal casual shoes.

    I had a Clarks experience this year that was surprising. I was at Macy’s to look specifically for a new pair of dressier work-appropriate shoes for the Interview Season, and went past their Clarks display and did a triple-take when I saw a shoe that was actually cute (this is a first in my experience with Clarks, they’re super comfy but have not been much to look at in the past). It looks like a ballroom-dancing shoe actually, though with a half-inch platform, which provides quite a cushy foot bed. I got it in two colors. :-)

    (I like high heels and I cannot lie.)

  8. Rosa Says:

    I have been wearing my lady Tevas even though the cloth in the sole is completely shredded, because I have no faith in my ability to find another pair of comfy sandals anyway. Gonna check these out.

    Weirdly it seems like what’s happening is, instead of women’s fashion getting more comfortable and durable, men’s fashion is getting worse! The teen boys of a few years ago, with their sagged skinny jeans over high tops, are in just as bad a spot for sitting, peeing, and running, as the girls who picked up the unfortunate romper revival. Worse, maybe – if you give up on “modesty” (which I’m happy to say most of the young women I see seem to have) you can do a lot more in a short skirt than in super skinny jeans. Run, sit, bike, jump – just about everything.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      … rompers? Really? I guess I’ll see that when school starts again.

      Skinny jeans suck so much. Yay being enough of a grown-up that I can be out of fashion.

      • Ana Says:

        you haven’t seen rompers? They’ve been all the rage with the teens/20s ladies for the past few summers. I admit they look isn’t awful but practicality takes a bit hit when you have to puddle your entire outfit on the bathroom floor to pee.

      • Kellen Says:

        Yes, my 30-yr old friends own and wear. They are cuter-looking than I thought–almost look like a short dress since they’re loose-ish.

      • Rosa Says:

        but the main places I see them is music festivals and beer festivals. I remember the ’90s and using a portajohn in a romper is just awful.

        The corresponding shortalls & sports bra that I saw around the high school last fall is much more comfortable even though you also have to take them all the way down. I remember that, too.

  9. Norwegian Forest Cat Says:

    I get the same reaction from a super fun pair of flats that I got at Naturalizer. Multiple women have mentioned they love them and are shocked that store might ever stock shoes that are pretty to look at AND comfortable to wear. They’re not for women who like a lot of support (basically ballet flats, but prettier and with a sturdier sole), but I’ve been wearing them to lab for a few years already and they haven’t worn out yet! Glad to know that Tevas have some fun shoes – my Keens are almost ready to fall apart after many, many years, so I may be in the market in the not-too-distant future.

  10. Kellen Says:

    I bought 2 sets of pumps from Naturalizer (one black, one blue) and that’s all I wear now. I wear ’em to weddings too, when I should probably wear sandals, so maybe I should try some Teva sandals next time…

  11. Cloud Says:

    Those ARE cute shoes. I might get myself a pair. I need new brown sandals…

    Other good comfy but stylish brands are Naot and Taos. But my best find ever was a pair of black Birkenstock mary janes. They have sadly discontinued them. They come on pretty much every vacation with me, and get a lot of wear at home, too. They are coming up on 10 years old and I know they’ll give out eventually. I will cry bitter tears when that happens, because I’ve never found anything else remotely close in the comfort vs. attractive vs. versatility graph.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Most of my shoes are Naot, but I haven’t had much luck with them recently (which is why some of my current shoes are well past the replace-by date– my last European shoestore trip came up empty, and some of the naots I tried on actually hurt!).

  12. Linda Says:

    I need to replace my dressy black sandals, but haven’t put much effort into so this is a nice reminder. Those Tevas look cute, but the wedge heel is 2 inches, which I think is too much for me to walk around in comfortably. Since I do a lot of walking here in town when I go out (I LOVE living close to downtown), I need cute shoes that are also good for walking at least a few miles in. Do you find them that comfy, even with the 2-inch heel?

  13. becca Says:

    I have just discovered shoes of prey, everything customizable. I may never leave the internet again.

  14. seattlegirluw Says:

    I think the only solution is to put men in high heels. Pretty soon, flats will be all the rage.

  15. Jenny F. Scientist, PhD Says:

    I have wide feet with high arches. I basically buy men’s shoes, and flats. Down with the frickin patriarchy of shoes.

  16. I bought shoes | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] sandals that I love but are no longer made were falling apart.  (You may remember I replaced my black sandals for #2’s wedding, but it’s too cold to wear them to work!)  When you have two pairs of […]


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