Sole mates, or a gift that suits me down to the ground

One of the reasons I became an inspired shopper was because, around the time I became a uni student more than two decades ago, I completely lost the ability to find and choose clothes that suited me. It was partly my increasingly radical political views, which assumed that anything vaguely feminine was oppressive to women, and partly that I had no money to buy clothes. They simply stopped being something I wore for aesthetic purposes.

It would take decades to regain the strong sense of style I had when I was growing up, helped by my mother’s above-average sewing skills (which sadly she never managed to pass onto me, although she tried). I’d have the odd fashion bulls-eye, say for a one-off outfit for a wedding, and then, spurred on to greater confidence by that fluke, would buy something perfectly horrible that did nothing for me.

All during this sartorially challenging period of my life, my older sister stood before me as a beacon of classic style. While all my four sisters have what I consider good taste in clothes, my older sister has better than that: ‘a good eye’. She can pick something a mile off that will last for seasons, and she seems to instinctively know which colours and styles complement her looks, and which to avoid. Nor does she spend hundreds on designer threads, although she’s capable of choosing the occasional expensive outfit for a super-special event; she mainly buys high-end chain store fashion and has been known to wear the same piece for up to four years. With an eye like hers she really should be working in retail.

Anyway, apart from a one-off event during the worst of my particularly bad dressing period when she bought me a pair of fashionable culottes as a Christmas present, and her bequeathing me some decent cast-offs from her own collection over the years, my sister doesn’t normally give me wearable presents. But at my recent birthday she made an exception to this rule because she happened across a bargain that was so outstanding she couldn’t pass it up.

I give you, ladies and gentlemen, one of the bargains of the century - brand-new sandals that are exactly 95.9 per cent off the original price. They were priced at $5, down from the original $120. My sister found them in Myers, a large department store. She was going to buy a pair for herself but the sizing wasn’t right so she bought a pair for me instead as part of my birthday present.

Now, I’m not the sort of person who wears heels every day, but I can certainly handle them on special occasions. There are some instances when heels and a fancy top are just enough to make a pair of skinny jeans or denim flares look something special. And these sandals feel pretty comfortable; they have platform soles, so they don’t result in the excessive arching of the feet that a pair of stilettos necessitates.

Oh dear, it sounds as if I'm rationalising my love of these high heels, a fashion item that is normally not high on my priority list. Let's put it this way instead - like all good presents, these sandals are something I wouldn’t have bought for myself, but I’m extremely glad my sister bought them for me!

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