Facing the approaching need to retire my custom-made shoes from Buenos Aires--which, though not entirely falling apart yet, are starting to show definite signs of wear, seeing as I've worn them nearly constantly for three years now, my true tango workhorses--and unable at the moment to return to BsAs to do some serious shoe-shopping or to visit my cobbler in person (and also dance, but whatever), I've been searching the web high and low for months, for worthy successors.
But nothing I've seen has really inspired me in ages. Nothing has jumped out at me
and said "You've got to have me!" Not even any Comme Il Fauts* and
certainly not any of the more solid, padded options that I prefer to wear for classes and so on--more everyday shoes. And what's the point of spending the kind of money you need for good tango shoes that you plan to wear frequently if you don't love them?
Part of the problem has been that what I really wanted was exact replicas of my own shoes. I'm like that
about good clothes that I like and that work well for me; I generally just want to
keep wearing exactly that forever and never have to worry about it
again if I don't choose to.
(For example, if I could afford it, I'd buy a warehouse full of my favorite jeans in every likely size in case of gaining or losing weight, and never have to go jeans-shopping and struggle with cut, color, length, rise-height, etc., etc., ever again! Ah, but a girl can dream!)
Having duplicates made by the same cobbler in Buenos Aires would be possible but not very easy; I've had trouble before with the practicalities of trying to get shoes from them to
me in the States.
Finally the other day I thought I'd found The Ones to replace my red custom pair (my Ferraris, I fondly call them). The new pair actually made my heart skip a beat when I saw them--the first time I've been really excited about any potential replacements since I'd begun the search. Although I wanted a few modifications, the site advertized the ability to customize, and I even came up with a back-up plan based on another of their styles, in case it was not possible to adjust that particular model the way I'd like.
Them, I knew. Those are the ones that I want. (It should always be so easy to know that a lover is right for you! But that's another conversation.) They glowed, in true lipstick-red patent leather with suede accents, like Dorothy's Ruby Slippers. The styling was pure Old Hollywood elegance. Beautifully and femininely detailed without being at all overstated, I could picture wearing them with almost everything I own for dancing, from jeans to my best formal dresses.
I had it bad for these shoes.**
When I wrote to inquire, biting my nails with anticipation, I got a very polite response the next day ... that the company is currently on a hiatus of indeterminate length.
I nearly cried. "But ... but my shoes! Those! I want those!"
I've realized that in addition to being quite picky about my tango shoes to start with--I want this
heel height, not too low or too high; the heel should be solid
enough for comfort but not at all clunky; I like peep toes for sexiness with
some protection; I need good padding under the ball of the foot, or room
to add my own; and the shoes must have some interest about them
without being overly flashy--I quite like being able to have shoes that
are, if not completely unique like my custom-made ones, at least a
little unusual. Not just character shoes (with very little
actual character) from the local dance supply shop.
Not that there's anything wrong with very basic dance shoes, especially if you're
just starting out and don't know whether you want to make a big
investment. How many beautiful and expensive pairs of CiFs languish in the closets of novice tangueras who bought them early on but gave up tango within the first year? Such a waste; let's hope they all go to good homes through eBay or the like.
But after these nearly seven years of dancing,
it's not too much to say that my tango shoes have come to be a means of self-expression, reflections of myself, the things I value,
and the way I want to dance.
That's the most personal part of why I want them to be comfortable,
elegant, and of high quality; I want all those things in myself
and in my dancing. And I want to be able to pick them out in a crowd the
way I hope my loved ones could pick me out--my face, my voice, the
things I might say.***
I think that's the real reason why I fell so hard for those red shoes: Because they looked like me, who I am on the inside--or at least who I want to be.
For now, I've tried to console myself with a quite different pair from another maker, in black. They weren't such a coup de foudre as the gorgeous red ones,
but I do like the look of them very much. They seem to fit all my requirements with no design modifications, right down to the heel shape and height, along with subtle but attractive detailing. I hope they'll be good for me.****
So the quest for new red ones
must simply continue. Alas, the course of shoe love never did run smooth!
TL;DR: OMG, SHOES! (Again. Still. Forever.)
* Maybe it's partly overexposure, with regard to Comme il Fauts: I regularly
get e-mails from various distributors, and I wonder, sometimes, whether
the brand can
maintain their image of daring and unique sexiness forever when there's
been such a lot of demand for them. Might the brand have jumped the
shark, or is it rather that I've grown calloused from seeing so many of
them? Or could it be true what I've heard, that maybe they don't let
distributors sell their very best designs, keeping them for the store in Buenos Aires? (Which would be understandable...) But the human capacity for creativity is very great, and I'm very fond of my CiF babies, so I certainly hope
the brand will be going strong for a long time to come!
** The final factor, of course, and not the least important, is comfort, and that you can't know
until you try the shoes out. Of necessity, my love for the red beauties was born from looks alone. But immortal sonnet sequences have been written with as much grounds!
*** There's an element of competition involved too, but it's an
ugly thing that I don't want to get too mired in. But I'd be lying if I
tried to pretend it wasn't there.
**** Why do I always seem to fall for unattainable shoes and men? With these shoes, I move from a grand passion that perhaps burns too brightly to last long (ah, cruel fate!) to (hopefully) a happy, stable relationship with a good, solid, handsome pair that I'm sure will be excellent providers and good parents.
...Did I just take that metaphor too far?
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